Saturday, December 19, 2015

“I Helped Create ISIS”: Testimony of An Iraq War Veteran

Global Research
After 14 years of War on Terror the West is great at fomenting barbarism and creating failed states. For the last several years, people around the world have asked, “Where did ISIS come from?” Explanations vary, but largely focus on…


Google, Facebook, Twitter Team Up with German Government to Censor Unpopular Speech Dubbed ‘Hate Speech’

SGTreport - The Corporate Propaganda Antidote - Silver, Gold, Truth, Liberty, & Freedom

by J. D. Heyes, Natural News:

The big tech companies that have cornered the search and media markets now want to corner the market on permissible speech – that is, speech their CEOs and founders decide is acceptable – while working to ban that which they have dubbed objectionable. What’s ironic is that the [...]


There Have Been Zero Terror Attacks in the U.S. by People Radicalized by ISIS Through Social Media Main RSS Feed
Talk of censoring free speech on social media omits the fact that social media didn't radicalize any of the recent attackers.

The term “radicalized” is a problematic one, namely because virtually no one who carries out sub-state political violence (which we’ll broadly refer to as terrorism) follows the same pattern. Some are hyper-religious while others have but a passing knowledge of the Bible or Quran. Some are battle-hardened fighters, while others carry out their “jihad” in a typical workplace violence mode. But in the wake of a terrorist attack, authorities and the press alike scramble to ask the question: When exactly did the attacker begin to show signs of violent ideology? In the case of Islamic-tinted violence, the question more specifically is: When did they first show support for either al Qaeda or ISIS ideology?

The answer to this question for the four last major "Islamic" terror attacks—two in the United States and two in Paris—is, to the person, before the rise of ISIS on social media was a significant force. Almost all the killers were known to authorities before they carried out their attacks and all of them were showing outwards signs of "jihad" before late 2013, when ISIS social media became a significant, independent online phenomenon. So why do governments and the media keep conflating the two? Why, in the wake of these attacks, do we see increased calls for censorship, monitoring or counter-propaganda when there's been no evidence that anyone who's carried out an attack in the west was recruited or radicalized via social media?

First, it's important to make a distinction between those who are radicalized to join the Islamic State via social media—for which we have some examples—and those who were radicalized to carry out attacks in the West—for which we have no examples. This piece will focus on the latter.

Over at Slate, resident technocratic authoritarian Eric Posner, who also gave us such liberal headlines as, “Obama Can Bomb Pretty Much Anything He Wants To" and “Prosecuting Dictators Is Futile" laid down the gantlet:

ISIS Gives Us No Choice but to Consider Limits on Speech

This polemic begins in earnest and is equal parts chilling and equal parts untrue:

It has become increasingly clear that terrorist groups such as ISIS can extend their reach to American territory via the Internet. Using their own websites, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms, they lure young men and women to their mission—without having to risk the capture of foreign agents on U.S. soil. The Americans ensnared in ISIS’s net in turn radicalize others, send money to ISIS, and even carry out attacks..

First, the link claiming ISIS propaganda has “ensnared” Americans to carry out attacks links to a story that does not back up this claim. The reality is there is no evidence that ISIS online propaganda has snared anyone to commit violence in the West. The phrase “it’s become increasingly clear” is a red flag for bogus trend stories. If it’s “clear,” then why is Posner writing this article? If it’s not, shouldn’t the burden be on Posner to show, specifically, how he came to this conclusion?

The only evidence Posner can produce is a profile in the New York Times about a 17-year-old boy in Virginia who was “radicalized” by ISIS social media and propagandized for others (but never carried out or planned an attack), and a rather dubious study by George Washington University documenting 300 “US-based ISIS sympathizers.” If true, this should be of concern to authorities, but all of this still doesn’t show clear causality between online ISIS propaganda and someone actually committing an act of violence in the West. Adding new war-time limits to free speech demands a clear connection. Thus far, there is none.

