TBR News November 29, 2016

Nov 29 2016

The Voice of the White House

 Washington, D.C.  November 29, 2016:”Once the media controlled public opinion but with the advent of the Internet and a flood of non-controlled sites, the public began to realize that the media was a controlled entity and the print media began to lost tens of thousands of subscribers. The television industry, also obedient to orders from above, has long ago lost credibility with the public and the very self-important news readers become outraged when they are basicially igonored.

The highly entertaining wails of the Washington Post about fake news stories is amusing because the media to whom the Post belongs, is responsible for its own fake news stories. Their belief obviously is that they have the right to stuff the public full of officially-sponsored lies but outsiders are to be condemned, mostly for exposing their fictions.”

The Fake News Fake Story

Blame the media, not Moscow.

November 28, 2016

by Philip Giraldi

The American Conservative

“Fake stories” are in the news. The narrative goes something like this: fabricated accounts that misrepresent “the truth” are proliferating on the internet, and once they appear on a social networking site, they are frequently spread far and wide, often doing serious damage along the way to whatever or whomever was the target of the initial posting. Reportedly, Google and Facebook are now alert to the problem and doing their best to monitor and eliminate such material. How exactly that will work is not yet clear, as it would be blatant censorship, and the relative openness of the internet is a major part of its appeal.

And there is, of course, a political aspect to the fake stories. Allegedly, most recent tales were focused on denigrating the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, accusing her of a series of crimes both high and low, challenging her veracity on issues relating to her health, and claiming that she was seeking to “hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.”

That the overwhelming majority of the media’s campaign coverage actually consisted of negative reporting on Donald Trump would appear to contradict that narrative. But because most of those currently promoting the “fake news story” theory can be comfortably described as Clinton supporters, it is perhaps not surprising that whatever benefit might be obtained from the political angle would tilt in her direction.

And there’s something even more nefarious that fits neatly into another storyline that was intensely pursued in the lead-up to the election. It has now been discovered by the assiduous researchers attached to several previously unknown and somewhat shady inside-the-Beltway think tanks that the Kremlin was behind it all, described in some detail by the Washington Post in an article entitled “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.” The front-page Post piece, which was promptly replayed uncritically elsewhere in the mainstream media, concerned the alleged existence of “a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.”

With two coauthors, a fellow at one of the obscure think tanks cited by the Post, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, had released an article called “Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy” on November 6 through the War on the Rocks online magazine. It was, perhaps not coincidentally, just before the election, and the article shilled heavily for Clinton, asserting absurdly at one point that “A Trump victory could pave the way for Russian ascendance and American acquiescence.”

A second group cited in the article, PropOrNot, revealed on October 30 the keys to “Identifying and Combatting Russian Online Propaganda,” including a convenient table that names all the internet sites that are apparently “useful idiots” engaged in supporting the “active measures” produced by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his shadow warriors. PropOrNot alarmingly warns that unless something is done about Moscow’s propaganda, there might be in the “immediate aftermath of the upcoming election, Russian orchestrated political violence in the U.S.”

The research and analysis conducted by both the Foreign Policy Research Institute and PropOrNot is based on physical connections between sites featuring the “fake stories” as well as repetitive language and expressions, but that is precisely how information moves around on the internet in any event.  The completely respectable Consortium News, Antiwar.com, Unz.com, and Ron Paul Institute are four of the sites PropOrNot includes on its “peddlers of Russian propaganda” list, rather suggesting that discussing Moscow’s foreign policy objectively outside the comfort zone of the Washington establishment bubble is enough for inclusion.

The Post article accepts that Moscow was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee files and other accounts to “embarrass Clinton,” even though actual Russian government culpability has never been unambiguously demonstrated and has been denied by both the Kremlin and WikiLeaks. And it might surprise the Washington Post, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and PropOrNot to learn that Moscow was watching the U.S. presidential election very closely based on its own self-interest. On one hand, there was a major-party candidate who compared Putin to Hitler and who was advocating confronting Russia in the Baltics, Ukraine, and Syria, including expanding NATO and increasing direct lethal military assistance to Kiev while also intervening directly in Syria. That intervention would include creation of a “no-fly” zone, which would virtually guarantee an incident involving U.S. warplanes and the Russian aircraft supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

On the other hand, there was another major-party candidate advocating dialogue and détente with Russia, arguing that the current level of hostility with Moscow was unwarranted. He was also uninterested in increasing U.S. direct involvement in Syria.

There should be no mystery about whom Putin was going to favor. Yes, Moscow undeniably has a large bureaucracy that engages in media management in support of its own perceived interests, but the State Department does the same thing, as does the CIA overseas, and the Pentagon manages the news coming out of war zones through its embedment of journalists. The White House itself fed false information to journalists in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

Many other governments, including those of Israel and China, also engage in methodical global media manipulation to promote both their foreign and domestic policies. And one might also add that the U.S. mainstream media exercises considerable self-censorship over stories that would displease the corporate and political establishment. One must ask who is manipulating whom and whether it is fair to suggest that the American public is so gullible as to believe everything that appears on the internet, on television, or in print?

In addition, I would argue that there is a vast abyss between using a country’s global media resources to favor a certain political outcome in a foreign country and deliberately seeking to destroy that same nation’s political institutions, which is what the Post and its associated think tanks are attempting to link together. And it is not like posting false or misleading stories to obtain some political advantage is something new, having been something like the norm since the invention of mass journalism in the 19th century. It is not for nothing that “truth” has been described as the first casualty when nations engage in conflict and go public to explain their respective points of view.

The Post article wraps its allegations about Russia around the kernel of truth that there have been many false stories on the internet. In my own experience placing false or misleading articles overseas during the Cold War, the trick was not to use a sledgehammer but rather to base an account on a substantially and unimpeachably true story while inserting an element that would convey some additional information. Linking something that was false to something believed to be true would validate the former. Ironically, that is precisely what the Post article seeks to do when it tries to establish as solid its view that Russia was behind the fake news before it demurs, “There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump.” The newspaper is planting the seed that Moscow’s role was decisive by including the reservation.

