To Make the Internet Great Again, Trump Must Smash Facebook and Its Tech Oligarch Friends

The tech giants are strangling our culture and economy.
Joel Kotkin, The Daily Beast

Even as many Americans look with horror on the authoritarian blusterer in the White House, we are slowly succumbing to a more pernicious, less obvious and far more lasting tech oligarchy gaining ever more control over our economy, culture and politics.

“We are certainly looking at” bringing antitrust cases against Amazon, Facebook and Google,” Trump said in an interview just before the election, adding that he’s had “so many people” warning him about their overwhelming power.

Unreliable narrator though the President may be, people are indeed waking up to the tech giants’ massive and largely unchecked power, and the consequences of turning over our channels of communication to them. That includes World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who said earlier this year that he “was devastated” by how the internet has been used in recent elections, including our presidential race, and that he’s working to create a new system now that “the web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places.”

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The military-industrial-humanitarian complex: Western hegemony spread by virtue signalling?

 

The terms ‘humanitarian’ and ‘democracy’ were once used to describe honourable behaviour and just causes. Now they have become contenders, along with science, socialism and liberal for the dubious honour of being the most abused words in the English language, routinely deployed to justify politically motivated acts of aggression which lead to death and destruction.
Words such as ‘humanitarian’ and ‘democracy’ have acquired a darker and more cynical meaning following their misappropriation to justify the invasion of sovereign nations, effect regime change and promote the spread of Western military, economic and cultural dominance around the world. The mainstream media and many human rights activists, assist these ventures by broadcasting and publishing propagandised news and by tapping into negative emotions such as fear and outrage to soften public opinion and make interference in the political affairs of sovereign states appear justified.
If you remember 2001 and the lies of western politicians and media about Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, supposedly capable of being deployed against western targets within 45 minutes, the strategy was used to swing public opinion behind the US / EU / NATO push for a war that would rid them of a maverick leader.  The public were deceived into accepting the invasion through attention-grabbing headlines crafted to abhor readers with ‘evidence’ of Saddam’s butchery and to generate strong emotional reactions which would cause people to think with their hearts rather than their heads.
One story was written by UK Labour MP Ann Clwyd, and published by the one time newspaper of record The Times  two days before the US-led Coalition of the Willing began pounding Iraq’s cities and infrastructure with carpet bombing attacks. Clwyd claimed that Saddam had demonstrated a ‘human-shredding machine’ into which adversaries were fed and reduced to fish food. It is of course a variation on a scence in the Coen brothers film Fargo in which a wood shredder is used to render a corpse unidentifiable.
The article, under the title “See men shredded, then say you don’t back war” was quoted by other newspapers and by TV and radio news and caused readers to feel revulsion towards Saddam and his regime, and made the anti-war lobby appear sympathetic to a murderous regime dubbed by one tabloid, “The Butchers Of Bagdhad,” and indifferent to the plight of the Iraqi people. The story was challenged by anti – war campaigners and no evidence of such a device has been found. And for the record Saddam was supported by more than half of Iraquis, a popularity he achieved by the simple expedient of using a significant proportion of his country’s oil revenues to provide generous welfare payments.

The Iraqi dictator was certainly no angel, but he did manage to keep down the extremist elements in his country ,and of course, his removal by the the western military powers, USA , UK and France (The FUKUS axis,) facilitated the rise of ISIS some years later. Saddam’s real crimes were well known to US and NATO intelligence services, who kept him informed about the locations of Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, in the knowledge that he would use mustard gas and sarin against them.

The US also provided Saddam with cluster bombs and helped him acquire chemical precursor agents. US-based Human Rights Watch estimated that Saddam killed at least 290,000 of his own people while in power.  However, this figure is dwarfed by the number of Iraqis believed to have died in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, due to occupation forces, sectarian violence or ISIS – this figure is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, if not in excess of a million.

The psychological shock-and-awe strategy was again employed in the lead up to NATO’s bombing of Libya, as the US and UK’s on-off relationship with Gaddafi took a turn for the worse after he planned to start selling oil in dinars (a new gold-backed pan-African currency) instead of US dollars or euros, and encouraged his African neighbors to follow suit.

The release of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server in late 2015, just as the 2016 election campaign was getting under way revealed that such a move would have strengthened African economies and led to competition between the dinar and the dollar or euro. In fact there is in progress now a move led by Russia and China to dump the US$ as reserve currency and move to a system of settling cross border trades in the vendors currency. And earlier this year, China launched the Petroyuan, a gold-backed contract for trading oil futures, on the Shanghai stock & commodity exchange. So old Mad Dog Muammar was just unfortunate enough to be ahead of the game when he had no powerful allies to back him up.

