TBR News November 26, 2016

Nov 26 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  November 26, 2016: “The American general population is beginning to realize the degree and extent that a controlled print and television media has been deliberately lying to them for decades. It is not a secret that major newspapers have strong connections with various Washington governmental agencies and print, or do not print, what their controllers wish. The release of the Wikileaks documents from the DNC during the last presidential election very clearly proved the amorality and manipulative pattens of behavior American legislators, government agencies and their poodles in the media. Never believe anything until it is denied in Congress and on the front page of the New York Times.”

Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group

November 26 2016

by Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

The Washington Post on Thursday night promoted the claims of a new, shadowy organization that smears dozens of U.S. news sites that are critical of U.S. foreign policy as being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” The article by reporter Craig Timberg – headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” – cites a report by a new, anonymous website calling itself “PropOrNot,” which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign.”

The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute.

This Post report was one of the most widely circulated political news articles on social media over the last 48 hours, with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of U.S. journalists and pundits with large platforms hailing it as an earth-shattering exposé. It was the most-read piece on the entire Post website after it was published on Friday.

Yet the article is rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations, and fundamentally shaped by shoddy, slothful journalistic tactics. It was not surprising to learn that, as BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel noted, “a lot of reporters passed on this story.” Its huge flaws are self-evident. But the Post gleefully ran with it and then promoted it aggressively, led by its Executive Editor Marty Baron

In casting the group behind this website as “experts,” the Post described PropOrNot simply as “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.” Not one individual at the organization is named. The executive director is quoted, but only on the condition of anonymity, which the Post said it was providing the group “to avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.”

In other words, the individuals behind this newly created group are publicly branding journalists and news outlets as tools of Russian propaganda – even calling on the FBI to investigate them for espionage – while cowardly hiding their own identities. The group promoted by the Post thus embodies the toxic essence of Joseph McCarthy but without the courage to attach their names to their blacklist. Echoing the Wisconsin Senator, the group refers to its lengthy collection of sites spouting Russian propaganda as “The List.”

The credentials of this supposed group of experts are impossible to verify, as none is provided either by the Post or by the group itself. The Intercept contacted PropOrNot and asked numerous questions about about its team, but received only this reply: “We’re getting a lot of requests for comment and can get back to you today =) [smiley face emoticon].” The group added: “We’re over 30 people, organized into teams, and we cannot confirm or deny anyone’s involvement.”

Thus far, they have provided no additional information beyond that. As Fortune’s Matthew Ingram wrote in criticizing the Post article, PropOrNot’s Twitter account “has only existed since August of this year. And an article announcing the launch of the group on its website is dated last month.” WHOIS information for the domain name is not available, as the website uses private registration.

More troubling still, PropOrNot listed numerous organizations on its website as “allied” with it, yet many of these claimed “allies” told The Intercept, and complained on social media, they have nothing to do with the group and had never even heard of it before the Post published its story.

At some point last night, after multiple groups listed as “allies” objected, the group quietly changed the title of its “allied” list to “Related Projects.” When The Intercept asked PropOrNot about this clear inconsistency via email, the group responded concisely: “We have no institutional affiliations with any organization.”

In his article, the Post’s Timberg did not include a link to PropOrNot’s website. If readers had the opportunity to visit the site, it would have become instantly apparent that this group of ostensible experts far more resembles amateur peddlers of primitive, shallow propagandistic clichés than serious, substantive analysis and expertise; that it has a blatant, demonstrable bias in promoting NATO’s narrative about the world; and that it is engaging in extremely dubious McCarthyite tactics about a wide range of critics and dissenters.

To see how frivolous and even childish this group of anonymous cowards is – which the Post venerated into serious experts in order to peddle their story – just sample a couple of the recent tweets from this group:

As for their refusal to identify themselves even as they smear hundreds of American journalists as loyal to the Kremlin or “useful idiots” for it, this is their mature response:

“PropOrNot ID Service  ‎@propornot

We’ll consider revealing our names when Russia reveals the names of those running its propaganda operations in the West.”

The Washington Post should be very proud: it staked a major part of its news story on the unverified, untestable assertions of this laughable organization.

One of the core functions of PropOrNot appears to be its compilation of a lengthy blacklist of news and political websites which it smears as peddlers of “Russian propaganda.” Included on this blacklist of supposed propaganda outlets are prominent independent left-wing news sites such as Truthout, Naked Capitalism, Black Agenda Report, Consortium News and Truthdig.

Also included are popular libertarian hubs such as Zero Hedge, Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute, along with the hugely influential right-wing website the Drudge Report and the publishing site WikiLeaks. Far-right, virulently anti-Muslim blogs such as Bare Naked Islam are likewise dubbed Kremlin mouthpieces. Basically, everyone who isn’t comfortably within the centrist Hillary-Clinton/Jeb-Bush spectrum is guilty. On its Twitter account, the group announced a new “plugin” that automatically alerts the user that a visited website has been designated by the group to be a Russian propaganda outlet.

To hype its own story, the Post article uncritically highlights PropOrNot’s flamboyant claim that stories planted or promoted by Russia’s “disinformation campaign” were viewed more than 213 million times. Yet no methodology is provided for any of this: how a website is determined to merit blacklist designation or how this reach was calculated. As Ingram wrote: “How is that audience measured? We don’t know. Stories promoted by this network were shared 213 million times, it says. How do we know this? That’s unclear.”

Presumably, this massive number was created by including on its lists highly popular sites such as WikiLeaks, as well The Drudge Report, the third-most popular political news website on the internet. Yet this frightening, Cold War-esque “213 million” number for Russian “planted” news story views was uncritically echoed by numerous high-profile media figures, such as New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman and professor Jared Yates Sexton — although the number is misleading at best.

Some of the websites on PropOrNot’s blacklist do indeed publish Russian propaganda — namely Sputnik News and Russia Today, which are funded by the Russian government. But many of the aforementioned blacklisted sites are independent, completely legitimate news sources which often receive funding through donations or foundations and which have been reporting and analyzing news for many years.

The group commits outright defamation by slandering obviously legitimate news sites as propaganda tools of the Kremlin.

One of the most egregious examples is the group’s inclusion of Naked Capitalism, the widely respected left-wing site run by Wall Street critic Yves Smith. That site was named by Time Magazine as one of the best 25 Best Financial Blogs in 2011 and by Wired Magazine as a crucial site to follow for finance, and Smith has been featured as a guest on programs such as PBS’ Bill Moyers Show. Yet this cowardly group of anonymous smear artists, promoted by the Washington Post, has now placed them on a blacklist of Russian disinformation.

The group eschews alternative media outlets like these and instead recommends that readers rely solely on establishment-friendly publications like NPR, the BBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed and VICE. That is because a big part of the group’s definition for “Russian propaganda outlet” is criticizing U.S. foreign policy.

PropOrNot does not articulate its criteria in detail, merely describing its metrics as “behavioral” and “motivation-agnostic.” That is to say, even if a news source is not technically a Russian propaganda outlet and is not even trying to help the Kremlin, it is still guilty of being a “useful idiot” if it publishes material that might in some way be convenient or helpful for the Russian government. In other words, the website conflates criticism of Western governments and their actions and policies with Russian propaganda. News sites that do not uncritically echo a pro-NATO perspective are accused of being mouthpieces for the Kremlin, even if only unwitting ones.

While blacklisting left-wing and libertarian journalists, PropOrNot also denies being McCarthyite. Yet it simultaneously calls for the U.S. government to use the FBI and DOJ to carry out “formal investigations” of these accused websites, “because the kind of folks who make propaganda for brutal authoritarian oligarchies are often involved in a wide range of bad business.” The shadowy group even goes so far as to claim that people involved in the blacklisted websites may “have violated the Espionage Act, the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and other related laws.”

In sum: they’re not McCarthyite; perish the thought. They just want multiple U.S. media outlets investigated by the FBI for espionage on behalf of Russia.

