Salvador Dali The ghost of Vermeer of Delft which can be used as a table 1934
Nobody has described the American position on Ukraine as succinctly or as wisely as UFC Fighter @ThugnastyMMA pic.twitter.com/BCMfnniKPV
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 9, 2022
Oliver Stone, Nuland, Robert Parry, Yanukovich
— SilencedMajority (@BackthenFoward) March 9, 2022
The Monastiraki kitchen is keeping a close eye on what happens with food prices, of course. When you make 5-600 meals per week, you have to. Predictions of quadrupling prices make us nervous. We would like to store more food, while it’s still affordable, but the space we have for that must first be renovated. That will cost so much, however, that I said we cannot afford to take the money away from buying food. It’s too risky right now. I’ll write an article on it soon, as we know more details.
• Ukraine Crisis Is Unleashing ‘Hell On Earth’ For Food Prices (BBC)
The head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, has warned the conflict in Ukraine could send global food prices soaring, with a catastrophic impact on the world’s poorest. Ukraine and Russia are both major exporters of basic foodstuffs, and the war has already hit crop production, driving up prices Mr Beasley said it was putting more people at risk of starvation worldwide. “Just when you think hell on earth can’t get any worse, it does,” he said. Russia and Ukraine, once dubbed “the breadbasket of Europe”, export about a quarter of the world’s wheat and half of its sunflower products, like seeds and oil. Ukraine also sells a lot of corn globally. Analysts have warned that war could impact the production of grains and even double global wheat prices.
Mr Beasley told BBC World Service’s Business Daily programme that the number of people facing potential starvation worldwide had already risen from 80 million to 276 million in four years prior to Russia’s invasion, due to what he calls a “perfect storm” of conflict, climate change and coronavirus. He said certain countries could be particularly affected by the current crisis, due to the high proportion of grains they currently import from the Black Sea region. “The country of Lebanon, 50%, give or take, of their grains, come from Ukraine. Yemen, Syria, Tunisia – and I could go on and on – depend on the country of Ukraine as a breadbasket,” he said. “So you’re going from being a breadbasket to now, literally, having to hand out bread to them. It’s just an incredible reverse of reality.”
“Kyiv has not shared with the West what has been going on in the negotiations since they do not want to damper the worldwide sense of emergency.”
• What Is Going On In Negotiations Between Russia And Ukraine? (JPost)
Three days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the details are beginning to emerge. According to people who were privy to details about the meeting, the current situation is that Russia has offered a “final” version of its offer to end the crisis, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky needs to accept or decline. The proposal was deemed “difficult” but not “impossible,” the sources said. It is worse than what Zelensky would have gotten before the invasion but “the gaps between the sides are not great.” Putin ordered his forces to halt – and the command for a ceasefire to be enacted was given – in order to wait for Zelensky’s decision, the sources said. If Ukraine’s president rejects the proposal, French President Emmanuel Macron’s assumption that “the worst is before us” is prone to happen.
In that scenario, Putin will order his army to put the pedal to the metal and change the face of Ukraine. Zelensky is torn, the sources said. On the one hand, he is enjoying immense popularity and has become the perfect Che Guevara. On the other hand, he knows full well what the Argentinian revolutionary and guerrilla leader’s end was. Zelensky can fortify Ukraine’s independence but will have to pay a heavy price, the sources said. Assumptions are that he will be forced to give up the contested Donbas region, officially recognize the pro-Russian dissidents in Ukraine, pledge that Ukraine will not join NATO, shrink his army and declare neutrality. If he declines the proposal, the outcome may be terrible: thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Ukrainians will die and there is a high probability that his country will completely lose its independence.
According to the sources knowledgeable about the content of the talks, Bennett’s trip to Moscow was not meant to mediate between the sides and no arbitration proposal was officially offered. Rather, the trip was meant to get a sense of what Putin’s position was, what his state of mind was and what his redlines were, and report them to the West. The real negotiations, according to the sources, are happening directly between Russia and Ukraine and are much more serious than what the West has been saying. Kyiv has not shared with the West what has been going on in the negotiations since they do not want to damper the worldwide sense of emergency. In reality, however, the Ukrainians know full well what Putin’s demands are and they know they will have to make a dramatic decision in the coming days.
