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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:51 pm
by blindpig
Missing Voices in Broadcast Coverage of Afghan Withdrawal
JULIE HOLLAR

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As the US after 20 years finally began its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the story dominated TV news. Just as they did when the war began (Extra!, 11–12/01), corporate journalists overwhelmingly leaned on government and military sources, while offering no clear antiwar voices and vanishingly few perspectives from civil society leaders in either Afghanistan or the United States.

FAIR studied a week of Afghanistan coverage (8/15–21/21), starting with the day the Taliban took back Kabul. We looked at the three primetime broadcast news shows, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, identifying 74 sources across the three shows.

Who got to speak?
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Afghan women made up just 5% of sources in nightly news stories on the Afghanistan withdrawal (ABC, 8/16/21).
Of these sources, 23 sources were Afghans (20) or identified as Afghan Americans (3)—31% of all sources. Only 11 of these 23—fewer than half—were identified by at least a first name, and only four were women. (Afghans often have only one name.) While three Afghan sources were identified as professionals who might have offered informed commentary on the broader political or historical situation—a journalist, a member of parliament and a nonprofit director—the vast majority of questions to all Afghan and Afghan American sources were about their personal risk and situation, essentially providing “color” rather than expert opinion to the story.

Americans who were not Afghans comprised the remaining 51 sources, with no other nationalities represented. Of these US sources, 31 were non-Pentagon government officials, and 16 were current or former military, from the secretary of Defense to enlisted soldiers. The remainder were three parents of Americans killed in the war, and a non-Afghan US citizen evacuating from Afghanistan.

The partisan breakdown of US officials was 29 Democrats to eight Republicans, with President Joe Biden accounting for 14 of the Democratic sources, and other members of his administration accounting for 12.

No scholars or antiwar activists from either the US or Afghanistan were featured. Only two civil society leaders made appearances: the director of a nonprofit women’s organization in Afghanistan (8/16/21) and the president of a New York City veterans’ organization (8/16/21).

Despite the media’s emphasis on the plight of women in Afghanistan as a result of US withdrawal (FAIR.org, 8/23/21), women were rarely considered experts, or even voices worth hearing on this story: Only eight sources were female (11% of the total), two of whom were unnamed.

No independent defense of withdrawal
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Sen. Mitch McConnell (NBC, 8/16/21): The Afghan situation is “a stain on the reputation of the United States of America.”
Biden, who played a key role in leading the country into the Iraq War (FAIR.org, 1/9/20), was essentially the strongest “antiwar” voice in the conversation. While he and his administration frequently defended their decision to uphold the withdrawal agreement, there were no other sources who did so.

Of the three non-administration Democratic sources, two encouraged an extension of the withdrawal deadline. All of the Republican sources criticized either the commitment to or the process of withdrawal. Most of the remaining sources were also critical of the process.

The final days of the occupation were without question chaotic. But by only featuring sources who emphasized the “stain” on the US’s “reputation” (Sen. Mitch McConnell, NBC, 8/16/21), or the idea that “the Americans left us behind, and left us to those people who are not human and cut our heads off in front of our families” (Abdul, ABC, 8/20/21), a discussion of the tragedy of the 20-year occupation itself was completely foreclosed.

Journalists’ continued jingoism

And corporate journalists themselves, who have often been the loudest cheerleaders for the Afghanistan War (e.g., FAIR.org, 9/17/01, 8/25/09, 1/31/19), continued their jingoism in the face of the withdrawal.

NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel (8/16/21), for instance, offered an echo of—rather than a counterpoint to—McConnell and Abdul: “A 20-year war, the longest in US history, today ended a disgrace. The US leaving behind a country its citizens are too terrified to live in.”

Similarly, CBS‘s Norah O’Donnell (8/16/21) declared: “When America leaves, for many, so does the hope—the hope of freedom, the hope for human rights. And in its place comes the sheer terror of what’s next.” O’Donnell went on to detail the number of Americans killed and wounded, plus the unspecified “cost to America’s national security.”
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Anand Gopal (New Yorker, 9/13/21): “To locals, life under the coalition forces and their Afghan allies was pure hazard; even drinking tea in a sunlit field, or driving to your sister’s wedding, was a potentially deadly gamble.”
Given that the withdrawal was an acknowledgement that after 20 years of occupation, the US had little control over what kind of country it would be “leaving behind,” it’s hard to imagine a withdrawal that Engel would not have considered a disgrace. But while he and O’Donnell highlighted the plight of “many” Afghans, neither made any mention of the number of Afghans killed and wounded in the 20-year war, which was at least 27 times higher than US casualties, according to the Costs of War project (9/1/21) at Brown University. That project estimated at least 46,000 Afghan civilians were killed, including more than 500 humanitarian workers and journalists, along with over 69,000 national military and police and more than 52,000 opposition fighters.

But these tallies—which do not even include the wounded, or excess (indirect) deaths—are almost certainly undercounts. New Yorker reporter Anand Gopal, who has spent years covering the war, including time in rural Afghanistan, believes that the available death tolls have “grossly undercounted” civilian casualties, as much of the ongoing conflict has taken place in outlying areas where deaths frequently go unrecorded (Democracy Now!, 9/16/21).

Gopal’s recent article (New Yorker, 9/13/21) on rural Afghan women recounted his investigation in the largely rural Helmand province, where he interviewed a random selection of 12 households, finding that each had lost, on average, 10 to 12 civilians to the war. While Taliban rule was not popular among those he interviewed, it was clearly preferred to US occupation, which had empowered even more ruthless warlords and ensured unending conflict, airstrikes and terror in the region.

This perspective was not to be found on US TV news coverage of the withdrawal, with its correspondents reporting from the airbase in Kabul, an Afghanistan a world apart from that known by the majority of the country’s population.

Rosy picture of occupation
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Lester Holt (NBC, 8/16/21): “Traveling across Afghanistan a decade into the war, it was hard not to feel some optimism, as if we were witness to a country emerging from darkness.”
NBC‘s Lester Holt (8/16/21), who visited Afghanistan in 2010 and 2012, offered a typical assessment, painting the occupation as a sensitive operation bringing Afghanistan out of darkness into a brighter future:

Traveling across Afghanistan a decade into the war [2012], it was hard not to feel some optimism, as if we were witness to a country emerging from darkness…. Through the war, epic American-led battles reclaim cities and villages from the Taliban. US commanders nurture trust among village elders believing in Afghanistan’s future. And now, in the chaos, we’re left to wonder how that future has been so rapidly rewritten with chapters from Afghanistan’s past.

Two weeks later, on the eve of the official withdrawal, CBS‘s O’Donnell (8/30/21) asked longtime Pentagon correspondent David Martin, “What does this moment mean?” Martin responded:

To me, it’s on all of us. All of us as American citizens. We as a country could not summon the will to outlast the Taliban. We sent more than 800,000 troops to fight in the war. The vast majority of them did everything we asked of them. They would have gone back for another 20 years if we had asked them. But the country grew tired of the war, and they elected political leaders, both Democratic and Republican, who wanted to end it. History will decide whether that was right or wrong. But either way, Norah, it’s on us.
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Norah O’Donnell (CBS, 8/26/21): “The American military is the greatest in the world, not only because of its superior force, but because of its humanity.”
O’Donnell herself (CBS, 8/26/21) painted a rosy picture of the occupation a few days prior :

This is what American troops were doing before terrorists struck today: feeding children, playing with kids, lending an arm to the elderly. The American military is the greatest in the world, not only because of its superior force, but because of its humanity—soldiers providing a helping hand, pulling Afghan infants to safety. This child kept warm by the uniform of a US soldier during her evacuation. This mother delivered her baby in the cargo bay of a C-17, naming the newborn Reach, after the call sign of the aircraft that rescued her.

For the last two decades, our mission has been about keeping us safe at home and improving the lives of Afghans. The 13 US service members who made the ultimate sacrifice today did not die in vain. One hundred thousand people have been evacuated because of their heroic actions. They answered the call and did what they were trained to do. A reminder of the high price of freedom. And God bless our US troops.

Obviously, the families of the thousands of Afghan civilians killed in US airstrikes—many of them children—or those victimized by rogue soldiers, might have a different perspective on the US military. Those voices, too, might have helped explain to journalists like Holt, and his viewers, why Afghanistan’s future looks the way it does, rather than the rosy, peaceful outcome those journalists seem to have expected the US to have supplied.

Veteran voices

The perspectives of US troops were occasionally presented, but segments featuring veterans’ voices seemed largely intended to reassure viewers that the 20-year war was worth it. “Some veterans are thinking, was it worth it? Were our sacrifices worth it?” O’Donnell (CBS, 8/18/21) said, followed immediately by a soundbite from a veteran: “It was worth it…. We gave Afghanistan two decades of freedom. It made the world a better place.”

Notably, post–9/11 veterans had soured on the war over the past decade. While a 2011 Pew poll found that 50% believed the Afghanistan War had been worth fighting, the outfit’s 2019 poll found that number had dropped to 38%—roughly on par with the general public. Afghanistan veterans were more likely than the general public to support the withdrawal—58% vs. 52%—even after it was well underway and the subject of widespread one-sidedly hostile media coverage (Morning Consult, 9/9/21).

Research assistance: James Baratta, Elias Khoury, Dorothy Poucher, Jasmine Watson

Featured image: NBC Nightly News (8/16/21)

https://fair.org/home/missing-voices-in ... ithdrawal/

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Fri Oct 01, 2021 1:32 pm
by blindpig
NYT Runs Interference for Billionaires Who Don’t Want Their Wealth Taxed
JULIE HOLLAR
NYT: Total Tax Rate (Federal, State and Local)
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The New York Times (9/23/21) criticizes the White House for taking into account the main way billionaires make money.
According to a White House analysis (9/23/21), the country’s 400 wealthiest families have an effective tax rate of just over 8%. At the New York Times (9/23/21), reporter Jim Tankersley was quick to cast doubt on the figure.

According to Tankersley’s framing, the analysis “seeks to show a gap between the tax rate that everyday Americans face and what the richest owe on their vast holdings,” and is “an attempt to bolster Mr. Biden’s claims that billionaires are not paying what they actually should owe in federal taxes, and that the tax code rewards wealth, not work” (emphasis added). In other words, it’s an analysis with a political agenda.

Dubious data point
This is in contrast to “most measures of tax rates,” which “do not use the White House method of counting asset gains as annual income.” The piece emphasizes how “unconventional” the White House analysis is, and that it’s “well below what other analyses have found.” (Note that these analyses don’t “seek to show,” but simply “find,” thus enhancing their social science credibility.)

Tankersley points to one data point here:

The independent Tax Policy Center in Washington estimated this year that in 2015, the highest-earning 1,400 households in the country paid an average effective tax rate of about 24%, compared with an average rate of about 14% for all taxpayers.

First, that “most” measures don’t count asset gains says more about how thoroughly the rich have rigged the tax code to exclude most of their income than it does about how one ought to measure income—or tax rates. The Tax Policy Center figure, for instance, only considers federal income tax, which ignores state and local income tax, as well as payroll, consumption and excise taxes.

Second, the “independent” Tax Policy Center should hardly be assumed to be agenda-free; according to its most recent annual report (2017) available online, the group’s “Leadership Committee” includes representatives of major financial firms like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the Carlyle Group, entities that have a direct stake in keeping gains in financial assets from being counted as income.