This casual conflation of ISIS propaganda with actual attacks was on full display after the San Bernardino shootings. Initial, anonymous law enforcement sources said the couple, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, had pledged support for ISIS on social media, further feeding this narrative. This later turned out not to be true.

Indeed, the New York Times story Posner links to in order to prop up his claim involves a sleight-of-hand that was later debunked by the FBI:

As the Obama administration takes on the multidimensional challenge posed by the Islamic State after the killings in San Bernardino, Calif., the online community of sympathizers in the United States is a critical focus.

But wait: The FBI announcement two days later says that the San Bernardino shooters never made any pro-jihadi social media posts. Why is the "online community of sympathizers in the United States a critical focus" if there’s no evidence such a community was being leveraged in support of these attacks? It’s natural in the wake of such horrific violence to want to “do something" to prevent another attacks, but the focus on "ISIS social media" continues to ignore the fact that there’s no evidence such a phenomenon has actually led to an attackin the West.

The Charlie Hebdo attackers, who were sponsored not by ISIS but AQAP, were radicalized sometime around 2010/2011. The Garland attacker, Elton Simpson, had been watched by authorities for radical statements as early as 2006. The Paris attackers were all well-known jihadists that EU authorities had been monitoring long before 2013. The San Bernardino attackers, says the FBI, had been interested in jihadist ideology (at that time the al Qaeda variant) as early as 2010. All this was before the rise of ISIS on social media as such.

Does social media make jihadi propaganda easier to disseminate? Probably. Does social media make it easier to terrorize after said attacks, or to promote the ISIS brand after said attacks? Possibly, but neither of these scenarios actually shows how ISIS propaganda leads to attacks in the West. While these features may be troubling, those, like Posner, who want to censor free speech on social media still have their work ahead of them: How does ISIS on social media present a unique problem that wouldn’t otherwise be satisfied by pre-social media platforms like message boards, email and good ol’ fashioned face-to-face meetings and phone calls (which Posner, of course, also wants to monitor and regulate).

To drive home his point, Posner says something uniquely troubling:

Speech that blasts the American constitutional system and praises America’s enemies has been held constitutionally protected time and again. 

However, these rules go back only to the 1960s. Before then, in the United States, people could be punished for engaging in dangerous speech. The U.S. government prosecuted Nazi sympathizers during World War II, draft protesters during World War I, and Southern sympathizers in the Union during the Civil War. It’s common sense that when a country is embroiled in a war, it should counter propaganda that could populate a fifth column with recruits.

Here, Posner casually claims that the free speech gains made in the '60s were simply a one-off, akin to an adolescent phase, and that a constant state of censorship and war is actually the natural state of things. For those who worked hard in the '60s to peel back some of the more authoritarian vestiges of red-scare infringements on speech, this may come as a shock. But again, Posner just smugly asserts it. A temporary restraint on free speech, or any other right, is understandable, but what Posner doesn’t flesh out is that this war, unlike WWI or the Civil War, is not a war that will likely end in our lifetime.

The war on terror is not a war anyone realistically thinks will ever end in a traditional sense, so what Posner is calling for—censorship of “terrorist” or "extremist" speech—means we will irreversibly alter the relationship between the state and those exercising free speech for the foreseeable future. Shouldn't such a radical step need more than sloppy assertions, vague impressions, and post-terror exploitation in order to be justified? Or, at the very least, shouldn't it provide at least one example of the problem it's ostensibly trying to solve? 


Friday, December 18, 2015

Fukushima is “unstoppable”… Journalists withholding shocking information

The Daily Coin
fukushimafrom ENENews Huge amounts of radiation are pouring out, “very serious” for Pacific Ocean — Plant Chief: “This is something that has never been experienced”… We must invent new science for unprecedented catastrophe Associated Press, Dec 15, 2015 (emphasis added): Fukushima decommission chief [Naohiro Masuda] warns with surprising candor: Nothing can be promised… not even robots have been able to enter the main fuel-debris areas so far… “This is something that has never been experienced. A textbook doesn’t...