“Some Russians I know who had favorable opinions of the West now feel like they are *personally* under attack. They resent being the targets of economic warfare.”
• Sanctions On Russia Will Strengthen Putin’s Grip (Ehrlich)
The West thinks sanctions are hurting Putin. They have it backwards: His power inside Russia is surging. A thread on what analysts are getting so wrong. Objectively, Putin’s poll numbers have improved since the lead-up to and onset of the war. This was predictable; a “rally ’round the flag” effect is common for wartime president. In less than 2 weeks, his approval rating spiked 10 points from 61% to 71%. Image Many in the West are predicting that this effect will be short lived. Analysts think that Russians will sour on Putin if the economic situation in the country continues to worsen. But there’s a gaping hole in their theory: Russians don’t think the war was Putin’s fault. This is difficult for people in the West to understand.
Here, we see the invasion of Ukraine as a war of choice. In Russia, the average citizen sees the conflict as a war of necessity one forced onto Russia by NATO and Ukraine. This was confirmed before the war in research by the Levada Center, a non-governmental polling firm widely trusted in the West. More than 66% of Russians blamed the conflict on America, NATO, or Ukraine. Only 4% said the conflict was Russia’s fault. Because Russians do not believe Putin was responsible for the war, they naturally do not blame him for sanctions. Citizens of the United States did not blame FDR for economic hardships like rationing during WW2. Russians have a similar perspective on wartime hardships today. If anything, the perceived cruelty of the current sanctions is making the West *more* of a villain in Russia.
Some Russians I know who had favorable opinions of the West now feel like they are *personally* under attack. They resent being the targets of economic warfare. One of the most egregious examples is the attempt to block international calls into Russia. Today, many Russians overseas are having trouble reaching their families at home. This makes them angry but not at Putin. It makes them hate the West. [..] Putin’s base sees the Western pullout from Russia as an opportunity to purge the country of foreign influence. They *like* the idea of Western companies selling their stakes in state industries. They *like* replacing Western brands with Russian and Chinese substitutes. I’m not arguing that these replacements will be smooth. They won’t stop Russia’s economy from heading for a deep recession. But nationalist sentiments inside Russia right now are so strong, that’s a price Russians are willing to pay.
“..instigate a long-running conflict that bogs down Russian forces and leaves Ukrainians to wage an insurgency that cannot possibly succeed.”
• The Casualties of Empire (Lawrence)
The news reports come in daily from Moscow, Kiev and the Western capitals: how many dead since Russia began its intervention in Ukraine on Feb. 24, how many injured, how many hungry or cold, how many displaced. We do not know the true count of casualties and the extent of the suffering and ought not pretend we do: This is the reality of war, each side having its version of unfolding events. My inclination is to add the deaths in Ukraine these past two weeks to the 14,000 dead and the 1.5 million displaced since 2014, when the regime in Kiev began shelling its own citizens in the eastern provinces – this because the people of Donetsk and Lugansk rejected the U.S. cultivated coup that deposed their elected president. This simple math gives us a better idea of how many Ukrainians are worthy of our mourning.
As we mourn, it is time to consider the wider consequences of this conflict, for Ukrainians are not alone among its victims. Who else has suffered? What else has been damaged? This war is of a kind humanity has never before known. What are its costs? Among paying-attention people it is increasingly plain that Washington’s intent in provoking Moscow’s intervention is, and probably has been from the first, to instigate a long-running conflict that bogs down Russian forces and leaves Ukrainians to wage an insurgency that cannot possibly succeed. Is there another way to explain the many billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and matériel the U.S. and its European allies now pour into Ukraine? If the Ukrainians cannot win — a universally acknowledged reality — what is the purpose here?
Whether this strategy goes as Washington wants, or if Russian forces get their work done and withdraw to avoid a classic quagmire, remains to be seen. But as Dave DeCamp noted in Antiwar.com last Friday, there is no sign whatsoever that the Biden administration plans any further diplomatic contacts with the Kremlin. The implication here should be evident. The U.S. strategy effectively requires the destruction of Ukraine in the service of America’s imperial ambitions. If this thought seems extreme, brief reference to the fates of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria will provide all the compelling context one may need.