And third, it’s crucial that the data from the Tax Policy Center comes from 2015, since that was before the 2017 Trump tax cuts slashed taxes even further for the ultra-rich. As New York Times columnist David Leonhardt (10/6/19) pointed out in 2019, the tax cuts “helped push the tax rate on the 400 wealthiest households below the rates for almost everyone else” in 2018, to 23% for the wealthiest versus 28% for the average taxpayer.
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Top tax rates have been pushed so far down over the last 70 years that the richest households now pay a lower percentage than any other income group (New York Times, 10/6/19).
Victory for the richest

It’s a remarkable victory for the rich over the rest of us: The richest Americans had an effective tax rate of 70% in 1950 and 47% in 1980. Meanwhile, the average taxpayer has seen relatively little change in their effective tax rate over the same period.

That’s all according to University of California/Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman (Triumph of Justice, 2019), who were not using the “unconventional” White House method of dividing taxes paid by total asset gains. They were, however, using the White House method of looking at the top 400 as measured by wealth, rather than the top 1,400 as measured by adjusted gross income. They were also considering all taxes, including payroll tax (Social Security and Medicare), state income tax, and consumption and excise taxes.
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ProPublica (6/8/21) “compared how much in taxes the 25 richest Americans paid each year to how much Forbes estimated their wealth grew in that same time period”—an obvious precedent for the White House analysis that was overlooked by the New York Times.
If you want to look at what the very richest Americans pay in taxes, then the way Saez/Zucman and the White House do it is more accurate than the way the Tax Policy Center does it, because those 400 billionaires—worth a combined $3.2 trillion last year, up $240 billion from the year prior, as calculated annually by Forbes—are very often not those with the highest taxable income.

For instance, Warren Buffett, a perennial Forbes 400 member who currently ranks No. 4, voluntarily released his tax returns in 2015. His reported income ($11.6 million) didn’t even put him in the top 14,000 earners. That year, Buffett paid about 16% of his reported income in taxes.

Buffett released his returns in response to Trump’s attempt to deflect attention from his own refusal to release his returns; Buffett had nothing to hide, since his methods of avoiding taxes were perfectly legal.

As ProPublica (6/8/21) found in its recent bombshell report on leaked tax returns of the ultra-rich—yet another analysis using similar methods to the White House that went unacknowledged by Tankersley—Buffett is particularly good at tax avoidance: From 2014–18, while his wealth grew by over $24 billion, he managed to pay less than $24 million in taxes. It’s an effective tax rate of 19% on reported income measured the “conventional” way, but a tax rate of just 0.1% on his actual gains. That’s the lowest of any of the country’s billionaires.

Mind-boggling methods
The ultra-rich have myriad mind-boggling ways of getting away with not paying taxes that the rest of us have to. Two that the Biden administration is pushing to eliminate relate to asset gains.

If someone sells a stock, any gains from the purchase price are taxed at a significantly lower rate than other income; the White House is seeking to end that preferential treatment for those earning above $1 million.

Further, if someone instead holds that stock until they die, and leaves it to an heir, those gains are not taxed. So billionaires like Buffett and Jeff Bezos can vastly increase their wealth, never pay taxes on most of it as long as they don’t sell it, pass those assets to their children upon their death and—poof!—those billions are never subject to income tax. This dodge is called the stepped-up basis, and it’s a major driver of the racial wealth gap.

Lawmakers impacted
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As Open Secrets (4/23/20) points out, many lawmakers have a direct interest in avoiding taxes on wealth.
Most people don’t think the wealthy—or corporations—pay their fair share of taxes (Pew, 4/30/21). But their representatives aren’t eager to fix the system. Tankersley mentioned at the end of his piece that congressional Democrats have “pushed back” on Biden’s efforts to change both capital gains taxes and the stepped-up basis. He didn’t mention how many Democrats would be directly negatively impacted by those fixes.

Given that the majority of members of the last Congress were millionaires (Open Secrets, 4/23/20), any children they have will greatly benefit from the stepped-up basis. And any member of Congress who holds stock and ever plans to sell any of it is impacted by increases in the capital gains tax. Not to mention all the wealthy donors funneling money into super PACs for most Congress members.

Fortunately for them, they’ve got the New York Times running interference.

https://fair.org/home/nyt-runs-interfer ... lth-taxed/

Even the half bright know that billionaires have and make too much money. But is your millionaire any better, more deserving of his boodle relative to people that really work? Perhaps a couple on the lower end of the scale, I dunno. But what I do know is that by concentrating our ire upon those at the very top the rest of the very wealthy are left off the hook. And so is the capitalist economy and social order. That is intentional, I think.

Pity the scapegoated billionaires....

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2021 1:15 pm
by blindpig
How AP, Reuters And SCMP Propagandize Their Readers Against China

A typical 'western' anti-China propaganda claim is that China is using its military aggressively. 'Western' news agencies do this on a regular base when they report of Chinese air maneuvers around Taiwan.

This report by the South China Morning Post, based on AP and Reuters items, is a perfect example for that:

25 Chinese warplanes enter Taiwan’s air defence zone

Taiwan’s air force scrambled again on Friday to warn away 25 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, according to the defence ministry in Taipei.
Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force, often in the southwestern part of its air defence zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

The latest PLA air force mission involved 18 J-16 and four Su-30 fighters plus two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft, the Taiwan ministry said.

It said Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn away the PLA aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them.

The Chinese aircraft all flew in an area close to the Pratas, with the two bombers flying closest to the atoll, according to a map that the ministry issued.

I do not believe that China would fly its bombers and jets into Taiwan's "air defense zone" because that is the geographic area where Taiwan would actually shoot to take them down.

So I checked with the news agency reports the SCMP story is based on. AP headlines:

China sends 25 fighter planes toward Taiwan on National Day

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China sent 25 fighter jets toward self-ruled Taiwan in a large display of force on China’s National Day Friday.
The People’s Liberation Army flew 18 J-16 fighter jets as well as two H-6 bombers, among other planes. Taiwan deployed air patrol forces in response and tracked the Chinese aircraft on its air defense systems, the island’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

China has sent planes toward the island it claims as part of its territory on a near daily basis in the last couple of years, stepping up military harassment with drills.

No "air defense zone" there but one extra point for "military harassment". Reuters is less subtle:

China marks national day with mass air incursion near Taiwan

TAIPEI, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Taiwan's air force scrambled again on Friday to warn away 25 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, the defence ministry in Taipei said, the same day as China marked its national day, the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China's air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defence zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

The latest Chinese mission involved 18 J-16 and four Su-30 fighters plus two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft, the Taiwan ministry said.

So the "air defense zone" claims comes from Reuters. It is however 100% fake news. Neither did the Chinese airforce fly into the "air defense zone" of Taiwan nor did Taiwan claim that it did.

Here is the original news item from the Ministry of Defense of Taiwan. The headline and first line say it all:

Air activities in the southwestern ADIZ of R.O.C.

Air activities in the southwestern ADIZ of R.O.C.
...
There is no "air defense zone" (ADZ) in there. Instead there is Taiwan's ADIZ, or "Air Defense Identification Zone", into which Chinese planes 'intruded'.

What is an ADIZ one might ask:

An air defense identification zone (ADIZ) is airspace over land or water in which the identification, location, and control of civil aircraft is performed in the interest of national security. They may extend beyond a country's territory to give the country more time to respond to possibly hostile aircraft. The concept of an ADIZ is not defined in any international treaty and is not regulated by any international body.
Some countries unilateral declare an ADIZ around this or that territory. They ask any plane entering it to identify itself. As ADIZ are unilateral 'pretty please' requests with no binding power they are regularly ignored.

Taiwan's ADIZ is quite rediculous as it covers parts of mainland China:

Taiwan has an ADIZ that covers most of the Taiwan Strait, part of the Chinese province of Fujian, Zhejiang, and Jiangxi and part of the East China Sea and adjacent airspace. Most of the ADIZ of Taiwan is built on its exclusive economic zone. Taiwan's ADIZ was designed and created by the United States Armed Forces (USAF) after World War II.

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The Taiwanese Defense Ministry Military News Updates claim that Chinese 'violations' of its ADIZ happen each and every day.

The Reuters fake news piece also says that the Chinese planes flew near to Pratas Island (Dongsha) which China as well as Taiwan both claim as their territory.

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In fact mainland China is nearer to Pratas than Taiwan is.

The Twitter account of Taiwan's Defense Ministry just posted this map of the alleged 'violations' which perfectly shows how ridiculous such claims are:


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The AP report is misleading as it implies a special meaning to something that happens regularly. The Reuters piece is obviously fake news as it claims that Taiwan's defense ministry said something which it did not say. The SCMP deserves to be criticized too as any reporter and editor covering such news should know the difference between an ADZ and an ADIZ and should have recognized that the "air defense zone" claim in the Reuters piece is obviously bollocks.

That said all three fulfill their intended purpose. They propagandize those who read them against China by depicting normal military training of China's armed forces as aggression against its neighbors.

Posted by b on October 1, 2021 at 16:52 UTC | Permalink

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2021/10/h ... .html#more

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Wed Oct 06, 2021 1:40 pm
by blindpig
WITH THE UNITED STATES AT THE CENTER OF THE DISCUSSION

REVELATIONS AND DOUBTS OF THE PANDORA PAPERS
5 Oct 2021 , 8:11 am .

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The new media disclosure puts tax havens in the center of world attention (Photo: BBC Mundo)

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the same ones that released the so-called Panama Papers in 2016, have revealed a new series of "leaks" on financial information that they have called Pandora Papers .

This document leak is referred to as the largest, dealing with financial secrets to date. In the Pandora Papers, the ICIJ worked with 11.9 million documents (2.94 terabytes), which makes this the largest data leak of offshore companies , surpassing the Panama Papers, which were a leak of 11 , 5 million confidential documents.

The publication of the first findings has highlighted the names of more than 300 high-level politicians, including 14 serving world leaders and 21 other leaders who have already left power and hid billions of dollars worth of property and income for do not pay taxes in tax havens.

There are also businessmen and sports and entertainment figures among those who have been part of these opaque operations.

However, as in the Panama Papers, the new "leak", suspiciously, reported little or rather no information on US politicians and European Union countries involved in these practices.

THE OFFSHORE FINANCIAL STRUCTURE

The news site Actualidad RT refers that one of the main conclusions of the ICIJ's work is that "the offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the largest democracies in the world."

"Among the main players in the system are elite institutions - multinational banks, law firms and accounting firms - based in the United States and Europe," but operating in these modalities in peripheral countries, indicates the ICIJ.

According to one of the Pandora Papers documents, banks around the world helped their clients create at least 3,926 companies in tax havens with the help of a Panamanian law firm called Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, led by a former ambassador to the United States.

"The firm, also known as Alcogal, created at least 312 companies in the British Virgin Islands for clients of US financial services giant Morgan Stanley," reporters note.

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Panama is once again in the spotlight as a preferential destination for hidden capital from tax evasion and corruption (Photo: El País)

The leaked files expose the financial secrets and offshore procedures of 35 current and former presidents, more than 100 billionaires and more than 300 high-ranking public officials, such as ministers, judges, mayors and military leaders from more than 90 countries.

The sophisticated modalities of offshore accounts have facilitated money concealment and tax evasion on a global basis.

In the past, these methods involved taking physical money, usually to Switzerland or a Caribbean country, to deposit it in accounts where it was kept under bank secrecy.

However, now many banks in the world offer the service of offshore accounts acting as registered branches outside the countries. Through a bank transfer, many rich people simply manage to "disappear" their money from their records, understanding that they only have to have paper records of companies artificially created outside the country where they are located to enjoy confidentiality benefits to hide their money.

