Reader’s Links for September 1, 2020

Each day at just after midnight Eastern, a post like this one is created for contributors and readers of this site to upload news links and video links on the issues that concern this site. Most notably, Islam and its effects on Classical Civilization, and various forms of leftism from Soviet era communism, to postmodernism and all the flavours of galloping statism and totalitarianism such as Nazism and Fascism which are increasingly snuffing out the classical liberalism which created our near, miraculous civilization the West has been building since the time of Socrates.

This document was written around the time this site was created, for those who wish to understand what this site is about. And while our understanding of the world and events has grown since then, the basic ideas remain sound and true to the purpose.

So please post all links, thoughts and ideas that you feel will benefit the readers of this site to the comments under this post each day. And thank you all for your contributions.

This is the new Samizdat. We must use it while we can.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

104 Replies to “Reader’s Links for September 1, 2020”

  1. Foundation With Biden Campaign Ties Funding Leftist Agitators On U.S. Streets
    While activists Ford funds desecrate cities and terrorize regular folks, the foundation gives millions to the ‘Defund the Police’ movement.

    Last Sunday, the site of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte witnessed a night of violence leading to at least five arrests. Since Friday, Black Lives Matter activists terrorized the Queen City, including beating police officers, in an effort to intimidate GOP attendees and business owners.

    By contrast, the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee brought only a small gathering of peaceful activists, who declared: “We decided that it would make sense for us to make the emphasis of our action the one point of unity that deals with police crimes.”

  2. Chaffetz rips Schiff, says House Intel chair should ‘lose his security clearance’ for leaking classified info
    ‘I have listened to everybody complain about how he leaks classified information,’ Chaffetz tells ‘Outnumbered’

    f members of Congress have leaked classified information to the media, they should be prosecuted, former House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said on “Outnumbered” Monday.

    On Sunday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe defended his decision to scale back in-person briefings to lawmakers on election security, telling “Sunday Morning Futures” that “within minutes of one of those briefings ending, a number of members of Congress went to a number of different outlets and leaked classified information for political purposes to create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”

  3. The Politics of Envy Always Ends With the Guillotine
    Many an activist Democrat would now like to replay the Reign of Terror.
    by Anne Hendershott

    More than 25 years ago, Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, and a frequent contributor to these pages, pronounced in his book, The Politics of Envy: Statism as Theology, that we “live in an age of envy.” Pointing out that “people don’t so much want more money for themselves as they want to take it away from those with more,” Bandow wrote that “greed is bad enough, eating away at a person’s soul, but envy is far worse because it destroys not only individuals, but also communities…”

    Bandow was prescient about the growth of government, and the envy that has driven it. But it is unlikely that even he could have predicted that the symbol of the malign envy that drove the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution — the guillotine — would arrive with great fanfare a few days ago on the front steps of the Washington, D.C. home of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Videos posted on social media show the guillotine — the notorious apparatus used for beheading executions during the Reign of Terror — with a sign reading: “Support our poor communities. Not our wealthy men.”

    The crime for which Bezos is alleged to have committed was simply being “too rich.” With a net worth of around $203 billion according to Forbes, Bezos is held in great contempt by the envious among us. One video posted on social media showed a female protester in D.C. with her face covered call out over a megaphone: “When they become threatened, and we have no voice, the knives come out.” The New York Post reported that a digital flyer circulated online titled “Abolish the Present. Reconstruct our Future,” named the Amazon CEO’s residence and declared: “End the Abuse and Profiteering. Abolish the Police, the Prisons, and Amazon.” One of the leaders of the protest, Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee who was fired earlier this year after reportedly organizing a work stoppage at the company’s warehouse on Staten Island, NY, warned Bezos during the demonstration that “We are just getting started…We’re going to go to every single location you’ve got across the country and set up show until you meet our demands as workers.” Smalls, who is a co-founder of the Congress of Essential Workers, then led a chant of “If we don’t get it, we shut it down.”