The Post article also describes the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s health issues and implies that the negative commentary was somehow linked to direction coming from Moscow, but the reality is that Clinton actually did stumble and almost fall on camera. That video was played repeatedly, unleashing a torrent of discussion worldwide, including on Clinton-friendly networks like CNN, without any need for Russia to do anything to popularize the story. Russian trolls might indeed have been onto the story quickly, as the article suggests, but they were not alone.

The mainstream media, which clearly is having some difficulty in explaining why anyone should pay attention to it, is eager to discover new reasons why the reporting in the lead-up to the elections was so awful. It is convenient to claim that the Russians planted false stories, and furthermore are attempting to destroy our democracy, which would be a good segue if only anyone would actually believe any of it. The fact is that the public does not trust the media because the reporting has been both intrinsically biased and selective, with Team Clinton being the beneficiary of the status quo far more often than not in the recent electoral campaign. The clearly perceived bias is precisely why the public seeks out alternative sources of information and latches on to fake stories—and while it may be true that a Russian government ministry is responsible for some of what is being produced, the allegation that there exists a plot to destroy American democracy is a bridge way too far. The Democratic and Republican parties are already doing that without any help from Moscow.

No, Russian Agents Are Not Behind Every Piece of Fake News You See

November 25, 2016

by Mathew Ingram


Making everyone who shares fake news part of a Russian conspiracy is not helpful.

One of the themes that has emerged during the controversy over “fake news” and its role in the election of Donald Trump is the idea that Russian agents of various kinds helped hack the process by fueling this barrage of false news. But is that really true?

In a recent story, the Washington Post says that this is definitely the case, based on information provided by two groups of what the paper calls “independent researchers.” But the case starts to come apart at the seams the more you look at it.

One group is associated with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank known for its generally hawkish stance on relations between the U.S. and Russia, which says it has been researching Russian propaganda since 2014.

The second group is something called PropOrNot, about which very little is known. Its website doesn’t name anyone who is associated with it, including the researchers who worked on the report. And the Post doesn’t name the group’s executive director, whom it quotes, because it says he is afraid of “being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.”

PropOrNot’s Twitter ( TWTR 0.82% )   account, which tweets and retweets anti-Russian sentiments from a variety of sources, has only existed since August of this year. And an article announcing the launch of the group on its website is dated last month.

According to the description, PropOrNot includes an unidentified number of “concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including professional experience in computer science, statistics, public policy, and national security affairs.”

The group has a web-browser plug-in that is supposed to highlight sources of Russian propaganda online, but a number of observers on Twitter noted that this blacklist of sites includes several legitimate left-wing sites such as CounterPunch and Truth Out.

A number of the “allies” that PropOrNot lists on its website—including the investigative blogger Eliot Higgins, who runs a research entity called BellingCat that has used crowdsourcing to track Russian government activity in Ukraine—said they have never heard of the group.

And what about the evidence of this orchestrated Russian intelligence effort to hack the outcome of the American election? Much of it seems flimsy at best.

The researchers with the Foreign Policy Research Institute recently published a report entitled “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.” The article describes a network of social-media accounts the authors say are being used by Russian agents to sow discord and “destroy Americans’ confidence in their system of government.”

Accounts run by or associated with Russia Today, Sputnik and other state-controlled entities are a fairly obvious source of this kind of thing. But it’s the attempt to broaden this into a nefarious global scheme that weakens the group’s argument.

For example, the article refers to what it calls “useful idiots” as being part of this campaign, a group that includes any social-media accounts which “regurgitate Russian themes and ‘facts’ without necessarily taking direction from Russia, or collaborating in a fully informed manner.”

The problem with this description is that it could theoretically include anyone on any social-media platform who shares news based on a click-bait headline. The PropOrNot article, which the Post said it was given prior to publication, reportedly says the Russian campaign worked by “harnessing the online world’s fascination with ‘buzzy’ content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories.”

As we know, this describes millions of people who use Twitter and Facebook ( FB 1.18% )  . Are they part of the problem? Clearly. Are they Russian dupes? That seems like a stretch. What the report seems to be saying is that Russia took advantage of the social web’s desire to just share things without reading them. It may be true, but so does every other media outlet.

There’s also little data available on the PropOrNot report, which describes a network of 200 sites who it says are “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda,” which have what it calls a “combined audience of 15 million Americans.” 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.

That number is almost certainly inflated by the inclusion of The Drudge Report, a right-wing aggregator that is also one of the most popular websites in the world, with an estimated 1.5 billion monthly pageviews, which puts it ahead of both Yahoo News ( YHOO 0.41% ) and Google News ( GOOGL 1.26% )  .

In effect, both of these groups want to portray anyone who shared a salacious but untrue news story about Hillary Clinton as an agent of an orchestrated Russian intelligence campaign.

Has the rise of fake news played into the hands of those who want to spread disinformation? Sure it has. But connecting hundreds of Twitter accounts into a dark web of Russian-controlled agents, along with any website that sits on some poorly thought-out blacklist, seems like the beginnings of a conspiracy theory, rather than a scientific analysis of the problem.


Trump Loves to Do It, But American Generals Have Forgotten How

November 29, 2016

by Andrew J. Bacevich


President-elect Donald Trump’s message for the nation’s senior military leadership is ambiguously unambiguous. Here is he on 60 Minutes just days after winning the election.

Trump: “We have some great generals. We have great generals.”

Lesley Stahl: “You said you knew more than the generals about ISIS.”

Trump: “Well, I’ll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they’ve done. OK, look at the job they’ve done. They haven’t done the job.”

In reality, Trump, the former reality show host, knows next to nothing about ISIS, one of many gaps in his education that his impending encounter with actual reality is likely to fill.  Yet when it comes to America’s generals, our president-to-be is onto something.  No doubt our three- and four-star officers qualify as “great” in the sense that they mean well, work hard, and are altogether fine men and women. That they have not “done the job,” however, is indisputable — at least if their job is to bring America’s wars to a timely and successful conclusion.