Politics vs System.
• Ukraine and the Global American Empire (Eugyp)
The same western globalists who hate Russia, also count us as their enemies, and my sincere advice is to take them seriously in this. They have a kind of myopia for internal political dissidents; we are the unaligned domestic element, Russia is the unaligned international element, and so when Donald Trump is elected to the presidency, this must be, for them, the result of Russian interference. I keep calling these people American or western globalists, but that’s only one way to understand them. I don’t have anything against Americans; I lived there for many years and have a great many American friends. It is only an historical accident, probably, that America finds itself at the centre of this globalist excrescence, this post-political, post-national order.
Rolf Peter Sieferle, one of my favourite thinkers, wrote about the fundamental conflict, between the globalists on one hand, and the unaligned people like me and unaligned countries like Russia, in more abstract terms. For him, the clash is between “politics” and “system”: “Politics belongs to an older stratum of existence, ordered in terms of the state and of history, crystallised in statesmen, leaders and ideologues. It has programmes, values and goals. What is required are virtues and commitments directed towards a super-ordinate whole. The last resort of politics is war – the willingness of the individual to sacrifice himself for a higher cause, for his community.”
“System characterises newly emerging orders of higher complexity, which successively displace politics. Systems organise themselves without focus, without values, goals or programmes. Their only maxim is freedom and emancipation for individuals. Virtue and sacrifice are anachronisms. Wars are nothing but catastrophic conflicts that must be prevented through skilful management. Order is created by objective, autonomous constraints, not by a normative orientation. The structures of systems are as inescapable for individuals as a magnetic field is for iron filings. They do not “know” anything about it, but they conform to their predefined paths. The most important processes are not controlled and can hardly be grasped theoretically.”
System has largely prevailed in advanced “western” countries. Yet the rest of the world in many ways still thinks politically. This strikes the West as anachronistic fundamentalism. … [..] The global American empire doesn’t invade; that is not what systems do. It assimilates. It is basically a borg that imposes economic and political constraints on an ever expanding expanse of the globe, which progressively fatten, distract and deracinate populations, with a view towards blending them into the same shallow multinational consumerist soup. Their plan was to make Ukraine part of the borg, and in this way further encroach upon Russia. Russia responded in political fashion, by taking up arms. Because the western borg never knows when to stop, Ukraine will now be destroyed and probably partitioned, as a means of keeping it forever outside the western globalist fold.
Preliminary plans for Operation Barbarossa, with the southern arm of the German attack proceeding through the open plains of Ukraine.
“Riots began far too late and were easily curbed.”
• China, Big Tech, Big Pharma and Elites – The Four Horsemen (Angelova)
A portion of the human population has always desired to rule over the rest. It doesn’t matter if these folks are naturally born psyhopaths or if they were created. What matters is that they are now more powerful than ever. It’s because they didn’t have the right tools or plan until recently. Because of the tech tycoons, evil has complete influence over ordinary people’s life. People are being brainwashed every second by the media, the internet, and social media. Every second of our life is monitored by smart watches and smartphones, which transmit personal data to whoever pays the most. We have been examined so that we can be easily managed and gave up our liberty without even realizing it. While it is not fully implemented in most nations, it is already in use in China and has a name social credit system.
It is based on a set of regulations established by the government that, if not followed, result in punishment. It used to be simple set of rules, but it now encompasses everything you say, everything you publish on the internet, everything you do, your fascial expression, your daily activities, and every element of your existence! You are okay if you follow the government’s rules, no matter how absurd they are. Breaking any of these rules means no money, no food, and no freedom – you are a prisoner. The right to free expression is prohibited. It’s similar to the well-known novel “1984”, but with more sophisticated tools. “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed- no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”
About a year before COVID-19, Pfizer established close relations with the Chinese communist party. Is it a coincidence that the COVID mania that imprisoned the Earth’s people began in China? Is it a coincidence that the rest of the world adopted Chinese policies despite a lack of evidence that such measures were required? Is it a coincidence that China is a major supporter of World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus? Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum who taught the majority of globe leaders, reminded us that COVID-19 provided us with a tiny window of opportunity to reset the world, and WOW how effectively it was applied on the ostensibly free Western world. They were forced to live like cattle, with no human rights or health care, but were also subjected to experimental gene therapy. Riots began far too late and were easily curbed.
