Thursday 29th of October 2020

If a door isn’t bolted, is it properly shut? ...

conspiracies   Is being a sceptic — a questioner — being a conspiracy theorist? 



Being sceptical of governments’ actions, reports and decrees is now judged by the media at large as being a conspiracy theory. We, the naturally-born or learned sceptics are in trouble. We are trouble. Some of us enjoy being trouble, others don’t be feel we have any choice but to ask questions.

At this stage the term “conspiracy theorist” is used by other people to denigrate your scepticism. Is our scepticism “healthy” anyway? We’ve had many subjects that crop up such as 9-11, JFK's assassination, the Iraq war on Saddam, global warming and now the Covid19 critical situation in which a lot of questions have to be asked but we’re told that the cases are open and shut — and we should shut our traps otherwise we’ll be deemed to be "conspiracy theorists", whatever meaning is meant, to denigrate our intellectual inability to swallow hook, line and sinker. Even if we distrust the official narrative, we could just shut up and enjoy the weather. But sometimes, we’re drenched in rubbish as we loose our pants on the investment markets. We want real answers and see some people go to prison should they have been deemed to defraud us. Good luck...

For example was there a conspiracy between the rating agencies and the sellers to defraud investors in the subprime scandal of 2008? Or were the subprime “packages” secretly disguised enough as to hide the real value of what was being invested in, by entire governments no less? Was there a “conspiracy” to sink the economies of such countries? 

Were the rating agencies fooled like the rest of the people (including governments) by not seeing that the mix of mortgages did not represent the value that was sold (betted upon)? And what do we accept as value if we are prepared to buy without proper assessment of our purchases?

This is why there are controversies. This is why there are laws, lawyers and other systems to investigate the SNAFUs, but do these investigations flush the underlying conspiracies should there be some lurking below the controversies? Or are the system prone to cock ups, fucups and bad or good decisions because of ideologies, say "conservative versus progressive”? Should human rights be more valuable than money?

In the Covid19 situation, was the response by governments (under the WHO directives) the best solutions available or could we have done better? Are governments at the mercy of advisors who advise on behalf of private interests to the detriment/advantage of the public, limiting the public debate, including eliminating challenging controversies — by some specialists and scientists — by defining them as “conspiracy theories”?

The global warming conspiracy theories are going both ways, and at this stage we have to make a choice. Or do we? Are the calculations and observations of warming accurate enough? Is 97 per cent of scientists supporting the theory enough to make a positive claim, or are these scientists in the pocket of governments by receiving grants for studying the problem, going to find a problem in order to get more grants? Are the dissenters in the pocket of the fossil fuel industries? Are these dissenters' work trustworthy or are they full of bullshit interpretation of the data? Have we got enough data? Is the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs an illusion?

In regard to Covid19, had the virus been very virulent, should isolation and confinement restrictions be lifted so soon? Is there a second wave coming, or have we avoided the thingy because the virus tends to mostly affect people over 65? And the "prone to dying" have died anyway? Is the story about a 93 year old woman, surviving the infection, balanced by 134,576.5 death of old people but younger than her? Is her survival due to luck or care? Is Africa less prone because it’s warmer than say, Russia?

Sorry (not really) to ask questions… I always have. It’s in the structure of the language I was born with: If a door isn’t bolted, is it properly shut? 

GL.
Controversy analyst.

of conspiracy theorists...

the tirade above was inspired by Iain at: https://in-this-together.com/conspiracy-theorist-confesses/

 

It was actually the "comments" to the article that inspired Gus to explain what I feel was missed by the two main commentators. 

 

 

See also:

 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/35992

 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/33287

 

http://yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/6047

 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/11276

 

 

conspiracy of competitors?

Optus has been ordered to hand over the details of a customer accused of defaming a Melbourne dentist through a Google review, which he says has had a profound impact on his teeth-whitening business.

 

Key points:
  • Melbourne dentist Matthew Kabbabe is taking court action to unmask a Google reviewer
  • Optus has been served with a subpoena to produce documents which could reveal who wrote the negative review
  • The dentist is among several Victorians taking court action to reveal the identities of anonymous online reviewers

 

The telco's Australian office has been served with a subpoena to produce documents which could unmask the writer of the negative review, published on Google's platform about six months ago.

The details will then be used to launch defamation proceedings.

Optus has until June 17 to respond to the subpoena.

The escalation in the hunt for the reviewer, known only as CBsm 23, comes after Matthew Kabbabe's legal team successfully convinced the Federal Court to order Google to give up details which identified them as an Optus customer.