On this occasion, we were treated to the excuse that bombing Libya and supporting the anti-Gaddafi rebels, including Al-Qaeda-affiliated elements, was necessary as Gaddafi was about to commit a massacre against the people of the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi. Another emotive claim designed to mould public opinion into accepting the war affirmed that Gaddafi was giving his soldiers Viagra so they could commit mass rape. An investigation by Amnesty International found no evidence to support this allegation and revealed that on several occasions anti-Gaddafi forces in Benghazi had made false allegations or manufactured evidence of human rights violations.

Without any sense of irony American, European and British politicians and the media now try to justify censorship of news and opinion, seeking to justify this illiberal and undemocratic activity by claiming it is necessary to silence those who spread ‘fake news’. Do we really believe governments and the media are going to censor themselves? Do we believe Google are suddenly going to cease and desist from suppressing factual information and opinions critical of their cronies in Washington? Do we believe Facebook are going to remove the globalist bias from their algorithms and give equal prominence to news and ideas that do not support Zuckerberg’s world domination agenda? Do we look as though we were born yesterday?

The concern of governments and their corporate friends about fake news is that with the rise of new media real news will leak out into the public domain and expose the fact that governments have been feeding us fake news since the modern era began with the protestant reformation.

Brexiteer Steven Woolfe: EU needs to ‘learn about democracy’

MEP Stephen Woolfe, a prominent figure in the UKIP campaign team during the referendum run up has claimed the European Union needs to “learn about democracy” in cos he mademment on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s remarks comparing the European Union to the Soviet Union.

Woolfe claimed the Foreign Secretary’s remarks were a “strong message” to the European Union who “have to learn about democracy”. Speaking on Euronews’ Raw Politics, the British MEP criticised the European Union’s track record for “forcing” countries (including France, The Netherlands, Ireland and Greece,) to vote   again if a vote does not give the result Brussels wants.

He said: “It was also a very strong message you have to learn about democracy. Either, if you carry on that way, you could be seen by people to be like that and the European Union has always championed the idea of being free.”

He then reminded top EU officials including European Commission  president Jean Claude Juncker, “You forced a referendum in France, you forced a referendum again in Holland, and you made the Irish vote again to kind of join on a European constitution.

“What we are saying is you don’t allow democracy when you don’t like it, isn’t that like those who are overridingly powerful, the elites telling us what to do? That is the kind of strong message he is sending out.”

Following the Salzburg summit, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat claimed there is an “almost unanimous” backing among leaders for Britain to have a second referendum. Fortunately this twittering coterie of nobodies from nations whose populations are smaller than a many middle – sized British towns and whose annual GDP is about the same as the total takings of people selling pies, burgers and not dogs at an English Premier League soccer match do not have any influence on what happens in Britain.

In spite of the total irrelevance of his opinion, Muscat added: “There is a unanimous, or almost unanimous I would say right now, point of view around the table that we would like the almost impossible to happen, that the UK has another referendum.”

Prime Minister has repeatedly said the UK will not have another vote on leaving the European Union.

 

 

Waste Of Time Trying To Negotite With EU Says Someone Who Knows

It’s significant that Yanis Varoufakis, a socialist economist and Greece’s former finance minister, has some sympathy for Teresa May and her team as they try to steer Britain through the process of leaving the EU. The two could not be much further apart politically. For those familiar with the writings of Vaoufakis on Greece’s debt crisis and his efforts to negotiate a better deal for Greece, an economically weak nation bankrupted by membership of the Eurpean single currency forced on it by Brussels it will be no surprise that earlier this week he posted a rather self congratulatory Tweet offerng his observations on the chaotic state of the Brexit. He was referring to the impossibility of Theresa May’s task in attempting to negotiate a mutually beneficial trade deal with an intransigent Brussels. Citing his own experience during the Greek debt crisis, he had said that she was running at a brick wall, and so far he’s been proved absolutely correct.

The main thrust of Varoufakis’ comment is expressed in more detail in an artile he wrote fot The Guardian in 2017, in which he warned of the bureaucratic traps the EU negotiators will set for the British government in order to stop negotiations moving forward and preserve the status quo.

here are now only three options left for Britain other than the EU’s terms, which would effectively tie us to all the terms and conditions of the EU while stripping us of the few benefits that come from membership.