SOME INVOLVED
Among the political figures that are referred to in the documents are:

King Abdullah II of Jordan
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babis
The President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso
E l President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelenski
The President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader
The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera
The current Minister of Economy of Brazil, Paulo Guedes
The President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic
The Colombian Vice President, Marta Lucía Ramírez
The current vice president of Honduras, Ricardo Álvarez
The mayor of Tegucigalpa and candidate from the right of Honduras, Tito Asfura
Former Presidents of Colombia, César Gaviria and Andrés Pastrana
Former President of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
The former presidents of El Salvador, Alfredo Cristiani and Francisco Flores
The former president of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes
Former President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
The former presidents of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, Ricardo Martinelli and Ernesto Pérez Balladares
Former Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe
Argentine footballers Ángel Di María and Javier Mascherano, Colombian singer Shakira, British musician Elton John and the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, have also appeared in the documents.

Many of the top rich on the Forbes list , curiously, are not on the paper.

AND THE UNITED STATES?

As happened in 2016 with the Panama Papers, no relevant names of United States citizens appeared on the published lists. It should be emphasized that the information disclosed by the ICIJ to various media is part of "leaks" that have come into their hands. Or at least that is how they refer to protect their sources and possible discretionary and selective elements for the delivery and publication of data.

However, the United States as a country did appear as a place where the problem of offshore accounts itches and spreads.

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Reno, in the state of Nevada (USA), is one of the new and stealthy international capitals of tax evasion (Photo: AFP)

According to The Independent , "while prominent Americans largely escaped the gaze of the investigation (of the Pandora Papers), the United States itself did not, as investigators discovered that this country now serves as a tax haven in the foreigner for many ".

In 2016, after the shock generated by the Panama Papers, a Bloomberg publication warned that a large movement of capital was taking place from the usual tax havens, towards the United States.

"After years of lashing out at other countries for helping wealthier Americans hide their money, the United States is emerging as a first-rate tax haven for wealthy foreigners. Thanks to its resistance to new international disclosure regulations, the United States United has become the focus of great fortunes to deposit their money. Everyone, from London lawyers to Swiss trusts, have seen the opportunity and have offered to help the wealthiest to move their checking accounts from the Bahamas or the British Virgin Islands to states such as Nevada, Wyoming or South Dakota ", reports El País on the Bloomberg publication.

The century-old European financial institution Rothschild, in 2016, opened an office in Reno (Nevada), just a few blocks away from the legendary Harrah and Eldorado casinos. According to Bloomberg, they dedicated themselves to taking the fortunes of their foreign clients from countries such as the Bermuda Islands, where they are subject to the new information disclosure regulations, and introducing them into their Nevada trusts where they are exempt, the publication refers.

The firm of the wealthiest Jewish bankers in the world indicated at the time that their landing in Reno responds to the interest of families around the world for the stability of the United States since their clients must demonstrate that they comply with the tax regulations of their countries originally. His trust, adds a Rothschild spokeswoman, "has not been launched with the intention of exploiting the fact that the United States has not endorsed the new international standards" in terms of control of tax evasion, the spokesperson said.

Now, according to the ICIJ publication, state governments in the United States, particularly those of Nevada and South Dakota, were criticized for allowing their states to become tax havens in which foreign nationals used companies based in the United States. Been to move money without notice.

South Dakota and Nevada "have adopted financial secrecy laws that rival those of offshore jurisdictions," the researchers wrote, noting the "explosive" growth of these schemes in the United States.

The apparent "leak" of the Pandora Papers, once again puts Panama in the eye of the hurricane as it is a traditional tax haven.

But the absence of the world's great rich and politicians, especially those from the US and Western Europe from the charts, implies the exposure of intermediate factors of world capitalism and not its sacred cows.

This generates new suspicions about the origin and purpose of the information disseminated by the ICIJ, which is to say, it has its main broadcasting epicenter from large media corporations in the world.

Faced with the undeniable reality of the rearrangement of the offshore structure that places the United States as a new epicenter, it is worth asking whether this matter is actually a great propaganda operation to promote a massive migration of capital to be hidden in the new center. of American gravity, to the detriment of Switzerland as a traditional center and other factors of peripheral capitalism, such as Panama, Bermuda, Bahamas or Cayman Islands, among others.

The previous data, and in view of the organic composition of that country-continent, which is increasingly cornering itself towards speculative financial neoliberalism, thus seem to elucidate it.

https://misionverdad.com/globalistan/re ... ora-papers

Google Translator

It is hardly surprising that the US is becoming a major tax haven despite being late to that game. Marx saw the financialization of capitalism beginning in his time as the logic of capitalism has become ever more extended into investment that provides zero use value for humans.

Edit: I did not catch "The firm of the wealthiest Jewish bankers in the world " first go round. Use of the phrase was unnecessary and unacceptable.

**********************************

Why "no money"? Everything was swallowed up by the "Pandora's Archive"
10/04/2021
How many such "archives" have been and will be?
Last weekend, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the so-called "Pandora's Archive" , revealing the business of the owners of nearly 30,000 offshore companies. 600 journalists from 120 countries of the world worked on the array of documents . The investigation names 30 heads of state, more than 300 officials and more than 100 of the richest and most famous people. Most of all in the archive of Russian citizens - 52 people - Russia is ahead by a huge margin. In second place is Brazil, 15 people; in third place - Great Britain with 13 representatives.

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There are many famous personalities among Russians, most of whom are from the president's inner circle. The probable mother of Vladimir Putin 's daughter Svetlana Krivonogikh is the former co-owner of the Rossiya bank, Putin's student friend Viktor Khmarin , and Roman Putin's cousin .

Each of the names present in the archive has luxury offshore companies in different countries of the world. The Crooked Legs, for example, have an apartment in Monaco for 3.6 million euros.

The offshore assets of Anastasia Ignatova, the stepdaughter of the head of Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, exceeded 22 billion rubles, including the superyacht Valerie for 10 billion rubles and a villa in Spain.
But the heads of state corporations are appointed by the president. Is it possible that the appeal to return capital to their homeland does not apply to them?
Offshore real estate, often through dummies, can be boasted of by Channel One CEO Konstantin Ernst and Sberbank President German Gref .

The archives turned out to be the presidents: the family of the head of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, owned real estate in London for almost $ 700 million; President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky , as sources suggest, still receives income from a stake in offshores through his wife's business.

Representative European rulers were also “smeared”: it turned out that in 2009 Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babis bought the Chateau Bigaud castle near Cannes in France for $ 22 million through offshore transactions. King Abdullah II of Jordan similarly secretly acquired about 15 houses in the United States and Great Britain for a little more than $ 100 million.

Elections in the Czech Republic - Babiš has already announced that he has paid taxes on his real estate. However, will the Czech voter choose the person who bought the castle? The question is rhetorical.
The Pandora Archive turned out to be larger than all the previous files, both Panama and Paradise. One thing is clear - capital is not able to "work honestly", is not able to share and systematically perform a socially useful function.
“Where are our hospitals? New vacancies for teachers, firefighters, social workers? They are all here. Every time a politician or businessman says there is no money ... they need to know where to look for it, ”said Oxfam, a consortium of charities.

https://www.rotfront.su/pochemu-deneg-n ... otil-arhi/

Google Translator

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Fri Oct 08, 2021 1:42 pm
by blindpig
How The 'China is a Threat' Fake News Cycle Works
Here is a nice example how the U.S. keeps certain issues in the news and thereby propagandizes its people against its perceived enemies.

On Friday several news agencies and outlets falsely claimed that Chinese airplanes had 'intruded Taiwan's airspace'. In fact the planes had crossed into an imaginative air 'identification zone' hundreds of miles from Taiwan.

As the fake news died down someone in the White House, Pentagon or Congress thought about how to revive the theme to strengthen anti-Chinese sentiment.

"A: Is there something that is not secret and that we can hand to some scribe that allows for another 'China threat' news cycle?"

"B: Hmm. How about our troops in Taiwan?"

"A: Good idea. That will do."

So A, B and maybe also C called up a Wall Street Journal scribe and proceeded. Here is the result:

WSJ News Exclusive - U.S. Troops Have Been Deployed in Taiwan for at Least a Year
Small presence of Americans secretly training local forces marks concern over China’s yearslong military buildup and recent moves
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-troops ... re_twitter

WASHINGTON—A U.S. special-operations unit and a contingent of Marines have been secretly operating in Taiwan to train military forces there, U.S. officials said, part of efforts to shore up the island’s defenses as concern regarding potential Chinese aggression mounts.
About two dozen members of U.S. special-operations and support troops are conducting training for small units of Taiwan’s ground forces, the officials said. The U.S. Marines are working with local maritime forces on small-boat training. The American forces have been operating in Taiwan for at least a year, the officials said.

The U.S. special-operations deployment is a sign of concern within the Pentagon over Taiwan’s tactical capabilities in light of Beijing’s yearslong military buildup and recent threatening moves against the island.

Taiwan and U.S. officials have expressed alarm over nearly 150 flights near Taiwan in the past week by Chinese military aircraft. The Chinese aircraft have included ...


There follow in total 1200 words of general 'China is a threat' sentiment.

There is one problem though. The deployment of some troops, including special forces, in Taiwan is neither a secret nor new nor newsworthy.

Taiwan regularly buys U.S. weapon systems. These typically come with training. The U.S. has therefore had for years some dozens of troops in Taiwan. These are usually trainers for the specific weapon systems Taiwan purchases from the U.S. There are also a number of Department of Defense civil personnel in Taiwan also related to weapon sales.

Since 2017 the Pentagon's Department Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) provides quarterly spreadsheets which list all countries where DOD personnel, active, reserve or civilian, are permanently on duty.

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As of June 30 2021 there were 30 active troops in Taiwan on permanent duty: 0 Army, 2 Navy, 23 Marines and 5 Airforce. There were also 15 civilian DoD employees in Taiwan.

The numbers and composition of the permanently deployed troops fluctuate over time. At the end of last year there were 20 active duty troops and 15 civilians there, one more than half a year earlier. In mid 2019 there were 8 troops and 16 civilians. Numbers going back to 2008 are available. Each file I checked lists a few U.S. troops in Taiwan. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

A number of U.S. Marines are also guarding the American Institute in Taiwan which is the de facto U.S. Embassy on the island. The Marines also guard other U.S. embassies. But in Taiwan they are not 'active' troops listed in the DMDC database:

The American Institute is a nonprofit organization composed of former U.S. government officials who “retire” or take leave to work there — processing visas and handling other consular services — so as not to upset relations.
The special forces are on a temporary deployment in Taiwan and are thus also not listed in the DMDC database. But their current deployment is no secret either. It was announced in June by Taiwan's defense minister:

Taiwan News reported that the Taiwanese defense minister said “multiple U.S. special forces units” will arrive in the country to train with their Taiwanese counterparts following the Han Kuang 37 military exercise.
Han Kuang 37 is Taiwan’s largest annual military exercise that simulates a full-scale enemy invasion in a worst-case scenario lasting eight days, Newsweek reported. The goal is to repel a Chinese invasion for a full week, the report said.

The Taiwanese defense ministry also said Taiwan-U.S. military training and exchanges have been “frequent,” due to China’s military threat against Taiwan.


This years Han Kuang exercise was delayed but took place last month. The U.S. special force deployment was announced to come after that exercise which would be about now.

When Taiwan's defense minister says that Taiwan-U.S. military training and exchanges have been "frequent" and not secret one wonders why the WSJ claims that their current deployment "is a sign of concern within the Pentagon".

