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Government Is Still Recording Your Every Move Under Trump

http://www.renegadetribune.com/government-still-recording-every-move-trump/

 

By Steven Maxwell of Activist Post

As soon as Trump became the President-elect, sales of George Orwell’s book 1984 surged to the top of Amazon Best Sellers where it has remained for the last couple months. It seems that learning about Statism is all the rage by those who opposed Trump. And no one defined it more succinctly than Orwell: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” However, if they read carefully enough, they’ll realize that temporary leaders of “Big Brother” merely continue the machinery of the State.

Your computer, smartphone, car, smart TV and appliances, and credit cards didn’t just start spying on you when Donald Trump became president. They were put in place by Big Brother over decades, and they will continue to expand under Trump because he’s continuing the manufactured war on terror. Moreover, a new approach to immigration signals that even more doors could be opened up for invading the privacy of travelers and residents alike.

As we learned in 1984, all of the tyrannical measures of control are justified by convincing the people that they’re perpetually fighting a dangerous enemy: “Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”

Trump uses more colorful language when describing the bogeyman than previous administrations, but make no mistake, it’s the exact same tactic. Yet Trump’s style has the added benefit of getting everyone to argue about the insensitive rhetoric instead of the concrete actions. I say this because I see some former liberty/privacy advocates going quiet, or misdirected, under Trump much like the anti-war crowd went quiet under Obama.

The lack of any significant improvement to civil liberties was evident as soon as Trump announced his pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, just weeks after being elected.

As recently pointed out by Derrick Broze, Sessions’ voting record indicates support for the drug war and bulk data collection:

Media reports have so far focused on the possibility that Sessions anti-cannabis and pro-Drug War voting record would lead to a massive growth of arrests for victimless crimes like drug use. Sessions has also been attacked as a possible racist, or at the least, unfriendly towards equality laws. Finally, Senator Jeff Sessions’ past comments regarding immigration have some activists worried about how he will enforce immigration policy as Attorney General.

Each of these issues deserves your time and research so you may develop a more informed opinion regarding Jeff Sessions’ stances. However, I wish to take a moment to focus on Sessions’ views on surveillance and how that view will play into the issues mentioned above. In a new report, the Center for Democracy & Technology focuses on the senator’s voting record and comments on the government’s use of surveillance. His actions and comments should have all lovers of liberty concerned.

What’s more, Sessions has vowed to mandate encryption backdoors for “national security.” During his confirmation hearing he said this about encryption:

Encryption serves many valuable and important purposes. It is also critical, however, that national security and criminal investigators be able to overcome encryption, under lawful authority, when necessary to the furtherance of national-security and criminal investigations.

This issue was discussed further by Broze and James Corbett in the video below:

 

The government’s commitment to “overcome encryption” due to national security would seem to dovetail nicely with Trump’s Executive Order of January 27th, which went far beyond the controversy of “bans” placed on certain countries. In fact, it is something that will affect all travelers into the U.S. and easily could trickle down into the everyday lives of Americans. According to Section 7 of that order, Homeland Security is directed to implement biometric registration and databasing of all who enter.

While that might seem unrelated to encryption, there is an “interview” stipulation as well that easily could expand what type of data is deemed open for examination. This appears already to be happening, as even U.S.-born Americans have been caught up in the early dragnet. Perhaps the most striking case is that of Sidd Bikkannavar, a NASA scientist who was born in the United States, but was stopped at the border with a demand to unlock his smartphone and give up his social media passwords. There are also various reports coming in from around the country of people being stopped on the street and asked for documentation. All of this is to illustrate that the current administration is clearly interested in further tracking citizens and non-citizens alike – at the borders, as well as internally – and employing the latest technology to do it.

These are fundamental issues for privacy and liberty, and, yet, we are clearly on a path where the government sees privacy and liberty as liabilities rather than guarantees. It’s a good reminder for you to do what you can to limit the government’s ability to spy on you, as well as limit tracking by any other source. Use encrypted chat apps and email services. Get a good VPN or use Tor when appropriate. Buy things with cash and bitcoin. Don’t make it easy for them.

As the fresh new enemies are established, national security will remain the excuse for the Surveillance State to expand under Trump. The government will continue recording your every move and sound through your Internet-connected smart devices, and databasing your information wherever you leave a digital trail.

In 1984, the telescreens that filmed and recorded Winston seemed nearly impossible to believe. Now we carry them around in our pockets everywhere we go, and Trump’s government has access to the data.