Dr Kabbabe's lawyer, Mark Stanarevic from Matrix Legal, said it was a significant moment.

"We've opened up the veil, pierced it, in terms of people hiding behind Google reviews," Mr Stanarevic said.

"It's been demonstrated that we can do that now," he said.

"It seems litigation is the only mechanism [where] people can seek these remedies."

The review in question has since been removed from Dr Kabbabe's Google page, leaving him with an average 4.9 star rating out of dozens of appraisals.

Optus has declined to comment.

Others seek to unmask Google reviewers

Dr Kabbabe is not the only business owner pursuing negative reviewers who are hiding behind the veil of anonymity

On Thursday, the Federal Court also ordered Google to hand over any identifying details of another negative reviewer accused of defaming Melbourne gangland lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson.

Ms Garde-Wilson, who is also being represented by Matrix Legal, was allegedly defamed by a user called Mohamed Ahmed who criticised her law firm, Garde Wilson Criminal Lawyers.

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-05/optus-ordered-to-hand-over-information-on-google-review-author/12322174

 

Some businesses give cash or discounts for complimentory reviews...

 

 

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censorship of RT by facebook...


Conspiracy glitch?


‘System glitch’: Facebook admits RT Deutsch story was WRONGLY labeled ‘fake’ but damage to traffic is already done.


The "glitch" took place right after RT Deutsch reported that it became the fifth most popular German-language outlet on Facebook, citing video viewership data from March 2020...


Facebook fact checkers have labeled a video published by RT’s German-language branch RT Deutsch ‘fake news,’ after the outlet reported a viewership spike. They later blamed a ‘technical glitch’ but the damage was already done.

An innocent post about a hospital being built in Russian city of Ufa to treat people suffering from Covid-19 had somehow incurred the displeasure of Facebook’s ever-watchful fact checkers. It is trivial to discover lots of stories about the project in Russia’s regional and national media, as well as a plenty of videos of the hospital under construction on platforms such as YouTube.

Yet Facebook’s guardians of truth still declared that video of the hospital was false and labelled it as such in mid-May, just a day after it was published. When RT sought to find out the reasons for such a move, it emerged that the fact-checker involved was Fatabyyano, a platform normally verifying Arabic-language stories about the Middle East and North Africa.

In what came as an even bigger surprise, the link attached to the RT Deutsch video as proof of its alleged falsehood led to a post analyzing an entirely different story about some quotes on Covid-19 falsely attributed to the former French minister and ex-UN Under-Secretary-General, Philippe Douste-Blazy.

When RT attempted to contact the fact checkers and point out the discrepancy, it received no reply. Only a message to Facebook administration set things into motion. Fatabyyano CEO Moath Altheher apologized to RT and said that his agency never rated any German-language content, let alone the specific RT post. He blamed the whole incident on an alleged “technical problem with the system” or an email glitch.

READ MORE: War on ‘fake news’ made Facebook users more gullible – just in time for the 2020 election! Is anyone surprised? 

The "false" tag has since been removed from the video in question, but the damage has already been done, since RT Deutsch reported a steep downfall in the number of ‘likes’ and shares of its content following the incident. The tag also caused RT Deutsch to temporarily lose access to Facebook’s Instant Articles service, as well as to content monetization options. Facebook algorithms limit the spread of content from sources it deems ‘fake news factories’, meaning that fewer people could actually see RT Deutsch posts.

 

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/490830-facebook-rt-fact-checkers-blunder/

 

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See also: bezos' amazon becomes an arbiter of censorship... in free america now...

 

 

 

propaganda device aimed at stifling dissenting voices...

 

NO LONGER "CONSPIRATORS", BUT "TRAITORS"


The EU, NATO, NewsGuard and the Voltaire Network


by Thierry Meyssan


The propaganda device aimed at stifling dissenting voices has taken a step forward. It is no longer simply a matter of accusing them of committing factual errors or deliberately lying, but of presenting them as traitors in the pay of a foreign power.



VOLTAIRE NETWORK | DAMASCUS (SYRIA) | 5 MAY 2020


The European External Action Service created in 2015 the East StratCom Task Force, a unit tasked with combating disinformation from the Russian secret services. It runs a website, EUvsDisinfo.eu, and sends weekly e-mails to EU journalists to spread its good word. We have already reported that this unit is linked to the NATO Communication Centre in Riga [1].


This unit has just warned journalists of the Union and incidentally all those who subscribed to its newsletter [2] that our article of March 31, "Putchists in the Shadow of the Coronavirus" [3], is Russian disinformation [4].