The WSJ also writes:

Asian media reports last year suggesting a possible U.S. Marine deployment in Taiwan were never confirmed by U.S. officials. The presence of U.S. special operations forces hasn’t been previously reported.

While the 'presence' of U.S. special force many not have been 'previously reported' their upcoming deployment was loudly announced months ago. To claim that these are 'secret' deployments as the WSJ piece does is simply nonsense.

But that will not matter. Within the next 24 hours the WSJ 'exclusive' piece will have been picked up by dozens of other outlets and agencies all of which will use it to rehash the previous anti-China claims.

Some 'officials' make some (false) claims. Some scribe writes those down in a dramatic tone. Other scribes then copy and rewrite the 'exclusive' without ever checking its validity.

It is how the news cycle works.

Posted by b on October 7, 2021 at 16:51 UTC | Permalink

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2021/10/h ... .html#more

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2021 1:25 pm
by blindpig
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Refreshingly Honest Billionaire Says Media Purchase Will be Used for Propaganda
October 20, 2021
By Caitlin Johnstone – Oct 18, 2021

The billionaire CEO of the multibillion-dollar corporation that recently purchased the news media outlet Politico has said that its newly acquired employees will be required to support Israel and the capitalist world order.

In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the German publisher Axel Springer, said that Politico staffers will be required to adhere to a set of principles which include “support for a united Europe, Israel’s right to exist and a free-market economy, among others.”

“These values are like a constitution, they apply to every employee of our company,” Mr. Döpfner told WSJ. People with a fundamental problem with any of these principles “should not work for Axel Springer, very clearly,” he said.

I mean, how refreshing is that? How often does a billionaire corporation buy up a media property and just straightforwardly tell you they’re going to be using it to push propaganda? They even say what the propaganda will be. It makes you feel like your intelligence is being respected.

Supporting global capitalism and defending the Israeli apartheid regime are both very standard positions promoted by all billionaire media outlets in the western world; they just aren’t normally honest enough to tell you that. Normally they pretend to be an objective free press reporting truthfully about what’s going on in the world; their executives do not customarily come forward to explain the specific establishment biases its reporters will need to promote if they don’t want to be fired. That sort of thing normally happens a lot more subtly.

Can you imagine if Jeff Bezos had purchased the Washington Post in 2013 and been open about the fact that billionaires need to buy up narrative control to protect the status quo upon which their sprawling kingdoms are built? If he’d just come right out and announced ahead of time all the ugly plutocratic propaganda his outlet would be promoting on his behalf? I think that would have been far better than the feigned objectivity we normally get from these people.

Döpfner is reportedly worth over a billion dollars, and Axel Springer is worth an estimated $6.8 billion. He is married to the daughter of a former management board member of Deutsche Bank. So propagandizing the public in favor of “a free-market economy” as opposed to a centrally planned economy or an economy built to benefit the needful and the environment is a no brainer.

Döpfner has called himself a non-Jewish Zionist, and has long called support for Israel “a German duty.” While I am sure there are better ways for Germany to atone for its past than to back a racist apartheid ethnostate which imprisons a persecuted ethnic and religious demographic in an open air concentration camp to the geostrategic advantage of today’s genocidal imperialist western powerbased in Washington DC, the transparency is refreshing to hear from someone who will be manipulating public thought on such matters going forward.

And I just think that’s wonderful. If the Germans can spread some of their world-renowned frankness throughout the operation of mass-scale plutocratic propaganda, we’ll all be better off for it.

As soon as someone rises to a certain level of wealth, they very often begin buying up narrative control in the form of media outlets, conveniently placed advertising in news media, PR firms, online platforms, funding for think tanks and NGOs, “philanthropy“, and other ways of manipulating how people think at mass scale. This is because if people weren’t trained how to think about things, they would never consent to allowing so much of the world’s wealth and power to go toward so very few people who are so consistently ill-suited to rule the world for the benefit of everyone.

Plutocrats who fail to manufacture the consent of their subjects have historically wound up with their heads in baskets. That’s why they work so hard to manipulate the way the public thinks, acts and votes, and that’s why our society is as messed up as it is.

Featured image: Mathias Döpfner.

(caitlinjohnstone.com)

https://orinocotribune.com/refreshingly ... ropaganda/

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:25 pm
by blindpig
TV Reports on Manchin and Sinema Leave Out Their Financial Conflicts
SPENCER SNYDER

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CNN depiction of Joe Manchin on his boat, Almost Heaven


As the October 31 deadline to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill approaches, the media have made a project of examining senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, also known as the Build Back Better Act (FAIR.org, 10/6/01). Despite countless hours of coverage and conjecture about what might or might not get Manchin and Sinema to vote for the bill, the financial conflicts of interest that reinforce their reluctance to vote for the bill have been almost completely ignored. In a review of 21 relevant news programs, airing on October 3–4 on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC, financial conflicts were discussed for only 45 seconds.

In fact, some in the media have attempted to help insulate Manchin and Sinema against such observations. On ABC‘s Good Morning America (10/3/21), former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said that “impugning motivation is harmful, and I’ve seen way too much of that as it relates to both Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, and I think that needs to ratchet down.”
Katty Kay and Jake Sherman on MSNBC
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MSNBC‘s Katty Kay (Way Too Early, 10/4/21) to Jake Sherman: “If you had to pick a number between $1.5 trillion and $3.5 trillion, what would that number be?”
The television news media have instead chosen to engage in repetitious conjecture about what price between $1.5–$3.5 trillion might be acceptable to which parties. (One should note, as journalists rarely did, that $3.5 trillion is the cost of both spending and tax cuts over 10 years—and represents approximately 1.25% of projected US GDP over that period.)

Katty Kay of MSNBC’s Way Too Early (10/4/21) asked Punchbowl News‘ Jake Sherman, “If you had to pick a number between $1.5 trillion and $3.5 trillion, what would that number be?” Sherman replied:

Two, that seems like a safe bet, maybe a touch above two. I don’t think they could go below two. I think just mentally that would be difficult for a lot of progressives.

In interviews with progressives, anchors have taken to reminding them that their compromise is imminent. “Our correspondent says you’re going to have to settle for about $2 trillion. Is that an acceptable ceiling for you?” asked CBS‘s Margaret Brennan (Face the Nation, 10/3/21) of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.-N.Y.) Even more forcefully, NBC‘s Chuck Todd (Meet the Press, 10/3/21) asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vermont) if he has “accepted the fact that it’s not going to be $3.5 trillion.”

Sinema’s donors
SNL: Sinema and Biden
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Saturday Night Live sketch (10/2/21) featuring Cecily Strong as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and James Austin Johnson as President Joe Biden.
However, this bottomless appetite for numerical speculation was occasionally paused for dubious discussions about motives. A Saturday Night Live sketch (10/2/21) about the reconciliation bill was repeated many times on the networks. The actor portraying Sinema in the sketch expressed that her opposition to the bill was because she was interested in chaos. This is not far from mainstream media’s actual diagnosis.

On MSNBC, Time‘s Charlotte Alter (10/3/21) said that “it doesn’t even really seem to be about appeasing donors ahead of a reelection campaign, because she doesn’t have to run…for reelection for years.” Alter also proposed that Sinema’s obstinance may be a branding exercise to model herself more in the party-bucking image of the late Sen. John McCain (R.-Arizona), whose nickname was “the maverick.” But that hypothesis is not so compelling when one discusses her finances.

On September 9, the Biden administration announced that the reconciliation bill would include a plan to lower drug prices by allowing Medicare to bargain with drug companies. Also on September 9, a nonprofit called Center Forward started running pro-Sinema TV, radio and digital ads; the group is funded by PhRMA, the powerful drug industry trade group that opposes the drug pricing provisions. Ten days later, Politico (9/19/21) reported that Sinema opposes the plan to lower drug prices—even though she ran in 2018 on bringing down the cost of medicine.

Her commitment to pharmaceuticals can also be observed in the “personalized medicine” caucus she started. Personalized medicine is a medical model in which every aspect of care is custom. This can be absurdly expensive, which is why many pharmaceutical companies have invested in it. In February 2020, Sinema’s website (2/4/20) announced she had “launched the bipartisan, bicameral Personalized Medicine Caucus.” Pharmaceutical employees subsequently donated $35,000 to her campaign committee.
NYT: Sinema, a holdout on the social spending bill, returns to Arizona for a doctor’s visit and a scheduled fund-raiser.
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The New York Times (10/1/21) noted that Sinema’s “fundraising arm held a Capitol Hill event with five business lobbying groups, many of which fiercely oppose the bill she is supposed to be negotiating.”
Of course, her financial conflicts extend beyond pharmaceuticals. Sinema held a fundraiser on September 28 with five business lobbying groups, “many of which fiercely oppose the bill,” the New York Times (10/1/21) reported. This included lobbyists for construction interests and PACs for the supermarket industry. Members of these groups were invited to write checks between $1,000 and $5,800 to Sinema for Arizona. Despite its relevance, there were no reports of that fundraiser in any TV news episode reviewed.

Briefly mentioned, however, was her October 2 PAC retreat for donors at a resort and spa in Phoenix, Arizona. Democratic strategist David Axelrod highlighted this in a tweet (10/2/21):

Kind of takes some brass to blow out of DC for fundraisers back home in the middle of this and lecture everyone by press release on “trust.”

Axelrod’s tweet was referenced on MSNBC’s American Voices With Alicia Menendez (10/3/21). Flashing the chiding tweet was the closest most shows came to discussing the relationship between Sinema’s donors and Sinema’s positions.

This is typical of corporate media, because it is generally taboo to discuss details that naturally lead audiences to view certain politicians as corrupt or susceptible to the influence of money. Which is why the above accounts of her donors are untenable as news fodder.

Manchin’s conflicts
CNN: Kayakers Ambush Sen. Manchin's Boat
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CNN (10/3/21) seemed to have more willingness to show Joe Manchin on a big boat than hobnobbing with Big Oil.
Likewise for Sen. Joe Manchin. The optics of constituents kayaking up to his houseboat seeking his submission is irresistible: Manchin, a powerful person enjoying the luxury of his wealth, stood on the back of his boat and essentially told constituents down below that they were asking for too much money. The clip was played and mocked on three of the 21 episodes. It was even used by CNN’s Newsroom With Jim Acosta (10/3/21) to kick off the discussion about the reconciliation bill. Acosta compared the scene to something from “Curb Your Enthusiasm or Veep.”

For corporate media, this is acceptable, because making someone appear buffoonish or out of touch is a thing apart from suggesting corruption. But those constituents in kayaks probably have a very good idea of why Manchin isn’t playing ball.

Part of the Build Back Better Act addresses climate change. This includes things like tax credits for electric vehicles, and financial rewards and penalties for utility companies that meet or fall short on clean energy benchmarks. Manchin is heavily invested in companies that oppose these measures. Enersystems, a coal brokerage he founded that’s now run by his son, has earned him close to $5 million since he entered the Senate (FAIR.org, 7/27/21).

Enersystems is responsible for waste coal services at the Grant Town Power plant, the only plant in West Virginia that burns waste coal fuel. Waste coal contains more mercury than regular coal, and puts out about half as much energy.

Media could have highlighted Manchin’s remarks at The Road to Net Zero (6/8–10/21), a conference put on by the Edison Electric Institute, a utility industry lobbying group. The senator was interviewed there by the CEO of American Electric Power, a multi-state utility company that has criticized the reconciliation bill and previously donated $70,000 to Manchin. Manchin questioned the administration’s supposed rush to get off fossil fuels, saying, “I am concerned the timetable they are setting is a very aggressive timetable.”