This article originally appeared on Activist Post.

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Syria rebels, regime invited to talks next week in Kazakhstan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry announced Saturday that Syrian government officials and armed rebels are being invited to peace talks to be held next week in its capital Astana.

“It is planned to hold the latest high-level meeting within the Astana process on resolving the situation in Syria on February 15 and 16,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that those invited include “the Syrian government” and “representatives of the Syrian armed opposition,” as well as UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and US observers.

The talks are being brokered by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey, which are all key players in the conflict.

From left: Turkish Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sedat Onal, Russia's special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura and Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaber Ansari pose after the announcement of a final statement following Syria peace talks in Astana on January 24, 2017. (AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

From left: Turkish Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sedat Onal, Russia’s special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaber Ansari pose after the announcement of a final statement following Syria peace talks in Astana on January 24, 2017. (AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

They follow a meeting in Astana last month that ended without a breakthrough in the nearly six-year conflict, in which more than 310,000 people have died.

Those talks were expected to see the first face-to-face negotiations between the regime and the armed opposition since the conflict erupted in 2011.

The rebels refused to meet directly. However, Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed that the rebels should take part in UN-led peace talks opening in Geneva on February 20.

The next round of Astana talks will discuss observance of the ceasefire and stabilization measures for specific areas and other “practical steps” ahead of the talks in Geneva, Kazakhstan said.

2 NFL stars pull out of Israel government publicity trip

Two top US National Football League players have pulled out of publicity trip to Israel, saying that they do not want to be “used” by the Israeli government.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was the first to pull out of the trip planned for 12 football stars to tour Israel, including stops at Rambam hospital, Yad Vashem, and Jordan River’s Yardenit baptismal site.

Bennett first tweeted a picture of Martin Luther King Jr., saying “Im not going to Israel.” He then followed it with a long letter late Friday explaining his motivation.

“I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world with my own eyes. I was not aware until reading this article about the trip in The Times of Israel that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of good will.’”

“I will not be used in such a manner,” Bennett said. “When I go to Israel — and I do plan to go — it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.”

After he published the letter, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills retweeted Bennett, saying “Couldn’t have said it any better. I’m in!”

Bennett noted in his letter that one of his heroes was Muhammad Ali, who ” always stood strongly with the Palestinian people,” and said that he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.”

“I cannot do that by going on this kind of a trip to Israel,” he said.

The original delegation of 12 — Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker, Michael Kendricks, Cameron Jordan, Kenny Stills, Calais Campbell, Carlos Hyde, Dan Williams, Justin Forsett, and ESPN commentator and former linebacker Kirk Morrison — were to visit Rambam hospital in Haifa, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and the Black Hebrew community in the southern city of Dimona, according to a statement announcing the trip from Israel’s tourism and public diplomacy ministries.

During the visit, the players will hold an exhibition game together with players from the Israeli Football Association on February 18 in Jerusalem.

Players will also visit Christian sites in Israel, including the Jordan River site of Yardenit, where some of the players will be baptized.

Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots works out during a practice session ahead of Super Bowl LI on February 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)

Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots works out during a practice session ahead of Super Bowl LI on February 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)

Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan expressed hope the visit would offer the players “a balanced picture of Israel, the opposite from the false incitement campaign that is being waged against Israel around the world.”

“The ministry which I lead is spearheading an intensive fight against the delegitimization and BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanction] campaigns against Israel, and part of this struggle includes hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields, including sport,” Erdan said.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin echoed the sentiment.

“Football stars are a source of inspiration for all American citizens. I am sure that, after the experiences that the players will enjoy in Israel and after they have seen the unique tourist sites and the special atmosphere here, they will become ambassadors of good will for Israel,” he said.

It was not immediately clear who was funding the trip. A February 5 press release by Israel’s Tourism Ministry said the visit “was initiated in cooperation with America’s Voices in Israel.”

Austria Cracks Down on “Nazi Number Plates”

Austria’s government plans to ban coded Nazi messages on custom number plates on cars.

THE transport ministry and an organisation representing “victims of National Socialism” have been receiving photos from concerned citizens showing vanity plates with codes such as 88, which stands for the NS greeting Heil Hitler. Authorities have no statistics on how frequently such number combinations appear among the 500,000 custom plates on Austrian vehicles, “but every one is one too many”, ministry spokeswoman Andrea Heigl said.

