US Government Can Legally Access Your Facebook Data — and Now We Know How

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Alice Salles
The Anti-Media : December 26, 2016

The end of the year is approaching, and data concerning government abuses of power has begun pouring in.

According to Facebook’s Global Government Requests Report, government’s requests for Facebook account data rose 27 percent in the first half of 2016.

Facebook’s official announcement explained that requests for user data went from 46,710 in the last half of 2015 to 59,229 in the first half of 2016. At least 56 percent of these requests, Facebook added, “contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited us from notifying the user.

Law enforcement agencies from across the globe, Facebook continued, often send restriction requests demanding Facebook remove content from its forums. Fortunately, these requests dropped substantially this year, from 55,827 in the last half of 2015 to 9,663 in 2016 — an 87 percent drop. Most of the 2015 requests revolved aroundFrench content restrictions of a single image from the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks.”

Additionally, Facebook used its report to disclose for the first time what the company does when law enforcement agencies request “snapshots” of a user account that might be relevant to law enforcement for undisclosed reasons.

These “preservation requests,” as they are known, are requests to “preserve data pending receipt of formal legal process.” They are often processed by the social media website as snapshots, which are preserved temporarily. According to Facebook, the company does notdisclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process.” In the first half of 2016, Facebook received 38,675 preservation requests regarding 67,129 accounts, a staggering number of requests.




Further, Facebook insisted it does not give law enforcement any “back doors” to user information. Adding that requests are only fulfilled if they meet legal requirements or “legal sufficiency,” as Facebook puts it, they claim to “apply a rigorous approach to every government request [they] receive to protect the information of the people who use [their] services,” the company added. But this rigorous approach is not rigorous enough if “reforms” designed to avoid privacy overreach in America simply don’t go far enough.

Take the USA Freedom Act, for instance. The 2015 law was once supported by libertarian-leaning congressmen like Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). Later, however, Amash criticized the bill after changes giving government more power were adopted.

Mentioning the new rule by name, Facebook added that “as a result of transparency reforms introduced this year by the USA Freedom Act, our report also contains additional information concerning National Security Letters (NSLs).” NSLs are “extraordinary search procedures” that give the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the power to “compel the disclosure of customer records held by banks, telephone companies, Internet Service Providers, and others.” They are extraordinary because detailed information can be surrendered without proper oversight, an issue that has led to countless cases of abuse.

While NSLs are still being implemented, the gag order related to the procedure has changed. Now, “the government goes to court to justify the gag order only if an NSL recipient notifies the FBI of its desire for judicial review in the first place.” While the government bears “the burden of immediately going to court and proving its necessity,” NSLs give the FBI the power to bypass this important step.

Explaining that “the government lifted a gag requirement on one NSL issued in the second half of 2015,” the company decided to publish it. It’s unclear sure how many other NSLs Facebook has received.

Facebook may promise to “apply a rigorous approach to every government request” that comes its way, but rigor may only be practiced within the boundaries of U.S. law. If the law fails to protect the user’s privacy by allowing agencies to use “extraordinary” procedures, your data is never protected, no matter how well-meaning companies like Facebook claim to be.

According to Facebook, other government requests concerning “imminent risk of serious injury or death” are also granted on a regular basis. At least 3,016 of these requests were made in the first half of 2016. They targeted 4,192 accounts.

Search warrants were produced in only 13,742 cases of request for data while only 781 others were backed by court orders.


This article (US Government Can Legally Access Your Facebook Data — and Now We Know How) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alice Salles and theAntiMedia.org.

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Getting Real News From Aleppo – With Vanessa Beeley

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Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity
Daniel McAdams : December 15, 2016

As the liberation of Aleppo has destroyed the mainstream media’s narrative, with on-the-ground interviews from east Aleppo residents showing that they were in fact being held captive for four years by an al-Qaeda linked terrorist organization. The mainstream fake news purveyors are in a panic. While virtually none of them are actually on the ground in Syria, they have been strangely uniform in their “reporting.” Why is that? Because they all use the same tainted sources — US funded “NGOs” like the “White Helmets.” What’s the truth in Aleppo? Today’s Liberty Report features one of the very few western journalists brave enough to spend time there. Her well-documented findings expose the lies of the interventionists and their enabling friends in the mainstream media. Today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report is joined live from Syria by Vanessa Beeley:

Source: The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

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Newt Gingrich Admits – Donald Trump No Longer Wants to ‘Drain the Swamp’

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Michael Krieger
liberty blitzkrieg : December 21, 2016

Not that he ever wanted to, but here’s Newt Gingrich admitting what many of us already knew regarding Donald Trump’s fake populism.

Politico reports:

President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington of corruption, but now that he’s preparing to move into the White House, Newt Gingrich said the Manhattan real estate mogul is looking to distance himself from that message.

“I’m told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore,” the former House Speaker and close Trump adviser said of the “drain the swamp” message in an NPR interview published Wednesday morning. 

Trump’s Cabinet and other high-level appointments seem to have deviated somewhat from his “drain the swamp” message. After attacking Democrat Hillary Clinton regularly throughout the campaign for being too close to Wall Street banks, Trump has put three former Goldman Sachs executives in prominent White House positions, including Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist and Gary Cohn as the director of the National Economic Council.

As I highlighted in the recent post, The Election Never Ended:

As Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager and top adviser to Trump, as well as a former Goldman Sachs banker himself, put it Thursday: “I think the cabal against the bankers is over.” 

Indeed, as we all know, U.S. government economic policy has been essentially handed over to Goldman Sachs during this transition period. Must be a reward for its most recent settlement for rigging yet another market.

Reuters reports:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc will pay a $120 million penalty to resolve civil charges that it attempted to manipulate a global benchmark for interest rate products known on Wall Street as “ISDAFIX,” U.S. derivatives regulators said Wednesday.

The case against Goldman Sachs, brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was the latest in a series of broad investigations into manipulation by big banks of a variety of global benchmark rates.

To date, the CFTC has imposed penalties of over $5.2 billion stemming from these probes, which include Libor and Euribor, foreign exchange benchmarks, and the U.S. Dollar International Swaps and Derivatives Association Fix, or USD ISDAFIX.

A number of banks have also resolved parallel criminal charges related to the manipulation of various global benchmarks.

Goldman Sachs, which was also accused by the CFTC of making false reports on the benchmark rate, will settle the case without admitting or denying the charges.

Penalties don’t change the behavior of white collar criminals. Jail sentences would, but we don’t see any of that when it comes to bank execs.

(full article at liberty blitzkrieg)

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Former UK Ambassador has “met the person who leaked” emails & says “simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims”

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Craig Murray
December 12, 2016

“I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

The CIA’s Absence of Conviction

I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

A little simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims. The CIA claim they “know the individuals” involved. Yet under Obama the USA has been absolutely ruthless in its persecution of whistleblowers, and its pursuit of foreign hackers through extradition. We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two. And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not accepted massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from some very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.

The continued ability of the mainstream media to claim the leaks lost Clinton the election because of “Russia”, while still never acknowledging the truths the leaks reveal, is Kafkaesque.

I had a call from a Guardian journalist this afternoon. The astonishing result was that for three hours, an article was accessible through the Guardian front page which actually included the truth among the CIA hype:

The Kremlin has rejected the hacking accusations, while the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has previously said the DNC leaks were not linked to Russia. A second senior official cited by the Washington Post conceded that intelligence agencies did not have specific proof that the Kremlin was “directing” the hackers, who were said to be one step removed from the Russian government.

 

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”

 

“I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.

 

“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.

 

“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”

But only three hours. While the article was not taken down, the home page links to it vanished and it was replaced by a ludicrous one repeating the mad CIA allegations against Russia and now claiming – incredibly – that the CIA believe the FBI is deliberately blocking the information on Russian collusion. Presumably this totally nutty theory, that Putin is somehow now controlling the FBI, is meant to answer my obvious objection that, if the CIA know who it is, why haven’t they arrested somebody. That bit of course would be the job of the FBI, who those desperate to annul the election now wish us to believe are the KGB.

It is terrible that the prime conduit for this paranoid nonsense is a once great newspaper, the Washington Post, which far from investigating executive power, now is a sounding board for totally evidence free anonymous source briefing of utter bullshit from the executive.