Who exactly is behind PropOrNot, where it gets its funding and whether or not it is tied to any governments is a complete mystery. The Intercept also sent inquiries to the Post’s Craig Timberg asking these questions, and asking whether he thinks it is fair to label left-wing news sites like Truthout “Russian propaganda outlets.” Timberg replied: “I’m sorry, I can’t comment about stories I’ve written for the Post.”

As is so often the case, journalists – who constantly demand transparency from everyone else – refuse to provide even the most basic levels for themselves. When subjected to scrutiny, they reflexively adopt the language of the most secrecy-happy national security agencies: we do not comment on what we do.

Timberg’s piece on the supposed ubiquity of Russian propaganda is misleading in several other ways. The other primary “expert” upon which the relies is Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a pro-Western think tank whose board of advisors includes neoconservative figures like infamous orientalist scholar Bernard Lewis and pro-imperialist Robert D. Kaplan, the latter of whom served on the U.S. government’s Defense Policy Board.

What the Post does not mention in its report is that Watts, one of the specialists it relies on for its claims, previously worked as an FBI special agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force and as the executive officer of the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. As Fortune’s Ingram wrote of the group, it is “a conservative think tank funded and staffed by proponents of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.”

PropOrNot is by no means a neutral observer. It actively calls on Congress and the White House to work “with our European allies to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT financial transaction system, effective immediately and lasting for at least one year, as an appropriate response to Russian manipulation of the election.”

In other words, this blacklisting group of anonymous cowards – putative experts in the pages of The Washington Post – are actively pushing for Western governments to take punitive measures against the Russian government, and are speaking and smearing from an extreme ideological framework that the Post concealed from its readers.

Even more disturbing than the Post’s shoddy journalism in this instance is the broader trend in which any wild conspiracy theory or McCarthyite attack is now permitted in U.S. discourse as long as it involves Russia and Putin – just as was true in the 1950s when stories of how the Russians were poisoning the U.S. water supply or infiltrating American institutions were commonplace. Any anti-Russia story was – and is – instantly vested with credibility, while anyone questioning its veracity or evidentiary basis is subject to attacks on their loyalties or, at best, vilified as “useful idiots.”

Two of the most discredited reports from the election season illustrate the point: a Slate article claiming that a private server had been located linking the Trump Organization and a Russian bank (which, like the current Post story, had been shopped around and rejected by multiple media outlets), and a completely deranged rant by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald claiming that Putin had ordered emails in the WikiLeaks release to be doctored – both of which were uncritically shared and tweeted by hundreds of journalists to tens of thousands of people, if not more.

The Post itself – now posing as warriors against “fake news” – published an article in September that treated with great seriousness the claim that Hillary Clinton collapsed on 9/11 Day because she was poisoned by Putin. And that’s to say nothing of the paper’s disgraceful history of convincing Americans that Saddam was building non-existent nuclear weapons and had cultivated a vibrant alliance with Al Qaeda. As is so often the case, those who mostly loudly warn of “fake news” from others are themselves the most aggressive disseminators of it.

Indeed, what happened here is the essence of fake news. The Post story served the agendas of many factions: those who want to believe Putin stole the election from Hillary Clinton; those who want to believe that the internet and social media are a grave menace that needs to be controlled, in contrast to the objective truth which reliable old media outlets once issued; those who want a resurrection of the Cold War. So those who saw tweets and Facebook posts promoting this Post story instantly clicked and shared and promoted the story without an iota of critical thought or examination of whether the claims were true, because they wanted the claims to be true. That behavior included countless journalists.

So the story spread in a flash, like wildfire. Tens of thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands or even millions, consumed it, believing that it was true because of how many journalists and experts told them it was. Virtually none of the people who told them this spent a minute of time or ounce of energy determining if it was true. It pleased them to believe it was, knowing it advanced their interests, and so they endorsed it. That is the essence of how fake news functions, and it is the ultimate irony that this Post story ended up illustrating and spreading far more fake news than it exposed.

When It Comes to Fake News, the US Government Is the Biggest Culprit

November 26, 2016

by John W. Whitehead


“We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.” ~ Former New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg

Let’s talk about fake news stories, shall we?

There’s the garden variety fake news that is not really “news” so much as it is titillating, tabloid-worthy material peddled by anyone with a Twitter account, a Facebook page and an active imagination. These stories run the gamut from the ridiculous and the obviously click-baity to the satirical and politically manipulative.

Anyone with an ounce of sense and access to the Internet should be able to ferret out the truth and lies in these stories with some basic research. That these stories flourish is largely owing to the general gullibility, laziness and media illiteracy of the general public, which through its learned compliance rarely questions, challenges or confronts.

Then there’s the more devious kind of news stories circulated by one of the biggest propagators of fake news: the U.S. government.

In the midst of the media’s sudden headline-blaring apoplexy over fake news, you won’t hear much about the government’s role in producing, planting and peddling propaganda-driven fake news – often with the help of the corporate news media – because that’s not how the game works.


Because the powers-that-be don’t want us skeptical of the government’s message or its corporate accomplices in the mainstream media. They don’t want us to be more discerning when it comes to what information we digest online. They just want us to be leery of independent or alternative news sources while trusting them – and their corporate colleagues – to vet the news for us.

Indeed, the New York Times has suggested that Facebook and Google appoint themselves the arbiters of truth on the Internet in order to screen out what is blatantly false, spam or click-baity.

Not only would this establish a dangerous precedent for all-out censorship by corporate entities known for colluding with the government but it’s also a slick sleight-of-hand maneuver that diverts attention from what we should really be talking about: the fact that the government has grown dangerously out-of-control, all the while the so-called mainstream news media, which is supposed to act as a bulwark against government propaganda, has instead become the mouthpiece of the world’s largest corporation – the US government.

As veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, who along with Bob Woodward blew the lid off the Watergate scandal, reported in his expansive 1977 Rolling Stone piece, “The CIA and the Media”:

“More than 400 American journalists … in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency… There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services… Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters… In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.”

Bernstein is referring to Operation Mockingbird, a CIA campaign started in the 1950s to plant intelligence reports among reporters at more than 25 major newspapers and wire agencies, who would then regurgitate them for a public oblivious to the fact that they were being fed government propaganda.

In some instances, as Bernstein shows, members of the media also served as extensions of the surveillance state, with reporters actually carrying out assignments for the CIA.

Executives with CBS, the New York Times and Time magazine also worked closely with the CIA to vet the news. Bernstein writes: “Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.”

For example, in August 1964, the nation’s leading newspapers – including the Washington Post and New York Times – echoed Lyndon Johnson’s claim that North Vietnam had launched a second round of attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. No such attacks had taken place, and yet the damage was done. As Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon report for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “By reporting official claims as absolute truths, American journalism opened the floodgates for the bloody Vietnam War.”

Fast forward to the early post-9/11 years when, despite a lack of any credible data supporting the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the mainstream media jumped on the bandwagon to sound the war drums against Iraq. As Los Angeles Times columnist Robin Abcarian put it, “our government … used its immense bully pulpit to steamroll the watchdogs… Many were gulled by access to administration insiders, or susceptible to the drumbeat of the government’s coordinated rhetoric.”

John Walcott, Washington bureau chief for Knight-Ridder, one of the only news agencies to challenge the government’s rationale for invading Iraq, suggests that the reason for the media’s easy acceptance is that “too many journalists, including some very famous ones, have surrendered their independence in order to become part of the ruling class. Journalism is, as the motto goes, speaking truth to power, not wielding it.”

If it was happening then, you can bet it’s still happening today, only it’s been reclassified, renamed and hidden behind layers of government secrecy, obfuscation and spin.

In its article, “How the American government is trying to control what you think,” the Washington Post points out “Government agencies historically have made a habit of crossing the blurry line between informing the public and propagandizing.”

Thus, whether you’re talking about the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the government’s invasion of Iraq based upon absolute fabrications, or the government’s so-called war on terror, privacy and whistleblowers, it’s being driven by propaganda churned out by one corporate machine (the corporate-controlled government) and fed to the American people by way of yet another corporate machine (the corporate-controlled media).

“For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it,” writes investigative journalist Nick Davies. “The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news.”

But wait.

If the mass media – aka the mainstream media or the corporate or establishment media – is merely repeating what is being fed to it, who are the masterminds within the government responsible for this propaganda?