The current law on number plates already bans offensive or overtly National Socalist era acronyms such as SS. The ministry’s planned amendment, which is scheduled to go to a vote in parliament in the middle of the year, would also forbid numerical codes representing letters in the alphabet, such as 18 for Adolf Hitler. “The far-right scene keeps developing new codes. The legislative branch must watch out for these trends,” Heigl said.

(news.com.au)

Trump bans government scientists from sharing their work with the taxpayers who funded it

Donald Trump wants to be known as the president who tweets, but his administration is prohibiting government researchers from sharing their findings with the Americans who pay for their work.

The president signed executive orders Tuesday that cut off all new contracts and grantsfor the Environmental Protection Agency — and he also banned the agency’s employees from providing updates on social media or to journalists, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent an email Monday morning, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News, prohibiting its employees from communicating with the public about their taxpayer-funded work.

Those “public-facing documents” include news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content, said Sharon Drumm, chief of staff of the Agricultural Research Service.

The U.S. Department of the Interior reportedly ordered employees to stop posting messages on government Twitter accounts after the National Park Service a post comparing the size of Trump’s inauguration with President Barack Obama’s in 2009.

Drumm’s message did not specifically refer to Trump, but the department’s scientists believe the order was a message from the administration.

The memo was vaguely worded enough that department officials aren’t sure whether scientists are allowed to publish studies in academic journals or present findings at conferences.

Washington Post reporter also tweeted Tuesday afternoon that taxpayer-funded economists might also be forbidden from sharing their findings with the public without approval from the Trump administration.

 

A University of Maine researcher issued a warning on social media that additional political attacks on scientists were coming.

“Please, stand up for science and the environment,” warned Jacquelyn Gill, a paleoecologist and biogeographer. “This is the emergency we were all worried about.”

Reporter Udo Ulfkotte, Who Exposed Governments Creating Fake News War Propaganda, Found Dead

By Baran Hines

Udo Ulfkotte, a German journalist and whistleblower who spoke out against fake news from government and intelligence sources, has died from a heart attack at the age of 56. He was an assistant editor for German mainstream media newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and he lived in many Middle Eastern countries during his career, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

As Ulfkotte became increasingly upset at news reports sourced from false government information, he began publishing a magazine called Whistleblower, which reports on topics not covered by the German media. He also wrote multiple books on the subject during the 2000s.

Ulfkotte is best known to international viewers from select appearances on Russia Today, specifically an October 2014 interview about his book Bought Journalists, in which he discussed the epidemic of propaganda in mainstream media news reports and the increased anti-Russia sentiment being generated. He also discussed the heavy influence on international news from American, Israeli and other Western intelligence agencies.

Ulfkotte described his experience saying “I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years and I was educated to lie, to betray and not to tell the truth to the public,” referring to his career in mainstream media. He also noted that he was “fed up” with the propaganda and said he was speaking out, despite admitting having heart trouble on television.

I’ve had three heart attacks, I have no children, so if they want to bring me to court or to prison, so it’s worth for the truth.

The interview only has 166,000 views on the official RT channel; however, it has likely been seen millions of times because the video has been uploaded by many other YouTube channels and Facebook pages. The interview is often shared as a detailed example of mainstream media’s disinformation campaigns.

His comments were one of the earlier warnings about anti-Russia propaganda which came before the recent escalation that features American media claiming Russian officials influenced the 2016 US election in favor of Donald Trump. He went on to condemn the anti-Russia propaganda related to the Ukraine crisis, telling RT “seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe to bring war to Russia, this is a point of no return.” Ulfkotte also apologized for his role in the past because he felt “ashamed” for some of the news reporting in his name.

I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past, because they are bright, to betray the people not only in Germany all over Europe.

The reason I’m writing this book [Bought Journalists] is that I am very fearful of a new war in Europe and I don’t like to have this situation again, because war is not never coming from itself. There’s always people behind it to push for war and this is not only politicians, this is journalists too.” He then noted the problem is “especially” in German media saying “my colleagues who day by day write [propaganda] against the Russians, who are in trans-Atlantic organizations, and who are supported by the United States to do so.

Ulfkotte went on to describe his personal experience with American influencers and intelligence agencies.

“I was bribed by the Americans not to report exactly the truth. I was invited by the German Marshall Fund of the United States to travel to the US. They paid for all my expenses and put me in contact with Americans they’d like me to meet,” he said. “I became an honorary citizen of the state of Oklahoma in the US just because I wrote pro-American. I was supported by the CIA. I have helped them in several situations and I feel ashamed for that too.”