Of course, the fake virus fear isn’t enough, therefore a war is necessary to raise expenses. The more fearful humanity gets, the easier it is to dominate. People who are terrified cannot think. Fear of viruses, Russians, wars, shortages, cold, warm, storms, and climate change is the backbone of media and government propaganda, with celebrity culture filling in the gaps. It will finally destroy humanity since it goes against what makes us human: trusting and loving other humans. Of course, it is possible to turn the wave. We are surrounded by evil forces, yet we still have an option to remain free humans as long as we retain our ability to think, love, and feel.
“The energy alliance with Russia, one of the world’s top oil producers, has enhanced OPEC’s power while also bringing the Saudis and Emiratis closer to Moscow..”
• Saudi, Emirati Leaders Decline Calls With Biden During Ukraine Crisis (WSJ)
[…] Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan both declined U.S. requests to speak to Mr. Biden in recent weeks, the officials said, as Saudi and Emirati officials have become more vocal in recent weeks in their criticism of American policy in the Gulf. “There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn’t happen,” said a U.S. official of the planned discussion between the Saudi Prince Mohammed and Mr. Biden. “It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil].” […] One U.S. official said the Biden administration has worked diligently to strengthen Saudi and Emirati missile defenses, and that America would be doing more in the coming months to help the two Gulf nations protect themselves. It may not be all the two countries want, the official said, but the U.S. is trying to address their security concerns.
But the Saudis and Emiratis have declined to pump more oil, saying they are sticking to a production plan approved between their group, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and a group of other producers led by Russia. The energy alliance with Russia, one of the world’s top oil producers, has enhanced OPEC’s power while also bringing the Saudis and Emiratis closer to Moscow. Both Prince Mohammed and Sheikh Mohammed took phone calls from Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, after declining to speak with Mr. Biden.
“Companies can’t explore and drill, or build pipelines, without capital. Biden financial regulators allied with progressive investors are working to cut it off. ”
• Biden’s US Oil Embargo (WSJ)
President Biden made the right decision Tuesday in banning Russian oil and natural gas imports. Yet at the same time he declared full-steam ahead on his green energy “transition” that includes an assault on U.S. fossil fuels. The contradiction is maddening. Banning Russian energy imports is fine as far as it goes, which isn’t very. The U.S. imports only 3% of its petroleum supply and less than 1% of coal from Russia. About 70% of Russian oil currently can’t find buyers because of sanctions risk. That’s the main reason crude prices have shot up to $130 per barrel. Once uncertainty about the scope of sanctions clears up, Russia will probably find global buyers for its energy at a discount. Imposing so-called secondary U.S. sanctions on institutions that finance Russia’s energy trade would be more effective.
But the White House won’t do that because it fears it could drive gasoline prices even higher. If that’s the worry, then here’s a better idea: Stand at the White House and declare that his Administration will support the development of U.S. oil and gas. Rescind all regulations designed to curb production, development and consumption. Announce a moratorium on new ones. Expedite permits, and encourage investment. Our guess is the price of Brent crude would fall $20 a barrel in anticipation of higher production. Yet Mr. Biden is doing precisely the opposite. On Tuesday he even blamed U.S. companies—not his policies—for not producing more. There are 9,000 available unused drilling permits, he claimed, and only 10% of onshore oil production takes place on federal land. Talk about a misdirection play.
First, companies have to obtain additional permits for rights of way to access leases and build pipelines to transport fuel. This has become harder under the Biden Administration. Second, companies must build up a sufficient inventory of permits before they can contract rigs because of the regulatory difficulties of operating on federal land. It takes 140 days or so for the feds to approve a drilling permit versus two for the state of Texas. The Administration has halted onshore lease sales. Producers are developing leases more slowly since they don’t know when more will be available. Offshore leases were snapped up at a November auction because companies expect it might be the last one. Interior’s five-year leasing program for the Gulf of Mexico expires in June.