- First, we are outraged to appear on an official site of the Union responsible for listing Russian disinformation - and this is not the first time. We have no connection with the Russian authorities, nor with those of any other country. This is pure defamation.


- Secondly, the EU’s rebuttal merely states that our work would be: "An exaggerated interpretation of a Newsweek article from Mid-March. Newsweek describes the role of the US military, should the political leadership be incapacitated". However, we have quoted part of William Arkin’s article without distorting it and analysing his information in relation to others that are not more contested. It is the perspective of all this data that troubles the EU.


Until now, the public authorities had financed private initiatives to de-credit dissident sources. This is, for example, the function of the Decodex du Monde [5]. It is now a matter of going further and accusing them of treason.


To distinguish between true and false, exercise your critical mind!


NewsGuard, a New York-based company created to evaluate the reliability of websites and make a note on search engines, contacted us asking first what our relations with the Syrian state are, and then what we "think of this criticism".


NewsGuard is very neutral. Its Board of Directors is secret, but its Advisory Board includes one of the co-founders of Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales) as well as the former director of the CIA and the NSA (General Michael Hayden), the former Secretary General of NATO (Anders Fogh Rasmussen), the former Secretary for Homeland Security (Tom Ridge) or the former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy - i.e. Propaganda (Richard Stengel) [6].

Under the European Treaties, NATO protects the EU. In other words, the European Union is only the civilian part of a whole in which NATO is the military part.


After several attempts to kidnap or assassinate one of my staff and me in four different countries, we have every reason to believe that it is the Atlantic Alliance that has, on numerous occasions, saturated or even hacked into our website. Our opponents seem to be reverting to non-lethal means: lies and defamation.


War Propaganda is a three-phase process of engaging the public in causes they would normally disapprove of: 

- The first is to mix the false with the true while accusing those who tell the truth of being wrong or lying (fake news). 

- The second is to dismiss all dissenting speeches and thus create an appearance of unanimity around the doctored truth. At this point, the dissidents are no longer hullabaloo-mongering storytellers, but become traitors. 

- The third one to push the targets to practice symbolic acts of acquiescence to the new ideology.


A step has just been taken.


Thierry Meyssan

Translation 

Roger Lagassé

 

 

Read more:

https://www.voltairenet.org/article209807.html

 

 

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a line in the sand?

NSW will look to limit the size of protests amid the pandemic after the weekend’s mass rallies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Saturday’s rally in Sydney, attended by 20,000 people, represented “a line in the sand”.

NSW Police made a successful bid in the Supreme Court to have the Sydney demonstration declared illegal under public health measures.

But the demonstration went ahead after the Court of Appeal overturned the ruling less than 15 minutes before it was due to start.

“The NSW government would never, ever approve any activity – let me make that clear – which was not in line with health orders,” Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday.

“The health orders are changing but there is no excuse for anybody, any organisation, anybody thinking they’re above the health orders.

“It’s making sure that everybody respects the health orders and I think we need to draw a line in the sand in what happened on the weekend.”

NSW Police Minister David Elliott said last week anyone that seeking to gather during a pandemic was “certifiably insane” and “nuts”. On Monday, he said he expected future protests involving more than 10 people to be illegal if they failed to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

“Any protest in the future, irrespective of how honourable the cause, must comply with the current public health orders,” Mr Elliott said.

“If it does not, it is my expectation that police will not authorise the protest and it will be illegal.

 

Read more:

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/coronavirus/2020/06/09/nsw-protests-viru...

 

This bullshit "line in the sand"... has nothing to do with coronavirus, but with preventing people from protesting. Read between the lines. This line in the sand is 100 per cent fascist.

 

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buying influence, curry favors and section 230...

 

by Declan Leary

 

Section 230 has become a mainstay of our political news cycle, as Senator Josh Hawley and other Silicon Valley skeptics wage daily war on the controversial law which leaves Big Tech platforms immune to liability for content posted by third-parties on their sites. Hawley’s forceful condemnation of Big Tech’s special treatment by the government—despite the clear anti-conservative bias and progressive agenda of many of these companies—is a defining element of a particular, ascendant brand of conservatism.

But heated debates over Silicon Valley’s special protection precede the Missouri populist’s arrival on the Hill by years. One of the most memorable crusades against Section 230’s unintended consequences saw Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) leading the charge on the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act—a hard title to argue with—in 2017-18. The bill became law with overwhelming bipartisan support. Only two senators—unflinching libertarian Rand Paul (R-KY) and Section 230 coauthor Ron Wyden (D-OR)—voted against.