Davies explains:

The Pentagon has now designated “information operations” as its fifth “core competency” alongside land, sea, air and Special Forces. Since October 2006, every brigade, division and corps in the US military has had its own “psyop” element producing output for local media. This military activity is linked to the State Department’s campaign of “public diplomacy” which includes funding radio stations and news websites.

This use of propaganda disguised as journalism is what journalist John Pilger refers to as “invisible government… the true ruling power of our country.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we no longer have a Fourth Estate.

Not when the “news” we receive is routinely manufactured, manipulated and made-to-order by government agents. Not when six corporations control 90% of the media in America. And not when, as Davies laments, “news organizations which might otherwise have exposed the truth were themselves part of the abuse, and so they kept silent, indulging in a comic parody of misreporting, hiding the emerging scandal from their readers like a Victorian nanny covering the children’s eyes from an accident in the street.”

So let’s have no more of this handwringing, heart-wrenching, morally offended talk about fake news by media outlets that have become propagandists for the false reality created by the American government.

After all, as Glenn Greenwald points out, “The term propaganda rings melodramatic and exaggerated, but a press that – whether from fear, careerism, or conviction – uncritically recites false government claims and reports them as fact, or treats elected officials with a reverence reserved for royalty, cannot be accurately described as engaged in any other function.”

So where does that leave us?

What should – or can – we do?

I’ll close with John Pilger’s words of warning and advice:

Real information, subversive information, remains the most potent power of all – and I believe that we must not fall into the trap of believing that the media speaks for the public. That wasn’t true in Stalinist Czechoslovakia and it isn’t true of the United States. In all the years I’ve been a journalist, I’ve never known public consciousness to have risen as fast as it’s rising today…yet this growing critical public awareness is all the more remarkable when you consider the sheer scale of indoctrination, the mythology of a superior way of life, and the current manufactured state of fear.

[The public] need[s] truth, and journalists ought to be agents of truth, not the courtiers of power. I believe a fifth estate is possible, the product of a people’s movement, that monitors, deconstructs, and counters the corporate media. In every university, in every media college, in every news room, teachers of journalism, journalists themselves need to ask themselves about the part they now play in the bloodshed in the name of a bogus objectivity. Such a movement within the media could herald a perestroika of a kind that we have never known. This is all possible. Silences can be broken… In the United States wonderfully free rebellious spirits populate the web… The best reporting … appears on the web … and citizen reporters.

The challenge for the rest of us is to lift this subjugated knowledge from out of the underground and take it to ordinary people. We need to make haste. Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action. That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.

Official Government Disinformation Methodology

November 26, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Prior to the event of printed, and later television, media, it was not difficult for the world’s power elites and the governments they controlled, to see that unwelcome and potentially dangerous information never reached the masses of people under their control. Most of the general public in more distant times were completely illiterate and received their news from their local priest or from occasional gossip from travellers. The admixture of kings, princes and clergy had an iron control over what their subject could, or could not hear. During the Middle Ages and even into the more liberal Renaissance, universities were viewed with suspicion and those who taught, or otherwise expressed, concepts that were anathama to the concept of feudalism were either killed outright in public or permanently banished. Too-liberal priests were silenced by similar methods. If Papal orders for silence were not followed, priests could, and were, put to the torch as an example for others to note.

However, with the advent of the printing press and a growing literacy in the piopulation, the question of informational control was less certain and with the growing movements in Europe and the American colonies for less restriction and more public expression, the power elites found it necessary to find the means to prevent unpleasant information from being proclaimed throughout their lands and unto all the inhabitants thereof.

The power elites realized that if they could not entirely prevent inconvenient and often dangerous facts to emerge and threaten their authority, their best course was not censorship but to find and develop the means to control the presentation and publication of that they wished to keep entirely secret.

The first method was to block or prevent the release of dangerous material by claiming that such material was a matter of important state security and as such, strictly controlled. This, they said, was not only for their own protection but also the somewhat vague but frightening concept of the security of their people.

The second method was, and has been, to put forth disinformation that so distorts and confuses actual facts as to befuddle a public they see as easily controlled, naïve and gullible.

The mainstream American media which theoretically was a balance against governmental corruption and abuses of power, quickly became little more than a mouthpiece for the same government they were supposed to report on. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, most American newspapers were little better than Rupert Mudoch’s modern tabloids, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing but during the First World War, President Wilson used the American entry into the First World War as an excuse for setting up controls over the American public. Aside from setting up government control over food distribution, the railroads, much industry involved in war production, he also established a powerful propganda machine coupled with a national informant system that guaranteed his personal control. In 1918, citing national security, Wilson arrested and imprisoned critical news reporters and threatened to shut down their papers.

Wilson was a wartime president and set clear precidents that resonated very loudely with those who read history and understood its realities.

During the Second World War, Franklin Roosevelt, another wartime leader, was not as arrogant or highhanded as Wilson (whose empire fell apart after the end of the war that supported it) but he set up informational controls that exist to the present time. And after Roosevelt, and the war, passed into history, the government in the United States created a so-called cold war with Soviet Russia, instead of Hitler’s Germany, as the chief enemy. Control of the American media then fell into the hands of the newly-formed Central Intelligence Agency who eventually possessed an enormous, all-encompassing machine that clamped down firmly on the national print, and later television media, with an iron hand in a velvet glove. Media outlets that proved to be cooperative with CIA propaganda officials were rewarded for their loyalty and cooperation with valuable, and safe, news and the implication was that enemies of the state would either be subject to scorn and derision and that supporters of the state and its policies would receive praise and adulation.

The methodology of a controlled media has a number of aspects which, once clearly understood, renders its techniques and goals far less effective.

Some of the main tactics used by the mainstream media to mislead the American public are illustrated here:

The American media, both press and television, has long been known for promoting sensationalism over accuracy on the one hand and practicing subservience to

Mainstream media sources (especially newspapers) are notorious for reporting flagrantly dishonest and unsupported news stories on the front page, then quietly retracting those stories on the very back page when they are caught. In this case, the point is to railroad the lie into the collective consciousness. Once the lie is finally exposed, it is already too late, and a large portion of the population will not notice or care when the truth comes out. A good example of this would be the collusion of the mainstream media with the Bush administration to convince the American public after 9/11 that       Iraq had WMDs, even though no concrete evidence existed to prove it. George W. Bush’s eventual admission that there had never been any WMDs in Iraq (except chemical weapons which the U.S. actually sold to Saddam under the Reagan / Bush administration) was lightly reported or glazed over by most mainstream news sources. The core reason behind a war that has now killed over a million people was proven to be completely fraudulent, yet I still run into people today who believe that Iraq had nukes…

Unconfirmed Or Controlled Sources As Fact

Cable news venues often cite information from “unnamed” sources, government sources that have an obvious bias or agenda, or “expert” sources without providing an alternative “expert” view. The information provided by these sources is usually backed by nothing more than blind faith. A recent example of this would be the Osama Bin Laden audio tapes which supposedly reveal that the Christmas “Underwear Bomber” was indeed Al-Qaeda:


The media treats the audio tape as undeniable fact in numerous stories, then at the same time prints a side story which shows that the White House cannot confirm that the tape is even real:


If the White House cannot confirm the authenticity of the tape, then why did the media report on its contents as if it had been confirmed?

Calculated Omission

Otherwise known as “cherry picking” data. One simple piece of information or root item of truth can derail an entire disinfo news story, so instead of trying to gloss over it, they simply pretend as if it doesn’t exist. When the fact is omitted, the lie can appear entirely rational. This tactic is also used extensively when disinformation agents and crooked journalists engage in open debate.

Distraction, and the Manufacture of Relevance

There has been a recent push for an audit of the Federal Reserve which was gaining major public support, as well as political support. Instead of reporting on this incredible and unprecedented movement for transparency in the Fed, the MSM spent two months or more reporting non-stop on the death of Michael Jackson, a pop idol who had not released a decent record since “Thriller,” practically deifying the man who only months earlier was being lambasted by the same MSM for having “wandering hands” when children were about.