Many journalists based in different countries are involved in the same practice of working with American and European intelligence agencies to varying degrees, Ulfkotte also added.

Most of the journalists you see in foreign countries, they claim to be journalists and they might be. But many of them, like me in the past, are so-called ‘non-official cover.’ It means you work for an intelligence agency. You help them if they want you to, but they will never say they know you.

Ulfkotte also discussed the specific progression of how mainstream media journalists are sought out and eventually approached by government agents. The unofficial working relationships between these journalists and intelligence agencies usually begin as a friendship, to prep the journalist before proposing the cooperation.

“They work on your ego, make you feel like you’re important, and one day one of them will ask you ‘Will you do me this favor?’” he explained.

Udo Ulfkotte referenced one instance where he was asked to print a news report based on intelligence which he could not verify, and he noted the conclusion of the article was already determined. The propaganda effort was part of building the campaign by Western countries to remove Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi from power.

“One day the BND (German foreign intelligence agency) came to my office at the Frankfurter Allgemeine in Frankfurt. They wanted me to write an article about Libya and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. They gave me all this secret information and they just wanted me to sign the article with my name,” Ulfkotte told RT. “That article was how Gaddafi tried to secretly build a poison gas factory. It was a story that was printed worldwide two days later.”
Udo Ulfkotte has also been part of the increased controversy in Germany about how to handle the growing refugee crisis, as migrants from the Middle East and Africa flee war zones and poverty. Facebook temporarily blocked his page in July 2016 after he bought an ad for his new book titled Boundless Criminal, which exposes alleged cover-ups by authorities and mainstream media to hide crimes committed by migrants. The message he received from the social network read that the content of the posting “violated its guidelines,” likely because of a perceived anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim message.

“I don’t claim every migrant to be a criminal, that would absolutely not be correct, but we have not checked which people that we in our country,” Ulfkotte told RT when asked about his positions.

Prior to the current crisis, Ulfkotte had expressed concerns about the “Islamization” of Germany for 15 years, writing multiple books on the subject.

Germany received almost one million asylum seekers in 2015 and may have reached similar numbers in 2016. Many of the refugees have come from Syria and Iraq after fleeing their hometowns because of the Islamic State and other groups.

Florida shooter told FBI gov’t controlling his mind, forcing him to watch IS videos

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — An Army veteran who complained that the government was controlling his mind drew a gun from his checked luggage on arrival at the Fort Lauderdale airport and opened fire in the baggage claim area Friday, killing five people and wounding eight, authorities said.

He was taken into custody after throwing his empty weapon down and lying spread-eagle on the ground, one witness said.

“People started kind of screaming and trying to get out of any door they could or hide under the chairs,” the witness, Mark Lea, told MSNBC. “He just kind of continued coming in, just randomly shooting at people, no rhyme or reason to it.”

The gunman was identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago of Anchorage, Alaska, who served in Iraq with the National Guard but was demoted and discharged last year for unsatisfactory performance. His brother said he had been receiving psychological treatment recently.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that Santiago had walked into the FBI office in Anchorage in November to say that the US government was controlling his mind and making him watch Islamic State videos.

An injured woman is taken into Broward Health Trauma Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

An injured woman is taken into Broward Health Trauma Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Agents questioned an agitated and disjointed-sounding Santiago and then called police, who took him for a mental health evaluation, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said Santiago did not appear intent on hurting anyone.

Authorities said the motive for the attack was under investigation. Shortly after the shooting, and before details of Santiago’s mental health became public, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said that it remained to be seen whether it was terrorism or the work of “someone who is mentally deranged.”

One witness said the attacker gunned down his victims without a word and kept shooting until he ran out of ammunition for his handgun, sending panicked travelers running out of the terminal and spilling onto the tarmac, baggage in hand.

People stand on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a shooter opened fire inside a terminal of the airport, killing several people and wounding others before being taken into custody, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP/Lynne Sladky)

People stand on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a shooter opened fire inside a terminal of the airport, killing several people and wounding others before being taken into custody, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP/Lynne Sladky)

Others hid in bathroom stalls or crouched behind cars or anything else they could find as police and paramedics rushed in to help the wounded and establish whether there were any other gunmen.

Bruce Hugon, who had flown in from Indianapolis for a vacation, was at the baggage carousel when he heard four or five pops and saw everyone drop down on the ground. He said a woman next to him tried to get up and was shot in the head.