Yet the Administration hasn’t promulgated a new plan. Nor did it appeal a liberal judge’s order in January revoking the November leases. But the Administration has appealed another judge’s order requiring that it hold lease sales. Then there’s the not-small problem of financing. Companies can’t explore and drill, or build pipelines, without capital. Biden financial regulators allied with progressive investors are working to cut it off. The Labor Department has proposed a rule that would require 401(k) managers to consider the climate impact of their investment holdings.
Novak: The Russian Federation knows where to redirect our oil from the European market (activate subtitles!)
@Parsifaler is posting a lot on vaccines and cancer. This is just one thread.
• Spike Protein Fibrosis Syndrome (Chesnut)
Spike protein fibrosis syndrome: the spike protein induces a firbrotic cascade exactly parallel to radiation fibrosis syndrome. The spike protein induces the same accumulation of excess fibrin that radiation does! First: In the microcirculation, SARS-CoV-2 and the S protein directly enhance platelet activation and fibrin aggregation, predisposing 30–50% of COVID-19 patients to develop thrombotic events.
Various pathophysiological mechanisms have been postulated for RFS including induction of free radical (FR)-mediated DNA damage and subsequent apoptosis as a predisposing event. Pohlers et al. described three histopathological phases of RFS such as (1) prefibrotic phase comprising ENDOTHELIAL CELLS, (2) fibrotic phase of active fibrosis containing myofibroblasts, and (3) fibroatrophic phase characterized by subsequent loss of parenchymal cells. Radiation-induced (SPIKE PROTEIN) accumulation of excess fibrin in the extravascular, intravascular, and perivascular compartments has been described for RFS.
Ionizing radiation (SPIKE PROTEIN) may directly result in RFS by causing VASCULAR ENDOTHELIAL INJURY and indirectly by activating the inflammatory, epithelial regeneration, and tissue remodeling pathways and the coagulation cascade. Another important event is the activation of Janus kinase (JAK) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) proteins along with nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B-cell (NF-KB) pathways by radiation resulting in the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors. NOW! Now we can unite CANCER, NEURODEGENERATION AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE that has heretofore appeared as RANDOM. But, it is nothing of the sort!
This Spike Protein Fibrosis Syndrome not only explains the cancer we are seeing, but also its AGGRESSIVENESS. Tumors are characterized by extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, remodeling, and cross-linking that drive fibrosis to stiffen the stroma and promote malignancy. The stiffened stroma enhances tumor cell growth, survival and migration and drives a mesenchymal transition. A stiff ECM also induces angiogenesis, hypoxia and compromises anti-tumor immunity.
“Our sanctions have taken countless lives around the world, a form of bloodshed we pretend isn’t warfare.”
• Now Let’s Do the US Oligarchs (Eskow)
“Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: no more. “The U.S. Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs. “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.” With these words in his State of the Union address last week, President Joe Biden unintentionally laid out a blueprint for responding to the American oligarchs, super-predators who dwarf their Russian counterpoints in wealth and political power. America’s oligarchs, like their Russian counterparts, have bilked billions — no, make that trillions — from their own regime. Some of their bilking comes directly from its violence, in the form of “defense” contracts to entities like Halliburton, Lockheed Martin and the Carlyle Group.
About that “violent regime” business: It’s possible to condemn the violence perpetrated by Russia’s government while at the same time recognizing and condemning that of the U.S. The direct attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, among other countries, have been matched by the proxy violence the U.S. has funded in nations like Palestine, Syria [ed.: and yes, Ukraine]. Our sanctions have taken countless lives around the world, a form of bloodshed we pretend isn’t warfare. A 2014 Princeton political science study showed that government actions nearly always conform to the wishes of wealthy and powerful U.S. elites. “Our central finding was this: Economic elites and interest groups can shape U.S. government policy — but Americans who are less well off have essentially no influence over what their government does,” wrote co-authors Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page.