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

US pilots in Syria leak info - ordered to 'ignore' ISIS oil smuggling convoys

Signs of the Times
According to reports, U.S. pilots in Syria have 'flown over oil tanker convoys 4 lanes wide at times and been told to stay silent' American officials and responsible western news pundits have had a hard time explaining why the U.S.-led "anti-ISIS" coalition, after more than one year, has been unable to stop ISIS' lucrative oil smuggling operation. Maybe because they were never trying to stop it in the first place? Via New Eastern Outlook: Reports from pilots and sources up and down the Pentagon chain of command tell an interesting story. Considering America's years of experience at "precision bombing" and the vast intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the world's largest military, America's utter failure in curtailing ISIS and her dozens of "sister organizations" has been inexplicable. American pilots flying over Iraq and Syria have quietly leaked their story for over a year now but no news agency will carry it. They say they have flown over oil tanker convoys 4 lanes wide at times and been told to stay silent. They report mysterious aircraft dropping supplies to ISIS and al Nusra, they are silenced on that as well. Hardly surprising. Add in the fact that the Pentagon consistently airdrops ISIS weapons and equipment "by accident", and one begins to question how serious this "anti-ISIS coalition" really is. If U.S. planes actually targeted ISIS oil convoys, they'd probably get shot down by Turkey.


Germany: Facebook, Google & Twitter Agree to Delete Hate Speech in 24 Hours

TRUNEWS with Rick Wiles

Germany said that Facebook, Google and Twitter have agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours.

The post Germany: Facebook, Google & Twitter Agree to Delete Hate Speech in 24 Hours appeared first on TRUNEWS with Rick Wiles.


How did mistrust of mainstream media become a sign of violent extremism?


The Government’s Prevent strategy is founded on claims that mistrust of mainstream media and anger about government policies can be symptomatic of violent extremism.  

Counter terror police on duty London May 2015. ChameleonsEye/ All rights reserved. Counter terror police on duty London May 2015. ChameleonsEye/ All rights reserved.

The Safeguarding Children Board of the London Borough of Camden recently published a booklet entitled Keeping Children and Young People Safe from Radicalisation and Extremism: Advice for Parents and Carers. Its stated aim is to “help parents and carers recognise when their children may be at risk from radicalisation”, and to this end it sets out a list of signs which “may mean the young person is being radicalised”. These include “showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and belief in conspiracy theories”, “appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policy”, and “secretive behaviour and switching screens when you come near”.

This quite remarkable document is a product of the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism strategy (usually shortened to simply Prevent). It doesn’t actually mention this by name, but the give-away is that it states that parents can turn to advice to the Police Prevent Engagement Officer and Camden’s Prevent Co-ordinator, and helpfully provides their phone numbers.

Prevent in its present form was introduced in 2011, and has repeatedly been criticised for demonising Muslim communities, provoking the very radicalisation which it seeks to prevent, introducing a form of thought-crime, and posing serious threats to freedom of expression.  The present government, like its predecessor, has habitually dismissed such criticisms as paranoid, but the Camden booklet shows all too clearly where Prevent is leading, particularly in the educational arena.   

Prevent is part of the government’s overall counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. Its stated aim is to ‘reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism’.  It has three specific objectives: “to respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat faced from those who promote it”; “to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support”; and to work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation”. The government has also explained that Prevent is designed to “deal with all forms of terrorism and with non-violent extremism, which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and can popularise views which terrorists then exploit”. It defines extremism as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