Trump’s unhappy verdict — that the senior U.S. military leadership doesn’t know how to win — applies in spades to the two principal conflicts of the post-9/11 era: the Afghanistan War, now in its 16th year, and the Iraq War, launched in 2003 and (after a brief hiatus) once more grinding on.  Yet the verdict applies equally to lesser theaters of conflict, largely overlooked by the American public, that in recent years have engaged the attention of U.S. forces, a list that would include conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

Granted, our generals have demonstrated an impressive aptitude for moving pieces around on a dauntingly complex military chessboard.  Brigades, battle groups, and squadrons shuttle in and out of various war zones, responding to the needs of the moment.  The sheer immensity of the enterprise across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa — the sorties flown, munitions expended, the seamless deployment and redeployment of thousands of troops over thousands of miles, the vast stockpiles of material positioned, expended, and continuously resupplied — represents a staggering achievement. Measured by these or similar quantifiable outputs, America’s military has excelled.  No other military establishment in history could have come close to duplicating the logistical feats being performed year in, year out by the armed forces of the United States.

Nor should we overlook the resulting body count.  Since the autumn of 2001, something like 370,000 combatants and noncombatants have been killed in the various theaters of operations where U.S. forces have been active. Although modest by twentieth century standards, this post-9/11 harvest of death is hardly trivial.

Yet in evaluating military operations, it’s a mistake to confuse how much with how well.  Only rarely do the outcomes of armed conflicts turn on comparative statistics.  Ultimately, the one measure of success that really matters involves achieving war’s political purposes.  By that standard, victory requires not simply the defeat of the enemy, but accomplishing the nation’s stated war aims, and not just in part or temporarily but definitively. Anything less constitutes failure, not to mention utter waste for taxpayers, and for those called upon to fight, it constitutes cause for mourning.

By that standard, having been “at war” for virtually the entire twenty-first century, the United States military is still looking for its first win.  And however strong the disinclination to concede that Donald Trump could be right about anything, his verdict on American generalship qualifies as apt.

A Never-Ending Parade of Commanders for Wars That Never End

That verdict brings to mind three questions. First, with Trump a rare exception, why have the recurring shortcomings of America’s military leadership largely escaped notice?  Second, to what degree does faulty generalship suffice to explain why actual victory has proven so elusive? Third, to the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy bear directly on the outcome of our wars, how might the generals improve their game?

As to the first question, the explanation is quite simple:  During protracted wars, traditional standards for measuring generalship lose their salience.  Without pertinent standards, there can be no accountability.  Absent accountability, failings and weaknesses escape notice.  Eventually, what you’ve become accustomed to seems tolerable. Twenty-first century Americans inured to wars that never end have long since forgotten that bringing such conflicts to a prompt and successful conclusion once defined the very essence of what generals were expected to do.

Senior military officers were presumed to possess unique expertise in designing campaigns and directing engagements.  Not found among mere civilians or even among soldiers of lesser rank, this expertise provided the rationale for conferring status and authority on generals.

In earlier eras, the very structure of wars provided a relatively straightforward mechanism for testing such claims to expertise.  Events on the battlefield rendered harsh judgments, creating or destroying reputations with brutal efficiency.

Back then, standards employed in evaluating generalship were clear-cut and uncompromising.  Those who won battles earned fame, glory, and the gratitude of their countrymen.  Those who lost battles got fired or were put out to pasture.

During the Civil War, for example, Abraham Lincoln did not need an advanced degree in strategic studies to conclude that Union generals like John Pope, Ambrose Burnside, and Joseph Hooker didn’t have what it took to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia.  Humiliating defeats sustained by the Army of the Potomac at the Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville made that obvious enough.  Similarly, the victories Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman gained at Shiloh, at Vicksburg, and in the Chattanooga campaign strongly suggested that here was the team to which the president could entrust the task of bringing the Confederacy to its knees.

Today, public drunkenness, petty corruption, or sexual shenanigans with a subordinate might land generals in hot water.  But as long as they avoid egregious misbehavior, senior officers charged with prosecuting America’s wars are largely spared judgments of any sort.  Trying hard is enough to get a passing grade.

With the country’s political leaders and public conditioned to conflicts seemingly destined to drag on for years, if not decades, no one expects the current general-in-chief in Iraq or Afghanistan to bring things to a successful conclusion.  His job is merely to manage the situation until he passes it along to a successor, while duly adding to his collection of personal decorations and perhaps advancing his career.

Today, for example, Army General John Nicholson commands U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.  He’s only the latest in a long line of senior officers to preside over that war, beginning with General Tommy Franks in 2001 and continuing with Generals Mikolashek, Barno, Eikenberry, McNeill, McKiernan, McChrystal, Petraeus, Allen, Dunford, and Campbell.  The title carried by these officers changed over time.  So, too, did the specifics of their “mission” as Operation Enduring Freedom evolved into Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.  Yet even as expectations slipped lower and lower, none of the commanders rotating through Kabul delivered.  Not a single one has, in our president-elect’s concise formulation, “done the job.”  Indeed, it’s increasingly difficult to know what that job is, apart from preventing the Taliban from quite literally toppling the government.

In Iraq, meanwhile, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend currently serves as the — count ‘em — ninth American to command U.S. and coalition forces in that country since the George W. Bush administration ordered the invasion of 2003.  The first in that line, (once again) General Tommy Franks, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime and thereby broke Iraq.  The next five, Generals Sanchez, Casey, Petraeus, Odierno, and Austin, labored for eight years to put it back together again.

At the end of 2011, President Obama declared that they had done just that and terminated the U.S. military occupation.  The Islamic State soon exposed Obama’s claim as specious when its militants put a U.S.-trained Iraqi army to flight and annexed large swathes of that country’s territory.  Following in the footsteps of his immediate predecessors Generals James Terry and Sean MacFarland, General Townsend now shoulders the task of trying to restore Iraq’s status as a more or less genuinely sovereign state.  He directs what the Pentagon calls Operation Inherent Resolve, dating from June 2014, the follow-on to Operation New Dawn (September 2010-December 2011), which was itself the successor to Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003-August 2010).

