Wednesday 12th of December 2018

in yamerika, the president himself does the twittering...


The governments of 30 countries around the globe are using armies of so called opinion shapers to meddle in elections, advance anti-democratic agendas and repress their citizens, a new report shows.

Despite the attention paid to Russian attempts to influence foreign elections, most of the offending countries use the internet to manipulate opinion domestically, says US NGO Freedom House.

“Manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 17 other countries over the past year, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate,” the US government-funded charity said. “Although some governments sought to support their interests and expand their influence abroad, as with Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe, in most cases they used these methods inside their own borders to maintain their hold on power.”

Even in those countries that didn’t have elections in the last year, social media manipulation was still frequent. Of the 65 countries surveyed, 30, including Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey, were found to be using “armies of opinion shapers” to “spread government views, drive particular agendas, and counter government critics on social media”, according to Freedom House’s new Freedom on the Net report.

That number has risen every year since the first report in 2009. In 2016, just 23 countries were found to be using the same sort of pro-government “astroturfing” (a fake grassroots movement). Recently “the practice has become significantly more widespread and technically sophisticated, with bots, propaganda producers, and fake news outlets exploiting social media and search algorithms to ensure high visibility and seamless integration with trusted content,” the report says.

“The effects of these rapidly spreading techniques on democracy and civic activism are potentially devastating … By bolstering the false perception that most citizens stand with them, authorities are able to justify crackdowns on the political opposition and advance anti-democratic changes to laws and institutions without a proper debate.”

The report describes the varied forms this manipulation takes. In the Philippines, it is manifested as a “keyboard army” paid $10 a day to operate fake social media accounts, which supported Rodrigo Duterte in the run-up to his election last year, and backed his crackdown on the drug trade this year. Turkey’s ruling party enlisted 6,000 people to manipulate discussions, drive agendas and counter opponents. The government of Sudan’s approach is more direct: a unit within the country’s intelligence service created fake accounts to fabricate support for government policies and denounce critical journalists.

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This COULD NOT happen in good-to-god honest America, could-it? I know that some denialist "organisations" are doing this caper against the science of global warming... They are paying bloggers to troll any new (and old) comment columns of article explaining the sciences and post a sceptic message as soon as possible... The government of Sudan's approach is very close to the CIA's ability to manufacture fake news (Saddam's WMDs) and get away with it... Still going on



I just realised I forgot to mark the picture at top with the usual line "Mischief by Gus Leonisky"... Tragic.

journalistic malpractice by creatively editing ...

The Atlantic has committed what some observers are calling journalistic malpractice by creatively editing quotes in its Monday story about correspondence between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump, Jr., who advised and campaigned for his father in the 2016 presidential election.

The Atlantic article, entitled "The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump, Jr. and WikiLeaks," turns 23 messages from WikiLeaks and three brief replies from Junior into a nearly-2,000 word article. Every correspondence is meticulously documented and analyzed.

It sure looks like Julian Assange admitted to Don Jr that WikiLeaks is a "pro-Trump, pro-Russia" organization…

— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) November 13, 2017

Most of the conversation is fairly innocuous, with WikiLeaks asking Trump, Jr. to help disseminate stories on their website. The most juicy part comes when WikiLeaks hits Junior with an "unusual idea" on October 21, 2016.

"Leak us one or more of your father's tax returns," WikiLeaks proposed. The benefits to this are threefold: the New York Times has already done "most of the harm" by revealing Trump's tax writeoffs, a "most biased source" could reveal the returns and "distort them into the worst posible [sic] light," and "If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality."

Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping 3 responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak. How ironic! 1/3

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 14, 2017

"That means the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing about Clinton will have a much higher impact, because it won't be perceived as coming from a 'pro-Trump' 'pro-Russian' source, which the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with."

You may be wondering why we've bolded the end of the quote. The answer for that is that The Atlantic saw fit to omit that part, presumably to smear WikiLeaks. By omitting the end of the quote, WikiLeaks seem to be tacitly admitting that they carry a pro-Trump, pro-Russia bias.

Incredible. The Atlantic edited "Trump Jr" DM story to reverse its meaning even removing "that the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with" right after "pro-Russia". Full text changes everything.

— Julian Assange

the wrong elections...

BuzzFeed News published a story Tuesday about wire transfers to Russian embassies in August 2016 that were accompanied by memos saying the funds were "to finance election campaign of 2016." The transfers, the outlet noted breathlessly, are being investigated by the FBI as possible attempts to influence the US presidential election.

