The Avalanche – Snapshot 4 – October 26, ’17

“NYT’s Assault On Press Freedom” by Daniel Lazare

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Once upon a time the danger to a free press came from the right. But since Russia-gate, liberals have been busy playing catch-up.

The latest example is a front-page article in Tuesday’s New York Times. Entitled “YouTube Gave Russian Outlet Portal Into U.S.,” it offers the usual blah-blah-blah about Kremlin agents engaging in the political black arts. But it goes a step farther by attempting to discredit a perfectly legitimate news organization…

Reporters Daisuke Wakabayashi and Nicholas Confessore begin by noting that RT, the Moscow-funded TV channel formerly known as “Russia Today,” is now an Internet powerhouse…

Cue the ominous background music. “But now,” the article continues, “as investigators in Washington examine the scope and reach of Russian interference in United States policy, the once-cozy relationship between RT and YouTube is drawing closer scrutiny.”…

The story quotes “the American intelligence community” describing RT as the Kremlin’s “principal international propaganda outlet” and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia calling YouTube “a target-rich environment for any disinformation campaign.”

Then comes the kicker: “Much like the Russian-controlled pages on Facebook, RT’s YouTube videos comply with YouTube’s community guidelines, which cover things like nudity, copyright violations and promoting violence against a group based on race or religion. But not propaganda.”

Bottom line: disinformation and propaganda are what RT is all about. But there’s a problem: the Times article is less than clear about what RT actually got wrong.

“Trump Isn’t the Only One Blocking Constituents on Twitter” by Charles Ornstein (co-published with Slate)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

===== –
As President Donald Trump faces criticism for blocking users on his Twitter account, people across the country say they, too, have been cut off by elected officials at all levels of government after voicing dissent on social media…

In Arizona, a disabled Army veteran grew so angry when her congressman blocked her and others from posting dissenting views on his Facebook page that she began delivering actual blocks to his office.

A central Texas congressman has barred so many constituents on Twitter that a local activist group has begun selling T-shirts complaining about it.

And in Kentucky, the Democratic Party is using a hashtag, #BevinBlocked, to track those who’ve been blocked on social media by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. (Most of the officials blocking constituents appear to be Republican.)…

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland called on Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, to stop deleting critical comments and barring people from commenting on his Facebook page. (The Washington Post reported that the governor had blocked 450 people as of February.)

Deborah Jeon, the ACLU’s legal director, said Hogan and other elected officials are increasingly foregoing town hall meetings and instead relying on social media as their primary means of communication with constituents. “That’s why it’s so problematic,” she said. “If people are silenced in that medium,” they can’t effectively interact with their elected representative.
– =====

The above article – talk about an avalanche of actions killing communication! – mentions one activist’s attempts to expose this one area in the avalanche of actions killing communication. Angela Greben is warring against the widespread Twitter-blocking by politicians and other officials that is happening. She created an interesting website that presents some of her research: Government Block Lists Revealed.

Truthdig is beginning to look trashy with ads for Amazon. Keep it classy Truthdig! As for Pro Publica, there’s a reason I don’t have it among my bookmarks of (failed and still solid) progressive sites. I just don’t remember the details. The above article, which mentions Larry Hogan, was published June 8, 2017, whereas the Real News article I link to below and which examines Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s recent obscene signing into law (October 23) of another anti-BDS law, was published October 25, so Charles Ornstein couldn’t mention it. Now, about half of the United States (23 states?) has passed laws silencing numerous companies doing business with governments (on the subject of Nazi Israel’s treatment of Palestinians), and, by extension, all of those who care about human rights who might otherwise want to know and talk about what Nazi Israel is doing to it’s captives in Gaza and throughout Palestine. As the Christian Bible notes about the wild beast of Corporatocracy, “It puts under compulsion all people – the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves – that these should be marked… that nobody can buy or sell except a person having the mark…” Revelation 13:16-18)

“Censorship in the Digital Age” by Jason Hirthler

An excerpt from the above link-to article follows:

The grand experiment with western democracy, badly listing thanks to broadsides from profiteering oligarchs, may finally run ashore on the rocks of thought crime. In the uneven Steven Spielberg project Minority Report, starring excitable scientologist Tom Cruise, Cruise plays a futuristic policeman who investigates pre-crimes and stops them before they happen… Of course, it turns out that precogs can pre-visualize different futures, a hastily hidden flaw that threatens to jeopardize the profits of the pre-crime project. Here is the crux of the story: thought control is driven by a profit motive at bottom. As it turns out, just like real life.

Now, the British government has decided to prosecute pre-crime but has done away with the clunky plot device of the pre-cogs, opting rather to rely on a hazy sense of higher probability to justify surveilling, nabbing, convicting, and imprisoning British citizens. The crime? Looking at radical content on the Internet. What is considered radical will naturally be defined by the state police who will doubtless be personally incentivized by pre-crime quotas, and institutionally shaped to criminalize trains of thought that threaten to destabilize a criminal status quo. You know, the unregulated monopoly capitalist regime that cuts wages, costs, and all other forms of overhead with psychopathic glee…

The official interpretation of reality is already in place: western civilization is beset on all sides by maniacs that want to take away our freedoms. The surveillance is already in place through programs like the Five Eyes alliance and ECHELON, PRISM, Boundless Informant, FISA, Stellar Wind, and many others. What remains is to tighten the noose of censorship around the neck of our open western societies.