When and how Inherent Resolve will conclude is difficult to forecast.  This much we can, however, say with some confidence: with the end nowhere in sight, General Townsend won’t be its last commander.  Other generals are waiting in the wings with their own careers to polish.  As in Kabul, the parade of U.S. military commanders through Baghdad will continue.

For some readers, this listing of mostly forgotten names and dates may have a soporific effect.  Yet it should also drive home Trump’s point.  The United States may today have the world’s most powerful and capable military — so at least we are constantly told.  Yet the record shows that it does not have a corps of senior officers who know how to translate capability into successful outcomes.

Draining Which Swamp?

That brings us to the second question:  Even if commander-in-chief Trump were somehow able to identify modern day equivalents of Grant and Sherman to implement his war plans, secret or otherwise, would they deliver victory?

On that score, we would do well to entertain doubts.  Although senior officers charged with running recent American wars have not exactly covered themselves in glory, it doesn’t follow that their shortcomings offer the sole or even a principal explanation for why those wars have yielded such disappointing results.  The truth is that some wars aren’t winnable and shouldn’t be fought.

So, yes, Trump’s critique of American generalship possesses merit, but whether he knows it or not, the question truly demanding his attention as the incoming commander-in-chief isn’t: Who should I hire (or fire) to fight my wars?  Instead, far more urgent is: Does further war promise to solve any of my problems?

One mark of a successful business executive is knowing when to cut your losses. It’s also the mark of a successful statesman.  Trump claims to be the former.  Whether his putative business savvy will translate into the world of statecraft remains to be seen. Early signs are not promising.

As a candidate, Trump vowed to “defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” destroy ISIS, “decimate al-Qaeda,” and “starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah.” Those promises imply a significant escalation of what Americans used to call the Global War on Terrorism.

Toward that end, the incoming administration may well revive some aspects of the George W. Bush playbook, including repopulating the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and “if it’s so important to the American people,” reinstituting torture.  The Trump administration will at least consider re-imposing sanctions on countries like Iran.  It may aggressively exploit the offensive potential of cyber-weapons, betting that America’s cyber-defenses will hold.

Yet President Trump is also likely to double down on the use of conventional military force.  In that regard, his promise to “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS” offers a hint of what is to come. His appointment of the uber-hawkish Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and his rumored selection of retired Marine Corps General James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis as defense secretary suggest that he means what he says.   In sum, a Trump administration seems unlikely to reexamine the conviction that the problems roiling the Greater Middle East will someday, somehow yield to a U.S.-imposed military solution.  Indeed, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, that conviction will deepen, with genuinely ironic implications for the Trump presidency.

In the immediate wake of 9/11, George W. Bush concocted a fantasy of American soldiers liberating oppressed Afghans and Iraqis and thereby “draining the swamp” that served to incubate anti-Western terrorism.  The results achieved proved beyond disappointing, while the costs exacted in terms of lives and dollars squandered were painful indeed.  Incrementally, with the passage of time, many Americans concluded that perhaps the swamp most in need of attention was not on the far side of the planet but much closer at hand — right in the imperial city nestled alongside the Potomac River.

To a very considerable extent, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, preferred candidate of the establishment, because he advertised himself as just the guy disgruntled Americans could count on to drain that swamp.

Yet here’s what too few of those Americans appreciate, even today: war created that swamp in the first place.  War empowers Washington.  It centralizes.  It provides a rationale for federal authorities to accumulate and exercise new powers.  It makes government bigger and more intrusive.  It lubricates the machinery of waste, fraud, and abuse that causes tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to vanish every year.  When it comes to sustaining the swamp, nothing works better than war.

Were Trump really intent on draining that swamp — if he genuinely seeks to “Make America Great Again” — then he would extricate the United States from war.  His liquidation of Trump University, which was to higher education what Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve are to modern warfare, provides a potentially instructive precedent for how to proceed.

But don’t hold your breath on that one.  All signs indicate that, in one fashion or another, our combative next president will perpetuate the wars he’s inheriting.  Trump may fancy that, as a veteran of Celebrity Apprentice (but not of military service), he possesses a special knack for spotting the next Grant or Sherman.  But acting on that impulse will merely replenish the swamp in the Greater Middle East along with the one in Washington.  And soon enough, those who elected him with expectations of seeing the much-despised establishment dismantled will realize that they’ve been had.

Which brings us, finally, to that third question: To the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy do affect the outcome of wars, what can be done to fix the problem?

The most expeditious approach: purge all currently serving three- and four-star officers; then, make a precondition for promotion to those ranks confinement in a reeducation camp run by Iraq and Afghanistan war amputees, with a curriculum designed by Veterans for Peace.  Graduation should require each student to submit an essay reflecting on these words of wisdom from U.S. Grant himself:  “There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword.”

True, such an approach may seem a bit draconian. But this is no time for half-measures — as even Donald Trump may eventually recognize.

Standing Rock Demonstrators File Class-Action Lawsuit Over Police Violence

November 29 2016

by Alleen Brown

The Intercept

Pipeline demonstrators injured by rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, and water cannons during a wintry nighttime standoff with police last week filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against the sheriff of the North Dakota county involved. The suit describes in new detail the evening of November 20, when more than 200 people protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline were injured by “less-than-lethal” weapons.

The lawsuit alleges that sheriff’s deputies and police officers used excessive force when they deployed impact munitions, like rubber bullets, as well as explosive tear gas grenades and water cannons against protesters. It argues that the tactics were retaliatory, punishing those involved for exercising free speech rights. It also argues that officers were inadequately trained to handle the situation, naming Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler, and Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Keiser as defendants.