  4. the guardian – Tommy Hilfiger embraces modest fashion with launch of first hijab

    Some welcome move as embracing diversity while others see it as a canny choice to tap into a growing Muslim consumer culture

    Top American fashion label Tommy Hilfiger has launched its first hijab, in a move that some see as a welcome shift towards embracing more diversity but others see as a canny decision to tap into a growing segment of the fashion market.

    The Hilfiger hijab has the letters “TH” initialed throughout the garment, and has been crafted from fine jacquard fabric. It comes in ivory and “sky captain” grey. Last month the label dressed model Halima Aden in a custom-made burkini for Sports Illustrated.

    It’s not the first time the fashion industry has recognized the significance of so-called modest fashion. In 2016 at New York fashion week Anniesa Hasibuan was the first designer to show a collection where all models wore the hijab. Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY and Mango have done “Ramadan collections”, while worldwide Modest Fashion Weeks are happening from Miami to Amsterdam.

    After the fashion industry has been criticized for its lack of diversity and racism, following the Black Lives Matter protests, the Hilfiger hijab could suggest major fashion brands are stepping forward with inclusive practices. But Hassanah El-Yacoubi, founder of modest fashion brand PFH, says that it also shows market changes rather than cultural ones.

    “It’s more indicative of an ever-growing Muslim consumer culture that is lucrative and thriving more than ever now,” El-Yacoubi said.

    The Islamic fashion industry is estimated to be worth $88bn by 2025, according to Grand View Research. “I think the timing reflects the need to address a growing desire in the market by consumers – especially millennials and Generation Z – for greater inclusivity from the brands they support,” said Arthur Zaczkiewicz, the executive editor of fashion industry publication Women’s Wear Daily.

    Research has shown that a younger tranche of consumers are less concerned with “fitting in” and more with making choices that reflect their own values.

    After years of being “othered” by mainstream fashion, the perception of modest fashion is altering. “I believe we are experiencing a permanent cultural shift instead of a fleeting style that’s in vogue temporarily,” said El-Yacoubi.

    “More and more retailers are focusing on inclusivity and adding products to their assortment that support modest dressing,” said Krista Corrigan from retail market intelligence company Edited. She said that 10% of shops tracked by the company stock such garments compared to just 2% in 2019.

    Zaczkiewicz said: “It’s important to understand that modest fashion is not a trend. It’s how people live.”

    Yet most observers believe the Hilfiger hijab is only a small step towards a wider acceptance of Muslim dressing.

    “No matter how mainstream or celebrated modest fashion has become, the reality remains that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments have been at an all-time high in the US,” said El-Yacoubi.

    Hate-crime violence hit a 16-year high last year in the US, while in 2019 52% of UK hate crimes were committed against Muslims.

    “Since modest fashion is generally perceived to be a phenomenon spearheaded by hijab-donning women, they usually bear the brunt of such beliefs,” said El-Yacoubi.

    Muslim clothing continues to be a political lightning rod and a sartorial subtext for Islamophobic rhetoric.

    In July, the German state of Baden-Württemberg banned burqas and niqabs in schools. It followed similar bans in Sri Lanka and Denmark. Other countries that have banned Muslim dress include Latvia, Austria, Bulgaria and Belgium.

    Last year the French sporting goods label Decathlon dropped plans to sell a sports hijab after politicians’ reaction exposed religious tensions there, again focused on Muslim women’s attire.

    Still, the launch of the hijab follows on from Hilfiger’s promises to be more inclusive. Last month its parent company PVH announced a program to increase opportunities for people of color people at the company.

  5. What pandemic? | Post-COVID party goes on in packed Wuhan night club

    […]hundreds of local party goers were pictured gathered at a nightclub in the city’s Hanyang District. Most of them weren’t even wearing face masks. Because there ain’t no party like a post-quarantine party.

    […]s Wuhan once again becomes a popular destination for tourists; local kindergartens, schools, and universities are reopening their doors for students, and residents spend their weekends going shopping, meeting up with friends, and eating out.