Unfortunately, this didn’t just show an out-of-touch politician in a big boat; it suggested how he was able to afford that boat, and how that impacts US policy, and thus earned no television coverage.

Politicians part of the act
MSNBC: Progressives Ascendant After Forcing Delay in Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
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MSNBC‘s Ayman Mohyeldin (10/3/21) and Rep. Mondaire Jones shared a rare corporate media moment of linking conservative policy to special interest donations.
Unfortunately, politicians share the media’s deference. In every interview with a politician but one, the lawmaker echoed the unsubstantiated narrative that everyone involved is acting in good faith. There is an obvious dissonance between this narrative and the fact of Sinema and Manchin’s fundraising.

The lone exception in the period studied was Rep. Mondaire Jones (D.-N.Y.) speaking with MSNBC‘s Ayman Mohyeldin (10/3/21):

Mondaire Jones: How much money are people getting from various industries? I’m proud not to take corporate money, and many of my colleagues don’t. And generally speaking, I come from a generation of folks who are just much more willing to do what’s right for the American people, rather than compromise our values for the sake of compromise, I would submit. I think Kyrsten Sinema can raise money without doing the kind of activities she’s been doing—fleeing Washington, for example, to have a PAC retreat in the midst of negotiations.

Ayman Mohyeldin: Yeah, I was just going to say the same exact thing. New York Times reporting that she was back in Arizona this weekend to attend fundraisers…. You got to wonder who her big interest, special interest donors are, and whether or not they have a stake in the outcome of these two bills.

In the 21 programs reviewed, this was the single explicit exchange where fundraising was mentioned in conjunction with political positioning.

Blame falls leftward
Face the Nation AOC Brennan
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CBS‘s Margaret Brennan (Face the Nation, 10/3/21) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “Moderates…would say you’re not playing for the team when you hold one bill hostage.”
While these shows neglected the question of donor influence, another narrative took its place. CNN‘s Pamela Brown (10/3/21) asked, “Are progressives willing to own it if President Biden’s agenda fails because they continue to hold the line here?” “These moderates in the House as well…would say you’re not playing for the team when you hold one bill hostage,” said Face the Nation‘s Brennan (10/3/21) to Ocasio-Cortez.

This framing makes it appear as though the progressives are primarily responsible for holding up Biden’s agenda. In fact the opposite is true. The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which contains money for roads, bridges and other basic infrastructure, is broadly supported by the public. But the reconciliation bill contains much of the meat of Biden’s agenda, including Medicare expansion, universal pre-K and free community college.

The reconciliation bill is supported by every Senate Democrat, with the exception of Manchin and Sinema. In an effort to prevent elements like the drug pricing provisions or clean energy incentives from being eliminated or reduced, House progressives have insisted on waiting to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill until after the reconciliation bill passes. What is crucial to understand is that the more than 90 members of the progressive caucus back both bills, while the only Democratic opposition to Biden’s two-part agenda consists of two senators and a small handful of representatives.

Still, some journalists insist that it’s the progressives who are hurting the Democratic Party. In an exchange between Sanders and ABC‘s Jonathan Karl (This Week, 10/3/21), Karl suggested that progressive holdouts could cost the Democrats governorships:

Terry McAuliffe, who, of course, is on the ballot running in Virginia, is saying that $3.5 trillion is simply too big. It’s going to hurt Democrats, and he thinks it might even hurt him in his own race in Virginia.

Confusing viewers

Much of the media have decided to take conservative opposition as a given, and treated progressive steadfastness as pointless delay. This is a manufactured narrative that could just as easily have been inverted.

The millions of viewers who watch these shows are routinely deprived of the answers that these news shows purport to dispense. To air wall-to-wall coverage of Manchin and Sinema but conceal their donor relationships is to confuse and misinform audiences.

The single greatest indicator of a politician’s vote is not branding, or the desires of constituents, but money. Reporting that doesn’t reflect this is doing a disservice.

https://fair.org/home/tv-reports-on-man ... conflicts/

A set piece since day one, no choreography required, just everybody doing what comes natural...They are all bums, and if the progressives couldn't see this coming months ago they are bigger fools than those people in MAGA hats. Any honest observer knows this, but there's damn few of those with a platform. And any progressive who in any way exonerates their party, the prez or 'the American Way' for this farce might as well be a Republican, they serve the purpose.

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:08 pm
by blindpig
Image

Facebook ‘Whistleblower’ Frances Haugen Represented by US Intelligence Insiders
October 25, 2021
By Alexander Rubinstein – Oct 21, 2021

The background of Frances Haugen’s Whistleblower Aid legal team indicates she was cultivated to complete Facebook’s transformation into a vehicle for the US national security state.

A former employee of Facebook named Frances Haugen earned national renown after appearing before Congress on October 5, 2021 to accuse the company where she once worked of everything from poisoning the minds of young American women to aiding and abetting global evildoers.

While Haugen has presented herself as a “whistleblower” who risked it all to expose the secrets of the powerful, she was cultivated and legally represented by an organization led by former intelligence insiders with close ties to the US national security state.

Called Whistleblower Aid, the outfit was founded by a national security lawyer, Mark Zaid, who has been accused of ratting out his client, CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, to his employers in Langley. Zaid is joined by a former State Department official and government-approved whistleblower, John Tye, ex-CIA and Pentagon official Andrew Bakaj, and veteran US government information warrior, Libby Liu, who has specialized in supporting color revolution-style operations against China.

John Kiriakou, the CIA whistleblower jailed for exposing the agency’s role in the serial torture of terror suspects, commented to The Grayzone, “Mark Zaid presents himself to the public as a whistleblower attorney, however, he is anything but. Instead, he has betrayed his clients and come down on the side of prosecutors in the intelligence community. He is not to be trusted.”

Kiriakou continued, “My own personal belief is that he is the intelligence community’s preferred ‘whistleblower’ attorney because he’s willing to place their interests over his clients.”

Tech billionaire and media mogul Pierre Omidyar has provided funding to Whistleblower Aid, as well as to a public relations firm assisting Haugen. Omidyar has played his own role in US foreign interventionism, sponsoring anti-government media outlets and activists alongside US government agencies in states where Washington seeks regime change.

Following the October 5 remarks by the “Facebook whistleblower,” Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection Chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal commended Haugen for her “courage” and “strength” in “standing up to one of the most powerful, implacable corporate giants in the history of the world.” For her part, Haugen claimed to have come forward with her testimony “at great personal risk.”

However, Haugen is now set to meet with the oversight board at Facebook, suggesting the supposed underdog whistleblower had never been a threat to her former employer, and may have been colluding in a mutually beneficial operation. Haugen emphasized in her testimony that she “doesn’t want to break up” Facebook; she was merely looking for increased “content moderation” to root out “extremism” and “(mis/dis)information.”

While the public has been led to believe that Haugen embarked on her censorious moral crusade all by herself, driven by nothing more than her own sense of indignation and desire to stamp out “misinformation,” her testimony tracked closely with a narrative that has emerged from the US national security state and which aims to prevent the flow of information from counter-hegemonic “bad actors.”

The agenda was laid bare by Haugen herself, who claimed she worked alongside intelligence assets at a previously unknown Facebook “threat intelligence unit,” and made repeated reference to supposed malign activities by designated US enemies including Ethiopia, Myanmar, Western China and Iran..

As this report will reveal, Haugen appears to be little more than a tool in a far-reaching plan to increase the US national security state’s control over one of the world’s most popular social media platforms.

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“Facebook whistleblower” Frances Haugen in 2015.

The making of a phony Facebook whistleblower

Haugen first appeared in September 2021 as the supposed source of a leak called “The Facebook Files.” She was immediately hailed as a “modern US hero” in the media for secretly copying tens of thousands of internal Facebook documents and releasing them to the Wall Street Journal, which published a series of nine articles based on the documents.

The WSJ initially kept its source anonymous, rolling out the series two weeks before Haugen came forward in an October 3 interview with 60 Minutes. On camera, she complained that Facebook was “tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.”

“Ethnic violence including Myanmar in 2018 when the military used Facebook,” narrated 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, to “launch a genocide.

When pressed by 60 Minutes about what motivated her to leak the documents, Haugen answered vaguely: “at some point in 2021, I realized I’m going to have to do this in a systematic way and I have to get enough [so] that no one can question that this is real.”

Yet Haugen first divulged company information before 2021. In the final installment of the Journal’s series, the outlet revealed that Haugen first sent an encrypted text to one of their reporters on December 3, 2020.

That same article, published the day the 60 Minutes interview aired, reported that Haugen “continued gathering material from inside Facebook through her last hour with access to the system. She reached out to lawyers at Whistleblower Aid, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that represents people reporting corporate and government misbehavior.”

Haugen’s resignation with Facebook was effective in March, but the precise day of her client-attorney relationship with Whistleblower Aid remains unknown. What is known is that it all came together quickly.

John Tye, a founder and the Chief Disclosure Officer at Whistleblower Aid, told the New York Times that he agreed to represent Haugen “within a few minutes” of speaking with her.

On October 5, Haugen testified at a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. But already she had “spoken to lawmakers in France and Britain, as well as a member of European Parliament,” according to the New York Times on October 3, the day her identity was revealed on 60 Minutes. The outlet added: “This month, she is scheduled to appear before a British parliamentary committee. That will be followed by stops at Web Summit, a technology conference in Lisbon, and in Brussels to meet with European policymakers in November,” citing Tye.

Alongside Haguen’s big reveal came the launch of a new website and a new Twitter account, which was immediately verified. Haugen’s old Twitter account was locked when she went public and has since been deleted, while her old blog is no longer online.

It is instructive to contrast Haugen’s overnight verification with the way Twitter has treated others who have furnished secret documents in order to expose wrongdoing by the elite – namely, the jailed Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who never received verification from Twitter.

During her opening remarks to Congress, Haugen weaved a narrative that tied the State Department’s interventionist agenda to the Democratic Party’s crusade for online censorship. She commented that “what we saw in Myanmar and are now seeing in Ethiopia are only the opening chapters of a story so terrifying no one wants to read the end of it.”

Later, Haugen nodded her head in agreement as Sen. Dan Sullivan called Iran the biggest state sponsor or terrorism in the world and China a “communist party dictatorship” that is the most serious competitor to the US in the 21st century. Oddly, she made no mention of malign activity by any US ally or country that was not currently sanctioned by the US Department of State.

At Facebook, Haugen claimed she worked as product manager on a “threat intelligence unit” at the company. “So I was a product manager supporting the counter-espionage team,” she claimed to Sen. Sullivan. Part of her job included “directly work[ing] on tracking Chinese participation on the platform,” she claimed. Further, she alleged that Iran used the platform to conduct “espionage” on the platform.

“I’m speaking to other members of Congress about that,” Haugen acknowledged. “I have strong national security concerns about how Facebook operates today.”

As journalist Kit Klarenberg reported, the little-known Facebook “threat intelligence unit” where Haugen claimed to have worked is staffed by former CIA, NSA, and Pentagon operatives. Those who work at the unit must have “5+ years of experience working in intelligence (either government or private sector), international geopolitical, cybersecurity, or human rights functions,” according to a job posting.