Plaintiffs, represented by the National Lawyers Guild’s Water Protectors Legal Collective, requested a restraining order and preliminary injunction that would bar officers from using such weapons against people protesting the Dakota Access pipeline. The suit awaits a decision from a federal judge on whether to approve class-action status.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been fighting the pipeline in court, arguing that the tribe was not adequately consulted and citing fears that the project will damage sacred sites and contaminate the Missouri river, which provides drinking water to the tribe’s reservation. Thousands of people have flocked to encampments near the project’s river crossing to pray and protest against its completion. Direct actions have been met with increasingly militarized responses from local police and sheriff’s deputies, whose numbers have been padded by National Guard members and officers from departments across the US.

In declarations to the court, pipeline opponents involved in the November 20 clash described in detail the severe injuries they sustained. Most stated that protesters were nonviolent and that they heard no order to disperse.

Vanessa Dundon, a 32-year-old member of the Navajo Nation from Arizona, approached the Backwater bridge as the sun was setting, one of the first people to arrive. She watched as pipeline opponents, who identify as water protectors, removed one of two burned-out trucks that had been blocking the highway since a clash with police at the end of October. Officials had since secured the vehicles to the bridge to act as a barrier preventing people from travelling down the road to reach construction sites. The barrier also required a detour for people trying to get from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to the cities of Bismarck and Mandan. As she watched, tension began to mount between the protectors and police on the other side of a razorwire roadblock.

“I did not have time to move to avoid being hit by the [tear gas] canister,” she said. “I instinctively closed my eyes and was struck in the right eye by the canister.” As she turned to run away she was shot in the back of her left thigh by what felt like a rubber bullet. She fell to the ground, where two people picked her up and carried her to a minivan. “My eye was bleeding so much that I could not see and I was worried my eyeball was hanging out,” she stated.

Dundon was eventually sent to a specialist in Plymouth, Minnesota. “Dr. Baggins told me the trauma to my eye will likely affect my vision for the rest of my life and it is unclear at this time if I will be able to see out of my right eye again,” she said.

Mariah Marie Bruce, a 21-year-old from New Orleans, arrived to the police line at around the same time as Dundon. It wasn’t long before she was doused with water, her jacket and skirt freezing solid. As tear gas burned her eyes and nose, a flash bang grenade exploded against her genitals. Feeling little pain at first, she stayed in place until the tear gas became too much and she moved toward medics to treat her burning eyes. “As my body began to warmup, I started to feel the pain in my vagina and abdomen. The pain suddenly worsened and I began vomiting and the medics became very concerned,” she stated in a declaration to the court. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

David Demo, a 25-year-old living in nearby Cannon Ball, North Dakota, of Penobscott heritage, arrived at the bridge around 9 pm. He moved toward the police line, holding a GoPro camera on a stick. After 30 seconds or so of being sprayed with water, a projectile, possibly a rubber bullet, shot into Demo’s middle finger, which was holding the camera. “I was there to observe what was going on, and continue the protest against the pipeline. I was not threatening the officers,” he declared. In the morning, at the hospital, he was told his knuckles had broken and he would likely need reconstructive surgery.

Israel Hoagland-Lynn, a 42-year-old, from California was shot by a rubber bullet in the top of his head. “I dropped to the ground and lost consciousness,” he said. He came to and was carried by ambulance to a hospital, where he received 17 staples to the head.

Vanessa Bolin Clemens, a paramedic from Virginia and member of the Cherokee Nation, described treating one man for a seizure and administering CPR to another that appeared to be going into cardiac arrest. She described concussions, respiratory injuries, and, in the morning, ringing ears.

The Morton County sheriff’s department noted that one officer was injured by a projectile that night and has maintained that fears of demonstrators overrunning the barricade justified the use of water cannons. None of the three departments named in the suit responded to The Intercept’s requests for comment.

The most serious injury of the evening was sustained by 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky, whose arm was hit by what her father, Wayne Wilansky, described as a “grenade type device.” He said in a statement, “Sophia’s arm will never work normally again. Indeed, her use of the arm will be minimal. Amputation may be required to give her a more functional capacity.” The Morton County sheriff’s department declared that the injury is inconsistent with department tactics and suggested it was the result of an explosion caused by protesters.

On Monday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered an emergency evacuation of pipeline opponents camped on Army Corps land, citing recent snowfall and harsh conditions in the months ahead. He declared that emergency services to the area, which proved essential little more than a week before, would be reduced.

“I direct state agencies, emergency service officials, and nongovernmental organizations to reduce threats to public safety by not guaranteeing the provision of emergency and other governmental and nongovernmental services in the evacuation area, unless otherwise approved on a case by case basis by the Morton County Sheriff or Superintendent of the Highway Patrol,” he stated. “The general public is hereby notified that emergency services probably will not be available under current winter conditions.”

Rupert Murdoch set to lose $100m Theranos investment

Mogul is likely to lose big on blood testing startup that has been plagued by scandals exposed by the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch’s own newspaper

November 29, 2016

by Rupert Neate

The Guardian

New York-Rupert Murdoch is likely to lose nearly all of the $100m he invested in Theranos, the blood testing startup beset by scandals exposed by the Wall Street Journal, his flagship business newspaper.

Murdoch is reported to have invested $100m in Theranos between 2014 and 2015, when its valuation was soaring thanks to the promise of being able to revolutionize blood testing by replacing needles with low-cost finger pricks.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Murdoch was part of a group of wealthy families and individuals who invested $632m in Theranos’s latest funding round at about $17 a share, giving the Silicon Valley company a valuation of nearly $9bn, and making it the highest-valued private healthcare startup in the US.

Murdoch is reported to have toured Theranos’s laboratories in Palo Alto and inspected its proprietary devices prior to investing.

The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Murdoch’s publishing group News Corp, has published a series of investigative stories questioning the accuracy of Theranos’s testing and unusual management techniques.

The WSJ investigation, which kept going despite intense pressure on its whistleblower from Theranos and its board of high profile figures, led to a government investigation that found the company’s practices were putting patients’ lives at risk. Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’s chief executive, was banned from the blood testing business for two years. Last month, the company shut down its labs.

The company – which Holmes founded as a 19-year-old in 2003 – is also facing both criminal and civil investigations by the US attorney’s office in San Francisco and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is looking into whether the company misled investors and regulators.