SESTA’s easy passage came despite the best efforts of Silicon Valley powerhouses like Google,  and suggested that these companies’ old way of operating in D.C. was no longer viable. For a long time, tech giants could count on strong alliances with the Democratic establishment and the progressive movement, together with the pro-business Republican Party’s overall aversion to regulation, to ensure general freedom from Washington interference. But a strong Republican House through most of the Obama years—followed by Republican control of all three federal branches after the 2016 elections, and a reconsideration of free-market ideology within the GOP—meant that Silicon Valley needed friends in Washington whose names weren’t followed by (D-CA).

The Google Transparency Project released a landmark report in December of 2019 detailing the way Google went about making those new friends. It hinges, in large part, on a single person: six-year employee Rachel Whetstone was promoted to senior vice president for communications and public policy in May of 2011—not long after a wave of Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. Whetstone is the granddaughter of Antony Fisher, founder of the libertarian mega-donor Atlas Network, and daughter of its current chairwoman. From the GTP report:

Shortly after Whetstone took on her new role, Google began making what would be annual donations to the group her grandfather founded. Google contributed between $25,000 and $99,999 to Atlas Network each year from 2012 to 2015. In 2016 and 2017, as scrutiny of the company intensified, Google upped its support to six figures, between $100,000 and $1 million, earning a spot in Atlas Network’s “Freedom Champions Circle.”

In 2018, Google was again giving less than $100,000 to Atlas Network. But by then, it was also directly funding many conservative groups within the network.

In all, the report found that “Google has given money to…at least 22 conservative and libertarian organizations, the GTP analysis shows. They include the American Conservative Union, American Legislative Exchange Council, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and the Mercatus Center.” The report is worth reading in full.

It is no coincidence that infamously progressive corporate behemoth Google was throwing wads of cash at conservative groups at just the time that a majority Republican Congress was weighing legislation that might chip away at Google’s bottom line. Even limited liability for third-party content could cost Google millions, and opportunistic appeals to market-minded Republicans on grounds of freedom and limited government might save substantial amounts of money in the long run.


But even this is just one small part of the bigger picture. Given SESTA’s landslide passage, massive donations to conservative institutions may not have been the winning strategy that Google had hoped. Now, as a renewed animus against Big Tech takes hold of D.C. conservatives, another strategy is gaining traction among powerful but anxious tech companies—one focused not on money, but on manpower.

♦♦♦

In April of 2019, the Senate Judiciary Committee—controlled by Republicans and chaired by Ted Cruz (R-TX)—rejected a Google witness for a hearing on free speech concerns on Big Tech platforms. The witness, Max Pappas, had just been hired by Google in March of 2017. Pappas was expected to make inroads into the conservative establishment. He had the background for it, after all: immediately before his arrival at Google, Pappas spent four years as chief economist and director of outreach for… Ted Cruz. Though this episode hardly worked out in Google’s favor, it’s indicative of the strategy that Google and other tech companies have been shifting toward in recent years: hiring staffers with strong connections in the D.C. conservative establishment, in hopes that those connections will prove more beneficial than impersonal donations to right-of-center nonprofits.

Pappas’ superiors, for instance, have resumes that ought to raise some eyebrows. Karan Bhatia is a vice president for government affairs and public policy at Google. He came to Google from GE, but before that he served as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, among a number of other positions in the Bush administration. Bhatia, who heads up Google’s D.C. office, remains well known in the city’s conservative circles.

Another Google vice president for government affairs and public policy is even more intriguing. Mark Isakowitz has been at Google since October of 2019. Before that, he spent nearly five years as chief of staff to Sen. Rob Portman. The timeline is worth noting: in 2018, Isakowitz was chief of staff to a Republican senator pushing legislation that Google opposed with the full force of its lobbying machine; within a year, Isakowitz became a part of that machine himself. Other corporations are taking note, and testing out their own personnel-centered strategies.

Freddy Barnes spent six years as policy director for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), during which time McCarthy was majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Before that, he spent two years on McCarthy’s floor team while the congressman was majority whip. As of June, Freddy Barnes is employed in U.S. public policy at TikTok, a viral social media company suspected, with its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance, of feeding user information to the Chinese government. This suspicion has inspired serious talk in the federal government of banning the platform altogether.

Derrick Dockery worked for three years as business and intergovernmental coalitions director for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), following one year as communications and coalitions coordinator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and two in communications for Rep. Ryan. As of June, Derrick Dockery is employed in U.S. government affairs at TikTok—rejoining Barnes, with whom he overlapped on Capitol Hill for six years (each serving one of the two highest-ranking members of the House).