In the UK, one single article sums up the total abnegation of all journalistic standards. The truly execrable Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian writes “Few credible sources doubt that Russia was behind the hacking of internal Democratic party emails, whose release by Julian Assange was timed to cause maximum pain to Hillary Clinton and pleasure for Trump.” Does he produce any evidence at all for this assertion? No, none whatsoever. What does a journalist mean by a “credible source”? Well, any journalist worth their salt in considering the credibility of a source will first consider access. Do they credibly have access to the information they claim to have?

Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.

Contrast this to the “credible sources” Freedland relies on. What access do they have to the whistleblower? Zero. They have not the faintest idea who the whistleblower is. Otherwise they would have arrested them. What reputation do they have for truthfulness? It’s the Clinton gang and the US government, for goodness sake.

In fact, the sources any serious journalist would view as “credible” give the opposite answer to the one Freedland wants. But in what passes for Freedland’s mind, “credible” is 100% synonymous with “establishment”. When he says “credible sources” he means “establishment sources”. That is the truth of the “fake news” meme. You are not to read anything unless it is officially approved by the elite and their disgusting, crawling whores of stenographers like Freedland.

The worst thing about all this is that it is aimed at promoting further conflict with Russia. This puts everyone in danger for the sake of more profits for the arms and security industries – including of course bigger budgets for the CIA. As thankfully the four year agony of Aleppo comes swiftly to a close today, the Saudi and US armed and trained ISIS forces counter by moving to retake Palmyra. This game kills people, on a massive scale, and goes on and on.

craigmurray.org.uk

Craig Murray is a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, and was the Rector of the University of Dundee

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Canadian National Railway: The Great Railroad Construction Robbery

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Roddy Boyd
Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation : December 12, 2016

For much of the past two decades Canadian National Railway Co. has been credited with revolutionizing the North American railroad industry.

The company’s former chief executive E. Hunter Harrison’s theory of “precision railroading” — a data-driven focus on charging customers a premium for superior on-time performance — made him an industry icon and his shareholders very happy.

But in railroading, as in life, how you get there matters.

Acting on a tip, the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation began investigating Canadian National in the fall of 2014. Here’s what our reporting uncovered:

  • For over 15 years Canadian National earned hundreds of millions of dollars in profit by marking up rail construction costs up more than 900 percent to a public-sector client.
  • Canadian National regularly engaged in questionable business practices like charging internal capital maintenance and expansion projects to the same taxpayer-funded client and billing millions of dollars for work that was never done.
  • A just-released auditor general investigation suggested a series of reforms designed to reduce these profits.
  • For years, train yard personnel, under intense pressure from management, have intentionally misreported on-time performance, helping the company boost revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars.

—————

On the evening of Dec. 6, 2004, two longtime Canadian National railroad employees, track construction supervisor Scott Holmes and his boss, railroad construction chief engineer Daryl Barnett, were in an elevator at the Deerhurst Resort a few hours by car north of Toronto and on their way to their unit’s Christmas party when Barnett got a call from Manny Loureiro, his supervisor and then head of engineering for the eastern region.

Taking the call on speakerphone, Loureiro told Barnett that he was in a bind because the fiscal year was drawing to a close and his division’s budget was $12 million over what his then boss, Keith Creel, the eastern region director, had set.     Missing his budget bogey would be a major blot on his performance review; it would also eliminate his eligibility for a six-figure year-end bonus. (Editor’s note: All dollar values expressed are Canadian dollars.)

To avoid this, Loureiro told Barnett to transfer $12 million to his unit’s account from a $28 million advance payment that a customer had recently made to purchase signal equipment.

Barnett tried to object but was overruled.

After the weekend when they were back at the office, Barnett told Holmes that Loureiro had requested a transfer of $2 million in addition to the $12 million.

A week later during a conference call that included most of Canadian National’s senior management, CEO Hunter Harrison singled out Loureiro for commendation, singing his praises for having obtained such a large payment from a key customer so late in the year.

Barnett and Holmes concluded that Loureiro must have met the requirements for the maximum bonus.

The customer was GO Transit, Metro Toronto’s commuter rail system, which merged five years later with Metrolinx, Ontario’s taxpayer-funded public transportation agency. The required signal equipment was installed but the $14 million was not returned to Metrolinx’s construction project’s account, according to a former unit executive.

(Loureiro has retired from Canadian National and did not return a message left at his residence. Barnett, who left Canadian National in 2008, is now Metrolinx’s director of railway corridor infrastructure. He did not return an email and a phone call requesting comment.)

On Nov. 30 of this year when the office of Ontario’s auditor general publicly released its 2016 annual report, a 38-page chapter detailed Metrolinx’s billing and rail-construction project-management practices over the previous five years. The auditor general’s staff concluded that both of Canada’s major railroads, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, profited from Metrolinx’s lack of internal financial controls by marking up construction charges well above industry norms.

A reader doesn’t have to parse the report too closely, however, to see that the auditor general took a keen interest in Canadian National’s work for Metrolinx. Put bluntly, the auditor general laid out a case that Canadian National saw Metrolinx coming a mile away and sought to harvest every last taxpayer dollar.

The auditor general’s investigation concluded that Canadian National had billed Metrolinx for new rail products but installed recycled ones from other tracks, that Canadian National’s labor prices were 130 percent above the industry average and that Metrolinx had been charged for projects that had nothing to do with commuter rail lines.

The money involved is real enough: The report stated that Metrolinx paid Canadian National and Canadian Pacific $725 million over the past five years and Canadian National’s projects were singled out as examples of bad news for Ontario’s taxpayers. On one project Metrolinx was charged an astounding $95 million for nine miles of track constructed on the Lakeshore West line.

Christine Pedias, a spokeswoman for the auditor general’s office, declined to specify how much each railroad was paid. It’s fair to assume, though, that the majority of Metrolinx’s construction payments went to Canadian National since most of Toronto’s commuter trains run on railroad tracks it owns or sold to Metrolinx.

Anne Marie Aikins, a Metrolinx spokeswoman, provided via email a statement from the agency’s president, Bruce McCuaig, “The Auditor’s report focuses on a small sample out of the many hundreds of projects Metrolinx is currently working on or has completed between 2011 and 2016.” Additionally, Metrolinx is “proud of its record” and taking steps to address the issues raised.

For its part, Canadian National spokesman Patrick Waldron reiterated the statement it made to news organizations on Nov. 30 about the auditor general’s report, “CN is dedicated to transparency, fairness and accountability in all its contracts and projects with Metrolinx and Go Transit. Projects we have partnered on utilize rigorous construction management processes covering project specifications and budgets to deliver quality work with strict oversight.”

The auditor general also made a series of reform recommendations for Metrolinx that, if implemented, would save Ontario taxpayers money and thus hit Canadian National squarely in the wallet. These included carefully assessing labor and equipment estimates for “reasonableness” using industry standards as a benchmark prior to a contract’s approval, regularly auditing a project underway and assigning an inspector to monitor progress at construction sites.

————-

Long before the Ontario auditor general’s office began its investigation, Canadian National was using Metrolinx as an automated teller machine, albeit one with no deposits required. Over 15 years executive teams have come and gone at Canadian National but the one constant has been the river of profit that its Toronto construction unit has been able to reliably wring from Metrolinx.

Determining how much Canadian National billed Metrolinx over the past two decades is difficult but considering since 2010 four separate land sales, Lakeshore West construction and ongoing maintenance contracts, it’s at least $1.1 billion, the majority of which likely went to operating income. In other words, Metrolinx’s long-running failure to properly scrutinize Canadian National emboldened it to charge prices so high that many of the construction and maintenance contracts amounted to almost pure profit.

The most audacious episode occurred from 2004 to 2008 when Canadian National’s construction managers developed a billing scheme that reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits and benefits through wildly inflating the cost of construction, according to documents obtained by the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation and attached to ongoing litigation.

The project involved a track expansion project that Canadian National performed for Metrolinx’s Lakeshore West line, on a route that stretched about 40 miles from Hamilton, Ontario, to Toronto’s Union Station. The work was completed in 2012.

Windfall profits and bonus payouts weren’t the half of it. In numerous instances Canadian National billed Metrolinx for work that Canadian National did for its own capital maintenance and expansion projects, saving itself many millions of dollars in expenses.

From 2004 to 2008, Canadian National did track construction work for Metrolinx on a 4.5-mile stretch between the Burlington and Hamilton stations, referred to by Canadian National as Lakeshore West/West. On a separate stretch of the same track in late 2009, crews began adding track to the 9.1-mile stretch from the Port Credit station to Kerr Street, or the Lakeshore West/East line. (The Ontario auditor general’s annual report discussed an unnamed 9-mile track extension that cost $95 million to construct “on the Lakeshore West corridor” but did not identify the project’s location or its date of completion.)