“The guy must have been standing over me at one point. I could smell the gunpowder,” he said. “I thought I was about to feel a piercing pain or nothing at all because I would have been dead.”

It is legal for airline passengers to travel with guns and ammunition as long as the firearms are put in a checked bag — not a carry-on — and are unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. Guns must be declared to the airline at check-in.

Santiago arrived in Fort Lauderdale after taking off from Anchorage aboard a Delta flight Thursday night, checking only one piece of luggage — his gun, said Jesse Davis, police chief at the Anchorage airport.

At Fort Lauderdale, “after he claimed his bag, he went into the bathroom and loaded the gun and started shooting. We don’t know why,” said Chip LaMarca, a Broward County commissioner who was briefed by investigators.

The bloodshed is likely to raise questions of whether aviation safety officials need to change the rules.

People flee the area outside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

People flee the area outside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

The attack also exposed another weak point in airport security: While travelers have to take off their shoes, put their carry-on luggage through X-ray machines and pass through metal detectors to reach the gates, many other sections of airports, such as ticket counters and baggage claim areas, are more lightly secured and more vulnerable to attack.

In 2013, a gunman with a grudge against the Transportation Security Administration shot and killed one of the agency’s screeners and wounded three others during a rampage at Los Angeles International Airport. Last November, an airline worker was shot and killed near an employee parking lot at Oklahoma City’s airport, and in 2015 a machete-wielding man was shot to death after he attacked federal security officers at the New Orleans airport.

“While we have authorized doubling the number of TSA canine teams to try to prevent tragedies like this, the fact is that wherever there are crowds, such as at our airports, we remain vulnerable to these types of attacks,” Nelson said.

The Fort Lauderdale gunman said nothing as he “went up and down the carousels of the baggage claim, shooting through luggage to get at people that were hiding,” according to Lea. The killer went through about three magazines before running out of ammunition, Lea said.

“He threw the gun down and laid spread-eagle on the ground until the officer came up to him,” Lea said.

The gunman was arrested unharmed, with no shots fired by law enforcement officers, and was being questioned by the FBI, Sheriff Scott Israel said.

The condition of the wounded was not disclosed. At least one of the victims was seen lying in a pool of blood with what appeared to be a head wound.

The airport was shut down, with incoming flights diverted and outgoing flights held on the ground.

Law enforcement officers walk around Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald via AP)

Law enforcement officers walk around Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald via AP)

President Barack Obama was briefed by his Homeland Security adviser, the White House said. President-elect Donald Trump said that it is a “disgraceful situation that’s happening in our country and throughout the world” and that it was too soon to say whether it was a terrorist attack.

Santiago’s brother, Bryan, told the AP that his brother had been receiving psychological treatment in Alaska. He said Santiago’s girlfriend alerted the family to the situation in recent months. Bryan Santiago said that he didn’t know what his brother was being treated for and that they never talked about it.

He said Esteban Santiago was born in New Jersey and moved to Puerto Rico when he was 2. He was sent to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, according to Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen. He later joined the Alaska National Guard.

The Pentagon said Santiago had gone AWOL several times during his stint with the Alaska National Guard and was demoted — from specialist to private first class — and given a general discharge, which is lower than an honorable discharge.

John Schilcher told Fox News said he came up to the baggage claim and heard the first gunshot as he picked up his bag off a carousel.

“The person next to me fell to the ground and then I started hearing other pops. And as this happened, other people started falling and you could hear it and smell it, and people on either side of me were going down and I just dropped to the ground,” said Schilcher, who was there with his wife and mother-in-law. “The firing just went on and on.”

“I was down on the floor. When we finally looked up there was a policeman standing over me,” he said. “That’s when I assumed it was safe.”

2016: How Truth Was Destroyed So You’d Buy The Government’s Propaganda

http://www.renegadetribune.com/2016-truth-destroyed-youd-buy-governments-propaganda/

 

By Claire Bernish

“We’re an empire now,” Karl Rove nefariously asserted in 2004, “and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality —  judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Rove might have said that 12 years ago, but the words hauntingly describe our situation in 2016 — Oxford Dictionaries, incidentally, named “post-truth” the international word of the year — with facts seemingly relative, truth debatable, and a falsely-premised war on fake news, Orwell must be rolling in his grave.

In fact, given these telling circumstances, perhaps Oxford Dictionaries didn’t go far enough — this year epitomizes a new era of post-coherence. Rove and his ilk — the dynasties Bush and Clinton, reigning powers for nearly 30 years — must chuckle behind closed doors as Americans quarrel savagely over the authenticity of falsehoods and facts, alike.