Some investors on Monday launched their own lawsuit against the company, claiming they were misled. They said they hoped their suit would attract others and become a class action.

High-profile Theranos investors include the billionaire Riley Bechtel, chairman of the private construction giant Bechtel Group, and Cox Enterprises, the family-controlled conglomerate.

As well as attracting prominent investors, Theranos also secured big names for its board, including Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, both former secretaries of state.

The WSJ revealed earlier this month Shultz’s grandson was the whistleblower who approached the newspaper with his concerns about Theranos after they were dismissed by Holmes. Tyler Shultz, 26, joined Theranos in 2013 and quit in 2014 after his concerns were labelled arrogant, patronizing and reckless.

News Corp and Theranos declined to comment.

‘Beacon for despots everywhere’: Britain’s ‘extreme’ surveillance bill becomes law

November 29, 2016


Britain’s intelligence services have officially been given the most wide-ranging and privacy-invading mass surveillance powers in the world, according to critics, after the Investigatory Powers Act became law on Tuesday.

The legislation, dubbed the ‘snooper’s charter,’ authorizes the government to hack into devices, networks and services in bulk, and allows for large databases of personal information on UK citizens to be maintained.

It requires internet, phone and communication app companies to store customers’ records for 12 months and allow authorities to access them on demand.

That data could be anything from internet search history, calls made or messages sent, and will be available to a wide range of agencies, including the Department for Work and Pensions as well as the Food Standards Agency.

Security agencies will also be able to force companies to decrypt data, effectively placing limits on the use of end-to-end encryption.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has hailed the legislation as “world-leading,” saying it provides “unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection.”

The Home Office says the “landmark” law “sets out and governs the powers available to the police, security and intelligence agencies to gather and access electronic communications.”

In a statement, the department said the law “brings together and updates existing powers while radically overhauling how they are authorized and overseen.”

Not all the powers available in the act will be rolled out immediately. Some require testing so will not be ready for some time, the Home Office says.

The legislation has been divisive since it was first published, and was opposed by tens of thousands of people in a recent petition.

Civil liberties group Liberty told the Independent the law served as a “beacon for despots everywhere.”

“It’s a sad day for our democracy as this bill, with its eye-wateringly intrusive powers and flimsy safeguards, becomes law,” said Bella Sankey, the group’s policy director.

“The government has a duty to protect us, but these measures won’t do the job. Instead they open every detail of every citizen’s online life up to state eyes, drowning the authorities in data and putting innocent people’s personal information at massive risk.

“This new law is world-leading – but only as a beacon for despots everywhere. The campaign for a surveillance law fit for the digital age continues, and must now move to the courts.”

Privacy campaigners say the law will provide an international standard to authoritarian regimes around the world to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers, and could be a breach of human rights.

‘Snoopers law creates security nightmare’

November 29, 2016

by Rory Cellan-Jones

BBC News

The Investigatory Powers Bill will get royal assent on Tuesday. More than 130,000 people have signed a petition calling for it to be scrapped.

Tim Berners-Lee has said it creates a “security nightmare”.

Edward Snowden has described it as the most extreme surveillance in the history of Western democracy.

But soon records of every website and messaging service UK-based citizens visit from any device will be retained for a year by communications companies.

So, all of those protests will have been in vain.

The petition in particular comes much too late, having been started after the bill had passed through all of its parliamentary stages.

The fact that it has attracted more than 100,000 signatures means that it will get debated in Parliament – but there seems little chance of ministers taking any more notice than they did of the call for an exploration vessel to be named Boaty McBoatface.

The question is why the bill sailed through with very little opposition, apart from that of the Liberal Democrats, SNP and a few questions from peers. It seems that privacy campaigners, the internet service providers (ISPs) and the wider technology industry failed to get politicians to share their concerns.

This snoopers charter has no place in a modern democracy – it undermines our fundamental rights online. The bulk collection of everyone’s internet browsing data is disproportionate, creates a security nightmare for the ISPs who must store the data – and rides roughshod over our right to privacy. Meanwhile, the bulk hacking powers in the Bill risk making the internet less safe for everyone.

You previously tweeted “dark, dark days” about the bill passing. But early in November you told the Today Programme: “I feel it’s important that we strengthen the accountability provisions.” Was that strong enough – and do you regret not shouting louder?

Well, there’s been sustained opposition to the Bill at almost every stage of its development. I spoke out about it strongly when it was first floated in May 2015, and as the Bill went through parliament, technology businesses united in opposition to it, civil society (including the Web Foundation) was strongly critical and a number of committees tasked with reviewing the Bill made sweeping criticisms.

So yes, now that the Bill has passed, I am left wondering what more I could have done personally, but government does seem to have been determined to railroad the Bill through, despite opposition from many diverse quarters.

Why do you think MPs didn’t listen to opponents of the bill?

This Bill has come at an unprecedented time. Brexit – and other global political developments – have taken up the bulk of MPs time and attention in the past 18 months.

MPs were asked to review an incredibly complex Bill with over 500 pages of supporting documents in a tight timescale while other seismic political events were unfolding around them. The fact that most MPs are not technologists likely also played a role – they may simply not have understood just how intrusive the laws they were considering were.

However, public outrage and legal challenges are building around the Bill, meaning the story isn’t over yet. A petition to repeal the Bill has reached over 100,000 signatures in just a few days, meaning Parliament must consider debating it again. I strongly urge them to do so.

Meanwhile, multiple legal challenges to the provisions around data retention and bulk hacking are making their way through the courts, and seem to have a good prospect of success, meaning the Bill may soon need to be amended.

Perhaps MPs were distracted, first by Brexit, than by Donald Trump’s victory. But it seems this was never an issue that filled their postbags and inboxes.

In the past, two of the most passionate campaigners against mass surveillance were the Conservative MP David Davis and Labour’s Tom Watson. They joined forces two years ago to take the government to court over mass surveillance – but this time things were different.

David Davis is now in the government as Brexit Secretary, while Tom Watson is Labour’s deputy leader, and both swung behind their parties’ positions on the bill.