Dishonest Debate Tactics

Sometimes, men who actually are concerned with the average American’s pursuit of honesty and legitimate fact-driven information break through and appear on T.V. However, rarely are they allowed to share their views or insights without having to fight through a wall of carefully crafted deceit and propaganda. Because the media knows they will lose credibility if they do not allow guests with opposing viewpoints every once in a while, they set up and choreograph specialized T.V. debates in highly restrictive environments which put the guest on the defensive, and make it difficult for them to clearly convey their ideas or facts.

TV pundits are often trained in what are commonly called “Alinsky Tactics.” Saul Alinsky was a moral relativist, and champion of the lie as a tool for the “greater good;” essentially, a modern day Machiavelli. His “Rules for Radicals” were supposedly meant for grassroots activists who opposed the establishment, and emphasized the use of any means necessary to defeat one’s political opposition. But is it truly possible to defeat an establishment built on lies, by use of even more elaborate lies, and by sacrificing one’s ethics?

Today, Alinsky’s rules are used more often by the establishment than by its opposition. These tactics have been adopted by governments and disinformation specialists across the world, but they are most visible in TV debate. While Alinsky sermonized about the need for confrontation in society, his debate tactics are actually designed to circumvent real and honest confrontation of opposing ideas with slippery tricks and diversions. Alinsky’s tactics, and their modern usage, can be summarized as follows:

1) Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.

We see this tactic in many forms. For example, projecting your own movement as mainstream, and your opponent’s as fringe. Convincing your opponent that his fight is a futile one. Your opposition may act differently, or even hesitate to act at all, based on their perception of your power.

2) Never go outside the experience of your people, and whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.

Don’t get drawn into a debate about a subject you do not know as well as or better than your opposition. If possible, draw them into such a situation instead. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty in your opposition. This is commonly used against unwitting interviewees on cable news shows whose positions are set up to be skewered. The target is blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address. In television and radio, this also serves to waste broadcast time to prevent the target from expressing his own positions.

3) Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

The objective is to target the opponent’s credibility and reputation by accusations of hypocrisy. If the tactician can catch his opponent in even the smallest misstep, it creates an opening for further attacks.

4) Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

“Ron Paul is a crackpot.” “Dennis Kucinich is short and weird.” “9-11 twoofers wear tinfoil hats.” Ridicule is almost impossible to counter. It’s irrational. It infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage. It also works as a pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

5) A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

The popularization of the term “Teabaggers” is a classic example, it caught on by itself because people seem to think it’s clever, and enjoy saying it. Keeping your talking points simple and fun keeps your side motivated, and helps your tactics spread autonomously, without instruction or encouragement.

6) A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

See rule number 6. Don’t become old news. If you keep your tactics fresh, its easier to keep your people active. Not all disinformation agents are paid. The “useful idiots” have to be motivated by other means. Mainstream disinformation often changes gear from one method to the next and then back again.

7) Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. Never give the target a chance to rest, regroup, recover or re-strategize. Take advantage of current events and twist their implications to support your position. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

This goes hand in hand with Rule #1. Perception is reality. Allow your opposition to expend all of its energy in expectation of an insurmountable scenario. The dire possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.

9) The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

The objective of this pressure is to force the opposition to react and make the mistakes that are necessary for the ultimate success of the campaign.

10) If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.

As grassroots activism tools, Alinsky tactics have historically been used (for example, by labor movements) to force the opposition to react with violence against activists, which leads to popular sympathy for the activists’ cause. Today, false (or co-opted) grassroots movements use this technique in debate as well as in planned street actions. The idea is to provoke (or stage) ruthless attacks against ones’ self, so as to be perceived as the underdog, or the victim. Today, this technique is commonly used to create the illusion that a certain movement is “counterculture” or “anti-establishment.”

11) The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. Today, this is often used offensively against legitimate activists, such as the opponents of the Federal Reserve. Complain that your opponent is merely “pointing out the problems.” Demand that they offer a solution.

12) Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. The targets supporters will expose themselves. Go after individual people, not organizations or institutions. People hurt faster than institutions.

The next time you view an MSM debate, watch the pundits carefully, you will likely see many if not all of the strategies above used on some unsuspecting individual attempting to tell the truth.

Internet Disinformation Methods

Because the MSM’s bag of tricks has been so exhausted over such a long period of time, many bitter and enraged consumers of information are now turning to alternative news sources, most of which exist on the collective commons we call the internet. At first, it appears, the government and elitists ignored the web as a kind of novelty, or just another mechanism they could exploit in spreading disinformation. As we all now well know, they dropped the ball, and the internet has become the most powerful tool for truth history has ever seen.

That being said, they are now expending incredible resources in order to catch up to their mistake, utilizing every trick in their arsenal to beat web users back into submission. While the anonymity of the internet allows for a certain immunity against many of Saul Alinsky’s manipulative tactics, it also allows governments to attack those trying to spread the truth covertly. In the world of web news, we call these people “disinfo trolls.” Trolls are now being openly employed by governments in countries like the U.S. and Israel specifically to scour the internet for alternative news sites and disrupt their ability to share information.




Internet trolls, also known as “paid posters” or “paid bloggers,” are increasingly being employed by private corporations as well, often for marketing purposes. In fact, it is a rapidly growing industry.

Trolls use a wide variety of strategies, some of which are unique to the internet, here are just a few:

1) Make outrageous comments designed to distract or frustrate: An Alinsky tactic used to make people emotional, although less effective because of the impersonal nature of the web.

2) Pose as a supporter of the truth, then make comments that discredit the movement: We have seen this even on our own forums — trolls pose as supporters of the Liberty Movement, then post long, incoherent diatribes so as to appear either racist or insane. Here is a live example of this tactic in use on Yahoo! Answers.

The key to this tactic is to make references to common Liberty Movement arguments while at the same time babbling nonsense, so as to make those otherwise valid arguments seem ludicrous by association.

In extreme cases, these “Trojan Horse Trolls” have been known to make posts which incite violence — a technique obviously intended to solidify the false assertions of the notorious MIAC report and other ADL/SPLC publications which purport that constitutionalists should be feared as potential domestic terrorists.

3) Dominate Discussions: Trolls often interject themselves into productive web discussions in order to throw them off course and frustrate the people involved.

4) Prewritten Responses: Many trolls are supplied with a list or database with pre-planned talking points designed as generalized and deceptive responses to honest arguments. 9/11 “debunker” trolls are notorious for this.

5) False Association: This works hand in hand with item #2, by invoking the stereotypes established by the “Trojan Horse Troll.”

For example: calling those against the Federal Reserve “conspiracy theorists” or “lunatics”. Deliberately associating anti-globalist movements with big foot or alien enthusiasts, because of the inherent negative connotations. Using false associations to provoke biases and dissuade people from examining the evidence objectively.

6) False Moderation: Pretending to be the “voice of reason” in an argument with obvious and defined sides in an attempt to move people away from what is clearly true into a “grey area” where the truth becomes “relative.”

7) Straw Man Arguments: A very common technique. The troll will accuse his opposition of subscribing to a certain point of view, even if he does not, and then attacks that point of view. Or, the troll will put words in the mouth of his opposition, and then rebut those specific words. For example: “9/11 truthers say that no planes hit the WTC towers, and that it was all just computer animation. What are they, crazy?”

Sometimes, these strategies are used by average people with serious personality issues. However, if you see someone using these tactics often, or using many of them at the same time, you may be dealing with a paid internet troll.

Government Disinformation Methods

Governments, and the globalists who back them, have immense assets — an almost endless fiat money printing press — and control over most legal and academic institutions. With these advantages, disinformation can be executed on a massive scale. Here are just a handful of the most prominent tactics used by government agencies and private think tanks to guide public opinion, and establish the appearance of consensus:

1) Control The Experts: Most Americans are taught from kindergarten to ignore their instincts for the truth and defer to the “professional class” for all their answers. The problem is that much of the professional class is indoctrinated throughout their college years, many of them molded to support the status quo. Any experts that go against the grain are ostracized by their peers.