Yet Haugen’s now-deleted blog and Twitter account feature no political content, nor does her resume. On Twitter, she frequently discussed taking Ambien and flirting with boys, while on her blog she wrote about cycling through Europe. Apart from a lecture she delivered on “The Intersection of Product Management and Gender,” and donations to the Democratic Party, she has shown little discernible interest in politics. So how did a certifiable normie with jobs at Google, Pinterest, Yelp! become an expert on Iran and China?

The background of Haugen’s shady legal team suggests she has been cultivated, coached and deployed to complete Facebook’s transformation into a fully-controlled vehicle of US foreign policy imperatives, willing to de-rank or outright censor any views the US government deems “misinformation.”

The best whistleblower outfit Pierre Omidyar’s money could buy
Whistleblower Aid bills itself as “a pioneering, non-profit legal organization that helps patriotic government employees and brave, private-sector workers report and publicize their concerns — safely, lawfully, and responsibly.”

But is this group truly the whistleblower protection outfit it claims to be?

In fact, Whistleblower Aid appears to have been modeled as a sort of anti-Wikileaks organization. “Whistleblower Aid is not Wikileaks,” the “vision” page of the former organization insists. On another section of its website, it states, “No one should ever send classified information to Whistleblower Aid. Whistleblower Aid will never assist clients or prospective clients with leaking classified information.”


Whistleblower Aid was launched with support from Ebay founder and billionaire media mogul Pierre Omidyar. Through his Luminate foundation, Omidyar lavished $150,000 on the organization, while funding a non-profit, the Center for Humane Technology, that works for the same PR firm that represents Haugen.

Politico has portrayed Omidyar as a “tech critic,” suggesting his support for Haugen is motivated by his disgust at Facebook’s propagation of toxic content. However, as this journalist and Max Blumenthal reported, Omidyar’s political empire has functioned for years as a force multiplier for interventionist US initiatives.

Over the past decade, Omidyar’s various non-profits have sponsored the establishment of a broadcast outlet, Hromadske, in Ukraine that drove the country’s 2014 coup, backed anti-government bloggers and activists in Zimbabwe, and funded anti-government media in the Philippines, including 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa. In each case, Omidyar’s beneficiaries were simultaneously sponsored by US government entities dedicated to advancing regime change.

A further hint of Omidyar’s adjacency to US intelligence operations can be found in the 2018-2022 strategy plan of the billionaire’s Luminate foundation, which lists “counter[ing]” Russia and China & “provid[ing] critical support” to groups in “countries in transition” as top priorities.


Whistleblower Aid rose to national prominence by representing the anonymous whistleblower who fueled the carefully confected Trump-Ukraine scandal that eventually led to former President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

But Whistleblower Aid is more than a mere law firm. It also “prep[s] clients in order to be focused on how to answer questions properly,” Mark Zaid, the organizations’ founding legal partner, told Gizmodo.

“We have media experts that we work with to guide folks with something as simple as, you know, where do you look when you’re talking to a camera or a host?” Zaid explained. “How do you best fluidly answer a question to come across in a positive way? Everything that might be connected to ensuring the individual’s image and substance are at their best.”

“The US government’s ideal whistleblower”

The rollout of the Frances Haugen story was methodical and lightning-paced, and clearly a collaborative effort. “I came forward at great personal risk because I believe we still have time to act,” Haugen told Congress. Sen. Blumenthal responded with a promise that Congress would protect her.

But was any risk truly present? In Haugen’s first conversations with Whistleblower Aid founder and Chief Disclosure Officer John Tye, she asked him for “legal protection and a path to releasing the confidential information.”

Zaid launched the group after serving as legal counsel for his co-founder, John Tye, when Tye supposedly “blew the whistle” on the State Department.

Tye was recruited to the State Department by former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael Posner. Now a prominent “human rights” lawyer, Posner was tasked with providing counsel to a group of seven Israeli generals accused by the United Nations of war crimes following Operation Cast Lead, a three-week long massacre of 1,400 Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, Wikileaks revealed in its release of US diplomatic cables. Ironically, Posner was also charged with overseeing the State Department’s review of those cable leaks.

Tye was named as the section chief for internet freedom under Posner at the State Department. But to understand Tye’s work at the State Department, it is necessary to revisit a speech from his former boss, ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, delivered a year prior to Tye’s appointment at State, but nonetheless a blueprint for the kind of work the department was doing; attacking countries like Iran and China for “erect[ing] electronic barriers.”

It was during Clinton’s campaign for “internet freedom,” which established Tye’s position, that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an arm of the State Department, developed ZunZuneo, a fake social media service marketed to Cubans. This information weapon was deployed by the US in a failed attempt to spur Cuban youths to launch street protests and destabilize Cuba’s socialist government.

It was Tye’s job to travel around the world and push for “the open use of the internet, free from government interference and monitoring.”

However, following Edward Snowden’s exposure of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, Tye began working explicitly against the open exchange of information by collaborating with the agency on tactics to undermine the leaker.

Around the same time, Tye learned about Executive Order 12333, which allows the NSA to collect information on American citizens outside of US borders. Tye “blew the whistle” in an op-ed at the Washington Post, allowing both the NSA and the State Department to review his disclosures before publishing. Neither made any changes to the policy.

Prior to speaking with reporters about his disclosure, Tye made sure he had a witness present and promised that he would not be revealing any classified information. “If you hear something that sounds like I am talking about classified activities or NSA activities, I want to tell you right now you misheard what I said,” his disclaimer went.

“The only reason why I ever got an NSA briefing was because we had to develop a response to Snowden’s leaks,” Tye told Ars Technica. “I never would have found out enough to file a complaint if it hadn’t been for those leaks.”

He also enlisted the help of Mark Zaid “to help him navigate the lawful reporting process.”

Despite being indebted to Snowden, and Snowden having actually been the first to expose how EO 12333 was “the wellspring of NSA’s collection of information,” Tye’s attorney, Zaid has repeatedly maligned Snowden.

“Unlike Snowden, Tye will not offer up any examples of actual unlawful surveillance he learned about while working at the State Department. He’s honoring his secrecy agreements,” Zaid has said.

Zaid, who has falsely accused Snowden of refusing to attempt to go through proper channels, argues that the best way to seek policy change is through official processes. And he has painted Tye as “a shining example of how a national security whistleblower should raise his concerns lawfully and give the system and public time to debate the concerns, rather than decide unilaterally as Snowden did…”

Tye quickly emerged as a model for disclosing government secrets, with corporate media headlines describing him as “the US Government’s Ideal New Whistleblower” and “the kinder, gentler, and by-the-book whistleblower.”

Just Security, a Democratic Party-oriented national security blog funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and featuring a board of insiders including Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, hailed Tye at the time as a “hero” on par with the late Senator John McCain. However, the site noted that “the jury is still out on whether Tye’s whistleblowing will lead to meaningful reforms.”

At the time, Tye claimed he hoped to “see a public response to my complaint that describes what changes have been made.”

Flash forward to September 16, 2021, and Just Security is still calling for reform to EO 12333. Indeed, Tye’s milquetoast brand of whistleblowing failed to result in any meaningful policy changes, though he did get some presidential lip service, commenting that “even President Obama has acknowledged that the issues raised since those disclosures have been important for our democracy.”

Coincidentally, days before leaving office, Obama expanded Executive Order 12333, allowing the NSA to share the data it warrantlessly collected with other intelligence agencies without the requirement of a court order. It was this executive order which enabled the NSA to wiretap Trump’s incoming National Security Director Michael Flynn, and leak the contents of his phone call with Russia’s then-Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak to the media.

Despite the abject failure of Zaid’s preferred “lawful” method of whistleblowing, he and Tye would go on to form Whistleblower Aid, but not before leaving the State Department to work for another shady outfit that was knee deep in NATO interventionist operations.

From July 2014 to July 2015, Tye served as the Legal Director and Campaign Director of Avaaz, a digital activist group and PR firm that helped drum up support for a no-fly zone in Libya, as Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal has reported.

During Tye’s time with Avaaz, which received early financial backing from Soros’ Open Society Foundation, the organization pushed for a no-fly zone again, this time in Syria. Further, Avaaz helped spawn a PR organization called Purpose, which handled public relations for the USAID-funded and al-Qaeda-linked White Helmets organization in Syria.

During the Arab Spring, Avaaz ponied up $1.5 million to “provide pro-democracy movements with ‘high-tech phones and satellite internet modems, connect them to the world’s top media outlets, and provide communications advice,’” according to the BBC.

Avaaz has set up proxy servers in Iran to support the Iran’s Green Movement and orchestrated a “three mile human chain handshake from the Dalai Lama to the doors of the Chinese Embassy in London.” More recently, the organization sponsored a rally demanding an investigation on Capitol Hill in response to the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” series, which featured Haugen as its source.


Shortly before leaving Avaaz, Tye responded to criticism of the billionaire-backed group’s advocacy for a no-fly zone, writing “thousands and thousands of people will die, for years to come, if we turn away and wring our hands.”

Like his former client-turned-legal partner, Mark Zaid has clamored for ramped up US intervention in Syria, tweeting to then-President Trump “what are you going to do about Syria? It’s your problem now, We can’t stand by and let innocent people continue to be slaughtered.”

Whistleblower Aid, or whistleblowers played?

Early in Zaid’s legal career, he “helped lobby Congress to change the law so the Libyan government could be sued for its secret plot to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.” Since then, he has built a reputation around representing whistleblowers, though he is now “representing many of the federal officials who have been afflicted with the mysterious symptoms known as Havana syndrome.”

While Mark Zaid may earn the most corporate media ink of any lawyer specializing in supposed whistleblower cases in the US, he is also one of the most vitriolic antagonists of those who blew the whistle without official consent. Regarding Edward Snowden, Zaid has tweeted that the exiled whistleblower “in no way deserves a pardon.”

Zaid believes that only those who have exposed wrongdoing dutifully within an organizational infrastructure deserve to be designated as whistleblowers. If they have attempted to do so but found themselves stonewalled, and took their information to the media, in his view, that action classifies them as a traitor guilty of espionage.

Thus according to Zaid, Snowden is not a whistleblower, nor is Julian Assange a journalist. Zaid celebrated the June 2020 superseding indictment of Assange by the Department of Justice as “a message to those who want to undermine US national security that you will be pursued.”

Even Reality Winner, whose leak of classified information was spun by the media to advance the discredited narrative of Russian collusion with President Donald Trump – whom Zaid has attacked and even sued – is also not a whistleblower, Zaid argued in the Washington Post.

While Zaid has made his feelings clear towards those who leak classified information through “improper” channels, he has faced harsh criticism for his handling of the case of one of his former clients, CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.

“WikiLeaks is aware, from those directly involved, of serious allegations that Mark S. Zaid revealed one of his clients to the CIA. The client was later imprisoned,” WikiLeaks has tweeted. CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou has written of Zaid: “Any friend or advocate of rats and snitches is no friend of whistleblowers.”


Whistleblower Thomas Drake has raised similar concerns, pointing in 2015 to transcripts detailing FBI special agent Ashley Hunt’s comments during the trial of Jeffrey Sterling.

“The CIA advised that on February 24, 2003, it was contacted by Mark Zaid and Roy Krieger,” Hunt told the court. “They told the CIA on February 24 that a client of theirs had contacted them on February 21, 2003, and that that client, that unnamed client at the time, voiced his concerns about an operation that was nuclear in nature, and he threatened to go to the media.”

Additionally, the FBI served Zaid with a subpoena compelling him to testify in the case of his former client, Sterling. Zaid has claimed that he did not breach attorney-client privilege at any time and called FBI agent Ashley Hunt’s testimony “hearsay.”