Those thought to be at risk from radicalisation are liable to find themselves referred under the Act to the Channel programme, which, according to the government, “focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. The programme uses a multi-agency approach to protect vulnerable people by: (a) identifying individuals at risk; (b) assessing the nature and extent of that risk; and (c) developing the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned”. Since 2012, when Channel was first rolled out, some 4,000 people have been referred to it, half of them under eighteen, and the youngest a mere three years old. In this respect it’s surely significant that, in an interview with the Guardian, 24 May 2015, Scotland Yard commander Mak Chishty, Britain’s most senior Muslim police officer, stated that children as young as five had voiced opposition to marking Christmas, branding it as ‘haram’ (forbidden to Muslims), and that boycotting Marks and Spencer, in the mistaken belief that it is Jewish owned, might be a sign of radicalisation. In his view: “We have to be less precious about the private space. This is not about us invading private thoughts, but acknowledging that it is in these private spaces where this [extremism] first germinates. The purpose of private-space intervention is to engage, explore, explain, educate or eradicate. Hate and extremism is not acceptable in our society, and if people cannot be educated, then hate and harmful extremism must be eradicated through all lawful means”.

The inclusion of ‘non-violent extremism’ in Prevent makes it clear that the strategy is concerned not only with violent activity but with any ideas which are used to legitimise terrorism or are shared by terrorist groups. And the strategy also means intervening to stop people moving from groups which are regarded as extremist by the authorities (even though they are legal) into terrorist-related activity.

It needs to be borne in mind that the legal definition of terrorism itself is already alarmingly broad. Thus Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 makes it an offence to publish a statement which is “likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”. Indirectly encouraging the commission or preparation of such acts includes any statement which “glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of such acts or offences; and (b) is a statement from which those members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated by them in existing circumstances”.

Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty on “specified authorities” (which include schools and universities) to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. Thus in the Higher Education sector, in which I work, universities are now legally required to:

assess how their students might be at risk of being drawn into terrorism, including non-violent extremism;

  • demonstrate a willingness to undertake Prevent awareness training and other training that could help the relevant staff prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas;

have robust procedures for sharing information both internally and externally about vulnerable individuals;

have policies relating to the use of university IT equipment which contain specific reference to the Prevent duty and which enable the university to identify and address issues where online materials are accessed for non-research purposes;

have clear policies and procedures for students and staff working on sensitive or extremism-related research.

The case of the Nottingham University postgraduate student Rizwaan Sabir, who was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 and held for seven days after downloading the so-called al-Qaida Training Manual as part of his research, shows exactly where this kind of approach can lead. In spite of the fact that he was released without charge, and the Nottinghamshire police were forced to pay £20,000 and Sabir’s legal fees after his legal team brought proceedings against them for false imprisonment and breaches of the Race Relations Act 1976, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998, the catch-all qualities of Prevent and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act make an increase in such occurrences almost inevitable in the future.

Indeed, such is the jumpiness and hyper-sensitivity induced by Prevent that, in March 2015, even before the Act had passed into law, Mohammad Umar Farooq, a student on the Terrorism, Crime and Global Security MA programme at Staffordshire University was questioned about his attitudes to homosexuality, Isis and al-Qaida after an official spotted him in the library reading a textbook entitled Terrorism Studies. Not satisfied with the answers he received, the official then summoned the security guards. Significantly, when the university was forced to apologise, it actually cited the problems posed by the government’s anti-radicalisation policies, arguing that it was responding to a “very broad duty … to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’ and that the duty was ‘underpinned by guidance … [that] contains insufficient detail to provide clear practical direction in an environment such as the university’s”. It also pointed out that making a distinction between the “intellectual pursuit of radical ideas and radicalisation itself” was a significant challenge.

Similarly, in May 2015, a few days after he had mentioned the term eco-terrorism in a French lesson, a fourteen-year-old Muslim schoolboy was taken out of his class at the Central Foundation school in Islington. He was then taken to an Orwellian-sounding ‘inclusion centre’ in the school, where amongst the questions posed to him by two adults, one sitting behind him and the other in front, was whether he was ‘affiliated’ with Isis. One of the adults turned out to be a child protection officer who had been summoned by the school, and who told the boy that there had been ‘a safety concern raised’.     