The Lakeshore West/West project’s cost is unclear.

According to an email, Metrolinx had originally approved a construction price tag of $45 million, but in short order the project’s chief engineer, Daryl Barnett, in a bid to reduce costs, noted that the price tag had quickly ballooned past $70 million. Metrolinx’s spokeswoman Aikins did not answer repeated questions on the matter but the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation obtained an April 2015 internal audit Metrolinx conducted at the auditor general’s request that put the final tab for Canadian National’s 2004 to 2008 work on that stretch at “over $200 million.”

What cost “over $200 million?” Three Canadian National railway construction unit staffers (including current and former employees) said the only project underway on Lakeshore West at that time was the Lakeshore West/West and that commuter trains were fully operational on that stretch by the spring of 2006.

(The audit document itself is highly unusual: Metrolinx’s internal auditors asked Canadian National to reauthorize their expired “audit rights” in order to properly document the project’s cost in terms of the labor and material provided. But the railroad refused, forcing the auditors to analyze the billing using only Metrolinx’s documents. The report concluded that the Lakeshore West project had no payment irregularities.)

Interviews with former Canadian National construction employees suggest that much of the Lakeshore West cost run-up can be attributed to Canadian National’s billing Metrolinx for an extensive series of upgrades around Canadian National’s Aldershot train yard. This was work of little apparent benefit to a commuter rail service like Metrolinx. From 2006 to 2007, Canadian National added a mile of mainline quality track enabling newly assembled freight trains to be switched onto another track when exiting the yard so they could rapidly increase speed.

How did they do this? The crew built switches or “turnouts,” which are mechanical installations that guide a train from one track onto another.

Improving access to and from the Aldershot yard solved twin logistical headaches for Canadian National that were its greatest challenges in the Toronto region. Previously trains exiting the Aldershot yard traveled 15 miles per hour and had to switch onto the main tracks at that speed, thus slowing the trains behind them. Now they can reach 25 mph. After improvements at Bayview Junction, Canadian National trains can reach 40 mph when traversing through those switches, sharply lessening the frequency of backlog-inducing stalls during a trip up Dundas Mountain.

Those improvements, according to former construction unit executives, appear to have been charged to Metrolinx.

The picture, below, taken from the Snake Road overpass in Burlington, Ontario, shows a few of the switches that were in the area around Canadian National’s Snake Road facility when a reporter visited the bridge in October. About nine were apparent. This is sharply more than a mere commuter train could ever plausibly need but helpful to long freight trains arriving from Toronto (such as those of Canadian National). Documents suggest that costs mounted rapidly for Metrolinx at least partly because of Canadian National’s order for at least 25 switches: The cost to install them was about $1 million apiece.

img_20161111_110559646

Canadian National’s documents indicate that building track is a remarkably profitable business and that doing so for Metrolinx has generated the type of margins usually enjoyed by  the developers of a breakthrough medicine.

According to a March 2006 Canadian National internal pricing spreadsheet obtained by the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, Canadian National could build a mile of track for a little over $1.12 million: This included a “track labor surcharge” of 138.4 percent and a 69.1 percent “track material surcharge.” (These surcharges, according to the Ontario auditor general’s report, were sharply above industry norms.)

But by charging Metrolinx $10 million to construct a mile of track, Canadian National was able to reap a profit of almost 900 percent.

(Not every customer was charged this way, however. In 2008 Canadian National built track for the federally owned Via Rail for $3 million a mile — without any bridges or switches — in Kingston, 150 miles away from Toronto.)

Nonetheless, Metrolinx had clear oversight provisions to safeguard taxpayers that were built into its Lakeshore West contracts with Canadian National, including a requirement for audit committees, frequent inspections and even aerial photographs, according to copies of the contracts obtained by the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation. The problem is that all these measures stayed on paper and none appear to have been followed, according to interviews with former employees.

To profit from Metrolinx work, Canadian National used accounting practices that would ordinarily never have publicly surfaced. Unfortunately for Canadian National, though, former construction manager Scott Holmes, who has been fighting his termination from his construction supervisor job since 2009, has claimed that he was let go, in part, because he observed — and complained about — improper billing practices.

In late October of this year Holmes’ legal team submitted a pair of exhibit-heavy filings in response to a sworn affidavit from Gary Poplyansky, a former Canadian National finance official. (Holmes declined to expand on his filings, given the ongoing litigation.)

One of the more profitable accounting gambits that Holmes has claimed to have observed is best described as “over budgeting.” Having agreed in advance to pay annual maintenance and service charges, Metrolinx paid for scheduled work that Canadian National charged it but never performed. A November 2005 email from Canadian National’s Edmonton, Alberta-based capital-projects finance officer, Joe Vanderhelm, to James Lam, then finance chief for the railroad construction group, asked if a total of $3.66 million in capital improvement and labor costs already budgeted for would be incurred by the end of the year. They were not, according to a former construction unit official.

Metrolinx officials apparently did not suspect anything was amiss and the $3.66 million was paid. At Canadian National these funds became a “betterment,” a catchphrase for revenue in excess of the managers’ year-end objectives and often the basis for a performance bonus.

Time after time, with a few keystrokes, Canadian National’s railway construction managers made almost any financial concern vanish by assigning the costs to Metrolinx and its seemingly endless pool of construction cash.

(read the full article at Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation

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Top US Spy Agency Refuses To Endorse CIA’s Russian Hacking Assessment Due To “Lack Of Evidence”

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Zero Hedge : December 12, 2016

When the WaPo posted last Friday’s story about a “secret” CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, the readers of the Bezos-owned publication took it as gospel, despite, as we promptly noted, there being no evidence provided by the CIA, and as we learned today, the FBI openly resisting the CIA’s assessment. It now appears that once again the WaPo may have been engaging in “partial fake news”, as it did with its Nov. 24 story about “Russian propaganda fake media.”

According to Reuters, the so-called overseers of the U.S. intelligence community as it supervises the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), while not disputing the CIA’s analysis of Russian hacking operations – something which would be unprecedented for the US spy industry and would telegraph just how partisan and broken the country’s intelligence apparatus has become – has refused to endorse the CIA’s assessment “because of a lack of conclusive evidence” that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

As Reuters conveniently notes, the ODNI position could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment, which he rejected as “ridiculous” in weekend remarks, and press his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attacks. The ODNI’s position confirms that Trump was once again, you guessed it, right.

ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one of the three U.S. officials.

As reported earlier, the FBI, whose evidentiary standards require it to make cases that can stand up in court, likewise declined to accept the CIA’s analysis – a deductive assessment of the available intelligence – for the same reason, the three officials said.

The ODNI, headed by James Clapper, was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the recommendation of the commission that investigated the attacks. The commission, which identified major intelligence failures, recommended the office’s creation to improve coordination among U.S. intelligence agencies.

As a reminder, the first hint that the US would scapegoat Russia for an “unexpected election outcome” took place on October 7, when the U.S. government formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against American political organizations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. Back then, president Barack Obama has said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin about consequences for the attacks. Reports of the assessment by the CIA, which has not publicly disclosed its findings, have prompted congressional leaders to call for an investigation.

The narrative escalated rapidly last week, when outgoing president Obama ordered intelligence agencies to review the cyber attacks and foreign intervention in the presidential election and to deliver a report before he turns power over to Trump on Jan. 20.

So how did the CIA come to its conclusion?

According to Reuters, the agency assessed after the election that the attacks on political organizations were aimed at swaying the vote for Trump because the targeting of Republican organizations diminished toward the end of the summer and focused on Democratic groups, a senior U.S. official told Reuters on Friday. Moreover, only materials filched from Democratic groups – such as emails stolen from John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman – were made public via WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, and other outlets, U.S. officials said.

The CIA conclusion – one of induction and no supporting evidence – was a “judgment based on the fact that Russian entities hacked both Democrats and Republicans and only the Democratic information was leaked,” one of the three officials said on Monday. “(It was) a thin reed upon which to base an analytical judgment,” the official added.

Earlier Monday, Senator John McCain said on Monday also confronted the CIA’s assessment, saying there was “no information” that Russian hacking of American political organizations was aimed at swaying the outcome of the election. “It’s obvious that the Russians hacked into our campaigns,” McCain said. “But there is no information that they were intending to affect the outcome of our election and that’s why we need a congressional investigation,” he told Reuters.