  6. zero hedge – Carter Page’s FISA Related ‘Woods File’ Docs Disappear

    Authored by Sara Carter via

    The original Woods file on former campaign advisor Carter Page went missing more than two years ago, and according to sources who spoke to, those documents had to be recreated by the FBI and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in 2018 from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Application used by the bureau to obtain the warrant on Page. That FISA was used in part to investigate President Donald Trump’s campaign and the now-debunked theory that it colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, according to several sources, with knowledge, who spoke to this reporter.

    The woods file procedure, which was overseen by FBI Supervisory Special Agent Joe Pientka, and ultimately former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, was used to verify the contents in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application that was used to obtain a warrant to spy on Page.

    Moreover, during Pientka’s numerous interviews with investigators from the DOJ’s Inspector General’s office, who likely have worked for both Michael Horowitz and Connecticut prosecutor John Durham – the fact that it was a recreated Wood’s file was never disclosed.

    In fact, it had been missing for an unknown period of time, possibly up to two years and officials did not become aware it had disappeared until last week during a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

    Pientka attended the closed-door hearing, along with other FBI officials, according to sources familiar with the proceedings.

    “The real story here is how does the FBI, Special Counsel’s Office and Inspector General figure out if the Wood’s file went missing through malice or through incompetence,” said a source with knowledge if the circumstances.

    Pientka has so far been cleared by the Justice Department and not charged with any wrongdoing. According to sources, he has been speaking and cooperating with Justice Department officials and members of Congress. He still maintains active employment with the FBI, unlike Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former Assistant Director Bill Priestap, among others.

    “The fact that the investigation was run as a ‘special’ out of FBI Headquarters is not unique,” said a person familiar with the situation. “However, running an investigation like that out of headquarters causes all sorts of problems including access to control and sensitive items, improper storage and handling of those sensitive items, and the ability for individuals to become involved in things or gain access to information that they should never rightly have.”

    “The real story here is how does the FBI, Special Counsel’s Office and Inspector General figure out if the Wood’s file went missing through malice or though incompetence,” the source added. “Either answer doesn’t reflect well on this investigation.”

    FBI officials did not respond by close of business after being contacted several hours earlier. However, this story will be updated once a response is received.

    Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec could not be reached by phone or email for comment.

    The information regarding Carter Page’s woods file also comes on the heels of an announcement Tuesday by Justice Department Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray that they are rolling out a series of new reforms and procedures for seeking approval of intelligence-related surveillance of campaign staff and officials.

    These reforms “will empower the FBI to build a more robust internal compliance program … that will ensure, among other things, the accuracy of [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] applications, as well as the active oversight of applications targeting federal elected officials, candidates for federal elected office, and their staffs,” the news release stated.

    Carter Page, author of the new book “Abuse and Power: How an Innocent American Was Framed in an Attempted Coup Against a President,” sent a statement to saying, “after years of waiting for basic level of accountability in the U.S. intelligence community and the Democratic party, the crooks continue to roam free in Washington.”

    He noted that as “we approach the next presidential election, these latest small steps by the DOJ and FBI have not yet sufficiently addressed the criminal acts by ruthlessly partisan political actors in the swamp.”

    “The cancerous abuses by the once-respected National Security Division have still not found an effective remedy, following the destruction of so many loyal American citizens,” he added.

    In fact, Carter Page’s life was turned upside down when members of the intelligence community and federal law enforcement apparatus began leaking false information to the media. They used the unverified FISA application, that was later discovered to have numerous errors and omissions that were purposefully done to obtain the warrant to spy on him.

    Last month, FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to altering an email that would have cleared any suspicion about Page conspiring with Russians. The email was verification that Page was acting on behalf of the CIA and had cooperated with the U.S. government on numerous occasions.

    In fact, the Woods file procedure, which was named after FBI Special Agent Michael Woods and instituted in 2001, is to ensure that there are no inaccuracies and that all the information in a FISA application is verified. The application can only be presented to the court once it is verified.