With ostensibly everything now up in the air, the U.S. power apparatus has inarguably ‘created a new reality’ — one in which doubt has been so instilled as to obstruct and thwart the dissemination of accurate, factual information.

This purposeful manipulation of perception, in other words, does exactly what Rove and the aptly-termed “history’s actors” intend — it keeps the rest of us confused — and bitterly arguing over what’s actually going on.

Online communication facilitated this madness exponentially — it’s doubtful such disorientation would have occurred decades ago, when social media didn’t have critical influence.

Of course, this tumult and turbulence isn’t manufactured without reason — it allows the surreptitious and sometimes flagrant distribution of propaganda favorable to the American political establishment to circulate largely unhindered.

But those aspects of post-coherence unintentionally also gave rise to a furious backlash — the Internet might facilitate confusion and propaganda, but it is, after all, a global library of information — and wary independent and alternative media outlets immediately tear apart false information published by collusive corporate media presstitutes.

With all of this in mind, the following are just a smattering of many outrageous examples of how the Fake News narrative brought us post-truth, intentionally shaping the events of 2016 — and promises to continue the inanity far into the future.

Perhaps the most laughable Fake News came to us courtesy of CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who warned the planet amid ongoing publication by WikiLeaks of documents deleterious to the credibility of the Democratic establishment to “remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents. It’s different for the media. So everything you learn about this, you’re learning from us.”

Cuomo’s conspicuous ploy to limit the spread of the actual documents — and win CNN additional reader- and viewership — constituted a reckless foray into censorship of information.

Of course, CNN didn’t proclaim the leaked emails verboten for nothing — the outlet bears the snarky moniker, Clinton News Network, as its parent company, Time Warner, donated over $400,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — and was exposed by alternative media countless times for cutting offreporters who dared criticize its darling candidate or report on revealed corruption.

Further, CNN’s pernicious claim came as the documents revealed the outlet and others colluding with the Clinton campaign to report news portraying Democrats in a favorable manner — of course, those who took Cuomo’s warning to heart and relied solely on the Clinton News Network would never know that pertinent detail.

Other mainstream media outlets who coordinated with the Clinton camp struggled to accurately report the contents of the WikiLeaks documents — when they bothered covering the revelations. Corporate propaganda’s spin machine seemed to be on overdrive for the duration of the election cycle — and has reached the level of absurdity following Donald Trump’s win.

Because, according to corporate media — who ignored the depth of corruption exposed by WikiLeaks — the election of Trump was so anomalous, there had to be an explanation beyond the fact the American people didn’t find Hillary qualified for the job.

Enter The Russians.

Taking cues from the era of McCarthyism and leading the new Red Scare with a bullhorn is the once-illustrious Washington Post, who first posited, without any evidence sans statements from unnamed CIA officials, that the Intelligence Community had reached a consensus — Russian hackers had interfered in the election to install Trump.

Famously in lockstep, the New York Times quickly parroted the same assertion as if it were steel truth — neither outlet, however, bothered consulting officials from the 16 other agencies comprising the U.S. Intelligence Community.

In actuality, no such consensus had been reached — not even inside the CIA. Shortly after the Post’s shameful scare piece was published, the FBI came forward to denounce the Russian hacking theory as “fuzzy” and “ambiguous” — showing the lack of cohesion amongst intelligence officials, as well as the rush to shirk blame for the lost election.

Wikileaks, itself — the one organization with insider information — has vociferously and repeatedly deniedtheir source hacked anything, is not Russian, and that the documents were leaked by an insider.

Nonetheless, news of the report went viral and furthered current administration’s agenda to both paint Russia as a villain and Trump as having somehow stolen the election.

Indeed, the utterly unproven Russian Hackers theory provided the impetus for President Obama to an embarrassing diplomatic meltdown this week, announcing the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, sanctions, and the shuttering of two compounds owned by Russia.

While that move could have easily brought the two superpower nations yet closer to military conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin allowed cooler heads to prevail, went against the fury of other officials, and announced there would be no diplomatic tit-for-tat — no United States diplomats would be expelled from Russia.

Incidentally, the mainstream press jumped the gun again, publishing the statements of Russian officials claiming the country would be mirroring moves by the U.S. — before Putin announced Russia would not be stooping to such diplomatic pettiness.