(read the full article at zero hedge)

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A Clinton Fan Manufactured Fake News That MSNBC Personalities Spread to Discredit WikiLeaks Docs

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Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept : December 9, 2016

The phrase “Fake News” has exploded in usage since the election, but the term is similar to other malleable political labels such as “terrorism” and “hate speech”; because the phrase lacks any clear definition, it is essentially useless except as an instrument of propaganda and censorship. The most important fact to realize about this new term: Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

One of the most egregious examples was the recent Washington Post article hyping a new anonymous group and its disgusting blacklist of supposedly pro-Russia news outlets — a shameful article mindlessly spread by countless journalists who love to decry Fake News, despite the Post article itself being centrally based on Fake News. (The Post this week finally added a lame editor’s note acknowledging these critiques; the Post editors absurdly claimed that they did not mean to “vouch for the validity” of the blacklist even though the article’s key claims were based on doing exactly that).

Now we have an even more compelling example. Back in October, when WikiLeaks was releasing emails from the John Podesta archive, Clinton campaign officials and their media spokespeople adopted a strategy of outright lying to the public, claiming — with no basis whatsoever — that the emails were doctored or fabricated and thus should be ignored. That lie — and that is what it was: a claim made with knowledge of its falsity or reckless disregard for its truth — was most aggressively amplified by MSNBC personalities such as Joy Ann Reid and Malcolm Nance, The Atlantic’s David Frum, and Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald.

That the emails in the Wikileaks archive were doctored or faked — and thus should be disregarded — was classic Fake News, spread not by Macedonian teenagers or Kremlin operatives but by established news outlets such as MSNBC, The Atlantic, and Newsweek. And, by design, this Fake News spread like wildfire all over the internet, hungrily clicked and shared by tens of thousands of people eager to believe it was true. As a result of this deliberate disinformation campaign, anyone reporting on the contents of the emails was instantly met with claims that the documents in the archive had been proven fake.

The most damaging such claim came from MSNBC’s intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance. As I documented on October 11, he tweeted what he — for some bizarre reason — labeled an “Official Warning.” It decreed: “ are already proving to be riddled with obvious forgeries & not even professionally done.” That tweet was re-tweeted by more than 4,000 people. It was vested with added credibility by Clinton-supporting journalists like Reid and Frum (“expert to take seriously”).

All of that, in turn, led to an article in something called the “Daily News Bin” with the headline: “MSNBC intelligence expert: WikiLeaks is releasing falsified emails not really from Hillary Clinton.” This classic fake news product — citing Nance and Reid among others — was shared more than 40,000 times on Facebook alone.

 

From the start, it was obvious that it was this accusation from Clinton supporters — not the WikiLeaks documents — that was a complete fraud, perpetrated on the public as deliberate disinformation. With regard to the claim about the Podesta emails, now we know exactly who created it in the first instance: a hard-core Clinton fanatic.

When Nance — MSNBC’s “intelligence analyst” — issued his “Official Warning,” he linked to a tweet that warned: “Please be skeptical of alleged . Trumpists are dirtying docs.” That tweet, in turn, linked to a tweet from an anonymous account calling itself “The Omnivore,” which had posted an obviously fake transcript purporting to be a Hillary Clinton speech to Goldman Sachs. Even though that fake document was never published by WikiLeaks, that was the entire basis for the MSNBC-inspired claim that some of the WikiLeaks documents were doctored.

But the person who created that forged Goldman Sachs transcript was not a “Trumpist” at all; he was a devoted supporter of Hillary Clinton. In the Daily Beast, the person behind the anonymous “The Omnivore” account unmasks himself as “Marco Chacon,” a self-professed creator of “viral fake news” whose targets were Sanders and Trump supporters (he specialized in blatantly fake anti-Clinton frauds with the goal of tricking her opponents into citing them, so that they would be discredited). When he wasn’t posting fabricated news accounts designed to make Clinton’s opponents look bad, his account looked like any other standard pro-Clinton account: numerous negative items about Sanders and then Trump, with links to many Clinton-defending articles.

In his Daily Beast article, published on November 21, Chacon describes how he manufactured the forged Goldman Sachs speech transcript. He says he did it prior to learning that the WikiLeaks releases of Podesta emails contained actual Clinton speech excerpts to Wall Street banks. But once he realized WikiLeaks had published actual Clinton transcripts, Chacon began trying to lure people he disliked — Clinton critics — into believing that his forged speeches were real, so that he could prove they were gullible and dumb.

Sadly for Chacon, however, the people who ended up getting fooled by his Fake News items were the nation’s most prominent Clinton supporters, including supposed experts and journalists from MSNBC who used his obvious fakes to try to convince the world that the WikiLeaks archive had been compromised and thus should be ignored. That it was pro-Clinton journalists who spread his Fake News as real now horrifies even Chacon:

The tweet went super-viral. It started an almost trending — but still going today — hashtag #bucketoflosers. A tweet declaring it a bad forgery was picked up by Malcolm Nance, an intelligence analyst for MSNBC among others, who tweeted to be wary of the WikiLeaks release . …

That did not stop Nance, who with a firm intelligence background should have been able to easily spot the fake with “(chaos)” actually written in the side bar and “((makes air quotes))” written before the “bucket of losers” piece in the completely comical so-called transcript, from referencing the document and saying: “Official Warning: #PodestaEmails are already proving to be riddled with obvious forgeries & #blackpropaganda not even professionally done.” …

At the end of the day, did this change anything? I don’t know. I think I inadvertently hurt WikiLeaks, which I’m not proud of — but I’m not too sorry about either. I suspect that some people came to realize that they were believing in fake things.

That last sentence — that as a result of his fraud, “some people came to realize that they were believing in fake things” — is false, at least insofar as it applies to people like Eichenwald, Frum, Nance, and Reid. Even though it was clear from the start to any rational and honest person that there was zero evidence that any of the WikiLeaks documents were doctored, and even though (as Chacon himself says) nobody minimally informed (let alone supposed “intelligence experts”) should have been fooled by his blatant Fake News, none of the journalists who lied to the public about these WikiLeaks documents have even once acknowledged what they did.

Their Fake News tweets — warning people to view the WikiLeaks documents as fake — remain posted, with no subsequent retraction or acknowledgment of the falsehoods that they spread about the WikiLeaks archive. That includes MSNBC segments that spread this accusation.

Indeed, not only should it have been blatantly obvious that Chacon’s anonymously posted document did not impugn the WikiLeaks archive, but also the slightest research would have revealed that the person who manufactured the forgery was a Clinton supporter, not a “Trumpist” or a Kremlin operative. Indeed, one of the Clinton-criticizing journalists who Chacon tried to trick, Michael Tracey, said exactly this at the time. But because his facts contradicted the MSNBC/Newsweek political agenda, they were ignored in favor of the lie that the WikiLeaks archive had been compromised and doctored:

I will be shocked if any of them now acknowledge this even with Chacon’s confession. That’s because MSNBC has repeatedly proven that it tolerates Fake News and outright lies from its personalities as long as those lies are in service of the right candidate (when Democrats were smearing Jill Stein as a Kremlin stooge, Reid’s program aired Nance’s lie to MSNBC viewers that Stein had previously hosted her own show on RT: an utter fabrication that MSNBC, to this day, has never corrected or even acknowledged despite multiple requests from FAIR).

Every day, literally, you can turn on MSNBC and hear various people so righteously lamenting the spread of “Fake News.” Yet MSNBC itself not only spreads Fake News but refuses to correct it when it is exposed. How do they have any credibility to denounce Fake News? They do not.

That journalists and “experts” outright lied to the public this way in order to help their favorite candidate is obviously dangerous. This was most powerfully pointed out — ironically — by Marty Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, who told the New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg: “If you have a society where people can’t agree on basic facts, how do you have a functioning democracy?”

Exactly: If you have prominent journalists telling the public to trust an anonymous group with a false McCarthyite blacklist, or telling it to ignore informative documents on the grounds that they are fake when there is zero reason to believe that they are fake, that is a direct threat to democracy. In the case of the Podesta emails, these lies were perpetrated by the very factions that have taken to most loudly victimizing themselves over the spread of Fake News.