    With original Wood’s file missing, investigators now will be unable to properly determine where or how the information presented to the FISC was verified, altered or omitted, according to multiple sources.

    The FISA, however, also relied on a shoddy dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump. The dossier has now been discovered to be bogus but it was used as a supporting piece of evidence in the FISA to get the warrant.

    The investigation into Trump and his campaign, however, was known as a ‘special’ and bureau kept the investigation at headquarters where “the odds of leaks were believed to be less likely,” said one source. However, FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., unlike the FBI’s 56 field offices, is incapable of appropriately storing and securing information in investigations.

    Strzok and Lisa Page Discuss Expediting Woods procedure and FISA Before 2016 Election

    The history behind the FBI’s FISA application to obtain a warrant to spy on Page is long, murky and scattered in documents obtained by Congressional investigations that have taken years to complete.

    Those texts and emails are invaluable to understanding what transpired. In one exchange durning October, 2016, Strzok emails Page, about the FISA. The back and forth included former FBI Deputy Director McCabe and how they would get him to push the DOJ to. sign off on the warrant to spy on Carter Page.

    McCabe, like Strzok, was fired for lying numerous times to the DOJ’s Inspector General investigators under then Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    In the email with the subject line, “Crossfire FISA” – referring to the FBI’s code name for its probe into the Trump campaign’s 2016 election and the bureau’s now debunked theory members conspired with Russia – the pair discussed what they would tell McCabe regarding the FISA.

    “At a minimum, that keeps the hurry the F up pressure on him,” said Strzok to Page on Oct. 14, 2016.

    “Still an expedite?” one of the emails stated. The reason they were expediting the process was because the election was only months away and the agents were desperate to have access to Carter Page’s communications.

    “Any idea what time he can have it woods-ed by?” said Strzok to Page. “I know it’s not going to matter because DOJ is going to take the time DOJ wants to take. I just don’t want this waiting on us at all.”

    However, without the Woods procedure files we may not ever know what transpired and what information was actually used to target Carter Page.

    The truth, however, resides in all the agents and former senior Obama officials with knowledge of the FBI’s role and their role in handling the case.

    The malfeasance ran deep and straight to the top of the bureau. Attorney General Barr and Durham shouldn’t leave any stone unturned and expose what happened to the American public.

    There is no way that a file of that significance can go missing in an investigation into a Presidential campaign and then a President of the United States.

    The next question we should be asking is “why didn’t anyone know until now?”

  7. Austria to File Charges against Turkish Spy, Interior Minister Says

    “Austria will file charges against a person who has confessed to spying for Turkey’s secret service, and authorities are investigating more suspected espionage activities, its interior minister said, warning Turkey this would not be tolerated.

    “This is about an exertion of influence by a foreign power in Austria and this will in no way be accepted,” Karl Nehammer told a news conference on Tuesday.

    There were clear indications of Turkish influence in Austria, said the director general for public safety, Franz Ruf. The new findings came following extensive investigations by Austrian police after violent clashes between Turkish and Kurdish groups in Vienna in June.

    One person has fully confessed to having been “recruited by the Turkish secret service to spy on other Turkish citizens or Austrian citizens with a Turkish migration background to then report them to the Turkish security authorities”, Nehammer said, adding that the judiciary will file charges on suspicion of espionage. He did not give any details about the person.

    Austria has found that more than 30 Austrians were detained in Turkey between 2018 and 2020 after entering the country and has indications that the Turkish secret service tried to recruit them, the interior minister said.

    “Turkish espionage has no place in Austria. There is no place for Turkish influence on liberty and fundamental rights in Austria. We will fight against it vehemently,” Nehammer said, adding that Europol and the Presidency of the European Council had been informed.

    Turkey’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment.”

  8. Turkey slams US decision to lift Cyprus arms embargo

    “Turkey has criticised a US decision to lift a 33-year arms embargo on Cyprus, saying Ankara will take “necessary reciprocal steps” unless Washington reconsiders its decision.

    The Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the decision would “adversely affect efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue” and that Ankara expects its Nato ally to “review” it.