2) Control The Data: By controlling the source data of any investigation, be it legal or scientific, the government has the ability to engineer any truth they wish, that is, as long as the people do not care enough to ask for the source data. Two major examples of controlled and hidden source data include; the NIST investigation of the suspicious 9/11 WTC collapses, in which NIST engineers, hired by the government, have kept all source data from their computer models secret, while claiming that the computer models prove the collapses were “natural”. Also, the recent exposure of the CRU Climate Labs and their manipulation of source data in order to fool the public into believing that Global Warming is real, and accepting a world-wide carbon tax. The CRU has refused to release the source data from its experiments for years, and now we know why.

3) Skew The Statistics: This tactic is extremely evident in the Labor Department’s evaluations on unemployment, using such tricks as incorporating ambiguous birth / death ratios into their calculation in order to make it appear as though there are less unemployed people than there really are, or leaving out certain subsections of the population, like those who are unemployed and no longer seeking benefits.

3) Guilt By False Association: Governments faced with an effective opponent will always attempt to demonize that person or group in the eyes of the public. This is often done by associating them with a group or idea that the public already hates. Example: During the last election, they tried to associate Ron Paul supporters with racist groups (and more recently, certain Fox News anchors) in order to deter moderate Democrats from taking an honest look at Congressman Paul’s policies.

4) Manufacture Good News: This falls in with the skewing of statistics, and it also relies heavily on Media cooperation. The economic “Green Shoots” concept is a good example of the combination of government and corporate media interests in order to create an atmosphere of false optimism based on dubious foundations.

5) Controlled Opposition: Men in positions of power have known for centuries the importance of controlled opposition. If a movement rises in opposition to one’s authority, one must usurp that movement’s leadership. If no such movement exists to infiltrate, the establishment will often create a toothless one, in order to fill that social need, and neutralize individuals who might have otherwise taken action themselves.

During the 1960’s and 70’s, the FBI began a secretive program called COINTELPRO. Along with illegal spying on American citizens who were against the Vietnam conflict or in support of the civil rights movement, they also used agents and media sources to pose as supporters of the movement, then purposely created conflict and division, or took control of the direction of the movement altogether. This same tactic has been attempted with the modern Liberty Movement on several levels, but has so far been ineffective in stopping our growth.

The NRA is another good example of controlled opposition, as many gun owners are satisfied that paying their annual NRA dues is tantamount to actively resisting anti-gun legislation; when in fact, the NRA is directly responsible for many of the compromises which result in lost ground on 2nd amendment issues. In this way, gun owners are not only rendered inactive, but actually manipulated into funding the demise of their own cause.

6) False Paradigms: Human beings have a tendency to categorize and label other people and ideas. It is, for better or worse, a fundamental part of how we understand the complexities of the world. This component of human nature, like most any other, can be abused as a powerful tool for social manipulation. By framing a polarized debate according to artificial boundaries, and establishing the two poles of that debate, social engineers can eliminate the perceived possibility of a third alternative. The mainstream media apparatus is the key weapon to this end. The endless creation of dichotomies, and the neat arrangement of ideologies along left/right lines, offers average people a very simple (though hopelessly inaccurate) way of thinking about politics. It forces them to choose a side, usually based solely on emotional or cultural reasons, and often lures them into supporting positions they would otherwise disagree with. It fosters an environment in which beating the other team is more important than ensuring the integrity of your own. Perhaps most importantly, it allows the social engineer to determine what is “fair game” for debate, and what is not.

Alinsky himself wrote: “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.”

One merely needs to observe a heated debate between a Democrat and a Republican to see how deeply this belief has been ingrained on both sides, and how destructive it is to true intellectual discourse.

Stopping Disinformation

The best way to disarm disinformation agents is to know their methods inside and out. This gives us the ability to point out exactly what they are doing in detail the moment they try to do it. Immediately exposing a disinformation tactic as it is being used is highly destructive to the person utilizing it. It makes them look foolish, dishonest, and weak for even making the attempt. Internet trolls most especially do not know how to handle their methods being deconstructed right in front of their eyes, and usually fold and run from debate when it occurs.

The truth, is precious. It is sad that there are so many in our society that have lost respect for it; people who have traded in their conscience and their soul for temporary financial comfort while sacrificing the stability and balance of the rest of the country in the process. The human psyche breathes on the air of truth, without it, humanity cannot survive. Without it, the species will collapse in on itself, starving from lack of intellectual and emotional sustenance. Disinformation does not only threaten our insight into the workings of our world; it makes us vulnerable to fear, misunderstanding, and doubt, all things that lead to destruction. It can lead good people to commit terrible atrocities against others, or even against themselves. Without a concerted and organized effort to diffuse mass-produced lies, the future will look bleak indeed.

A classic example of disinformation:

News that Mohamed Atta had been on the payroll of the elite international program surfaced in a curious way just a month after the 9/11 attack: a brief seven-line report by German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Oct. 18, 2001, under the headline “ATTA WAS TUTOR FOR SCHOLARSHIP HOLDERS.”

The story quoted spokesmen for “Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft,” described as a “German international further education organisation,” as having admitted paying Hamburg cadre principal Atta as a “scholarship holder” and “tutor,” between 1995 and 1997.

But what makes the story curious is that the German paper concealed the  shocking implications of their story, that Mohamed Atta had been on the payroll of a joint U.S.—German government program, through the simple expedient of neglecting to mention that the “Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft” was merely a private entity set up to administer the “exchange” initiative of the two  governments.

The U.S. end of the program is run out of an address at United Nations Plaza in New York by CDS International. The letters stand for Carl Duisberg Society, also the name of its German counterpart in Cologne, the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft. Both are named for Carl Duisberg, a German chemist and industrialist who headed the Bayer Corporation during the 1920’s.?

The list of elite power brokers backing CDS International ranges from the aforementioned Kissinger and Rockefeller to former President Bill Clinton and other Democratic heavyweights like former First Lady Hillary Clinton and Clinton White House adviser Ira Magaziner.”

One sign of an intelligence asset is his involvement in organizations backed by the Western power elite. The fact that 911 hijacker Mohamed Atta was being paid to “tutor” others in the program means that he was probably an Illuminati Trainer as well. That is, he was involved as a “handler”  of other Illuminati-Intelligence assets as well. In other words, Attah was a programmed multiple that managed other program multiples for the CIA-Illuminati.

This would explain the erratic behavior he exhibited to others, including his one-time American girlfriend in Florida:

Now what is interesting in the video is the massive amounts of cocaine and other narcotics available to Attah. This is more evidence that he was an “MK-Ultra” multiple mind slave. The process of traumatic mind programming is  so emotionally damaging to the victim that narcotics are used to dull the   impact and create some psychic stability.  It is also used as a reward for following directions and obeying your Illuminati masters.

Narcotics are also something that no fervent follower of Islam would be involved with. It is anathema and carries the death penalty under Sharia Law. Tied in with Attahs former involvement with an organization named after the guy that commercialized Heroin production, Carl Duisberg, makes even less sense:

“Metzger also provides an account of the discovery of heroin by British chemist C.R.A. Wright in 1874, and the subsequent shepherding of this astounding substance into worldwide usage, a process initially overseen by Carl Duisberg of Germany’s Bayer Company, and later by the I.G. Farben chemical cartel

So, Muhamed Attah held a scholarship named after the guy who commercialized the use of Heroin, through Bayer, and that same organization can be linked to Americans identified as MK-Ultra handlers and proponents. Looks like a German Illuminati meets American Illuminati kind of thing.