I talked to James Blessing, chairman of the Internet Service Providers Association, about why its campaign had failed.

He told me that for years, opponents had in fact won, making successive governments abandon mass surveillance plans.

“This bill is a zombie, which has been rearing its head in one form or another since 2007. This time it’s alive,” he said.

He explained that the ISPA had been a witness in front of three different select committees and found MPs generally pretty ignorant about the technology issues.

The most contentious part of the forthcoming law is a requirement that communication providers keep a log of their customers net browsing behaviour for a year.

This will involve ISPs keeping a record of what websites – but not specific web pages – and chat apps their customers made use of and when.

Dozens of different bodies, ranging from the police to the Food Standards Agency, will be able to request access to this information without requiring a warrant.

There has been concern that the system is open to abuse, as the requests will not be vetted by an independent body. Moreover, the database presents a tempting target for hackers.

Much of the rest of the law aims to provide legal backing to cyber-operations already being carried out by the UK’s security services.

It also introduces a new “double lock” for the most intrusive types of surveillance, such as hacking a target’s smartphone or PC to see the messages they are sending.

Even if ministers have given approval for such an intercept warrant, a panel of judges will also have to approve the matter.

The authorities must also obtain a senior judge’s permission before accessing communications data to identify a journalist’s source.

And new criminal offences have been created to punish those that misuse the surveillance powers.

“The internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge,” said Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

“But it is also right that these powers are subject to strict safeguards and rigorous oversight.”

Nevertheless, the committees had taken the campaigners’ arguments on board, making 96 recommendations for changes to the legislation – nearly all of which had been ignored.

I put it to him that the reason why the campaigners had failed and MPs had felt able to vote the bill through was that the general public had bought the argument of the security agencies.

People were more worried about the threat from terrorists and criminals than they were about any implications for their personal privacy.

He conceded that was the case. “The public will believe the simple version of the truth – ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear,'” he said.

“And that will be true until it affects them.”

What happens next? Well, the minority who do care about mass surveillance – and smarter criminals – will probably resort to using VPNs ( virtual private networks) to mask their internet activity.

The rest of the population will not notice anything – unless someone manages to find a way of hacking into what is going to be a very valuable data collection.

Could Israeli government be toppled by crisis over illegal outpost? It’s been felled by less

In his pathetic kowtowing to the far-right, Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrates that he’s now serving in Naftali Bennett’s cabinet.

November 15, 2016

by Yossi Verter


Might the Israeli government fall over 42 mobile homes that were surreptitiously erected on a hill somewhere deep in the West Bank about 20 years ago? Logic says no. But did the Israeli government dissolve nearly two years ago because the prime minister objected to a bill that would have regulated a sympathetic freebie paper owned by an American casino mogul? Yes, probably.

That’s the starting point of all our political crises: a lack of logic. The madhouse is where crazy people live.

Still, the chances of this actually happening are small. The chairman of the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, isn’t looking to leave the government. He’ll never find a more right-wing government than this one, even if he can’t stand the person heading it (and vice versa).

Bennett will suffice with approval of the bill to legalize the illegal outposts in the West Bank, which has been dubbed the “regularization law” (or, in Bennett’s even more Orwellian terms, the “normalization law”) – as if we were talking about some technical formality. This law, which will reach the Knesset Wednesday, seeks to retroactively legalize thousands of homes in the West Bank that were built on privately owned Palestinian land.

The law is too late to help Amona. The outpost will be evacuated in about six weeks and will be moved, one way or another, to a nearby hill. In a polite but firm and crystal-clear manner, the High Court of Justice said Monday that the government was foot-dragging in the case of Amona – evading and delaying, in short, acting like a rowdy market merchant who bargains and haggles and uses specious arguments to extract another postponement, after which there will be another request for a delay.

If the government was headed by a leader and not a frightened politician who has lost all focus after persistently peering rightward, someone in the Prime Minister’s Office would have invited a representative of the illegal outpost along, and made it unequivocally clear that the settlers should move by December 25 – and if not, they’d be evacuated by force.

That same imaginary leader also would have blocked the vote on a bill that would deal a fatal blow to Israel’s already shaky status in the world, as well as to what he calls the “settlement enterprise.”

Instead, we heard from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who informed us that he is working “by various means” to help the settlers who made their homes on Palestinian land and, like robbed Cossacks, are now complaining that they’ve been harmed, that their rights have been trampled on, that they are the ones who need sympathy and protection.

What Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman isn’t afraid to say, openly and fearlessly, to the people in Amona, Netanyahu cannot utter for fear that Bennett will snatch a Knesset seat or two from him. He is utterly paralyzed.

No one in the political arena believes this law will stop the evacuation. It isn’t clear yet what will happen in the plenum on Wednesday, and particularly whether the Kulanu faction – which retains the right to veto legislation that undermines the status of the Supreme Court – will vote in favor. Ostensibly, it is obligated to do so, since the governing coalition’s rules state that a decision by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation binds all coalition members.

So far, Kulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon has refrained from appealing the ministerial panel’s decision. He’s in no hurry to pull Netanyahu’s chestnuts out of the fire. On Sunday, after Bennett and his party colleague, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, walked out from a meeting of the coalition faction heads in a premeditated huff, Netanyahu urged the heads of Shas and United Torah Judaism, ministers Arye Dery and Yaakov Litzman, to go to the ministerial committee’s room and try to block the bill’s approval. Dery said no, and then Litzman refused as well. “Go together,” asked Netanyahu. “No,” they responded, together.

Neither Dery nor Litzman are enthused by this bill, but they aren’t interested in being Netanyahu’s Shabbos goy, either. If he wishes, Netanyahu can appeal at any time the ministerial committee’s decision and delay a Knesset vote on the bill endlessly. But he’s too afraid of the right-wing electorate and of Naftali Bennett.

Netanyahu’s fourth term is essentially over. He can continue, if he chooses, to serve as the head of Bennett’s government. To the latter, that’s a pretty attractive prospect.