Sterling declined to comment to The Grayzone about Zaid’s performance as his lawyer, and whether he played a role in his prosecution.

“With no intention of stating an opinion one way or another, I will not comment on Mr. Zaid or his representation,” Sterling stated.

“All the Disney one needs and wants to be”

While Zaid maintains utmost hostility towards those who leak classified information, even refusing to work with them, he has no moral qualms about getting security clearances for “guys who had child porn issues.”


Zaid also has a special place in his heart for Disney and potentially “Disney girls.” An archived version of a YouTube channel which appears to belong to him shows that he ‘liked’ videos including “Top 10 prettiest disney channel stars” and “Top 10 Disney Girls.”


While Tye and Zaid’s records raise serious questions about their commitment to protecting whistleblowers at genuine risk of high-level retaliation, they are not the only staffers at Whistleblower Aid with close ties to the US national security state.

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Whistleblower Aid CEO Libby Liu details how she is “fighting against the Chinese government.”

The spooks at Whistleblower Aid’s door

At almost the same time that Haugen began working with Whistleblower Aid in the Spring of this year, the organization took on a new CEO named Libby Liu. Liu previously served as CEO of Open Technology Fund (OTF), which was established by the CIA-founded propaganda outlet Radio Free Asia as part of Hillary Clinton’s “internet freedom” campaign.

Prior to her role at OTF, Liu served as President of Radio Free Asia for over 14 years. The Radio Free Asia website credits Liu herself with creating the Open Technology Fund.

In addition to pumping millions of dollars into projects like Tor and Signal, the Open Technology Fund boasts that “more than two-thirds of all mobile users globally have technology incubated by OTF on their device.”

Moreover, OTF claims it “has investigated and exposed apps used for repressive surveillance throughout China, including tools used by the government to target religious minority Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.”

OTF helped fund the 2019 protests and riots in Hong Kong “to provide fast relief for civil society groups, protesters, journalists and human rights defenders who have come under digital attack.”

Having helped rioters who invaded and ransacked Hong Kong’s parliament to evade censorship, Liu is now working with a legal firm representing a client that will meet with the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 “insurrection” – undoubtedly to bolster the case for more internet censorship.

Another key figure at Whistleblower Aid is Andrew Bakaj. Like John Tye and Mark Zaid, Bakaj is not only representing Haugen, but promoting her in the media as well.

Bakaj also happens to be a former CIA officer and criminal investigator at the Department of Defense. Since leaving the agency, he has teamed up with his former attorney, Mark Zaid, and taken on similar cases including the “Ukraine whistleblower” and “State Department officials impacted by ‘Havana Syndrome.’”


On Twitter, Bakaj mocked Julian Assange as he took refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, taunting him to “step outside” and get some Vitamin D.

Behind the carefully confected image of Frances Haugen as a courageous whistleblower, the stated views and questionable record of her legal team at Whistleblower Aid suggest she is little more than pawn in a much more far-reaching game aimed at enhancing the national security state’s already substantial power over social media.





Featured image: Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaks during a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington. Matt McClain | The Washington Post via AP, Pool

(MintPress News)

https://orinocotribune.com/facebook-whi ... -insiders/

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2021 1:10 pm
by blindpig
ACTION ALERT: The New Climate Denial: Don’t Worry, Do Nothing
JULIE HOLLAR

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WaPo: Climate doubters lose one of their last remaining arguments
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The Washington Post (8/10/21) editorializes that “experts are more certain than ever that dire consequences are coming” from climate change—but still allows its pundits to argue for inaction on the basis of uncertainty.
Upon the release of the latest dire report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (8/9/21), the Washington Post (8/10/21) published a strongly worded editorial under the headline, “Climate Doubters Lose One of Their Last Remaining Arguments.”

In it, the editorial board argued that those who say we shouldn’t “force economic disruption” because warming “might not be as bad as some fear” have lost “one of their last remaining arguments.” The IPCC report demonstrates that “experts are more certain than ever that dire consequences are coming,” the board noted, “ruling out the benign warming scenarios doubters insisted were still possible,” and concluding that governments must “eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century” to avoid the worst outcomes.

It’s a clear and forceful statement, reflecting the global scientific consensus that the reality of the climate crisis can no longer be denied, and immediate, dramatic action must be taken.

So why does the Post continue to publish columns that promote that debunked denialist argument?

‘Certainty melts away’
WaPo: With a closer look, certainty about the ‘existential’ climate threat melts away
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Not to worry, says George Will (Washington Post, 8/11/21)—sea levels “have been rising for 20,000 years,” and the climate has been changing for “4.5 billion years.”
The day after the editorial, longtime Post columnist George Will (8/11/21) purported to cast doubt on the IPCC report and its conclusions (“With a Closer Look, Certainty About the ‘Existential’ Climate Threat Melts Away”), using variously misleading, nonsensical and factually incorrect arguments from the latest darling of climate deniers, Steve Koonin.

Koonin, former BP chief scientist and undersecretary for science in Barack Obama’s Energy Department, featured in another recent climate denialist Post column (10/12/21), a guest essay by former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Daniels presented Koonin as the truth-teller (with his service in the Obama administration making him “impeccably credentialed” politically) being attacked by “anti-intellectual” critics who offer only “ad hominem epithets” against him. (In fact, his critics offer endless debunkings of his “facts.”)

Koonin isn’t a “denier,” Daniels explained: “Koonin stipulates firmly that Earth’s climate is changing and becoming warmer, and that human influence is playing a role.” But, Daniels continued, Koonin

uses government and academic reports’ own data to challenge the scientific “consensus”—about rising sea levels, droughts, extreme weather—now repeated endlessly and uncritically.

In other words, now that denying climate change has lost any last shred of credibility, its proponents have largely abandoned it in favor of the new denialism, which says that climate change may be happening, but it’s no big deal. The policy conclusion, conveniently, is the same: We don’t need to make any drastic changes, like curbing fossil fuels.

‘Climate delay’
WSJ: Climate Change Brings a Flood of Hyperbole
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Steven Koonin (Wall Street Journal, 8/10/21) writes, “Refreshingly, the [IPCC] report deems its highest-emissions scenarios of the future unlikely”—but doesn’t note that’s because the IPCC thinks it’s unlikely that nations will follow the advice of people like Steven Koonin.
Observers have labeled this pivot by fossil fuel companies and their supporters “climate delay,” which, among other things, falsely tries to paint new technologies, such as carbon capture, as more than sufficient to save us while they increase oil and gas production.
Koonin is a leading voice of the new climate denialism, and his recent book on the subject, Unsettled, has become the movement’s Bible. But his arguments have been so thoroughly debunked by actual experts in the scientific and journalistic communities that other major news outlets haven’t given his views a platform. That is, except for the notoriously right-wing opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, where the editorial board approvingly cited Koonin to dismiss the IPCC report (8/9/21) and gave Koonin himself a column the next day to do the same (8/10/21), and Fox News, where he’s found a sympathetic ear in Tucker Carlson (6/6/21, 6/21/21).

This is the company the Post finds itself in as it repeatedly publishes Koonin’s misinformation. In fact, yet another right-wing Post columnist, Marc Thiessen (5/14/21), has highlighted “climate facts” from the “Obama scientist,” approvingly repeating Koonin’s argument that “the idea that we can stop climate change…is delusional,” and that “adaptation is the only choice we have.” (Again, debunked.)

What’s more, in the past two months the opinion section has featured two other columns advocating climate inaction: a contribution by regular columnist Henry Olsen (9/22/21) arguing against big climate action (too “painful”) in favor of the “more realistic approach” of focusing on technology, and a guest op-ed by a lawyer for energy companies (8/15/21) arguing against the SEC’s recent proposal to make companies disclose their climate risks.

WaPo‘s poor record
FAIR: WaPo Bemoans a Climate Debate It Helped ‘Devolve’
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The Washington Post has a history (FAIR.org, 8/26/14) of bemoaning how the “national debate on climate change has devolved” (8/25/14) while presenting the likes of Sarah Palin (12/9/09) as climate experts.
Unfortunately, the Post opinion pages have a poor track record when it comes to climate. Will has been using his prominent Post column—which is also syndicated in smaller papers across the country—to spew climate disinformation since at least 1992 (FAIR.org, 5/1/07), while Post editors ignore or defend his debunked cherry-picking (FAIR.org, 2/25/09).

For years, the paper also paid former Reagan/Bush operative Ed Rogers for a regular column, allowing him to publish pieces downplaying climate change while failing to disclose that his lobbying firm counted Chevron as one of its biggest clients (FAIR.org, 4/23/15).

In fact, if this whole spectacle—of the Post editorial board announcing on one hand that climate change is a real crisis that must be urgently addressed, while on the other hand regularly publishing columns denying that scientific consensus—sounds strangely familiar, it’s because it has happened before—in 2014 (FAIR.org, 8/26/14).

Yes, seven years ago the Post editorial board (8/25/14) made a big show of arguing that the “national debate on climate change has devolved” while “scientists’ warnings have become more dire.” It continued the argument the next day (8/26/14) by telling readers that political leaders “remain divided on the need to curb greenhouse emissions,” which is simply “mind-boggling” to “mainstream scientists.”

Yet at the same time, editorial page editor Fred Hiatt flatly refused to stop giving a platform to climate deniers (Media Matters, 8/26/14): “I’m more inclined to take op-eds that challenge our editorials than just kind of join the chorus.”

Perhaps this should all come as little surprise, coming from Hiatt, a journalist who criticized presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ climate plan as “utter unseriousness” based on the opinions of an oil company CEO (FAIR.org, 2/24/20).

But it’s one thing to publish contrarians in your paper; it’s another to publish misinformation. It is well past time for the Post opinion section to stop offering a platform to the new climate denialism.

Action:
Ask Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt why, if “experts are more certain than ever that dire consequences are coming“ from climate change, his section continues to feature arguments for inaction based on uncertainty.

Contact:
Email: Fred.Hiatt@washpost.com

Phone: 202-334-7281

https://fair.org/home/action-alert-the- ... o-nothing/

Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Posted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 2:09 pm
by blindpig
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Meet the Nicaraguans Facebook Falsely Branded Bots and Censored Days Before Elections
November 4, 2021

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter suspended hundreds of influential pro-Sandinista journalists and activists days before Nicaragua’s November 7 elections, falsely claiming they were government trolls. The Grayzone interviewed them to reveal the truth.

MANAGUA, NICARAGUA – Just days before Nicaragua’s November 7 elections, top social media platforms censored top Nicaraguan news outlets and hundreds of journalists and activists who support their country’s leftist Sandinista government.

The politically motivated campaign of Silicon Valley censorship amounted to a massive purge of Sandinista supporters one week before the vote. It followed US government attacks on the integrity of Nicaragua’s elections, and Washington’s insistence that it will refuse to recognize the results.

The United States sponsored a sadistically violent coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018, which resulted in hundreds of deaths in a desperate effort to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Daniel Ortega.

Since the putsch failed, both the Donald Trump and Joe Biden administrations have imposed several rounds of devastating sanctions on Nicaragua. The US Congress plans to levy new heavy-handed sanctions against Nicaragua following the November 7 elections.

Silicon Valley’s crackdown on pro-Sandinista journalists and activists was part and parcel of the US government’s political assault on Nicaragua.

Facebook and Instagram – both of which are owned by the newly rebranded Big Tech giant Meta – suspended 1,300 Nicaragua-based accounts run by pro-Sandinista media outlets, journalists, and activists in a large-scale crackdown on October 31.

Days before, Twitter did the same, purging many prominent pro-Sandinista journalists and influencers.