But the problem here goes way beyond mere hypocrisy. Complaints about Fake News are typically accompanied by calls for “solutions” that involve censorship and suppression, either by the government or tech giants such as Facebook. But until there is a clear definition of “Fake News,” and until it’s recognized that Fake News is being aggressively spread by the very people most loudly complaining about it, the dangers posed by these solutions will be at least as great as the problem itself.

The Intercept

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A “Soft Coup” Attempt: Furious Trump Slams “Secret” CIA Report Russia Helped Him Win

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Zero Hedge: December 10, 2016

Overnight the media propaganda wars escalated after the late Friday release of an article by the Washington Post (which last week admitted to using unverified, or fake, news in an attempt to smear other so-called “fake news” sites) according to which a secret CIA assessment found that Russia sought to tip last month’s U.S. presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, a conclusion presented without any actual evidence, and which drew an extraordinary, and angry rebuke from the president-elect’s camp.

“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said, launching a broadside against the spy agency. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ”

The Washington Post report comes after outgoing President Barack Obama ordered a review of all cyberattacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle, amid growing calls from Congress for more information on the extent of Russian interference in the campaign. The newspaper cited officials briefed on the matter as saying that individuals with connections to Moscow provided WikiLeaks with email hacked from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief and others.

Without a shred of evidence provided, and despite Wikileaks’ own on the record denial that the source of the emails was Russian, the WaPo attack piece claims the email messages were steadily leaked out via WikiLeaks in the months before the election, damaging Clinton’s White House run. Essentially, according to the WaPo, the Russians’ aim was to help Donald Trump win and not just undermine the U.S. electoral process, hinting at a counter-Hillary intent on the side of Putin.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” the newspaper quoted a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation last week to key senators as saying. “That’s the consensus view.”

CIA agents told the lawmakers it was “quite clear” – although it was not reported exactly what made it “clear” – that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to officials who spoke to the Post, citing growing evidence from multiple sources.

And yet, key questions remain unanswered, and the CIA’s report fell short of being a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies the newspaper said, for two reasons. As we reported in November “The “Fact” That 17 Intelligence Agencies Confirmed Russia is Behind the Email Hacks Isn’t Actually…A “Fact“, and then also because aside from so-called “consensus”, there is – once again no evidence, otherwise the appropriate agencies would have long since released it, and this is nothing more than another propaganda attempt to build tension with Russia. In fact, the WaPo admits as much in the following text, which effectively destroys the article’s entire argument :

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.

* * *

 

 “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”

And since even the WaPo is forced to admit that intelligence agents don’t have the proof that Russian officials directed the identified individuals to supply WikiLeaks with the hacked Democratic emails, the best it can do is speculate based on circumstantial inferences, especially since, as noted above, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied links with Russia’s government, putting the burden of proof on the side of those who challenge the Wikileaks narrative. So far that proof has not been provided.

Nonetheless, at the White House, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said Obama called for the cyberattacks review earlier this week to ensure “the integrity of our elections.”

“This report will dig into this pattern of malicious cyberactivity timed to our elections, take stock of our defensive capabilities and capture lessons learned to make sure that we brief members of Congress and stakeholders as appropriate,” Schultz said.

Taking the absurdity to a whole new level, Obama wants the report completed before his term ends on January 20, by none other than a proven and confirmed liar: “The review will be led by James Clapper, the outgoing director of national intelligence, officials said.” In other words, the report that the Kremlin stole the election should be prepared by the time Trump is expected to be sworn in.

“We are going to make public as much as we can,” the spokesman added. “This is a major priority for the president.”

The move comes after Democrats in Congress pressed the White House to reveal details, to Congress or to the public, of Russian hacking and disinformation in the election.

On Oct. 7, one month before the election, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence announced that “the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.” “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” they said.

Trump dismissed those findings in an interview published Wednesday by Time magazine for its “Person of the Year” award. Asked if the intelligence was politicized, Trump answered: “I think so.”

“I don’t believe they interfered,” he said. “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

Worried that Trump will sweep the issue under the rug after his inauguration, seven Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee called on Nov. 29 for the White House to declassify what it knows about Russian interference. The seven have already been briefed on the classified details, suggesting they believe there is more information the public should know. On Tuesday this week, leading House Democrats called on Obama to give members of the entire Congress a classified briefing on Russian interference, from hacking to the spreading of fake news stories to mislead U.S. voters.

Republicans in Congress have also promised hearings into Russian activities once the new administration comes in.

Obama’s homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco said the cyberinterference goes back to the 2008 presidential race, when both the Obama and John McCain campaigns were hit by malicious computer intrusions.

(read full articvl

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Report Confirms Canada’s Housing Market Money Laundering Fraud

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AlternativeFreePress.com

Mainstream media has finally gotten to the truth: Vancouver’s real estate market is rife with money laundering. Back in February we compiled Vancouver’s Housing Market Money Laundering Fraud. In March, How Vancouver Is Being Sold To The Chinese: The Illegal Dark Side Behind The Real Estate Bubble…In September Globe & Mail Investigation confirms rampant fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion in Canada’s housing market did a great job highlighting some of the issues, and now mainstream media has, finally, put all the pieces together…

More than half of B.C.’s most expensive homes owned by secret shell companies spurring money laundering fears

By Sam Cooper
December 9, 2016: Vancouver Sun

Almost half of Vancouver’s 100 most expensive homes are bought using shell companies or other financial tools that obscure who the identity of the true owners, a report from anti-corruption group Transparency International says.

The report, which focuses on money laundering and tax evasion vulnerabilities in Canadian real estate through a study of Vancouver luxury homes, slams Canada for failing to close home-ownership loopholes related to shell companies, trusts and nominees.

The report also concludes the prevalence of non-transparent ownership in B.C. luxury real estate makes it impossible to measure how much offshore cash is invested in B.C. homes, even though B.C. is attempting to collect data on foreign ownership.

“An influx of overseas capital is one of several causes of rising property prices, (in Vancouver and Toronto) but the extent and impact of foreign investment remains unknown since very little data is collected on property owners,” the report says. “Individuals can use shell companies, trusts and nominees to hide their beneficial interest in Canadian real estate.”

(read the full article at calgary herald)

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Washington Post Appends “Russian Propaganda Fake News” Story, Admits It May Be Fake

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Zero Hedge: December 8, 2016

In the latest example why the “mainstream media” is facing a historic crisis of confidence among its readership, facing unprecedented blowback following Craig Timberg November 24 Washington Post story “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say“, on Wednesday a lengthy editor’s note appeared on top of the original article in which the editor not only distances the WaPo from the “experts” quoted in the original article whose “work” served as the basis for the entire article (and which became the most read WaPo story the day it was published) but also admits the Post could not “vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s finding regarding any individual media outlet”, in effect admitting the entire story may have been, drumroll “fake news” and conceding the Bezos-owned publication may have engaged in defamation by smearing numerous websites – Zero Hedge included – with patently false and unsubstantiated allegations.

It was the closest the Washington Post would come to formally retracting the story, which has now been thoroughly discredited not only by outside commentators, but by its own editor.

The apended note in question:

Editor’s Note: The Washington Post on Nov. 24 published a story on the work of four sets of researchers who have examined what they say are Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy and interests. One of them was PropOrNot, a group that insists on public anonymity, which issued a report identifying more than 200 websites that, in its view, wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda. A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.

As The Washingtonian notes, the implicit concession follows intense and rising criticism of the article over the past two weeks. It was “rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations,” Intercept reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton wrote, noting that PropOrNot, one of the groups whose research was cited in Timberg’s piece, “anonymous cowards.” One of the sites PropOrNot cited as Russian-influenced was the Drudge Report.

The piece’s description of some sharers of bogus news as “useful idiots” could “theoretically include anyone on any social-media platform who shares news based on a click-bait headline,” Mathew Ingram wrote for Fortune.

But the biggest issue was PropOrNot itself. As Adrian Chen wrote for the New Yorker, its methods were themselves suspect, hinting at counter-Russian propaganda – ostensibly with Ukrainian origins – and verification of its work was nearly impossible. Chen wrote “the prospect of legitimate dissenting voices being labelled fake news or Russian propaganda by mysterious groups of ex-government employees, with the help of a national newspaper, is even scarier.”

Criticism culminated this week when the “Naked capitalism” blog threatened to sue the Washington Post, demanding a retraction. 

Now, at least, the “national newspaper” has taken some responsibility, however the key question remains: by admitting it never vetted its primary source, whose biased and conflicted “work” smeared hundreds of websites, just how is the Washington Post any different from the “fake news” it has been deriding on a daily basis ever since its endorsed presidential candidate lost the elections?