So, how many Muhamed Attahs were running around inside the 911 ringleaders head? Drastic mood changes, hatred of the Christian crucifix, killing small animals, violent outbursts etc., seem to indicate that there were multiple ones. Satanists kill small animals hate the crucifix. Those that are victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse are often forced to kill small animals, even family pets, as part of the trauma that causes multiple personality disorder. Some other symptoms include:


* Multiple mannerisms, attitudes and beliefs that are not similar to each other

* unexplainable headaches and other body pains

* distortion or loss of subjective time

* comorbidity (other illnesses as well)

* depersonalization (disassociation from self)

* derealization (separation from what is “real”)

* severe memory loss

* depression

* flashbacks of abuse/trauma (controlled through narcotics)

* unexplainable phobias

* sudden anger without a justified cause

* lack of intimacy and personal connections (sex without love)

* frequent panic/anxiety attacks (Paranoia)

* auditory hallucinations of the personalities inside their mind


It would not be a far stretch to link Bayer’s development of heroin with advancements in trauma-based mind control in Nazi Germany. The attempt to create the perfect soldier, for example, would benefit greatly from a chemically modified version of Morphine, which is derived from Opium:

“Rather than being a different drug, heroin is a method of preparing morphine so that it is absorbed more efficiently by the human body, when injected. If heroin is injected into a human, more morphine will reach the brain than it would if the same amount of morphine were injected.

Injecting about 5mg of heroin will produce the same results as injecting 10mg of morphine. Heroin can also be snorted, smoked, or taken orally.”

This would also explain the CIA’s involvement in the narcotics industry and current operations in Afghanistan. Most importantly, it explains why an individual with no real devotion to Islam, would act against his own personal self-interest, and fly a plane into the World Trade Center.

Dozens of houses destroyed as West Bank wildfires spread

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the blazes as “arson terrorism.” Tracts of wildland in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have been burning for five days as international groups send aid.

November 26, 2016


Wildfires burnt more than 40 homes in the Jewish settlement of Halamish in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, forcing the evacuation of all 1,000-plus of its residents on Saturday, police said. Authorities said three people were seriously injured in the blaze, one of many which politicians claim were deliberately lit.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the Halamish fire erupted in several locations and quickly spread throughout the settlement. Wildfires, but no evacuations, were also reported near the West Bank settlements of Dolev, Alfei Menashe and Karnei Shomron.

Israel Radio reported several other people were moderately injured in the Maale Adumim fire, noting that nearby Palestinian villages were also facing fires. An international team of firefighters have been battling multiple blazes in Israel for five days now.

The fires started near Jerusalem and spread quickly due to dry and windy weather. Israel’s third-largest city of Haifa was hardest hit, with 200 people left homeless after tens of thousands were forced to flee on Thursday.

Police said they had arrested 14 unidentified people on suspicion of negligence or deliberately starting fires. Authorities said some of the fires were linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday there was “no doubt” some of the fires had been deliberately lit. “There is a price to pay for the crimes committed, there is a price to pay for arson terrorism,” he said.

Arab-Israeli leaders argued the fires affected their community just as much as the Jewish people. Palestinian groups helped extinguish some of the blazes, sending 41 firefighters and eight trucks to Haifa, the municipality said. Russia, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain and Canada have all sent firefighting planes which dumped tons of water and retardants in areas including the village of Nataf close to Jerusalem. A US Supertanker, considered the largest firefighting aircraft in the world, was due to join the fight on Saturday.

Israel fires: Al-Qaeda linked Palestinian militant group ‘claims responsibility’ for devastating Haifa blaze

Militants offer no proof of ‘questionable’ claim as firefighters continue to battle flames

November 25, 2016

The Independent/UK

An al-Qaeda linked militant group has claimed responsibility for starting a devastating fire in the Israeli city of Haifa that forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Ma’sadat al-Mujahideen, a Palestinian Salafist group, has claimed to be behind several previous blazes in Israel, including the Mount Carmel forest fire that killed more than 40 people near Haifa in 2010.

There is no proof of the group’s involvement in the blaze, or others they claimed near Jerusalem in 2011 and in the American state of Nevada in the following year.

A previous statement from Ma’sadat al-Mujahideen demanded that Jewish people “return from whence they came since they have no place among us”, threatening to continue arson attacks in Israel and among the country’s allies.

Terrorism monitors at the Jamestown Foundation said the group’s claims were “questionable” but that it was fixated on the use of fire as a weapon of jihad.

Ma’sadat al-Mujahideen has no known links to Hamas and has positioned itself in opposition to the Islamist group, criticising it for failing to fully implement Sharia law in Gaza, and for alleged “apostasy”.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has already joined politicians in categorising the devastating fires as an act of terrorism.

“Those who try to burn the state of Israel will be punished to the fullest extent,” he said during a visit to an air base where he met pilots putting out the fires.

“There are elements of terror here, of that there is no doubt.”

At least 16 people have been arrested across Israel and the West Bank on suspicion of arson after fires were started across the region near Israeli homes and settlements.

Firefighters were winning the battle to douse a blaze that spread across Haifa on Friday but more than a dozen other fires continued to burn elsewhere for the fourth day in a row.

Some of more than 60,000 evacuated people were beginning to return to their charred homes to assess the damage as police and firefighting units remained alert for flare-ups due to the dry, windy weather.

No deaths or serious injuries have been reported but dozens of people were hospitalised for smoke inhalation and hundreds of homes have been damaged.

The Palestinian Authority sent firefighters to help operations, as several countries including Russia and the US deployed planes and equipment and military reservists were sent out.

The fires come amid heightened tensions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories over more than a year of stabbing and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians and responding security crackdowns by Israeli forces.

Palestinian attackers have killed 36 Israelis and several foreign nationals, while more than 220 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli security forces. Authorities say the vast majority were carrying out or planning attacks, while the UN and humanitarian groups have raised concern over excessive use of force.

New crackdowns were expected after Israel’s police chief, Roni Alsheich, said early indications pointed toward a series of “politically motivated” arson attacks.

The fires began three days ago at the Neve Shalom community near Jerusalem, where Israelis and Arabs live together in a peace cooperative.

Later, blazes erupted in the northern Israeli area of Zichron Yaakov and elsewhere near Jerusalem before the largest ones spread across Haifa, the country’s third-largest city.

Naftali Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, ignited further controversy by tweeting that “only those to whom the land does not belong are capable of burning it.”

As debate spread on social media, Palestinians were accusing the government of taking advantage of the tragedy to incite against them.

Turkey’s Erdogan escalates war of words with European Union

Turkey’s president has suggested that sweeping emergency powers could be extended as he chides the European Union for objecting to mass purges of opposition figures and media outlets.

November 26, 2016


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the European Union Saturday that Turkey could extend by at least another three months a state of emergency that has been in place since the failed July coup. In a public address in Istanbul, Erdogan launched another attack on the EU just days after the European Parliament voted to back a freeze in accession talks with Ankara.

“Maybe the state of emergency will be extended by three months and then maybe another three months,” Erdogan said. “This is a decision for the government and the parliament.” He also threatened to restore capital punishment, a decision that would effectively end Ankara’s longstanding bid. And he added that he would listen to Turkish citizens rather than people named  “Hans” and “George,” picking two common European first names.

Turkey’s state of emergency, which was imposed after the July 15 failed coup, has seen tens of thousands of people arrested, causing alarm in Brussels over the scale of the crackdown. “What’s it to you?” the Turkish president said, referring to European parliamentarians. “Is the European Parliament in charge of this country or is the government in charge of this country?”

European Commission chief losing patience

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Turkey’s leaders they needed to decide whether they actually want to join the EU and work towards visa liberalization for Turkish citizens visiting the EU. “I note that Erdogan and his government are in the process of ‘pre-blaming’ Europe for the failure of accession negotiations,” Juncker told Belgian newspaper “La Libre” in an interview published Saturday.  “Instead of placing the blame on the European Union and the commission, Mr. Erdogan would do better to ask himself whether he is not responsible for the fact that Turkish citizens are not able to circulate freely on European territory.”

The EU is becoming increasingly critical of Turkey’s state-of-emergency laws under which about 75,000 civil servants and members of the security forces have been purged and more than 37,000 arrested. Hundreds of associations and media outlets have been shuttered and 10 members of parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested.

Turkey uses refugees as leverage

Turkey has threatened to open Turkey’s border to let Middle Eastern refugees go to Europe, if matters escalate. “Millions of refugees in Turkey ready to move on as readmission deal with the EU enters death spiral,” read a headline of the staunchly pro-government English language “Daily Sabah” newspaper.