On November 1, Sandinista activists whose accounts were suspended by Facebook and Instagram responded by posting videos on Twitter, showing the world that they are indeed real people. But Twitter suspended their accounts as well, seeking to erase all evidence demonstrating that these Nicaraguans are not government bots or part of a coordinated inauthentic operation.

Twitter’s follow-up censorship was effectively a double-tap strike on the freedom of speech of Nicaraguans, whose apparent misdeed is expressing political views that challenge Washington’s objectives.

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The thousands of accounts censored by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter collectively had hundreds of thousands of followers, and represented some of the biggest and most influential media outlets and organizations in Nicaragua, a relatively small country of 6.5 million people.

US Big Tech companies suspending all of these accounts mere days before elections could have a significant, tangible impact on Nicaragua’s electoral results.

The purges exclusively targeted supporters of the socialist, anti-imperialist Sandinista Front party. Zero right-wing opposition supporters in Nicaragua were impacted.

Facebook published a report on November 1 claiming the Sandinistas it censored were part of a “troll farm run by the government of Nicaragua and the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party” that had engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

This is demonstrably false. In reality, what Facebook/Instagram did is purge most high-profile Sandinista supporters on the platforms, then try to justify it by claiming that average Sandinista activists are actually government-run bots.

Facebook implicitly admitted this fact by conceding in the report that there were “authentic accounts” purged in the massive social media crackdown. But Facebook refused to differentiate between the authentic accounts and the alleged “inauthentic” accounts, naming none and instead lumping them all together in order to justify erasing their digital existence.

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Unlike Facebook’s investigators, this reporter, Ben Norton, is based in Nicaragua and personally knows dozens of the Nicaraguans whose accounts were censored, and can confirm that they are indeed real people organically expressing their authentic opinions – not trolls, bots, or fake accounts.

I interviewed more than two dozen Sandinista activists whose personal accounts were suspended, and published videos of some of them below, to prove that Facebook’s claims are categorically false.

Facebook’s security team is run by former high-level US government officials

The Facebook report falsely depicting average Sandinista activists as government trolls was co-authored by Ben Nimmo, the leader of Meta’s “Threat Intelligence Team.”

The Grayzone has exposed Nimmo as a former press officer for the US-led NATO military alliance and paid consultant to an actual covert troll farm: the Integrity Initiative, which was established in secret by British military officers to run anti-Russian influence operations through Western media.

Nimmo has served as head of investigations at Graphika, another information warfare initiative that was set up with funding from the US Defense Department’s Minerva Institute, and operates with support from the Pentagon’s top-secret Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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From Graphika’s website

Nimmo, who is also a senior fellow at the Western government-funded Atlantic Council, meddled in Britain’s 2020 election by smearing leftist Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as the vessel for a supposed Russian active measures operation.

The latest Nimmo-engineered pseudo-scandal highlights Facebook’s role as an imperial information weapon whose security team has been essentially farmed out of the US government.

The head of security policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, promoted Nimmo’s report, echoing his false claims.

Before moving to Facebook, Gleicher was director for cybersecurity policy at the White House National Security Council. He also worked at the US Department of Justice.

Gleicher clarified that when Facebook accused Nicaragua of running a supposed “troll farm,” it “means that the op is relying on fake accounts to manipulate & deceive their audience.”

According to this definition, Facebook’s report is completely wrong. Many of the accounts it suspended were run by everyday Nicaraguans, and The Grayzone has interviewed them and posted videos below.


Facebook’s “director of threat disruption,” David Agranovich, also shared Nimmo’s false report.

Like Gleicher, Agranovich worked at the US government before moving to Facebook, serving as director of intelligence for the White House National Security Council.


Both of these US National Security Council veterans actively promoted Facebook’s coordinated purge of pro-Sandinista Nicaraguans.


The Grayzone contacted Facebook with a request for comment. The head of security communications, Margarita Z. Franklin, replied without any comment, simply linking to Nimmo’s report.

When The Grayzone followed up and asked Franklin about Facebook suspending many real-life Nicaraguans who support their government but are very much not bots, she did not respond.

Meet the Nicaraguans censored by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

The Grayzone spoke with more than two dozen living, breathing Sandinista activists, whom this reporter knows and has met in person, and who were purged in the social media crackdown.

Many said this was the second or third time their accounts had been censored. Several had their Facebook and Twitter accounts removed during a violent US-backed right-wing coup attempt in 2018.

Multiple activists said they are afraid Washington will sponsor another coup attempt or destabilization operations following Nicaragua’s November 7 elections, and because they were banned on social media, the Sandinista supporters will be unable to inform the outside world about what is actually happening in their country.

Ligia Sevilla

Sandinista influencer Ligia Sevilla, who had more than 5,500 followers on her personal Instagram account, which was suspended along with her Facebook profile, proclaimed, “I’m not a bot; I’m not a troll. And my social media accounts were censored. Maybe Facebook doesn’t allow us to be Sandinistas?”

After Sevilla shared this video to verify her authenticity, Twitter suspended her account as well – a sign of a coordinated censorship campaign targeting Sandinistas on social media.

Franklin Ruiz

Sandinista activist Franklin Ruiz, whose personal Facebook page was suspended, published a video message as well: “I want to tell you that we are human beings; we are people who, on Facebook, are defending our revolution, defending our country. We are not bots, as Facebook says, or programmed trolls.”

After Ruiz shared this video on Twitter, the platform purged him too.

Hayler Gaitán

Hayler Gaitán, another Sandinista activist censored by Facebook, published a video explaining, “”I am a young communicator. I am not a troll, as Facebook says, or a bot.”

“I am a young communicator who shares information about the good progress in Nicaragua,” he continued. “We enjoy free healthcare, free education, and other programs that benefit the Nicaraguan people, and that we have been building throughout our history. And they have wanted to take that from us, but they will never be able to.”

After Gaitán posted this video on Twitter, it suspended his account as well.

Darling Huete

Darling Huete is a Nicaraguan journalist whose personal Facebook account was also censored.

“I’m here to tell you that Facebook censored my account, according to it because my account is a troll account or fake account, something that is not true. My account has been active for more than seven years,” she said in a video she posted on Twitter.

“This is clearly political censorship,because I support the government of Nicaragua, so they have decided that my opinion, or my way of thinking, is not appropriate according to the absurd policies of Facebook,” Huete lamented.

After Huete shared this video, Twitter deleted her account, too.

Huete told The Grayzone this is the second time her Facebook and Twitter accounts were suspended. The first time was during the violent US-backed right-wing coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018.

Daniela Cienfuegos

Daniela Cienfuegos, an activist with the pro-Sandinista Red de Jóvenes Comunicadores (Network of Youth Communicators), posted a video on Twitter saying, “I wanted to tell you that, no, we are not trolls. We are people who dedicate ourselves to communicate from the trenches, to inform the Nicaraguan people, and on the international stage.”

After Cienfuegos published this, Twitter deleted her account as well.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter censor top pro-Sandinista Nicaraguan journalists and media outlets
The above are just a small sample of Nicaraguans who were falsely smeared as “government-run trolls” by Facebook and erased from social media.

But it wasn’t just individual Nicaraguans who were censored. Major Nicaraguan media outlets that provide a pro-Sandinista perspective were also removed.

On the night of October 31, Facebook removed 140 pages and 24 groups, 100% of which were pro-Sandinista. Among those deleted were:

• official Sandinista newspaper Barricada, which had more than 65,000 followers
• popular youth-run left-wing media outlet Redvolución, which had more than 81,000 followers
• the Red de Jóvenes Comunicadores, or Young Communicators Network, which brings together journalists and media activists from the Sandinista Youth social movement, and which had more than 71,000 followers
• and the individual profiles of dozens of Nicaraguan journalists, activists, and influencers.

At the exact same time as the Facebook purge, its sister platform Instagram took down many of the same pages:

• Barricada, which had more than 9,500 followers
• Redvolución, which had more than 22,700 followers,
• Red de Jóvenes Comunicadores, which had more than 12,600 followers
• and, once again, the personal pages of dozens of Nicaraguan journalists, activists, and influencers.

Instagram also suspended the account of the fashion organization Nicaragua Diseña, which is very popular in Nicaragua, and had more than 42,700 followers.

Unlike the other purged accounts, Nicaragua Diseña is decidedly not a political organization. It is run by Camila Ortega, a daughter of the president, but Nicaragua Diseña intentionally goes out of its way to avoid politics, trying to bring together opposition supporters and Sandinistas in apolitical cultural events.

Just a few days before the coordinated Facebook-Instagram purge, Twitter also removed the accounts of the most prominent pro-Sandinista journalists and influencers on the platform.

On October 28, Twitter suspended the accounts of media activists @ElCuervoNica, @FloryCantoX, @TPU19J, @Jay_Clandestino, and numerous others. Together, these pro-Sandinista communicators had tens of thousands of followers.

Many of them, such as @CuervoNica and @FloryCantoR, had been censored before. This was the second or third account they had created, only to be censored for their political views.


Silicon Valley’s censorship of Nicaragua always goes in one direction: It is leftist, anti-imperialist supporters of the Sandinista government who are censored, while right-wing opposition activists, many of whom are funded by the US government, are verified and promoted by the social media monopolies.

Numerous Nicaraguan journalists whose individual social media accounts were suspended told The Grayzone they were upset and angry, as they had spent countless hours of work over years building their pages, doing journalism, and sharing information. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter deleted all of that labor in mere seconds.

Some said they fear this censorship will also harm them financially, as they had relied on their social media accounts as a source of income.

In addition to clearly infringing on their rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, the latest wave of Silicon Valley censorship has done concrete economic damage to working-class Nicaraguans who had relied on Facebook and Instagram to run small businesses. Several of those affected told The Grayzone they are now locked out of the Facebook and Instagram pages they had used to sell products like food, clothing, or homemade jewelry.

This Silicon Valley censorship thus not only greatly hinders these working-class Nicaraguans’ ability to do their work as journalists, given social media is an integral part of contemporary journalism, but also deprived them of extra sources of income they had relied on to support their families.

Given the US government’s hyperbolic claims of Russian meddling in its 2016 presidential election, the social media purge it has inspired in Nicaragua is stained with irony. After years of investigations, and billions of dollars spent, the only ostensible evidence Washington found of Russian interference was some Facebook posts, including absurd humorous memes.

If these alleged Russian Facebook memes constitute a Pearl Harbor-style attack on North American democracy, as top US government officials have claimed, then what does it mean for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to censor highly influential pro-Sandinista media outlets, journalists, and activists mere days before Nicaragua’s elections?


Besides meddling in foreign elections, North American social media monopolies have systematically and repeatedly censored journalists, politicians, and activists in numerous countries targeted by Washington for regime change, such as Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Russia, and China. On numerous occasions, these Silicon Valley companies have admitted such purges were carried out at the request of the US government.

The Grayzone has documented the many ways in which these Big Tech giants collaborate with Western governments, while promoting US state media and silencing people in countries that Washington has deemed its adversaries.

For their part, the Nicaraguans censored by Facebook and Twitter have vowed to continue their work.

Redvolución wrote that it will keep struggling in the “digital trenches” to “defend the revolution.”

Quenri Madrigal, a prominent Sandinista activist and social media influencer, commented, “We have already witnessed the forms of online censorship targeting other countries, like Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, and Iran. There is a tyranny of transnational technology and social media corporations. They are instruments that don’t belong to the peoples.”

Featured image: File Photo

(The Grayzone) by Ben Norton

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