While these points show the unseemly power of misinformation and make the corporate media a soft target for ridicule, it’s imperative to understand these false and misleading news items amount to government propaganda — the more the public buys the preferred narrative, the easier it will be to shove unsavory actions, including war, down our throats.

Labeling some 200 independent and alternative outlets as Russian propagandists and Fake Newswas another feat the Post underhandedly managed in 2016 — and, thanks to its efforts, Obama officially wrote into law, in essence, a Ministry of Propaganda to putatively combat foreign State disinformation. Of course, considering the Post’s owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has received $600 million in CIA funds, albeit ostensibly for a stand-alone project, this hardly comes as a shock.

With truth in the balance, 2016 seemed to be a year plucked straight from the pages of George Orwell’s 1984— perhaps lightly edited by Aldous Huxley.

We don’t need censorship from Facebook’s neoliberal Fake News slayers or the U.S. Ministry of Truth — but in this new era of post-coherence, the masses fell for the trick, and now believe themselves incapable of discerning fact from fiction despite the still-accessible, voluminous information available on the Internet.

If the somnambulant masses were coherent enough to see through the ploy, freedom of speech and the press wouldn’t currently hang in the balance. An idiotic need to be spoon fed information could quash the institutions at the heart of our supposedly-free society.

However, until the government acts more drastically, we still have independent media — whose integrity has a phenomenal track record of refusing to publish bogus information, or retracting any items later found to be mistaken.

In the very near future — without hawk-like vigilance — dissenting opinion and reports accurately depicting corruption endemic in government may become a thing purely of the past.


Claire Bernish writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.

Major Polish Jewish groups denied government funding for minorities (VERY VERY VERY GOOD!!!)

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — For the first time in years, Poland did not grant money to two major Jewish community groups as part of its annual allocations for religious minorities.

As part of its annual funding of Polish minority groups, the Polish Ministry of Interior and Administration did not allocate any funds for 2017 to the Jewish community of Warsaw or to the Association of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, the country’s primary Jewish communal umbrella group. The ministry did allocate a total of $177, 113 to several other Jewish groups, down from $250,920 in 2016.

In the past, the Warsaw community used grant money to print a communal magazine, while the Association of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland used the funds to print a Jewish calendar. Another Jewish magazine, Chidusz, printed in Wroclaw by a foundation headed by Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, did not receive financial support either after receiving $16,619 the previous year. The ministry also canceled funding for the Warsaw Jewish Theatre and the Center for Yiddish Culture.

The majority of this year’s allocation to Jewish sources went to the Jewish Social-Cultural Association in Poland, or TSKZ, which will use the money to support its activities, a library and celebrations of Jewish holidays.

Anna Chipczynska, the president of the Jewish community in Warsaw, said she had yet to receive official notice from the ministry and does not know why the grant funds were refused.

“The allocation of funds is a disappointment among the minorities of our country,” Chipczynska said. “We regret the lack of subsidies, which we learned about online.”

President Andrzej Duda sent Hanukkah greetings to Polish Jews this year, but did not organize a meeting and candle-lighting ceremony in the presidential palace as he had in previous years. A meeting between Duda and the Jewish community is scheduled to be held in mid-January.

Syrian rebels, government say working on deal to secure Aleppo evacuation

A new deal is being negotiated to complete the evacuation of rebel-held areas of Syria’s east Aleppo which ground to a halt on Friday after demands from pro-government forces that people also be moved out of two villages besieged by insurgents.

A Syrian rebel official and a government official said early on Saturday the evacuation of Aleppo would resume and the two Shi’ite villages would be evacuated, as well as the wounded from two towns near the Lebanese border and east Aleppo.

But sources said negotiations between pro-government and opposition forces, plus their international backers, were still going on to finalize how the evacuations would take place and how many people would leave.

A senior Syrian rebel official from the powerful Ahrar al Sham group involved in the talks said the deal was being held up by Iran and its allied Shi’ite militias who were insisting people be allowed to leave the two besieged Shi’ite villages of Kefraya and al-Foua before letting the Aleppo evacuation happen.

“Iran and its sectarian proxies are using the humanitarian situation of our people in besieged Aleppo and preventing civilians from leaving until the evacuation of their groups in al-Foua and Kefyra,” Munir Sayal, the head of the political wing of the movement, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

As darkness fell on Saturday afternoon and temperatures began to fall below freezing there was no sign the evacuation was happening. A resident in Aleppo told Reuters that nobody had left the rebel-held enclave and no buses had entered. He said he had heard gunfire near where people were supposed to wait for buses.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said thousands of cold, scared and injured people were still in east Aleppo waiting to leave. It said it had received some indications that a deal would be reached soon.