The only problem with this latest Russiagate screed? The Russian Duma election was scheduled for the following month, which the money was obviously intended to support.

"On Aug. 3 of last year, just as the US presidential election was entering its final, heated phase, the Russian Foreign Ministry sent nearly $30,000 to its embassy in Washington," BuzzFeed's article reads. "The wire transfer, which came from a Kremlin-backed Russian bank, landed in one of the embassy's Citibank accounts and contained a remarkable memo line: "to finance election campaign of 2016."

The more than 60 transfers were reported to authorities by Citibank after the bank's compliance officers in the Global Intelligence Unit "flagged them as suspicious, noting that it was unable to determine the financial, business, or legal purpose of the transactions."

A state-supported bank sending money to state agencies to finance state election programs? We feel faint.

While BuzzFeed sounded the red alert and insinuated that the memo was linked to the US elections, they downplayed and buried the important information that Moscow was in the middle of its own elections. It wasn't until the seventh paragraph that the authors wrote: "Seven nations had federal elections during the span when the funds were sent — including the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, on Sept. 18, 2016."

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 14, 2017

​Could this have been the reason for the wire transfers? ​Yes, it was. The Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, responded Tuesday night to deride the allegations that the wire transfers were linked to the US 2016 election. 

Check out BuzzFeed's Russia-phobic take on the matter.

"We had an election and the intelligence community concluded Russia interfered in it," BuzzFeed cites an unidentified FBI agent saying. "How could we not investigate a suspicious financial transaction that contained a memo that said, ‘finance election campaign 2016?' Given the climate and what was in that memo line it would be very irresponsible for us not to investigate. It's a good lead."

FBI agents, of course, aren't supposed to comment on active investigations. This, however, hasn't stopped prolific Russiagater Jason Leopold, author of BuzzFeed's latest Russian drama, from frequently quoting anonymous figures from the agency. It also shouldn't go unmentioned that Leopold has also been linked to stories that have contributed to Russian hysteria — and that have later been debunked.


Take, for instance, BuzzFeed's article on Michael Lesin's death, titled "High-Profile Russian Death In Washington Was No Accident — It Was Murder, Officials Say." This article preaches that Lesin was murdered after citing three anonymous FBI agents,despite the fact that Washington, DC, police noted that there was no evidence to suggest such an act occurred. No one has ever been charged with Lesin's murder.

Leopold was also involved in an investigation suggesting Matthew Puncher, a doctor and radiation scientist, was murdered for investigating the poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Not only did UK police and medical officials agree that the doctor committed suicide, but so did MI5, the UK's counter intelligence and security agency.

In total, the bank indicated the transfers leaving the Russian Foreign Ministry amounted to about $380,000. A drop in the bucket of last year's more than billion dollar electoral drama, but perhaps exactly the right amount to staff and supply overseas voting processes, like embassies are supposed to do.


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the spooks and the empire

This induced ‘state of emergency’ is designed to prepare the American public, politically and psychologically, to maintain the momentum of the U.S. imperial offensive in the world.”

The only people that can make Russiagate fade away are the ones that invented it in the first place: the spooks, Wall Street Democrats and institutional servants of capital that gathered in Hillary Clinton’s overstuffed campaign tent, last year, to plot the next moves of a beleaguered U.S. empire.

Although a Bernie Sanders’ upset in 2016 had always been a statistical impossibility, Donald Trump’s capture of the Republican Party machinery had destabilized the duopoly political system at a time of great stress for U.S. imperialism.

The previous year, the Russian military had set up shop in Syria, blocking U.S.-backed jihadists from ousting the secular, Arab nationalist government of Bashar al Assad. It was Vladimir Putin’s answer to the global military offensive launched by Barack Obama in 2011, with NATO’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, followed immediately by the jihadist push into Syria; the Washington-engineered 2014 coup in Ukraine, on Russia’s doorstep; and, also beginning in 2011, Obama’s military “pivot” to the Pacific to confront China.

“Putin changed the game board in 2015.”

U.S. imperialism was on a roll, with a vengeance, occupying most of Africa and recovering the momentum lost with George W. Bush’s humiliating defeat in Iraq. But Putin changed the game board in 2015, militarily intervening in Syria and declaring, with the world as his witness at the opening of the UN General Assembly, that the U.S. had been acting as a de facto ally of the very jihadists that it claimed to be fighting in its global war on terror. The 21st century’s biggest lie had been exposed with a Russian megaphone, and confronted by Russian arms. America’s jihadist foot soldiers were put on the run.

