Propaganda

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …

In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

Edward Bernays, Propaganda (1928)

Another Flunky Takes Over Another Agency


Thank you for the radio handbook translated into English.

The man appointed by Donald Trump to head the US global media agency that oversees Voice of America and other state-funded broadcasters has carried out a purge of career officials at the top levels of the organisation and installed Trump loyalists.

The action by Michael Pack appeared to confirm fears that Trump wanted to turn the US Agency for Global Media into a loyal state broadcaster of the kind normally found in authoritarian societies.

Pack, a conservative film-maker and ally of right-wing ideologue Stephen Bannon, fired the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund according to CNN, which quoted an official as calling the dismissals the “Wednesday night massacre”. The head of VOA resigned after Pack won Senate confirmation.

Pack has installed Emily Newman, a former adviser to the Department of Homeland Security, as the new chief of staff, according to CNBC.

Newman issued an all-staff memo announcing the new hierarchy and telling them: “Until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval” of the new executives.

Trumpo will borrow “experts” from his buddy Vlad to help rearrange priorities for the new Voice of Fearless Leader.

EU says Russia deploying coronavirus disinformation campaign


Click to enlargeWhat other nations are nutso enough to hoard TP?

Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document seen by Reuters…

“A significant disinformation campaign by Russian state media and pro-Kremlin outlets regarding COVID-19 is ongoing,” said the nine-page internal document, dated March 16…”

An EU database has recorded almost 80 cases of disinformation about coronavirus since Jan. 22, it said, noting Russian efforts to amplify Iranian accusations online, cited without evidence, that coronavirus was a U.S. biological weapon.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed to what he said was the lack in the EU document of a specific example or link to a specific media outlet.

“We’re talking again about some unfounded allegations which in the current situation are probably the result of an anti-Russian obsession,” said Peskov.

The EU document cited examples from Lithuania to Ukraine, including false claims that a U.S. soldier deployed to Lithuania was infected and hospitalized. It said that on social media, Russian state-funded, Spanish-language RT Spanish was the 12th most popular news source on coronavirus between January and mid-March, based on the amount of news shared on social media.

The quantity of government-sponsored lies streaming in both directions since early days of the Cold War has never ceased. Nor have “responsible” news organizations like Reuters cared a whole boatload about sorting the questions raised by fake news. At this point in time, I give little or no credence to what might be Russia-based fake news…and hope to find sufficient independent sources in the West to keep clear of comparable crap from self-assigned Western Heroes of Democracy and Freedom.

The Social Media group based in Cyprus and run by Russians

” TheSoul Publishing…is one of the largest media publishers in the world

” We focus on the bright side of life, with our many brands and platforms offering an abundance of universally shareable positive content.

We make it our mission to engage, inspire, entertain and enlighten people of all ages, everywhere.

…..

” What the heck is TheSoul Publishing? I’m still honestly not sure.

“Here’s what I do know: Measured in terms of views and subscribers, it had the third-largest reach of any group of entertainment channels on YouTube in November—outranked only by Disney and WarnerMedia. It is run by Russian nationals and based in and managed from Cyprus, with U.S. operations housed in a shared work space in New York. It funds itself with ad revenues from YouTube and Google worth tens of millions of dollars. And in 2018, it purchased a small suite of Facebook advertisements targeting U.S. citizens on political issues—and it made those purchases in rubles.

RTFA. Interesting. Mostly accurate…though the odd mistake in Russian history viewed by an American can show up.

Hamilton 68: Tracking Putin’s Propaganda Push in the United States [and more]

❝ In the Federalist Papers No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote of protecting America’s electoral process from foreign meddling.

❝ Today, we face foreign interference of a type Hamilton could scarcely have imagined, a world in which global powers use instantaneous media networks and a mix of overt and covert programming to reach into our homes and workplaces and shape our view of the world.

The Hamilton 68 dashboard, a project with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, seeks to expose the effects of online influence networks and inform the public of themes and content being promoted to Americans by foreign powers.

Worthwhile addition to your bookmarks.

Germany prepares to fine Facebook €500,000 for every fake or hate-filled post

❝ Germany has lost patience with Facebook.

After years of asking, cajoling and threatening the US social network to work faster to tackle fake news and hate speech, Berlin has announced a new law hitting Facebook with a €500,000 fine for every problematic post that doesn’t vanish within 24 hours.

❝ A day after Facebook announced new procedures to tackle fake news, Berlin made clear it is no longer interested in self-regulation

…New legislation in the new year…will oblige all dominant internet platforms operating in Germany to have a legal contact, operating round-the-clock, for victims of hate speech and fake news. At present, German Facebook users complain that complaints are forwarded to its international headquarters in Dublin – with an unclear response and action time.

“If, after checking, Facebook doesn’t delete the post in question within 24 hours, it can reckon with severe fines of up to €500,000,” said Thomas Oppermann, Bundestag floor leader of Germany’s ruling SPD. In addition, he said, the person affected will be able to demand a “correction with the same reach” as the original post…

Keep an eye on this one. While there’s little chance of the GOUSA ever making hate speech illegal, laws affecting a portion of Facebook’s income stream as large as Germany and thenceforth the EU – laws applied in that marketplace may set standards for the larger communications entity.