First, there is the Norway option, bad for a large economy such as the UK as continued membership of the single market should also require membership of the customs union. Second, there is the Canadian style, free trade arrangement. And third, there is no-deal, leave on World Trade Organisation terms. All three are sub-optimal for the UK, politically and economically.

The parallels with Varoufakis’s own failed attempt to negotiate with the EU, after the Greeks had voted to reject the bail out deal offered by Brussels to helpGreece cope with the economic crosis Brussels’ economic policies had caused, a democratic mandate similar to the one May claims for Brexit, are obvious. The EU’s negotiating position from the start has been, “Accept our terms or we will punish you.” What the little men who make deals behind closed doors in Brussels have failed to understand is that it will not be as esy to punish a global economy like Britain as to crush little Greece ith an economy based on tourism and yoghurt.

“Even though the EU has evolved a great deal, and acquired many of the trappings of a confederacy”, Varoufakis wrote in the Guardian last year, “it remains in the nature of the beast to treat the will of electorates as a nuisance that must be, somehow, negated… For all their concerns with rules, treaties, processes, competitiveness, freedom of movement, terrorism etc, only one prospect truly terrifies the EU’s deep establishment: democracy”…

Which is what this blog has been telling you for years, and I did work in the EU commission during the 1980s, since which time it has only more authoritarian and contemptuous of the concept of member states national sovereignty.

Is US Department Of Defence Regime Change Agency Planning Color Revolution In Nicaragua

Protestors in Nicaragua – but do they know what they are protesting about (Picture: Al Jazeera )

 

As civil unrest takes hold in the Central American republic, we are seeing reports that Nicaraguan student protest leaders have met with Washington DC, neocons, a publication funded by the US government’s regime change arm, the ludicrously misnamed National Endowment for Democracy (NED), boasts of spending millions of dollars “laying the groundwork for insurrection” against Daniel Ortega

Corporate mainstream media outlets are portraying the violent protest movement sweeping Nicaragua as a progressive grassroots upswell but the country’s student leaders have suggested otherwise.

In June this year, young Nicaraguan political activists went on a junket funded by US taxpayers to Washington DC, hosted by right-wing advocacy group Freedom House. The Nicaraguans were there to lobby Donald Trump and other right-wing US government officials for help in their fight against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

During the trip, the young activists posed for photo-ops with leading Republican Party neocons and warmongers including Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The Nicaraguan party also had meetings with top officials from the State Department and the US government soft power organization USAID. There, they were reportedly assured they would have Washington’s full-throated support in the event of a rebellion against Ortega.

A month before those meetings , a publication funded by the US government’s regime change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), revealed that organizations backed by the NED have spent years and millions of dollars “laying the groundwork for insurrection” in Nicaragua.

This article, openly boasting of US meddling was repoted by the Latin America news website Global Americans, and was reputedly authored by US academic Benjamin Waddell, the academic director of the School for International Training in Nicaragua. Following publication of this piece, Global Americans replaced the term “insurrection” with the less incendiary word “change.” The original headline can however still be seen in the article’s URL.

Waddell’s article offers a remarkably honest assessment of the impact of the National Endowment for Democracy’s long term activities in Nicaraguan domestic politics. The author’s conclusions tended to confirm assertions made by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and members of his government, who have claimed the protests are a carefully staged plot backed and organised by Washington.

“International press has depicted the rapid escalation of civil unrest in Nicaragua as a spontaneous explosion of collective discontent, triggered by the government’s changes to its insolvent social security system and rooted in more than a decade of authoritarian rule by the Ortega-Murillo family,” Waddell wrote. “And while the underlying causes of the turmoil are rooted in government mismanagement and corruption, it’s becoming more and more clear that the U.S. support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”

In another striking passage, Waddell concluded, “the NED’s current involvement in nurturing civil society groups in Nicaragua sheds light on the power of transnational funding to influence political outcomes in the 21st century.”

The USA has a long history of meddling in the domestic politics of small, thirds world nations, often unsuccessfully and frequently with catastrophic results. The NED has been one of the leading agent of US soft power since its founding in 1983, at the height of the Cold War, its function being to fund and organise opposition to governments that refuse to serve US geopolitical ambitions.  The first NED success took place in Nicaragua, where it incubated anti-Sandinista media outfits like the La Prensa newspaper and right wing political groups.

In 1990, the Ortega’s party, the Sandinistas, were defeated at the polls by the right-wing candidate Violeta Chamorro, whose family happened to own La Prensa. Chamorro’s victory represented the culmination of nearly $16 million dollars in NED grants to anti-Sandinista political parties and media outlets.