The EU had reached a deal with Turkey, which is meant to stem the flow of migrants to the bloc’s member countries, after more than 1 million people flocked to Europe last year. Hundreds of thousands came from Turkey, which hosts more than 2 million Syrian refugees.

How to cope with the end of the world

Are you prepared for the collapse of society? Here’s the knowledge you’d need to reboot civilisation.

November 24, 2016

by Lewis Dartnell

BBC News

Let’s imagine a thought experiment.An aggressive viral plague has struck humanity. Spreading astonishingly quickly through our modern world of dense cities and international airliners, we’d already lost the fight in a matter of weeks. Civilisation has collapsed and the vast majority of humanity has died. But you’ve survived. You fell deliriously ill, but through some innate immunity you lived through the raging fever, and have woken up in your cold house, with no electricity, no water in the taps or gas feeding the boiler or stove. The streets are eerily quiet, and no airplane contrails criss-cross the sky. You’re a survivor in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

These are all tropes we’re familiar with from books like Canticle for Leibowitz or The Road, recent computer games like The Last of Us, and films like I Am Legend or Mad Max. On the whole, these narratives feature protagonists wearing a little too much tight leather, and a lone hero striving through the wilderness. But how realistic are these scenarios?

If you did ever find yourself a survivor of a global catastrophe that wiped out most of humanity, what could you do about it? What would be the most vital knowledge you’d need to survive, and eventually thrive? It’s here that the lone hero trope falls down. There’s safety in numbers, and of course, we were only able to progress through history and build the modern world in the first place by working together; humanity is an inherently social, collaborative species. So while there will undoubtedly be a period of turmoil following a collapse, people will once again settle down into communities soon enough.

The question is, what next…? What will be your immediate priorities, and what capabilities should your community aim to recover over the following years? This is one possible chronology.


Once people stop monitoring and maintaining the power stations, the grid will go down pretty quickly. But by scavenging solar panels, or portable generators from a building site, you’ll be able to keep your life electrified for the time being.

The internet will evaporate as soon as the servers behind it start dropping-off as the fuel in their automatic back-up generators runs out, so don’t think that you’ll be able to rely on Wikipedia for knowledge. But this doesn’t mean your smartphone will become a useless brick. The compass uses an internal magnetometer so you’ll still be able to find your way around, and in fact the last map you loaded will continue to help you navigate with GPS.

The GPS satellite network will continue working well for a few weeks after the collapse, but after about six months the position accuracy will have degraded until it’s all-but-useless. Your priorities in the immediate aftermath will be to ensure you find a stockpile of bottled water and canned food, and also a set of decent outdoors clothing.


In the first few weeks you’ll probably have encountered pockets of other survivors. Treat strangers with a wary caution until you’ve found a small band you can trust and rely upon for mutual protection, and this will also greatly improve the effectiveness with which you can forage for supplies and scavenge what you need.

By now, the urban area you started in is beginning to get pretty unpleasant. The stench of innumerable rotting bodies fills the air, and unfed pet dogs have formed into increasingly aggressive packs. In any case, a modern city is a grossly artificial bubble, supported only by the civilisation that constructed it.

Without mains electricity to run lifts or lighting, natural water sources likely contaminated, and the ground itself smothered in tarmac and concrete, you’ll find life easier in a more rural setting. A traditional farmhouse with fireplaces for heating and cooking will be far more comfortable after the collapse than a modern high-tech apartment. You can always make scavenging forays back into the crumbling urban areas to restock supplies while you try to relearn how to make and do things for yourself.


Your main concern is going to be how to secure safe drinking water and avoid the water-borne diseases that have been the scourge of humanity for millennia. Boiling is a sure-fire way to kill pathogens but uses a great deal of fuel. Purification tablets can be scavenged from camping stores but sooner or later you will need to apply some basic chemistry to ensure the water you put to your lips isn’t going to kill you.

Water can be chemically disinfected by scavenging kitchen bleach or even swimming pool chlorine (sodium hypochlorite and calcium hypochlorite) and diluting it enough so that it kills microbes but doesn’t poison you. Here you are exploiting the chemistry of chlorine, which also underlies the tap water we drink today – historically, it was such developments in hygiene and public health that enabled us to live in fabulously dense cities.

Until you’ve worked out how to make chlorine yourself, a very low-tech method for water disinfection can be used: solar disinfection. This is a technique being taught around the developing world by the WHO, and simply involves filling a plastic bottle with suspect water and leaving it in bright sunshine for a day or two. The ultraviolet rays from the Sun will pass right through the bottle and kill any pathogens.

Simply washing your hands is also exceedingly effective at blocking disease transmission. Soap can be made by hydrolysing animal fat or plant oils; by boiling with alkalis. Alkalis are one of the most crucial classes of chemicals throughout history, and can be extracted from your natural environment. Potash (potassium carbonate) can be extracted by trickling water through ashes from a hardwood fire, and soda ash from burned seaweed or other salt-tolerant coastal plants like samphire or saltwort. Collecting seaweed for soda production was a huge industry along the Atlantic coasts of Scotland and Ireland for centuries.


As preserved food runs out, you’ll be facing starvation if you’ve not rebooted your own agriculture. Growing your own vegetables and fruit may be straightforward, but how many of us today know how to grow our own staple cereal crops; wheat, rice or maize?

Cereals are in fact species of grass; they’re fast-growing and produce nutritious grain, but the human body is biologically-disadvantaged and we don’t have four stomachs like a cow to be able to digest grass. Instead, we’ve had to apply our brains to the problem and invent technologies to aid our bodies. We need to physically grind wheat grain into flour and then use the transformative effect of fire in an oven to bake the flour into bread and release nutrients that our bodies can absorb. In this way the millstones in a windmill or waterwheel are like a technological extension of our own molar teeth, and the oven we use for baking bread or the pot we use for boiling rice is like an external pre-digestive system.

The primary problem is how you productively cultivate cereal crops in the first place – food surplus is the fundamental basis of any civilisation. If one person can feed 10 others who are not rooted to the fields and can specialise in other skills, then your society becomes more capable. Tools for working the soil like a plough and harrow could be scavenged, or created by repurposing steel items with a simple forge. But the crucial trick, one that evaded medieval farmers, is how to consistently maintain the fertility of your fields over the years. Without modern artificial fertilisers, you’ll need to replenish nitrates in the soil by ploughing-in animal manure and cycling leguminous plants – peas, lentils, clover, alfalfa – with your cereal crops. Dissolving bones in acid will provide phosphates, and spreading crushed chalk or limestone will counter rising soil acidity.


As your community becomes increasingly self-sufficient rather than relying on scavenging what’s been left-behind, you’ll need to relearn traditional skills like blacksmithing and making metal tools and keeping machinery and engines running. Civilisation has advanced thanks to the growth of mechanical power: waterwheels and windmills then steam engines, turbines and internal combustion engines, to alleviate the hard toil of human muscles.

A capable civilisation also needs fuel. Before the late 1800s and the exploitation of coal and then crude oil, the source of vital chemistry – acids, alcohols, solvents, tars – was by ‘dry distillation’ of wood; baking timber in an air-tight container and collecting the vapours released as it was converted to charcoal. You can even run a car engine on the gases given off by pyrolysis of wood; during World War Two there were over a million gassifier-powered cars – wood-fuelled cars – driving along the roads of Europe.

Without access to crude oil for the reboot (our civilisation has already sucked-up all the easily-exploited oil) you can also make biodiesel for running machinery from rendered animal fat or plant oil reacted with methanol (wood alcohol, dry-distilled from timber) and lye (made by reacting soda with quicklime from roasted chalk or limestone).

In your nascent chemical industry, other easily-extractable substances will also have multiple uses. For example, ethanol, from fermenting grain and then distilling to concentrate the alcohol, is a versatile solvent and effective disinfectant. Charcoal is useful not only for producing high temperatures for forging metals or creating bricks or glass, but is also a chemical ‘reductant’ and so is needed for smelting metals out of their rocky ores.