    The island was divided in 1974 following a Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. Turkey recognises the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is not recognised by other countries. Several peacemaking efforts have collapsed.

    Washington placed restrictions on the transfer of arms to Cyprus in 1987 to encourage reunification efforts and avoid an arms race on the island.

    “In a period in which efforts are being made to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the US’ signing of such a decision poisons regional peace and stability,” it said in a statement.

    “Turkey, as a guarantor country, will take the necessary reciprocal steps in line with its legal and historical responsibility to guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriot people.”

    The State Department reported earlier on Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades about the decision.

    “Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Pompeo said on Twitter. “We will waive restrictions on the sale of non-lethal defence articles and services to the Republic of Cyprus for the coming fiscal year.”

    The decision comes amid escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean between Nato allies Turkey and Greece over claims to potential hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves.

    Anastasiades said on Twitter after a phone call with Pompeo that he welcomed the move.

    Ankara and Athens both say they are ready to solve the dispute through dialogue, while insisting on upholding their own rights.

    They each held military exercises in the region, highlighting the potential for the dispute to escalate.”

  9. Turkey rescues 41 asylum seekers in Aegean

    “The Turkish Coast Guard rescued on Tuesday 41 asylum seekers who were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish waters off the Aegean coast, according to security sources.

    The coast guard team was dispatched to the area off the coast of Datca district in southwestern Mugla province after receiving information that the asylum seekers were stranded on a dinghy.

    They were brought to the port and transferred to the provincial migration office.

    Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

    The country opened its gates earlier this year to asylum seekers seeking to cross to Europe, accusing the European Union of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.”

  10. Suicide bombing targets security patrol west of Tripoli

    “A suicide bombing targeted a security patrol west of Tripoli on Tuesday, according to a local Libyan official.

    A bomber on a motorbike blew up himself in Janzur city, the official, who preferred to remain unnamed, said.

    No injuries were reported.

    Security forces sealed off the area and launched an investigation into the attack, for which there was no claim of responsibility.

    Janzur city hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the residence of the head of the Libyan High Council of State and several UN agencies.”

  11. Emmanuel Macron refuses to condemn Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Prophet Mohammad

    “The president defended citizens’ right to freedom of speech. His remarks came as the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by gunmen in 2015, said it was republishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday it was not his place to pass judgment on the decision by Charlie Hebdo to publish a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad.

    Macron, speaking during a visit to Lebanon, said it was important for French citizens to be respectful to each other, and avoid a “dialogue of hate” but he would not criticize the satirical magazine’s decision to republish the cartoon. His comments were reported on French broadcaster BFM TV.

    Macron’s remarks came as Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in 2015, said Tuesday it was republishing the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to mark this week’s start of the trial of alleged accomplices in the attack.

    “Beyond the trial that will begin tomorrow, and I don’t have to express myself on this point as president, we will have a thought for all those who fell,” Macron said.

    Freedom of speech
    Macron extolled the virtues of democracy and freedom of speech as he said: “It’s never the place of a president of the Republic to pass judgment on the editorial choice of a journalist or newsroom, never. Because we have freedom of the press.”

    “There is in France a freedom to blaspheme which is attached to the freedom of conscience. I am here to protect all these freedoms. In France, one can criticize a president, governors, blaspheme,” he said.

    Macron also paid tribute to the victims the January 2015 attacks, stressing that Wednesday, on the first day of the trial, that “we will all have a thought for the women and men who were cowardly shot because they drew, wrote, corrected, were there to help, to deliver.”…”

  12. Pakistan bans datings apps Tinder and Grindr over ‘immoral’ content

    “Pakistan has blocked access to multiple dating apps, including Tinder and Grindr, in a bid to restrict “immoral” and “indecent” content.

    Pakistan has blocked several dating apps, including Tinder and Grindr, in a bid to restrict “immoral” and “indecent” content, authorities said on Monday.

    The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said it issued notices to the management of Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi, seeking the removal of dating services on those platforms.