David Urban was a senior adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and a key player in both the Republican National Convention that year and Trump’s general election victory in Pennsylvania. Urban has been tapped for Trump’s 2020 Advisory Committee, but the veteran politico will have to split his time between getting the president reelected and representing Chinese corporate interests: as of January, Urban’s lobbying firm, American Continental Group, is on the take from TikTok.

These guys are relative newcomers to the scene compared to other Conservative Inc. transplants in Big Tech—especially Chinese tech. Donald J. Morrissey has spent over 9 years heading up U.S. government affairs for Huawei, another Chinese corporation suspected of unsavory ties to the government in Beijing. Before taking over lobbying for the foreign tech giant—whose CEO is a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army—Morrissey worked on the staff of multiple Republican congressmen, as well as in other notable roles in the D.C. conservative establishment. Among other positions, he was the legislative director of the American Conservative Union.

Nor are these machinations limited to the United States. One of Huawei’s top men in Canada is 36-year-old lawyer Alykhan Velshi. Velshi’s colorful career includes government posts, stints at the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a host of hawkish op-eds at a multitude of outlets, and a year at the American Enterprise Institute.

These are some of the big fish, but the catalogue of Hill and nonprofit staffers who have landed in the tech world is enormous. Former Steve King aide Robert Babcock is lobbying for Google. Amazon lobbyist Darren Achord spent nearly a decade on the Hill working for Republican politicians, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), whom he served as deputy chief of staff while Scalise was majority whip. The list goes on.

Often, the efforts at personal networking have been targeted and direct. Such was the case with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Once one of Google’s most vocal critics in Washington, the chairman of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee is now all but silent on Big Tech, and at times even openly defensive of it. This is no coincidence: the Tech Transparency Project has shed light on a concerted effort by Google to curry favor with Lee. Besides substantial donations—GTP counted at least $73,600 from tech-affiliated donors for Lee’s 2016 reelection campaign—tech interests began actively recruiting personnel from Lee’s circle. Max Pappas had been a Lee ally, particularly in his time as executive director of FreedomWorks PAC. Bryson Bachman had been Lee’s chief counsel on the antitrust subcommittee; he was hired by Amazon in 2018. Meanwhile, Sen. Lee’s chief counsel on the judiciary committee, Mike Lemon, went on to become a senior director at the Internet Association.

The Internet Association is worth reflecting on here. It was formed in 2012, when the big players in Silicon Valley came together to form a lobbying group that would represent their shared interests in Washington. Google, as always, was a leader in the field—this was around the same time that the company was making its connections with the Atlas Network and other institutions of the right. Other giants like Amazon and Facebook were there at the inception, and the group quickly ballooned from 14 members to 40.

This rapid growth was thanks, in large part, to the success of its president and CEO, Michael Beckerman. Beckerman came to the job with plenty of relevant experience: roughly 12 years on Capitol Hill, in positions that included deputy staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (i.e., the legislative body charged with the direction of U.S. internet policy) and chief policy adviser to the committee chair, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). For eight years, from 2012-2020, Beckerman used the skills and knowledge he had learned at the center of GOP leadership to navigate the ins and outs of tech policy in D.C., providing invaluable insight to Silicon Valley corporate interests. His new employers must be hopeful that the longtime D.C. power-player can bring that same inside perspective to their playbook in the capital.

As of this March, Beckerman is head of U.S. public policy at TikTok.

 

 

 

Read more:

 

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-conservative-inc-to-big-tech-pipeline/

 

 

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is the guardian the voice of big brother?...

...

The officer’s deadpan response – “It’s 2020 mate. What do you identify as?” – got him his own thread on Reddit, but the bizarre interaction is not unique.

Viral footage of people defying restrictions on borders, large gatherings and, in Victoria, the use of face masks, have increasingly peppered Australian news as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches into its eighth month.

This past week a woman who refused to wear a face mask in a Bunnings hardware store in Melbourne became the latest fodder for the news cycle after she described herself as “a living woman” to a bemused employee. A few days earlier, footage of a woman reading from a script as she asked an officer “have I disturbed the peace today?” while refusing to answer questions at a border stop in Victoria also made headlines.

Footage of these encounters and others like them share a similar characteristic: in them, the people challenging police appear to be reading from the same script, a pdf file that has been shared widely across various Facebook groups loosely affiliated with the so-called “sovereign citizen” conspiracy movement.

 

Read more;

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/02/coronavirus-conspiracy-theory-covid-19-australia-agenda-australian-theorists-groups-anti-vaxxers-antivax-vaccine-face-masks

 

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