(source: Zero Hedge)

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4 Reasons why Canadians are choosing craft cannabis instead of big business weed

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OrganicCraftCannabis.ca : December 5, 2016

Canadians have several legal avenues for acquiring medical marijuana under Health Canada’s Access To Cannabis For Medical Purposes (ACMPR)…

One option is to buy from one of the dozens of multi-million dollar corporations (known as licensed producers or LPs). However, most Canadians are choosing to source craft cannabis from small independent growers (known as designated growers).

There are several reasons why craft cannabis is superior to large-scale corporate grows:

1. Supporting “ma and pa”. Craft cannabis growers are everyday Canadians, and by supporting them you are helping your local community. Independent growers use the money they earn to feed their families and pay their bills, whereas large corporate producers use their revenue to buy up the competition and inflate their stock value. Large corporate producers are owned by bankers, lawyers, and foreign investors. By using an independent designated grower, you are supporting small local business.

2. Price. Craft cannabis is more affordable than corporate weed. While the big corporations, are charging up to $14/gram for certified organic cannabis, you won’t pay more than $7/gram from an OrganicCraftCannabis.ca designated grower.

3. Pesticides. The big corporations are regulated by strict regulations which actually prevent them from spraying natural pest-deterrent products such as neem oil. Big corporate growers can use numerous government approved pesticides which contain both harmful and undisclosed ingredients. OrganicCraftCannabis.ca designated growers do not use any pesticides, instead relying on organic solutions such as beneficial predator insects, neem oil, and mineral oil for pest control.

4. Love. Large-scale commercial-size grow operations are nothing new and the product produced by large-scale operations has been known as “commercial crap” by cannabis connoisseurs since long before the government started to license corporations to grow. When growing on an industrial scale, quality takes a hit. Yes, the large corporate operations are paying for “quality assurance”, but standardized operating procedures are no replacement for the love put in by designated growers. Corporate producers are working for shareholders and investors to produce as large a profit margin as possible. OrganicCraftCannabis.ca designated growers love Cannabis and grow small batches which can be cared for properly.

Source: OrganicCraftCannabis.ca

OrganicCraftCannabis.ca connects Canadians with independent designated growers to supply them with legal Cannabis under Health Canada’s Access To Cannabis For Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

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Government of Canada Ramps Up Failed Prohibitionist Tactics In Futile Effort To Stop Fentanyl

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AlternativeFreePress.com

The Government of Canada continues to double down on failed prohibitionist policies in it’s fight against opioid overdoses, despite overwhelming evidence that such tactics are ineffective.

Within the past couple of weeks we have been told that Health Canada has published regulations controlling six chemicals used in the production of fentanyl, and that the RCMP and China’s public security ministry have agreed to increase their efforts to interrupt the flow of fentanyl and other opioids. However, these are just more of the same prohibitionist policies which created this problem.

If the government actually wants to help stop this crisis, they do have the means. It is only a question of will. Last month a Justice Department research paper was publicized which states that decriminalizing drugs could result in lower rates of use, addiction, and overdoses. The study says that “It is becoming more challenging to justify the criminalization of drug users,”

Earlier this year, prescription heroin became available to addicts in Canada. That is a step in the right direction, and that access should be promoted and encouraged. Most addicts will not buy street drugs if they can get their fix legally and more affordably from a pharmacist or doctor. Fentanyl is much stronger than heroin, so unfortunately the act of legalizing heroin may have occurred too late as most of the street heroin is apparently cut with fentanyl. Some fentanyl addicts may be able to switch to prescription heroin, but also providing access to legal fentanyl would certainly help reduce the black market demand further.

Increasing law enforcement efforts and tightening regulations has never succeeded at stopping illegal drugs, and in fact has only made the drugs more dangerous. The increased use of illicit synthetic opioids is a direct result of prohibitionist policies. Even if law enforcement did somehow manage to stop the flow of fentanyl, it would just be replaced by more carfentanyl or W-18, which are a hundred times more potent. Prohibition doesn’t work.

Sources:
RCMP to work with China to fight flow of fentanyl to Canada
Health Canada Regulates Chemicals Used to Make Fentanyl “Report”
Drug decriminalization would lead to fewer overdoses, addiction: federal study

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Magic mushrooms help people with cancer face death, says new research

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Canada Journal: December 2, 1016

Magic mushrooms, once associated mostly with Phish concerts, may lead to better end-of-life care for cancer patients. One dose of the active ingredient, psilocybin, can help terminal cancer patients experience less depression and anxiety even six months later.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and NYU Langone Medical Centre in New York carried out trials on a total of 80 volunteers with cancer who had reported symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Participants were given either a high dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, or a placebo. They then took part in a psychotherapy session during which they were encouraged to focus on their inner experiences while researchers monitored them. A few weeks later, the patients had a second session with the other drug.

In the Johns Hopkins study, 83 per cent of participants reported “decreases in measures of depression, anxiety and mood disturbance, and increases in measures of quality of life, life meaning, death acceptance and optimism”, New Scientist reports.

The effect appears to be long lasting. “Six months after the final session of treatment, about 80 per cent of participants continued to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety,” Medical Xpress reports.

The Guardian reports that the effects of magic mushrooms have been of interest to psychiatry since the 1950s, but the hardening of the US government’s attitude towards recreational drug use after the late 1960s created “daunting legal and financial obstacles to running trials” with psychedelics.

(read the full article at Canada Journal)

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Official Washington’s ‘Info-Wars’

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William Blum
strategic-culture: December 2, 2016

On November 16, at a State Department press briefing, department spokesperson John Kirby was having one of his frequent adversarial dialogues with Gayane Chichakyan, a reporter for RT (Russia Today); this time concerning U.S. charges of Russia bombing hospitals in Syria and blocking the U.N. from delivering aid to the trapped population.

When Chichakyan asked for some detail about these charges, Kirby replied: “Why don’t you ask your defense ministry?”

GC: Do you – can you give any specific information on when Russia or the Syrian Government blocked the UN from delivering aid? Just any specific information.

KIRBY: There hasn’t been any aid delivered in the last month.

GC: And you believe it was blocked exclusively by Russia and the Syrian Government?

KIRBY: There’s no question in our mind that the obstruction is coming from the regime and from Russia. No question at all.…

MATTHEW LEE (Associated Press): Let me –- hold on, just let me say: Please be careful about saying “your defense minister” and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just like the rest of us are, so it’s -– she’s asking pointed questions, but they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned -– from a state-owned –

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet, Matt.

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet that’s not independent.

LEE: The questions that she’s asking are not out of line.

KIRBY: I didn’t say the questions were out of line…

KIRBY: I’m sorry, but I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.

One has to wonder if State Department spokesperson Kirby knows that in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking about RT, declared: “The Russians have opened an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.”

I also wonder how Mr. Kirby deals with reporters from the BBC, a STATE-OWNED television and radio entity in the U.K., broadcasting in the U.S. and all around the world.

Or the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation, described by Wikipedia as follows: “The corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as overseas… and is well regarded for quality and reliability as well as for offering educational and cultural programming that the commercial sector would be unlikely to supply on its own.”

There’s also Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty (Central/Eastern Europe), and Radio Marti (Cuba); all (U.S.) state-owned, none “independent”, but all deemed worthy enough by the United States to feed to the world.

And let’s not forget what Americans have at home: PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio), which would have a near-impossible time surviving without large federal government grants. How independent does this leave them? Has either broadcaster ever unequivocally opposed a modern American war? There’s good reason NPR has long been known as National Pentagon Radio. But it’s part of American media’s ideology to pretend that it doesn’t have any ideology.

As to the non-state American media … There are about 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven wars? How about one?

In 1968, six years into the Vietnam War, the Boston Globe (Feb. 18, 1968) surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading U.S. papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out.” Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever appeared in the U.S. mainstream media?

In 2003, leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call MSNBC “independent.”

If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to U.S. foreign policy?

New Cold War Propaganda

On Nov. 25, the Washington Post ran an article entitled: “Research ties ‘fake news’ to Russia.” It’s all about how sources in Russia are flooding American media and the Internet with phony stories designed as “part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders.”

“The sophistication of the Russian tactics,” the article says, “may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on ‘fake news’.”

The Post states that the Russian tactics included “penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.” (Heretofore this had been credited to Wikileaks.)