    Read more: Pakistani women break dating taboos on Tinder

    The notices were sent “keeping in view the negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming,” according to the PTA, but the companies did not respond within the time outlined by local laws.

    Pakistan is the second-largest Muslim-majority state in the world. Extra-marital relationships and homosexuality are against the laws of the country.

    Last week, the regulatory body asked YouTube to block all videos that were considered “objectionable” in the country. In the past, video app TikTok and live-streaming app Bigo Live were also reprimanded over explicit content.

    However, with greater regulations imposed on digital platforms, rights groups are worried that the government is attempting to push censorship and gain control of free media.

    “If adults choose to be on an app, it is not for the state to dictate whether they should use it or not,” said Shahzad Ahmad, director of Bytes For All, a Pakistani digital rights group. Calling the ban “completely ridiculous,” he said it was an attempt at “moral policing.”

    Data shows that within the past 12 months, Tinder was downloaded 440,000 times, Grindr, Tagged and SayHi about 300,000 times each, and Skout 100,000 times in Pakistan.”

  13. ‘It was my dream to go to Slovakia,’ say migrant arrested after hiding in the chassis of a truck

    “After a 25-year-old man from Morocco and a 26-year-old man from Tunisia were discovered hiding in the chassis of a Czech truck stopped on Friday by a Slovak police patrol, both men said it was their “dream” to go to Slovakia.

    The two men were stopped in the village of Kalná nad Hronom in Slovakia.

    The Czech driver, who transported corn from Hungary, said that he was not aware of the illegal migrants who hid in the truck during the last break the driver made and spent almost 100 kilometers in the truck chassis.

    “Police officers found two foreigners under the trailer during a random control,” Slovak police spokeswoman Denisa Bárdyová confirmed to Joj TV.

    Both men applied for asylum in Slovakia. One of the migrants claimed that Slovakia was his dream country, where he always wanted to go.

    “Even when I was ten, it was my dream to go to Slovakia,” said the other man.

    The migrants said that they had been on the road for six weeks and reached Slovakia via Turkey, Greece, the Balkan countries, and Hungary. In total, they managed to pass through six countries without legal documents.

    On Friday, police also arrested 22 migrants on a Hungarian M3 motorway in a van driven by a Turkish citizen.

    “Of the 22 migrants, 20 were Syrian citizens, and two were Egyptian citizens,” Hungarian police wrote on their website.

    The Turkish driver was detained and charged with trafficking.”

  14. George Soros keeps pumping millions into Poland’s left-wing Batory Foundation

    “Billionaire financier and convicted inside trader George Soros is pushing his agenda in Poland by funding the left-wing Stefan Batory Foundation, with financial statements showing that Soros provides the vast majority of foreign money being funneled to the controversial organization.

    The financial report shows that the Open Society Foundation in Switzerland gave €516,000 to the Batory Foundation, the Open Society institute in Budapest donated €280,000, and the New York Promotion of Open Society Foundation gifted €260,000. Transparency International from Berlin also provided the Batory Foundation with funding, according to an investigation by Polish news outlet

    All of these institutions are supported financially by George Soros, with 70 percent of the foreign support for Batory comes from foundations associated with the controversial American-Hungarian financier.

    The Stefan Batory Foundation also has supporters in Poland. Poles are permitted to donate up to one percent of their salary to a foundation or charity of their choice. According to the foundation, it received €360,000 from this group of people in 2019, representing a record high. The Polish Business Council donated more than €50,000.

    According to the report of the foundation, these funds have been used to support social organizations who deal with protection of human rights and opposition to discrimination, as well as “stand guard” over the democratic rule of law in countries.

    The foundation publishes papers, research and content in both Polish and English, with much of critical of the current ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government.

    In the summary of the report, Batory indicated that 2019 was a year of increased political activity for the institution, and there is little doubt where this powerful institution directed its support this year.

    “As usual during an election period, we led mobilization campaigns to encourage citizens to participate in elections and vote for values and programs close to them,” the foundation stated. They also admitted to having monitored the main news program of Polish public television (TVP) to see how well it abided the rules of pluralism, impartiality and independence.