In the long term, the only way for the post-apocalyptic society to advance and redevelop knowledge and capabilities is to come to understand the workings of the natural world, and to apply that understanding to exploiting particular principles in the creation of useful technologies. The best way for confidently ascertaining how things work is the scientific method; to rigorously test your theories against carefully-designed experiments or observations of the natural phenomena – the scientific method is itself an invention, a kind of knowledge-generation machinery.

In order to effectively investigate the world you need tools, and there is one substance that is utterly indispensible to how we’ve conducted science through history. It is relatively strong, chemically unreactive, and completely transparent. This wonder material is of course: glass.

You need glass to make test-tubes to learn about chemical reactions, and to make thermometers and barometers to understand about temperature and pressure (key prerequisite principles for building technologies like the steam engine, and then internal combustion engine), and glass can even manipulate light itself; forming lenses for the microscope and telescope. To make a simple glass, all you need are three ingredients – silica, soda, and lime, which can be gathered as sand, seaweed, and chalk or limestone. In a true Robinson Crusoe effort, you could make your own glass from scratch on a single beach.

And so with these tools for science, and a rational and enquiring mindset, you could hope that your post-apocalyptic society rapidly recovers after the collapse and avoids another Dark Ages. It may take decades or more, but a new form of civilisation could emerge from the apocalypse. What that world would look like is anybody’s guess, but with a bit of human ingenuity, we have the potential to rebuild – and perhaps even improve upon – the sophisticated society we know today.

Syrian army captures part of rebel-held east Aleppo

November 26, 2016

by Lisa Barrington and Tom Perry


BEIRUT-The Syrian army said it had taken control of an important district in rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Saturday after fierce fighting, with rebels blaming intense air strikes and lack of hospitals for their collapsing frontline.

Government forces advanced with a ground and air assault on the edge of the besieged eastern half of the city, a move the rebels say is designed to split their most important urban stronghold in two.

Aleppo, which was Syria’s biggest city before the start of a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, is divided between the government-held west and rebel-held east, where U.N. officials say at least 250,000 people are under siege.

Capturing all of Aleppo would be a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after six and a half years of fighting.

The army said in a statement it had, alongside its allies, taken full control over the Hanano housing district, which is on the northeast frontline of the eastern sector.

“Engineering teams are removing mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists in the squares and streets,” the statement said. The Syrian government calls all forces fighting against it terrorists.

An official in an Aleppo rebel group said a map circulated by pro-government media showing government forces in control of the Hanano area was largely accurate.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring organization based in Britain, said the army had established control over Hanano, which was the first part of Aleppo taken over by armed opposition groups in 2012.

A renewed air assault on residential and frontline parts of east Aleppo began last Tuesday after a weeks-long pause in air strikes and shelling there.

“The revolutionaries are fighting fiercely but the volume of bombardments and the intensity of the battles, the dead and the wounded, and the lack of hospitals, are all playing a role in the collapse of these frontlines,” said an official from Jabha Shamiya, one of the biggest groups fighting against Assad in northern Syria. Some of its members are fighting in Hanano.

He condemned the “international silence” and said the government and its allies were trying to exploit the period before the next U.S. administration took over.

“The Iranians, Russians and regime know there is a vacuum and they are trying to exploit it using all means,” he said. “We are in touch with the friendly states but unfortunately Aleppo is being left to be slaughtered.”

Yasser al-Yousef, from the political office of the Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebel group, said insurgents had fought fiercely for more than 48 hours to defend Hanano and the southern front of east Aleppo from heavy government bombardment.

A Syrian state television reporter broadcast live from a part of Hanano on Saturday as government forces sought to establish full control over the area. Gunshots could be heard and behind him damaged buildings and rising smoke could be seen.

Rebels say much of Hanano has been empty of residents for some months.

Syrian state media said the army had secured the safe passage of at least 150 people out of Hanano, and showed pictures of people it said were evacuated residents in a reception center.

In the 12 days since the renewed bombardment on east Aleppo, at least 201 civilians, including 27 children, have died in the besieged sector, the Observatory said. There were 134 rebel fighter deaths.

The monitor also documented 19 civilian deaths, including 11 children, and dozens of injuries as a result of rebel shelling of government-held west Aleppo. Rebel shelling into the Sheikh Maqsoud district, which is under the control of the Kurdish YPG militia, has killed three people, it said.

Syrian state news agency SANA said three people died and 15 were injured on Saturday when rebels fired rockets into government-held west Aleppo.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington and Tom Perry; Editing by Helen Popper and Mark Trevelyan)

Climate Change Is Moving the North Pole

As ice melts and aquifers are drained, Earth’s distribution of mass is changing—and with it the position of the planet’s spin axis.

April 8, 2016

by Brian Clark Howard

National Geographic

Finding the North Pole means traveling north, right? Yes, but with a slight caveat: Earth’s northern pole is drifting rapidly eastward, and it looks like climate change is to blame. The discovery may have major implications for studies of ice loss and drought, potentially improving our ability to predict such changes in the future.

Earth turns around an axis like a giant spinning top. The places where that invisible axis intersects with the planet’s surface are the north and south rotational poles. Due to Earth’s wobble on its axis, these spots drift in roughly decade-long cycles. (All this motion is a completely separate mechanism from the behavior of the planet’s magnetic poles, which also reverse periodically over the course of millions of years.)

Scientists pinpoint the geographic north and south poles by taking the long-term averages of those rotational positions.

Explorers and scientists have been reliably measuring the precise positions of the rotational poles since 1899, first by measuring the relative positions of the stars and then by using satellite telemetry. Over the past century or so, the poles have tended to wander by just a few centimeters a year.

“That may seem like a tiny variation, but there is very important information embedded in that,” says Surendra Adhikari, an Earth scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

The North Pole had shifted back and forth from east to west, with on overall trend that had it moving toward Canada. But since 2000, the pole’s typical drift has “made a dramatic change,” says Adhikari. Since that time, the pole has been moving steadily eastward by about 75 degrees, heading toward the Prime Meridian that runs through Greenwich, England.

This shift has been on the order of 10 centimeters a year, so it’s probably not enough to warrant a recalculation of the planet’s geographic pole–although later generations may have to consider it if things keep changing, notes Adhikari.

What’s most exciting to the scientists is that they can now explain what’s actually causing the drift, and that may have significant ramifications on climate science.

Ebb and Flow

For at least a decade, scientists have suspected that the massive amounts of melting taking place in glaciers around the world could significantly redistribute mass on Earth. That’s particularly true when it comes to the huge ice sheets over Greenland and in the West Antarctic.

If ice disappears from one part of the spinning Earth and resettles elsewhere as water, the planet shifts on its axis toward the place where it lost mass.

But the physics are so complex that scientists could only guess at how this actually works in the real world. Now, Adhikari has proposed a way to explain the process. The secret was discovering that it’s not just shrinking glaciers that change Earth’s mass distribution, as some scientists had thought. A lot of mass also gets moved around due to large-scale loss of liquid water from the land, the team reports this week in Science Advances.

Adhikari and his colleague and co-author Erik Ivins think the rotational pole is shifting toward Europe because there has been a massive loss of water from lakes and aquifers in Eurasia, around the Caspian Sea, and in India. Warmer temperatures overall have led to more evaporation and less precipitation in many areas, and booming human populations have been sucking up groundwater from reservoirs and wells (watch Saudi Arabia get drained dry).

“What we have shown is that melting ice and a pattern of continental water storage are combining to cause a dramatic shift in the direction of the pole,” says Adhikari.

Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, commends the authors for adding to the discussion about climate science. Schmidt, who was not affiliated with the study, agrees that human activity has caused “detectable shifts in mass from ice sheet melt and groundwater extraction.”

Pole Predictions

Adhikari and Ivins hope their findings will help other climate researchers improve our understanding of global forces.

“We should be able to use polar-motion data to answer some interesting questions,” says Adhikari. The data could help make climate models more accurate, because scientists could work backwards from the robust archive on polar drift to infer the melting and evaporation rates of the past.

“We have much better data on the position of the poles than we do on melting glaciers through history,” Adhikari notes.

Scientists might similarly be able to track how fast specific areas have dried out from drought. The end result could be more accurate predictions of changes in climate in the future, as well as a better understanding of how our planet spins through space.




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