The story is simply bursting with anti-Russian references:

–An online magazine header – “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”
–“the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”
–“more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”
–“stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.”
–“The Russian campaign during this election season … worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination with ‘buzzy’ content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate world events.”
–“Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience”
–“They use our technologies and values against us to sow doubt. It’s starting to undermine our democratic system.”
–“Russian propaganda operations also worked to promote the ‘Brexit’ departure of Britain from the European Union.”
–“Some of these stories originated with RT and Sputnik, state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports.”
–“a variety of other false stories — fake reports of a coup launched at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and stories about how the United States was going to conduct a military attack and blame it on Russia”

A former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, is quoted saying he was “struck by the overt support that Sputnik expressed for Trump during the campaign, even using the #CrookedHillary hashtag pushed by the candidate.” McFaul said Russian propaganda typically is aimed at weakening opponents and critics.

“They don’t try to win the argument. It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s kind of an appeal to cynicism.” [Cynicism? Heavens! What will those Moscow fascists/communists think of next?]

The Post did, however, include the following: “RT disputed the findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday, saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about ‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single ‘fake story’ related to the US election.”

It must be noted that the Washington Post article fails to provide a single example showing how the actual facts of a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary political message.

What then lies behind such blatant anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a question requires no answer. The new Cold War by definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it stands in the way of American world domination. In the new Cold War, the political spectrum in the mainstream media runs the gamut from A to B.

Source: strategic-culture

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Germany Submits to Sharia Law

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Soeren Kern
Gatestone Institute : December 1, 2016

A German court has ruled that seven Islamists who formed a vigilante patrol to enforce Sharia law on the streets of Wuppertal did not break German law and were simply exercising their right to free speech.

The ruling, which effectively legitimizes Sharia law in Germany, is one of a growing number of instances in which German courts are — wittingly or unwittingly — promoting the establishment of a parallel Islamic legal system in the country.

The self-appointed “Sharia Police” sparked public outrage in September 2014, when they distributed yellow leaflets which established a “Sharia-controlled zone” in the Elberfeld district of Wuppertal. The men urged both Muslim and non-Muslim passersby to attend mosques and to refrain from alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling, music, pornography and prostitution.

The vigilantes are followers of Salafism, a virulently anti-Western ideology that openly seeks to replace democracy in Germany (and elsewhere) with an Islamic government based on Sharia law.

Salafist ideology posits that Sharia law is superior to secular, common law because it emanates from Allah, the only legitimate lawgiver, and thus is legally binding eternally for all of humanity. According to the Salafist worldview, democracy is an effort to elevate the will of humans above the will of Allah, and is therefore a form of idolatry that must be rejected. In other words, Sharia law and democracy are incompatible.

Wuppertal Mayor Peter Jung said he hoped the police would take a hard line against the Islamists: “The intention of these people is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology upon others. We will not allow this.”

Wuppertal Police Chief Birgitta Radermacher said the “pseudo police” represented a threat to the rule of law and that only police appointed and employed by the state have the legitimate right to act as police in Germany. She added:

“The monopoly of power lies exclusively with the State. Behavior that intimidates, threatens or provokes will not be tolerated. These ‘Sharia Police’ are not legitimate. Call 110 [police] when you meet these people.”

Wuppertal’s public prosecutor, Wolf-Tilman Baumert, argued that the men, who wore orange vests emblazoned with the words “SHARIAH POLICE,” had violated a law that bans wearing uniforms at public rallies. The law, which especially prohibits uniforms that express political views, was originally designed to prevent neo-Nazi groups from parading in public. According to Baumert, the vests were illegal because they had a “deliberate, intimidating and militant” effect.

On November 21, 2016, however, the Wuppertal District Court ruled that the vests technically were not uniforms, and in any event did not pose a threat. The court said that witnesses and passersby could not possibly have felt intimidated by the men, and that prosecuting them would infringe on their freedom of expression. The “politically correct” decision, which may be appealed, effectively authorizes the Sharia Police to continue enforcing Islamic law in Wuppertal.

German courts are increasingly deferring to Islamic law because either the plaintiffs or the defendants are Muslim. Critics say the cases — especially those in which German law has taken a back seat to Sharia law — reflect a dangerous encroachment of Islamic law into the German legal system.

In May 2016, for example, an appeals court in Bamberg recognized the marriage of a 15-year-old Syrian girl to her 21-year-old cousin. The court ruled that the marriage was valid because it was contracted in Syria, where such marriages are allowed according to Sharia law, which does not set any age limit to marriage. The ruling effectively legalized Sharia child marriages in Germany.

The case came about after the couple arrived at a refugee shelter in Aschaffenburg in August 2015. The Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) refused to recognize their marriage and separated the girl from her husband. The couple filed a lawsuit and a family court ruled in favor of the Youth Welfare Office, which claimed to be the girl’s legal guardian.

The court in Bamberg overturned that ruling. It determined that, according to Sharia law, the marriage is valid because it has already been consummated, and therefore the Youth Welfare Office has no legal authority to separate the couple.

The ruling — which was described as a “crash course in Syrian Islamic marriage law” — ignited a firestorm of criticism. Some accused the court in Bamberg of applying Sharia law over German law to legalize a practice that is banned in Germany.

Critics of the ruling pointed to Article 6 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (Einführungsgesetz zum Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuche, EGBGB), which states:

“A legal standard of another State shall not be applied where its application results in an outcome which is manifestly incompatible with the essential principles of German law. In particular, it is not applicable if the application is incompatible with fundamental rights.”

This stipulation is routinely ignored, however, apparently in the interests of political correctness and multiculturalism. Indeed, Sharia law has been encroaching into the German justice system virtually unchecked for nearly two decades. Some examples include:

In August 2000, a court in Kassel ordered a widow to split her late Moroccan husband’s pension with another woman to whom the man was simultaneously married. Although polygamy is illegal in Germany, the judge ruled that the two wives must share the pension, in accordance with Moroccan law.

In March 2004, a court in Koblenz granted the second wife of an Iraqi living in Germany the right to remain permanently in the country. The court ruled that after five years in a polygamous marriage in Germany, it would be unfair to expect her to return to Iraq.

In March 2007, a judge in Frankfurt cited the Koran in a divorce case involving a German-Moroccan woman who had been repeatedly beaten by her Moroccan husband. Although police ordered the man to stay away from his estranged wife, he continued to abuse her and at one point threatened to kill her. Judge Christa Datz-Winter refused to grant the divorce. She quoted Sura 4, Verse 34 of the Koran, which justifies “both the husband’s right to use corporal punishment against a disobedient wife and the establishment of the husband’s superiority over the wife.” The judge was eventually removed from the case.

In December 2008, a court in Düsseldorf ordered a Turkish man to pay a €30,000 ($32,000) dower to his former daughter-in-law, in accordance with Sharia law.

In October 2010, a court in Cologne ruled that an Iranian man must pay his ex-wife a dower of €162,000 euros ($171,000), the current equivalent value of 600 gold coins, in accordance with the original Sharia marriage contract.

In December 2010, a court in Munich ruled that a German widow was entitled to only one-quarter of the estate left by her late husband, who was born in Iran. The court awarded the other three-quarters of the inheritance to the man’s relatives in Tehran in accordance with Sharia law.

In November 2011, a court in Siegburg allowed an Iranian couple to be divorced twice, first by a German judge according to German law, and then by an Iranian cleric according to Sharia law. The director of the Siegburg District Court, Birgit Niepmann, said the Sharia ceremony “was a service of the court.”

In July 2012, a court in Hamm ordered an Iranian man to pay his estranged wife a dower as part of a divorce settlement. The case involved a couple who married according to Sharia law in Iran, migrated to Germany and later separated. As part of the original marriage agreement, the husband promised to pay his wife a dower of 800 gold coins payable upon demand. The court ordered the husband to pay the woman €213,000 ($225,000), the current equivalent value of the coins.

In June 2013, a court in Hamm ruled that anyone who contracts marriage according to Islamic law in a Muslim country and later seeks a divorce in Germany must abide by the original terms established by Sharia law. The landmark ruling effectively legalized the Sharia practice of “triple-talaq,” obtaining a divorce by reciting the phrase “I divorce you” three times.

In July 2016, a court in Hamm ordered a Lebanese man to pay his estranged wife a dower as part of a divorce settlement. The case involved a couple who married according to Sharia law in Lebanon, migrated to Germany and later separated. As part of the original marriage agreement, the husband promised to pay his wife a dower of $15,000. The German court ordered him to pay her the equivalent amount in euros.