    The Stefan Batory foundation is not only an important player in Poland’s market of ideas, but also a political actor.

    For five years it has fought against Poland’s democratically elected government. This high level of engagement is only possible due to the funds which George Soros is directing to the foundation through institutions he owns.

    Soros’s foundation and support for left-wing and progressive causes are active throughout Central-Eastern Europe, including in Hungary. In the United States, he has already given over $50 million to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and been active in a variety of areas, including in support of illegal immigrants.”

  15. NPR – Facebook And Twitter Remove Russia-Backed Accounts Targeting Left-Leaning Voters

    Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that they had removed accounts linked to Russian state actors who tried to spread false stories about racial justice, the Democratic presidential campaign of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and President Trump’s policies.

    Researchers who have examined the operation said it attempted to steer left-leaning voters away from the Biden-Harris campaign in an way that echoes the Russian disinformation campaigns that sought to depress progressive and minority support for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    “Russian actors are trying harder and harder to hide who they are and being more and more deceptive to conceal their operations,” said Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher in an interview with NPR. “But there was very little attention paid to this operation.”

    Facebook said the Russian agents set up a site posing as an independent news outlet and managed to recruit “unwitting freelance journalists” to write stories that were shared by dozens of social media accounts created through artificial intelligence.

    On Facebook, the stories from the pseudo news site were posted to groups that appeal to progressive causes.

    “It was very much a strongly left-leaning constituency they were aiming at. It looks like that was audience-building,” Ben Nimmo, head of investigations at research firm Graphika, which analyzed the operation, said in an interview with NPR. “But there were indeed pieces that said Biden and Harris are much too far to the right.”

    The Russian operatives, according to Facebook, primarily used a website called PeaceData. It billed itself as a news site that aimed to shed light on corruption, abuse of power and human rights.

    Both Facebook and Twitter detected and removed accounts associated with the site before any of them had gathered a large following.

    Facebook said it removed 13 accounts and two pages that together had gained 14,000 followers. Twitter said it had suspended five accounts and will continue to block any content connected to the PeaceData website.

    “Regardless of the low-level impact in this case, governments around the world must stop these practices. They’re antidemocratic. Attempts to manipulate our service to undermine democracy 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 — by both foreign and domestic actors — will be met with strict enforcement of our policies,” Twitter said in a statement.

    Facebook said its investigation was launched after receiving a tip from the FBI about accounts controlled by the Kremlin-backed Russian Internet Research Agency, which American intelligence agencies have said interfered in the 2016 election to help then-candidate Trump.

    While Facebook has drawn criticism for not doing enough to limit the spread of disinformation from accounts associated with conspiracy theories like QAnon, Gleicher said Tuesday’s take-down of the Russian-linked accounts shows that partnerships with law enforcement and research groups can pay off.

    “We still need to be vigilant, but the whole of society defense, where we have government, civil society and the tech platforms together, is working,” Gleicher said.

    With the presidential election two months away, social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have been under heightened pressure from Congress and outside groups to step up efforts to curb the spread of disinformation, which often moves rapidly across the platforms before moderators respond.

    Both Facebook and Twitter have announced new policies, including labeling posts that are misleading or contain manipulated media, attempting to add context to trending stories and, when content brazenly violates their rules, removing the posts altogether.

    Social media analysis firm Graphika said the accounts appears to reveal new tactics that Russian operatives are employing on social media ahead of the 2020 election, including the use of artificial intelligence to create social media profiles.

    “This is the first time we have observed known [Internet Research Agency]-linked accounts use AI-generated avatars. However, the website employed real and apparently unwitting individuals, typically novice freelance writers, to write its articles,” Graphika researchers found in a new report on the Russian-backed accounts.

    “The freelancers are really the victims here. They didn’t know what they were signing up for,” said Nimmo of Graphika, in an interview with NPR. “The youngest were fairly soon out of college,” he said. “Some were copywriters from South Asia, but they really came from all over the world, including the U.S.”