America’s oligarchical influence extends from healthcare and fossil fuels to the industry of war itself. American companies account for more than half of all arms sales worldwide. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that “in the past two decades, (the arms industry’s) extensive network of lobbyists and donors have directed $285 million in campaign contributions and $2.5 billion in lobbying spending to influence defense policy.” Arms manufacturers (more commonly known by the Orwellian appellation, “defense industry”) shrewdly concentrate on hiring ex-government officials to advance their agenda and pump up their “ill-begotten gains.” This ensures that their interests are represented by people who know the officials they’re lobbying. Even more importantly, it puts those officials on notice that there is a lucrative future in store for them if they play along. Arms oligarchs have hired more than 200 lobbyists who, in the report’s words, “have worked in the same government that regulates and decides funding for the industry.”
Biden wants Iran oil more than he wants Bolton. He’ll even throw in a nuclear deal.
• Iran Plots To Assassinate Bolton, Biden Admin Resists Public Indictments (DW)
At least two Iranians in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), an elite Iranian military group that is also a designated terrorist organization, have allegedly been plotting to assassinate former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, according to a new report. Democrat President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice “possesses indictable evidence against the Iranians but … Biden administration officials are resisting publicly indicting the men for fear that it could derail their drive for a nuclear deal with Iran, currently nearing completion in negotiations in Vienna, Austria,” the Washington Examiner reported. “It is possible but unlikely that there are sealed indictments against the men, but the DOJ source said the seriousness of the conspiracy and the evidence warranted public indictment without delay.
“Sealed indictments would be unusual and probably unnecessary in this case, as they are usually used to prevent the target evading justice.” The report said that the Iranian military was involved in “significant … reconnaissance activity” in the alleged plot, which involved an effort to recruit an assassin on U.S. soil. The report said that similar threats have been made against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other Trump officials who worked on Iran. The report said that threats against Bolton and Pompeo “are continuing, specific, and highly credible.” The report added:
“The intelligence community became aware of the plot at an early stage, and it prompted high-level concern and a full-time Secret Service protective detail being assigned to Bolton earlier this year or late in 2021. Significant FBI assets were also deployed to disrupt the plot and assist in protecting Bolton… As the Washington Examiner reported in December 2020, Congress quietly extended Pompeo’s Diplomatic Security Service protective detail beyond his government tenure in response to these Iranian threats. That protective detail continues and has a high level of enhanced capability. Biden’s DOJ claimed in a statement to the Examiner that “it would be categorically false to claim that these kinds of policy considerations would drive such a charging decision.”
“The next day, Russia attacked Ukraine and both national and international attention turned elsewhere – doubtless to the Liberal government’s great relief.”
• Where’s The Outrage Over Trudeau’s Trip To Britain? (Stannus)
As Justin Trudeau waltzed through the UK, visiting Boris Johnson and the Queen, did anyone spare a thought for Canadians struggling under Trudeau’s authoritarian Covid power moves? In 2016, the British parliament debated whether Donald Trump, then running for the US presidency, ought to be banned from the UK for inflammatory ‘hate speech’. When Trudeau announced his visit to the UK, did the House of Commons ask itself whether he should be made welcome? Trudeau is no stranger to inflammatory language – having called the unvaccinated in Canada ‘extremists’, ‘misogynists’ and ‘racists’. But it’s far worse than that. He has undermined the principles on which Canadian democratic government is founded by criminalising peaceful protest. He invoked emergency powers to inflict extreme punishment on those who objected to his Covid policies while denying them proper due process. Does no one in the UK government find that troubling?
Trudeau used the Emergencies Act to allow banks to unilaterally freeze accounts and assets, not only of participants in the peaceful Ottawa freedom convoy but also of anyone who supported the protest financially – all without a court order and legal immunity. And insurance policies of participants were subject to cancellation. Nothing says ‘free country’ like being able to freeze the assets of your political opponents without notice, judicial oversight, or possibility of legal recourse, on suspicion of having donated $25 to a trucker who parked in front of Canada’s parliament because he didn’t want the government to take away his job. Perhaps this seems unfair. Trudeau may have invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act to resolve a parking problem. An error in judgement, but in the end he rescinded it. Quite true. But not before he suspended Canadians’ rights to due process and to peaceful assembly.