To that end, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd recently announced that citizens that view too much extremist material online could face up to 15 years in jail…

How do you (UK citizens) feel reading this post?

The author says so much in this article. I hope to one day do a blog post titled “Condor Principles,” which this author describes, but without mentioning Operation Condor.

“Maryland Governor Signs Executive Order Opposing BDS Movement” by Sharmini Peries and Dimi Khalidi

(WordPress insists on creating a wider gap above this sentence than I wanted. I’m just waiting for WordPress to kill my blog.) An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

SHARMINI PERIES: Dima, as I said, Governor Hogan’s executive order and the state of Maryland is one of many states that have now adopted anti-BDS measures, some 21 states. Why are they doing this and how constitutional are these positions and measures?

DIMA KHALIDI: Well, the reason that we’re seeing these now 22 laws, actually, is because of the growing effectiveness of the grassroots movement for Palestinian rights, which includes efforts to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel for its illegal activities and its decades of violations of Palestinian human rights…

SHARMINI PERIES: Right. Now, 21 states, that’s almost, not quite, but almost half the United States. The defenders of anti-BDS laws and orders argue that states have the right to choose with whom they do business. This sounds a lot like arguments that were made during racial segregation…

DIMA KHALIDI: The parallel that should be made is with Civil Rights-era boycotts. The 1982 Supreme Court case that declared our right to boycott for political, economic, and social change arose from such a boycott of white businesses in the South. The Supreme Court said that when we use our collective voices to try to affect such change, it is protected by the First Amendment and so the states’ defense of these bills and these laws saying it amounts to their own speech rights, it does not hold water here…

SHARMINI PERIES: The Texas case which is arguably even more extreme in that the town of Dickinson, Texas is providing Hurricane Relief only to those who sign a promise not to boycott Israel…

DIMA KHALIDI: It really shows the extent to which these laws are trying to place a political litmus test on the receipt of state benefits including disaster relief…

DIMA KHALIDI: That’s right that they do create these litmus tests, and we have seen certain organizations, Jewish organizations, Zionist organizations, realizing that these bills are not the way to go but what we also have to keep in mind is that this is really part of a much larger effort to silence Palestine advocacy and we have to challenge that as a whole.

See my previous blog post titled “A Loud Whoompfing Sound.”

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7 Responses to The Avalanche – Snapshot 4 – October 26, ’17

  1. Regarding the “wider gap” or extra line/paragraph space in your blog post, it doesn’t show up in the Reader view:

    Have you looked in the Text version to take out the extra line space? Many times it is ” ” in the Text version, so just edit it out.

    Not sure what you mean by you’re “waiting for WordPress to kill my blog”?

  2. Arrby says:

    Thanks Dandelion Salad. I only edit in the text mode. I tried simply deleting the space, just in case something was there, and then separating the two sections again, to no avail. But you say you don’t see it. Interesting.

    As for my WordPress comment, It’s cynical. I don’t trust WP and expect it to eventually do something really nasty, the way Mozilla recently did, forcing me to abandon Firefox altogether. As a Business Insider article explains, Mozilla has joined Google et al in the crusade to deal with what the establishment views a fake news. WP is too big for it to be clean, in this world. In this world, you succeed by worshipping the wild beast of Corporatocracy.

    • I do see the extra space on your post. In the Reader, the space doesn’t show up. Not sure why the difference. Did you click to view your post in the Reader?

      What’s up with Firefox and Google? I still use Firefox but not as much as I used to. I now use Epic Privacy browser for most online activity.

      • Arrby says:

        You must know about Google. Just do a search. Enter terms such as Google and First Draft. Better yet, search on progressive websites. Try Newsbud or A Day in the Empire (which Kurt seems to not have time for any more) or Off Guardian or 21st Century. Or my blog. You can also search on my blog using the word ‘Mozilla’. As I noted, Mozilla has gone over to the dark side with its decision to help bury what the establishment considers fake news, which is of course real news. I haven’t had a chance to investigate the problem with my post’s appearance, but at least the problem is not a big one.

        I just quickly checked and the gap has mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t me. I don’t even know how it got there.

  3. Arrby says:

    Correction: The gap is still there, at least on my blog.

    • Yes, I still see the gap, too.

      Did you check the Text view in the blog editor to see what is causing that gap?

      • Arrby says:

        I don’t see it in my text editor. I normally use the text editor. I almost never use the visual editor. I do have a script that redirects me to the original, robust (classic) editor. I’d ask the author about it, but he’s not accessible. I’ve asked him questions before on his messy blog, but was met with crickets. I’d be lost without his scripts. But I have to say, I hate geeks. They aren’t friendly.

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