    Between February and August, the website published more than 500 articles in English and about 200 in Arabic that were shared on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, according to Graphika.

    The researchers quote one article by a guest writer that accused Biden and Harris of “submission to right-wing populism […] as much about preserving careers as it is winning votes.” Another story, according to Graphika, accused Harris and other Democrats of “deliberately avoid[ing] being held accountable by setting no moral standard for the public to hold them to.”

    The operation attempted to enlist a left-wing audience and then serve up articles attacking the character and policy positions of Biden and Harris, something Graphika said is consistent “with the original [Internet Research Agency’s] attempt to depress support for then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by infiltrating and influencing progressive audiences.”

    The report supports America’s top counterintelligence official, who said last month that Russia is spreading propaganda on social media and on Russian television to try to undercut Biden ahead of the November election.

    • global news – ‘Troll factory’: Facebook, Twitter suspend Russian network ahead of U.S. election

      Facebook said Tuesday that it removed a small network of accounts and pages linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the “troll factory” that has used social media accounts to sow political discord in the U.S. since the 2016 presidential election.

      Twitter also suspended five related accounts. The company said the tweets from these Russia-linked accounts“were low quality and spammy” and that most received few, if any, likes or retweets.

      The people behind the accounts recruited “unwitting” freelance journalists to post in English and Arabic, mainly targeting left-leaning audiences. Facebook said Tuesday the network’s activity focused on the U.S., U.K., Algeria and Egypt and other English-speaking countries and countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

      The company said it started investigating the network based on information from the FBI about its off-Facebook activities. The network was in the early stages of development, Facebook added, and saw “nearly no engagement” on Facebook before it was removed. The network consisted of 13 Facebook accounts and two pages. About 14,000 accounts followed one or more of the pages, though the English-language page had a little over 200 followers, Facebook said.

      Still, its presence points to ongoing Russian efforts to disrupt the U.S. election and sow political discord in an already divided country. To evade detection, the people behind the network recruited Americans to do their bidding, likely unknowingly, both as journalists and as people authorized to purchase political advertisements in the U.S.

      Facebook said the people behind the network posted about global events ranging from racial justice in the U.S. and the U.K., NATO, the QAnon conspiracy, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. The network spent about $480 on advertising on Facebook, primarily in U.S. dollars. However, Facebook said less than $2 worth of those ads targeted the U.S.

      The network’s posts directed people to a website called PeaceData, which claims to be a global news organization that, according to a report by research firm Graphika, “took a left-wing stance, opposing what it portrayed as Western imperialism and the excesses of capitalism.”

      The FBI said in a statement Tuesday that it provided information to the platforms “to better protect against threats to the nation’s security and our democratic processes.”

      “While technology companies independently make decisions regarding the content of their platforms and the safety of their members, the FBI is actively engaged with our federal partners, election officials, and the private sector to mitigate foreign threats to our nation’s security and our elections,” the statement said.

      Separately, Twitter said Tuesday it will start adding context to its trending section, which shows some of the most popular topics on the service at any given moment. Experts and even Twitter’s own employees have expressed concerns that the trending section can be gamed to spread misinformation and abuse.

      Twitter uses algorithms and human employees to determine what topics are trending _ it is not simply the most popular topics, but topics that are newly popular at any given time. But it’s not difficult to artificially elevate trends.

      In the coming weeks, Twitter said, users in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, India and several other countries will see brief descriptions added to some trends to add context.

      “To be clear, we know there is more work to do to improve trends and the context updates we’re announcing today are just a small step in the right direction,” said Liz Lee, a product trust partner and Frank Oppong, a product manager, in a blog post. “We need to make trends better and we will.”

  16. CBC – N.B. doctor linked to COVID-19 outbreak describes fallout, racist attacks

    A doctor alleged to have been “patient zero” in a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in New Brunswick talks to CBC News about what happened, the racist attacks he faced and the evidence he says shows he didn’t cause the outbreak.

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