Perhaps even more fundamental, the bell tolled resoundingly on the terminal decline of U.S. empire when the International Monetary Fund announced that China had surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest economy , based on “purchasing power parity.” The “American Century” -- whenever it was supposed to have begun -- was now definitively over, despite the U.S. expending more on weapons than the rest of the world, combined. As 2014 came to end, Washington’s mood turned morbid, yet meaner and more desperate than ever.

“The bell tolled resoundingly on the terminal decline of U.S. empire when the International Monetary Fund announced that China had surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest economy, based on ‘purchasing power parity’.”

That same year, the domestic U.S. pot boiled over, as Black protest reawakened in Ferguson, Missouri, after a fitful, two-generation-long sleep. The centrality of race was reasserted in the world’s first white settler state, further darkening the mood of a white populace whose skin privilege could not save them from the ravages of capitalist austerity and enforced, general precariousness. Donald Trump decided to make his move to seize the commanding heights of the White Man’s Party.

The Orange Menace, a calculating real estate racist whose mass media marketing strategy is mistaken for “populism,” ran a counter-establishment campaign that challenged the Lords of Capitals’ right to move money and jobs across borders at will, and -- horror of horrors! -- questioned the need for the U.S. to wage endless wars around the world.

President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership was already dead as the general election campaign began, but Trump’s capture of the Republican Party -- the most reliable backer of the free flow of capital -- was deeply disturbing to the capitalist order. When Trump’s mass base -- top-heavy with self-styled American “patriots” -- failed to recoil at their candidate’s apparent willingness to explore some kind of détente with Russia, the national security state descended into utter panic. If Trump’s “middle American” (white, socially right-wing) fans could not be counted on to give unquestioning support to U.S. imperial war policy, then where was the popular base to sustain Washington’s military offensive in the world?

“Their actual agenda was preservation of the global capitalist order and sustaining the momentum of the U.S. military offensive that was begun in 2011.”

From that point on, Trump was viewed as an existential threat by most of the U.S. ruling class and its attendant national security and military-industrial complex sectors, and by the corporate media that represents their interests. They rushed into Hillary Clinton’s Big Tent, claiming to make common cause with Blacks and other minorities. Howevertheir actual agenda was preservation of the global capitalist order and sustaining the momentum of the U.S. military offensive that was begun in 2011.

The CIA, in particular, made Trump their National Security Enemy #1. They are the main architects of Russiagate -- a “conspiracy” in which the predicate Kremlin “crime” of DNC document-stealing remains unproven, and which pales into almost laughable insignificance when compared to decades of U.S. wars of regime change, economic strangulation, assassinations, and outright genocide around the world. Syria and Congo (6 million-plus dead) are crimes of the worst order known to humankind. Russiagate is a lie that would be no more than a Russian diplomatic blunder, even if true.

“Russiagate is an artificial crisis that was made necessary by the actual crisis of U.S. imperialism.”

The corporate media are the public agents of the mass psychological operation. With media consolidation at such an advanced state, it turns out to be not all that difficult for a handful of media conglomerates, each tied inextricably to finance capital and in close collaboration with one of the corporate parties and all of the intelligence outfits, to create and sustain a “state of emergency” for a long period of time -- more than year, so far. This induced “state of emergency” is designed to prepare the American public, politically and psychologically, to maintain the momentum of the U.S. imperial offensive in the world, by demonizing Russia as an internal, as well as external, threat to the United States. In other words, Russiagate is an artificial crisis that was made necessary by the actual crisis of U.S. imperialism -- its economic decline and military dependence on jihadist foot soldiers, and just as importantly, the utter collapse of U.S. moral authority in the world.

The U.S. imperial orbit is shrinking, dramatically. Russiagate is the domestic response to this geopolitical reality. The real “conspirators” – the spooks, Wall Street, the military industrial complex, the Clintonite leaders of the Democratic Party, and the corporate media that serves them all -- are shrinking the American people’s political vision to Halloween dimensions. Not only are there Russians lurking in every dark corner and under every bed, but they can buy a U.S. election or foment civil disturbance and political unrest for about $100,000 -- the price of a luxury car.

They are magical, fantastical, unreal.