In an interview with Spiegel Online, Islam expert Mathias Rohe said that the existence of parallel legal structures in Germany is an “expression of globalization.” He added: “We apply Islamic law just as we do French law.”

A growing number of Muslims in Germany are consciously bypassing German courts altogether and instead are adjudicating their disputes in informal Sharia courts, which are proliferating across the country. According to one estimate, some 500 Sharia judges are now regulating civil disputes between Muslims in Germany — a development that points to the establishment of a parallel Islamic justice system in the country.

A major reason for the growth in Sharia courts is that Germany does not recognize polygamy or marriages involving minors.

The German Interior Ministry, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, recently revealed that 1,475 married children are known to be living in Germany as of July 31, 2016 — including 361 children who are under the age of 14. The true number of child marriages in Germany is believed to be much higher than the official statistics suggest, because many are being concealed.

Polygamy, although illegal under German law, is commonplace among Muslims in all major German cities. In Berlin, for example, it is estimated that fully one-third of the Muslim men living in the Neukölln district of the city have two or more wives.

According to an exposé broadcast by RTL, one of Germany’s leading media companies, Muslim men residing in Germany routinely take advantage of the social welfare system by bringing two, three or four women from across the Muslim world to Germany, and then marrying them in the presence of a Muslim cleric. Once in Germany, the women request social welfare benefits, including the cost of a separate home for themselves and for their children, on the claim of being a “single parent with children.”

Although the welfare fraud committed by Muslim immigrants is an “open secret” costing German taxpayers millions of euros each year, government agencies are reluctant to take action due to political correctness, according to RTL.

(readthe full article at gatestone institute)

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Fukushima ‘clean-up costs double’, government admits public to pay

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BBC: November 28, 2016

Japan announced what is effectively a tax on the public to pay the debt of the private electricity utility.

Japan’s government estimates the cost of cleaning up radioactive contamination and compensating victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has more than doubled, reports say.

The latest estimate from the trade ministry put the expected cost at some 20 trillion yen ($180bn, £142bn).

The original estimate was for $50bn, which was increased to $100bn three years later.

The nuclear meltdown at Fukushima was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.

The powerful quake and waves that followed left more than 18,000 people dead, tens of thousands more displaced and well over a million buildings destroyed or damaged.

Almost 4,000 roads, 78 bridges and 29 railways were also affected.

The majority of the money will go towards compensation, with decontamination taking the next biggest slice.

Storing the contaminated soil and decommissioning are the two next greatest costs.

The compensation pot has been increased by about 50% and decontamination estimates have been almost doubled.

The BBC’s Japan correspondent, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, says it is still unclear who is going to pay for the clean up.

Japan’s government has long promised that Tokyo Electric Power, the company that owns the plant, will eventually pay the money back.

But on Monday it admitted that electricity consumers would be forced to pay a portion of the clean up costs through higher electricity bills.

Critics say this is effectively a tax on the public to pay the debt of a private electricity utility.

The fault that caused the earthquake and tsunami is still causing trouble.

(read the full article at BBC)

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‘Turkey is like Germany after 1933′

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Volker Witting
dw.com: November 30, 2016

More and more Turks are applying for political asylum in Germany. They feel threatened and repressed by the Erdogan government, and they fear for their lives. Most applicants are Kurds, like Mazhar Zümrüt.

Elegantly-dressed Mazhar Zümrüt (above) does not want to speak with us in the asylum center’s community room: He doesn’t trust the others living there. “They could spy on me,” he whispers. He is mistrustful, and feels persecuted and spied upon even in supposedly safe Germany. Yet, he is doing better here on the German countryside at the edge of North-Rhine Westphalia. He has settled in here, in his small, brightly-painted room. He says he has no other choice.

Fighting for political asylum

Mazhar Zümrüt has survived an odyssey. He first fled to Syria and then Iraq before arriving in Germany in May. He officially applied for political asylum on May 20. He says he feared for his life in a country in which repression and despotism have spread under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “The Turkey that I fled is like Germany in 1933,” according to Zümrüt. Now, he pins all his hopes on Germany. “The rule of law is still respected here.”

As a Kurd living in Diyarbakir, he experienced injustice every day. He was cursed as a traitor and a terrorist. When police broke into his house last summer he knew it was time to leave. There has been a warrant out for Mazhar Zümrüt’s arrest since then – forcing him to go into hiding, separated from his wife. Zümrüt is accused of being a member of the outlawed militant group, PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

The 64-year-old Zümrüt, a former civil servant in the Ministry of Employment, denies the accusation. He says he is simply a member of the Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), a local branch of the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) with seats in Turkey’s parliament – the representatives of which were summarily arrested last month. And that is exactly what he told Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

Record numbers of Turkish asylum seekers

Over the last several months, the agency has registered skyrocketing numbers of Turkish citizens applying for political asylum. Especially in the wake of the failed coup on July 15, and the purge that the Erdogan government has been engaged in since then. In reply to a request from Deutsche Welle, the Federal Office said that 4,437 asylum applications were submitted between January and October alone. That number now likely exceeds 5,000. Most applicants say that they are members of Turkey’s minority Kurdish community. In 2015, the agency says that it only received 1,767 such applications.

The German government and the foreign ministry are exhibiting solidarity with oppressed Turks. Recently, Minister of State at the Foreign Ministry, Michael Roth, explained in an interview: “Critics in Turkey should know that the German government stands with them in solidarity. Politically persecuted persons are free to apply for asylum here.”

Last hope: Germany

For Zümrüt, such declarations are a great relief, and give him hope. “Germany is a country of laws. I don’t think it will turn me over to the fascists in Turkey.” But Mazhar Zümrüt isn’t just worried about his own fate. He shows us pictures from happier days in Eastern Anatolia, in Diyarbakir. Together with his wife, an artist, he smiles broadly into the camera. “I miss her, I want her to come to Germany, too. But my wife has had to go underground as well.” It is difficult to maintain contact with her as Zümrüt fears his phone calls will be listened to by Turkish authorities.

(read full article at dw.com

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

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Ben Norton & Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept : November 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(read the full article at The Intercept)

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Proof that western mainstream media are the fake news

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Alexander Higgins: November 18, 2016

BBC News Caught Staging FAKE News Chemical Attack In Syria

What follows is shocking evidence that crisis actors, green screens, CGI, and paid propagandists are being used to fake worldwide events in order to scare people into giving up liberties and sending us into war.

From video proof showing “dead soldiers” killed by “chemical weapons” walking around after they thought the videos stopped recording, to digitally altering sounds to add in “explosions” that never happened, this segment demonstrates some of the most damming evidence against the media ever shown on television.

BBC News Caught Staging FAKE News Chemical Attack In Syria

(read the full article at alexanderhiggins.com)

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Powerful earthquake strikes off Japan’s Fukushima prefecture; tsunami warning issued

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CTVNews.ca : November 21, 2016

A large earthquake has struck off the coast of Japan’s troubled Fukushima prefecture.

Registered at a magnitude of 7.4 by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), tsunami warnings have been issued for Fukushima and neighbouring Miyagi prefectures, with the JMA urging residents to immediately evacuate coastal areas and reach higher ground.

Waves of up to three metres are expected to repeatedly strike the area. According to the JMA, other parts of northeastern Japan should expect waves between 0.2 and one metre. Waves measuring 1.4 metres have already been reported by the JMA.

(full article at CTV News)

Japan earthquake: 7.4 magnitude quake prompts tsunami warning

The Guardian: November 21, 2016

What we know so far

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake has struck off the coast of Fukushima – the site of 2011’s devastating 8.9 quake and resulting tsunami – at Tuesday 5.59am local time (Monday 8.59pm GMT).
Tsunami warnings were issued for the Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, with waves at Sendai port recorded at 1.4m high. The warnings have since been downgraded, although residents are still advised to move to high ground and avoid the shore.
At the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, reactor number 3 spent fuel pool pump stopped operating at 6.10am as a result of the quake. Operation resumed at 7.49am and the plant is reported to be safe and “intact”.
So far, five people are reported to have suffered minor injuries in the quake.
Nissan is suspending work at its Fukushima factory, while flights to and from Sendai airport have been disrupted.
Decommissioning work at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, destroyed in the 2011 quake, has been temporarily suspended.

(full article with updates at The Guardian)

Previous articles about Fukushima

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