Or delayed the Act’s debate in the Canadian House of Commons until after the protestors were forcibly removed by police. Or cynically strong-armed its approval through the House of Commons via a confidence vote – cleverly changing the subject of the vote to whether or not MPs wanted to call an election. And remember too that he hinted that the Act would be needed for months to come. Can the country ever be considered truly safe when – at any time – a truck driver apparently going about his business might approach the heart of Canada’s capital city and run up the Canadian flag, thereby magically metamorphosising into a terrorist? Trudeau lifted the Emergencies Act on 23 February when it became apparent that the Canadian Senate was likely to vote against it. The next day, Russia attacked Ukraine and both national and international attention turned elsewhere – doubtless to the Liberal government’s great relief.
Central to Russiagate. Good long portrait.
• The Longtime ‘Zelig’ of American Scandals Who ‘Crossfired’ Trump (RCI)
In the late summer of 2016 Stefan A. Halper met with at least three of Donald Trump’s associates in England and the United States, bragging about his friendship with Russian spies who “can be very helpful to us at this time.” As they listened to his tales of foreign intrigue and promises of illegal foreign help, what George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Sam Clovis did not know was that Halper was not who he said he was. He was, indeed, a spy, but his handler was not the Kremlin – it was the FBI. Armed with leading questions and on at least two occasions a hidden tape recorder, Halper had been tasked by the bureau with finding dirt on the Trump campaign.
Halper’s undercover operation, which was documented in a report by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, would prove largely a bust. Transcripts between Halper and Trump campaign officials would show that none of them took the bait, or appeared to otherwise be soliciting Russia’s help in the 2016 presidential campaign. Even now, it might seem odd that the FBI made Halper, then a septuagenarian Cambridge University professor, a linchpin of its top-secret counterintelligence probe codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane.” But a closer look at Halper’s life and work makes that decision seem inevitable. Stefan Halper is the Zelig of modern American political scandal – a chameleon-like, unusually ubiquitous figure who keeps appearing when mischief is afoot.
“Nudge Act”. “Nudging Users to Drive Good Experiences on Social Media”.
Get out of our lives!
• How the Senate is Poised to Codify Censorship of Social Media (Turley)
Beware of politicians bearing reforms. Since the Trojans first wheeled a wooden horse into their fortified city, many are leery about “gifts” that may be heavily laden with dangers. That is true with the Trojan horse legislation just offered by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). In the name of “reforming” the internet and bringing tech monopolies to heel, Klobuchar has penned a “Nudge Act” that would expand corporate censorship and speech controls. Even the name is designed to be non-threatening. After all, who could oppose an act titled “Nudging Users to Drive Good Experiences on Social Media”? It is enough to garner the support of Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). The act, however, is less of a nudge and more of a shove toward approved content and choices.
For years, President Joe Biden and Democratic members of Congress have pushed for greater and greater censorship on the internet and on social media. Liberals have found a winning strategy in using corporate censorship to circumvent constitutional limits on governmental speech controls. Senators like Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) warned social media companies that they would not tolerate any “backsliding or retrenching” by “failing to take action against dangerous disinformation,” and demanded “robust content modification” to block disfavored views on subjects ranging from climate control to elections to the pandemic. The Nudge Act is arguably the most insidious of these efforts.
Under the Act, Congress would enlist the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) to recommend sweeping design changes to Big Tech platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to “reduce the harms of algorithmic amplification and social media addiction.” The Act is a masterpiece of doublespeak. It refers to developing “content-agnostic interventions” that could ultimately be enforced by a commission and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). That sounds great; after all, many of us have called for years for a return to content neutrality on social media where sites function more as communication platforms, similar to telephone companies. However, that is clearly not the intent of the bill’s sponsors, who see it as a weapon against “misinformation.” That was made clear by Klobuchar herself: “For too long, tech companies have said ‘Trust us, we’ve got this.’
But we know that social media platforms have repeatedly put profits over people, with algorithms pushing dangerous content that hooks users and spreads misinformation.” How is combatting “misinformation” content-neutral? The answer will be imposed by a new commission and lead to a site’s failure to take “appropriate” measures being declared “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” That would create a glacial chilling effect on these companies, which will err on the side of censorship.
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