The Syrian government official, part of the evacuations negotiating team, said: “It was agreed to resume evacuations from east Aleppo in parallel with the evacuation of (medical) cases from Kefraya and al-Foua and some cases from Zabadani and Madaya.”

The towns of Madaya and Zabadani are blockaded by pro-government forces.

The operation to evacuate fighters and civilians from the last opposition-held area of Aleppo was suspended on Friday, its second day, after pro-government militias demanded that wounded people also be brought out of al-Foua and Kefraya, and protesters blocked a convoy on the road out of Aleppo.

The chaos surrounding the evacuation reflects the complexity of Syria’s civil war, with an array of groups and foreign interests involved on all sides.

Aleppo had been divided between government and rebel areas in the nearly six-year-old war, but a lightning advance by the Syrian army and its allies that began in mid-November after months of intense air strikes deprived the insurgents of most of their territory in a matter of weeks.

BEATEN AND ROBBED

Numerous activists, rebels and east Aleppo residents shared reports and videos of people fleeing the sound of shooting, being detained and returning home badly beaten and robbed of their possessions near a checkpoint as they tried to leave the city on Friday.

Rebels said the previous evacuation deal was breached by pro-government militias who detained “hundreds” of people trying to leave, leading to some deaths. A Syrian military source denied this, but said a convoy trying to leave was sent back.

“Now we are working on international guarantees to guarantee the safety of those who leave Aleppo so that such violations are not repeated,” Syrian rebel official al-Farouk Abu Bakr told news channel al-Arabiya al-Hadath from Aleppo on Saturday.

An activist and teacher inside rebel-held Aleppo, Wissam Zarqa, told journalists via a messaging app that he spent Friday in the cold with his family hoping to leave. He said he did not feel safe trying to flee Aleppo after hearing about the attack on the convoy.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the ICRC said guarantees were needed to protect people.

“We’re ready to resume facilitating the evacuation according to our humanitarian mandate. But we now expect all the parties on the ground to provide us with solid guarantees in order to keep the operation going,” said Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC in Syria.

NO BUSES YET

A military news outlet run by Damascus’s ally Hezbollah said evacuation buses were heading to the two villages.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said no buses or ambulances had entered al-Foua or Kefraya, where it says there are around 20,000 people, of whom roughly 4,500 are pro-government fighters.

The Observatory said 8,000 people, including some 3,000 fighters and more than 300 wounded, left Aleppo in convoys of buses and ambulances in the evacuations that began on Thursday morning.

Rebel officials say the numbers evacuated are much lower, with no fighters having left.

The U.N. says around 30,000 people remain in rebel-held Aleppo, of whom a number would be taken to Idlib province, which is mostly controlled by hardline Islamist groups, and the rest would go to government-held city districts.

Idlib is already a target for Syrian and Russian air strikes but it is unclear whether the government will push for a ground assault or simply seek to contain rebels there for now.

Turkey has said Aleppo evacuees could also be housed in a camp to be constructed near the Turkish border to the north.

OVERNIGHT BOMBING

The Observatory said war planes bombed insurgent-controlled areas west of Aleppo overnight and north of Aleppo on Saturday.

Syrian state media reported on Saturday that a number of fighters south of Damascus had surrendered their weapons to the state in the towns of Zakiya and al-Deirkheyba as part of local truces.

Through a series of so-called “settlement” agreements and army offensives, the Syrian government, backed by Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, has been steadily suppressing armed opposition in the capital city’s suburbs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syria’s most powerful ally, said on Friday he was working with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to try to start a new round of Syrian peace talks aimed at securing a nationwide ceasefire.

A senior Syrian opposition leader, Riyad Hijab, said he was willing to attend the talks if the aim was to set up a transition government. Assad has ruled out stepping down as part of a political solution to the war.

Aleppo, a once-flourishing economic center with renowned ancient sites, has been pulverized during the war that has killed more than 300,000 people, created the world’s worst refugee crisis and allowed for the rise of Islamic State.

Even with victory for Assad in Aleppo, the war will be far from over. Insurgents retain their rural stronghold of Idlib province as well as other territory in western, northern and southern Syria, and the jihadist Islamic State group holds swathes of the east and recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra this week.

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