More recently we have seen US led regime change efforts either fail ignominiously, as in Afghanistan and Syria, succeed catastrophically as in Libya, under Colonel Gadaffi Africa’s more prosperous and socially advanced nation, now after Libya was bombed by he US, France and UK (the FUKUS axis,) it is a failed state enmired in a tripartate civil war, or simply achieve the opposite of what was intended as in Ukraine where a deeply corrupt but democratically elected government was overthrown in a CIA engineered coup, only to be replaced by an equally corrupt neo – Nazi government.

Kermit Roosevelt, a member of the famous American political family but who made his contributions to the nation in the shadowy world of spy craft, even bragged about it publicly in his book Countercoup, revealing there was a manual in circulation at the CIA dealing with how you overthrow governments.

Mr. Roosevelt’s best-known exploit was as director of the 1953 coup that overthrew the leader of Iran, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a nationalist who concerned Washington because he was supported by the Iranian Communists at the height of the cold war.

So it seems to me this was a playbook coup d’état is something reheared by the CIA many times over decades. The is no denying Washington’s role in the Ukraine regime change of course, Vitoria Nuland, at the time Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, working with the US Ambassador, in a famous open mic moment complained that the US had spent a billion dollars organising the coup with the aim of getting Ukraine into the European Union and thus controlling Black Sea shipping routes to Russia’s only warm water ports, only to find the right wing extremists they had supported were not acceptable to the EU. Many copies of the recording made of that slip up still exist, here’s a link to a BBC transcript.

Ukraine was a particularly embarrassing fail for the US DoD Regime change Agency,

What is surprising is that the warmongers of Washington have learned nothing from all this and, as we can see from the reports coming out of Nicaragua, are getting ready to make the same foreign policy mistakes all over again.

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Sweden election: Sweden Democrats gains BLOCK left or centre-right coalition

SWEDEN’S election results are crawling in and there looks to be no clear winner so far as has happened in other EU nations including Germany, Italy and Spain recently.

Anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats are in third place, amid allegations from voters that there were no Sweden Democrat voting papers available when they went to vote. (In Swedens regional list system each party has its own ballot paper and voters put candidates in order of preference.) They could still take a key role in shaping the next government as one of the most complicated ballots in the bitterly divided country’s history has resulted in deadlock.

Two parties are key to this year’s election in Sweden: The leftist Social Democrats and Eurosceptic, anti – immigration Sweden Democrats. The ruling Social Democrats are currently ahead as the election results come in, despite support for the party slumping in recent months.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has not confirmed whether there will be a coalition, although it seems inevitable as his party is well short of a majority, and even with the support of all left and centre left parties could not govern without support from some right wing parties. He has said he will remain in office in the coming weeks oending negotiations to form a new government.

Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats have seen a surge in backing and could end up as kingmakers after tonight’s election.

 

 

 

Sweden Vote: International Election Observer ‘Shocked’, ‘Never Seen Such an Undemocratic System’

Translated from Danish news site Berlinske

The first time a Swedish election has been monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), observers have expressed “shock” at the nation’s “undemocratic” system.

Danish delegate Michael Aastrup Jensen, who has previously monitored elections in Russia and Eastern Europe, told Berlinske: “In all the many election observations I’ve been on, I have not seen anything that comes close to how undemocratic the Swedish voting system is.”

The foreign policy spokesman for Denmark’s liberal governing party Venstre, Jensen said the major issue with the Swedish election system is the lack of privacy for citizens casting their ballot.

Separate parties have separate ballot papers in Sweden, the choosing of which takes place in public, as voters must select their preferred ballot papers before placing them into a ballot box.

“It is just so far beneath anything remotely resembling European election standards, or anything we would allow even in Eastern Europe,” he said.

election

Jensen told the Danish newspaper how, outside of official monitoring duties, he visited a number of polling places in Malmö to see, ‘with his own eyes’, voting take place, and found “party soldiers” standing in front of the stations, where they were trying to hand voters ballot papers for their respective parties.

As chairman of Denmark’s delegation to the Council of Europe, the organisation responsible for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Jensen hopes to bring attention to problems with the Swedish election system.

“I will highlight the issue with the Council of Europe so that we can hopefully send the strongest possible signals to Sweden that they should introduce the sort of rules seen in Denmark and in virtually every other country in the world,” he said.

Speaking on the outcome of the Swedish election, which saw the worst result in 100 years for the ruling Social Democrats, the Danish foreign minister also hit out at the refusal of mainstream parties to cooperate in any way with the populist Sweden Democrats, which this year secured its largest ever share of the vote.

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