Demergers and destruction: activists press Europe conglomerates

November 29, 2016

by Toby Sterling


Amsterdam-The days of the European conglomerate may be numbered, as activist shareholders are pressing diversified groups to spin off secondary businesses and focus on doing one thing well.

Many investors and analysts – and some managers – say that in a world where good returns are hard to come by, breaking up businesses that don’t belong together can be profitable.

In theory, spinning off business divisions allows the parent company and the spin-off alike to focus better on their respective strategies, while investors tend to value both more highly due to greater transparency.

“I think demergers and the destruction of conglomerates is the next major trend in the M&A market,” said Christer Gardell, co-founder of Cevian, a Swedish-based activist investment fund.

“The trend has already started, it’s going to run for the next 10 years,” said Gardell, who is pushing Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB (ABBN.S) to spin off its power grid equipment division from its robotics and other operations.

While some conglomerates such as ABB are trying to hold their businesses together, others are embracing the trend either under pressure from investors or even willingly.

A wave of spin-offs through initial public offerings (IPOs) among energy and industrial groups is already underway. Philips (PHG.AS) of the Netherlands, Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI) of Italy and Germany’s biggest energy groups E.ON (EONGn.DE) and RWE (RWEG.DE) have all floated major divisions this year. German engineer Siemens (SIEGn.DE) has announced similar plans.

Companies with many business lines are “mostly too complicated, too bureaucratic, too slow, and they usually suffer from poor capital allocation and poor performance”, Gardell told Reuters. “Obviously for investors to invest in these complicated structures, they require a discount, and usually it’s a significant discount.”

Remove these obstacles, and the need for a discount will fade, Cevian argues. It says ABB shares, which are below 21 Swiss francs, would be worth 35 francs if its separate business arms traded in line with listed peers.

ABB disagrees that it power grids business should be spun off. “As part of the strategic review process, we examined all options for the division. The outcome of the review was clear that the most value would be created through the continued transformation of Power Grids under ABB’s ownership,” spokesman Saswato Das said.


Not every spin-off works out for shareholders. However, a JPMorgan study in 2015 of spin-offs in the United States, where the trend began earlier than in Europe, appears to support Gardell’s arguments in general.

It found that U.S. shares typically rose a relatively modest 2-4 percent against the S&P 500 average when a spin-off was announced. But over the next two years, the combined value of the parent company and its spin-off rose 15-20 percent – with the relative values of both usually rising.

Marc Zenner, one of the study’s authors, said this U.S. data would show activist investors that there is also potential across the Atlantic to create value through spin-offs. “In Europe one reason why you could see more in the future is that there are more conglomerate companies there,” he said.

Conglomerates have lasted longer in Europe due to a mix of factors that can insulate managers from unhappy shareholders. These include “poison pill” rules to discourage hostile takeovers and higher levels of family ownership.

Some countries also have laws stipulating that managers must consider the interests of employees and other groups along with those of shareholders.

Some firms are willing to accept limited change. One such is German industrial group ThyssenKrupp (TKAG.DE), which is in talks to merge its struggling European steel business with that of India’s Tata Steel (TISC.NS).

However, ThyssenKrupp has so far resisted calls to isolate its most profitable business, making elevators. It also sells car parts, and engineers military ships and chemical plants. The company announced worse than expected profits for 2016last week and a gloomy outlook for 2017, which analysts said strengthens the case for a breakup.


Advocates argue that spin-offs do better because smaller companies have a stronger focus and their chiefs have a greater incentive to succeed than division heads. But for investors, the biggest benefit seems to be increased transparency.

“When (spin-offs) do work, it is more often the market valuing the standalone business more accurately than a stronger clarity of focus by management,” said Drew Dickson, managing director of Albert Bridge Capital.

Dickson doesn’t look for breakup candidates as a strategy. But he said revaluation paid off for one of his firm’s investments, Fiat Chrysler, after the group floated its Ferrari sportscar division in October 2015. “The market knew that Ferrari was valuable, but only could answer the question (of how valuable) once it was standalone,” he said.

Under the deal, Fiat Chrysler shareholders were handed an 80 percent stake in Ferrari (RACE.MI) (RACE.N) in January. While the parent company’s shares are down 13 percent year to date, the value of their Ferrari stock is such that investors who held onto both have made a gain of roughly 60 percent.

However, the jury is still out on strategies adopted by the German power companies, which are under pressure from government-subsidized wind and solar electricity.

E.ON spun off its fossil fuel operations into Uniper (UN01.DE), while RWE carved out its green energy operations as Innogy IGY.DE in an IPO, while still holding a controlling stake.

Both parent companies have lost around 60 percent of their value over the past five years. Uniper and E.ON, if still regarded as one unit, would be up 1.2 percent since they started trading separately in September. RWE is down 12.5 percent since Innogy listed in October.


Philips CEO Frans van Houten is an example of a manager who has embraced the spin-off trend. In May, the group floated Philips Lighting (LIGHT.AS), its original business dating back to 1891, allowing the parent to focus on healthcare equipment.

Both divisions were “great opportunities with a lot of room to grow (but) both required investment; the commonality was minimal other than the Philips brand,” Van Houten told Reuters.

Proceeds from the IPO will be reinvested in the high margin health operations while the spin-off, the world’s largest lighting company, hopes to have greater access to capital markets to fund M&A.

During his career Van Houten has seen Philips eclipsed in value by not one but two former divisions it has spun off: semiconductor equipment maker ASML (ASML.AS), and computer chip maker NXP (NXPI.O). He left Philips to oversee NXP’s restructuring after it was sold to private equity investors in 2006, returning to Philips in 2011. NXP, which had a new IPO in 2010, is now in the process of being acquired by Qualcomm (QCOM.O) for $38 billion.

“Definitely my learning there helped me in my thinking,” VanHouten said.

After lackluster performance for most of Van Houten’s tenure, Philips shares are up 17 percent year to date.

(Additional reporting by Maiya Keidan, Thomas Escritt, John Revill and Georgina Prodhan; editing by David Stamp)





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