At its 2015 Congress, the University and College Union, of which I am a member, passed a policy which objected to the Prevent duty now imposed on universities This argued that

  • it seriously threatens academic freedom and freedom of speech;
  • its broad definition of terrorism will stifle campus activism;
  • it forces members to spy on students and label them in a racist fashion;
  • it is discriminatory towards Muslims, and legitimises Islamophobia and xenophobia, encouraging racist views to be normalised within society;
  • the monitoring of Muslim students will destroy the trust needed for a safe and supportive learning environment and encourage discrimination against BME and Muslim staff and students.

These points were also raised in a letter (to which I was a signatory) from 280 academics, lawyers and public figures to the Independent, 10 July 2015 . This also pointed out that Prevent is based on the faulty assumption that religious ideology is the primary driver of terrorism, whereas the evidence suggests that ideology becomes appealing only when social, economic and political grievances (of which Muslims in the UK have a great many) give it legitimacy. It is these factors which need to be addressed if the ideology is to be taken on effectively, whereas Prevent actually adds to the list of grievances by making Muslims feel stigmatised and demonised as potential or actual terrorists.

The letter also pointed out that the authorities, faced with a chorus of opposition to Prevent, have tried to give it a veneer of legitimacy by cloaking it in the language of ‘safeguarding’. But, in a UK context, this is another apparently benign notion, like preventing terrorism, with an unpleasantly authoritarian streak in its history. This is thanks to absurdly over-assiduous enforcement of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, when speakers visiting schools, parents taking their children’s friends to school, and volunteers of one kind or another suddenly found themselves faced with demands to submit to mass vetting in the form of Criminal Records Bureau checks. The result was a huge waste of scarce resources, many people no longer willing to undertake voluntary activities (thus disadvantaging the very people that the measure was supposed to safeguard), and, perhaps worst of all, the creation of an atmosphere of vague but nonetheless corrosive mistrust around those working with children, as if, in the eyes of officialdom, they were all potential paedophiles. Meanwhile, child abuse continued at a frightening level, much of it committed by people with CRB checks.

In the eyes of its critics, Prevent is equally counter-productive and ill-conceived, and indeed far more overt in its suspicion of certain groups – in this case Muslims. The ‘safeguarding’ (another seemingly benign word) which it offers looks suspiciously like snooping and spying, followed by snitching, and culminating in measures which are only vaguely specified but seem to amount to some kind of ‘re-education’ process. Beyond the reassuring fluff about helping the vulnerable and protecting the susceptible, there’s something really rather chilling about the language of the Channel Guidance document, with its talk of  ‘referrals’, ‘screening and information gathering’, ‘vulnerability assessment frameworks’ and ‘information sharing’.  This isn’t exactly the language of Orwell’s Ministry of Love, but the fact that it’s less overtly authoritarian actually makes it rather more insidious.  

It is, of course, absolutely no coincidence that the document mentioned at the start of this article emanates from Camden’s Safeguarding Children Board, but the broader question is a variation on quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Namely, from whom do we most need to be safeguarded?       

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mike Rowe to Bernie Sanders: Stop Telling Everyone College is The Only Thing Full Feed
Sanders implies "that a path to prison is the most likely alternative to a path to college. Pardon my acronym, but...WTF!?"


A New Year resolution that's good for you and the planet: stop eating meat

Network Front | The Guardian

Raising beef cattle requires 160 times more land and causes 11 times more greenhouse gas emissions when compared to crops like wheat, rice or potatoes

Choosing to live a life with less in an eco-friendly way goes far beyond what you consume, what you drive or whether you use plastic bags. It can also be drastically affected by what you choose to eat – or avoid eating, for that matter. Yep, you guessed it: I’m talking about meat.

In addition to being an unapologetic hippie, a toy denier and one step away from joining a commune and singing Kumbaya, I am also vegetarian – just like 4 million others in the UK, 7.3 million in the US, and 1.3 million in my home and native land of Canada.

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