“MINORITY REPORT” now fact, not fiction — in New York City

world police

In Philip K. Dick’s “Minority Report,” the authoritarian system in place to predict crime and catch individuals before they commit crimes is dystopian fantasy. In the mind of New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton, this story is part of today’s reality, one the NYPD is fueling through experiments with predictive policing.

Bratton participated in a panel hosted by The New York Times, which was called, “Data Mining the Modern City.” During the panel, Bratton referred to the film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. “The ‘Minority Report’ of 2002 is the reality of today.”

The commissioner called predictive policing the next phase of American policing, which the NYPD will be a leader in implementing through the data mining of “huge amounts of information” and the development of “algorithms that will effectively mine that data in a way that the human brain cannot.”…

As journalist Raven Rakia explained in Medium on July 22, “Using past crime data to justify occupying specific neighborhoods with police officers, the system simply tracks past arrests of minor property offenses and contributes nothing to predicting or preventing violent crimes such as murder. These surveillance tools help make broken windows policing easier to implement in poor neighborhoods, but won’t actually make the community any safer.”

First introduced by George Killing and James Q. Wilson in an essay in The Atlantic in 1982, Bratton developed broken windows policing too. It is the theory that crackdowns on petty crime will prevent increases in violent crimes in a neighborhood.

One key problem, as Rakia has described, is that it treats human beings as property…

Given the racism underlying the theory of broken windows policing, it is impossible not to fear that predictive policing is driven by a similar set of prejudice. However, Bratton is not one bit concerned about the NYPD abusing its authority in a prejudicial and intrusive manner. In fact, during the panel, he bluntly stated, “There are no secrets.”

“If two people share a piece of information, it is no longer a secret,” Bratton suggested. “And whether you want that second person to know that information or not, the likelihood is that they are going to get it.”

Such statements represent a flippant attitude toward the right to privacy and toward communities disproportionately impacted by policing…

In other words, the data used to predict crimes reflects the priorities of a police department. It also means some areas of a city become occupied territories where police conduct intense patrols while other areas are ignored by police.

How officers decide what streams of data are reliable inherently depends on the set of prejudices with which officers carry out their day-to-day policing of neighborhoods. With those prejudices, predictive policing becomes an authoritarian system for treating citizens like potential insurgents, who could threaten the stability of a military occupation.

And this is how our imperial government treats the rest of the world. Just as the Brits did in their day as “cops of the world” – treating Gandhi as a gang leader who needed to be suppressed for “the good of the whole world”.

The stellar example for me is the obedient agitprop we are fed every day about Cyber Espionage. Usually China, but, often Russia, any former Eastern European nation with a tech industry – all the way down to script kiddies in mom’s basement in California – are rolled out into cookie cutter news releases as the greatest danger to commerce and privacy. All while we live in the belly of the beast which has dedicated more funds and troops to cyber-spying than any other in the history of the world.

It was Ronald Reagan who dedicated the leadership of spying on the citizens of the world to the NSA. Every president since has increased budgets, expanded the mandate to include every citizen of every nation. Just like Bill Bratton, our loss of freedom and privacy is justified by “protecting our privacy and freedom”.

Hypocrites and liars all.

Thanks, Om

Voter impersonation? So rare it barely exists!

The specter of widespread election fraud has been the professed reason that 37 state legislatures have passed or considered voter identification laws since 2010. Those claiming that illegal votes threaten free and fair elections generally have cited only anecdotes and individual reports of alleged voter fraud.

As part of the News21 national investigation into voting rights in America, a team of reporters took on the unprecedented task of gathering, organizing and analyzing all reported cases of election fraud in the United States since 2000…

How many cases were found?…Two thousand cases of election fraud that could have been prevented by voter ID laws?

Actually, no. The cases reported to News21 from all the public-records requests cover a dozen different kinds of election illegalities and irregularities. Only one of those categories — impersonation of another voter at a voting place — involves the kind of fraud that Election Day voter ID laws could prevent.

And only 10 such cases over more than a decade were reported to News21 by election officials and prosecutors across the country. During that time, 146 million Americans were registered to vote.

What about the highly publicized list of voter fraud cases gathered by the Republican National Lawyers Association?

News21 began its data-gathering effort in January 2012 by reviewing the more than 300 cases of alleged voter fraud collected by the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA). For years, the RNLA has been urging strict voter-identification laws on the grounds of massive amounts of voter fraud, and in 2011 the organization released a survey of voter fraud cases in America. However, the News21 analysis showed that the RNLA cases, now totaling about 375 cases, consisted mainly of newspaper articles about a range of election issues, with little supporting evidence of actual in-person voter fraud.

RTFA for details of the Herculean task of organizing this study. While grounded in my favorite topic of computational analysis, the tales of local and state bureaucrats deliberately trying everything possible to stop any query for evidence of actual voter fraud would be hilarious – if it wasn’t so widespread.

Bad enough the RNLA and the leadership of the Republican Party has obviously been trying to turn urban myth into political fabric – that’s called lying among folks who ain’t polite to political hacks – but state officials of every flavor are scared witless over journalists contacting them about the tales they released to the local press to convince voters they’re actually doing their job.

The students of the News21 Project deserve all the credit in the world for exposing another political lie.