Keeping with its Crackdown on Alternative Voices, Google Deletes Press TV from YouTube

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/01/2020 - 6:34am in

Without warning, tech giant Google “permanently removed” Iranian government-owned media channel Press TV UK’s YouTube channel Monday night amid increasing American hostility to Iran.

“This attack on the freedom of speech of Press TV’s journalists seems to be part of an anti-Iran purge as the West sets its sights on regime change in Iran,” Press TV said. Its content, in its own words, focuses on “anti-imperialism, anti-racism, and covers aspects of the news which the mainstream corporate media in the United Kingdom have refused to air.”

The London-based outlet had over 28,000 subscribers on its YouTube account at the time of its deletion.

British-Sudanese journalist Ahmed Kaballo accused Google of acting like the “judge jury and executioner” for his employer’s channel, expressing his great disappointment that his journalistic output is now gone and his worry at “what this really represents” for alternative media that “show a different perspective and holds a critical lens” on war and empire.

MintPress News reached out to Kaballo for comment. “The actions of Google in the last 24 hours has made me lose hope in the idea of free press and free speech,” he said. “Journalism is about pushing the boundaries and being fearless in our reporting but in this climate where they can do this to us in this fashion, it’s clear that our perspective. which is overtly anti-imperialist, is, in the eyes of Google, simply not allowed.”

After online pushback, by Wednesday morning UK time, Google had reversed its decision. However, just as Press TV was celebrating its reinstatement, it was again taken off the air. YouTube sent a message to Press TV UK claiming that they had received a complaint about the channel and decided that it violates their terms of service. Kaballo described the political hokey pokey his organization was under as “psychological warfare.”

Press TV says the move is “part of an anti-Iran purge as the West sets its sights on regime change in Iran.” It comes in the context of the Trump administration’s assassination of Lt. General Qassem Soleimani January 3, while he was in Iraq attending peace talks. In response, Iran launched dozens of ballistic missiles at U.S.-occupied military bases in Iraq, although it was careful to warn the U.S. of the attack beforehand. As a result, there were no deaths. The Iraqi parliament also immediately voted to expel all American troops from the country. However, the U.S. refused to leave.

While the threat of a hot war with the Iran appears to have subsided, an intense, online propaganda war rages between the two countries. During his funeral, the hashtag #IraniansDetestSoleimani trended across American Twitter. But analysis showed that it was not Iranians, but organized Trump supporters who were boosting the message, supporting, as 47 percent of Americans did, their president’s decision to kill him.

Last Friday, Facebook announced that it felt compelled to delete all positive posts about the deceased general from its platform and its subsidiary Instagram. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its leadership,” it said, explaining that Trump’s new sanctions made supporting Iran online on any American website essentially illegal. Instagram had already closed Soleimani’s account in April last year, following Trump’s designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group. Just after Facebook’s decision, Twitter suspended Ayatollah Khamenei’s account for “unusual activity.” Instagram is extremely popular in Iran, with around one in three people owning an account, almost as popular as Soleimani, who over 80 percent view positively or very positively. Thus, the U.S. government has, through pressuring monopolistic Silicon Valley giants, effectively banned a majority opinion being shared by Iranians to Iranians, in Iran.

This is not the first occasion that the U.S. government has used the American monopoly over the means of communication online to shut down alternative voices from other countries. Facebook has previously de-platformed Venezuela-based outlets TeleSUR English and Venezuelanalysis, both of which offered differing opinions and analysis of the U.S. government’s actions in Venezuela and Latin America. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has forced RT journalists to register as “foreign agents,” under a rule originally set up to deal with Nazis during World War Two.

Press TV, too, has had a history of poor treatment at the hands of the U.S. state. In January last year, the FBI illegally detained Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi for ten days. She was never charged and was deprived of Halal food and a hijab during her detention. While the network is still reachable directly on its website, the fact that the U.S. government can unilaterally decide what the world sees, hears or reads, zapping British based Iranian networks from universal social media giants the entire world uses raises questions about freedom of information in the digital age.

Feature photo | Andy Miah | Flickr

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Keeping with its Crackdown on Alternative Voices, Google Deletes Press TV from YouTube appeared first on MintPress News.

Big Tech Firms Are Joining Trump’s All Out War Against Iran

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 2:55am in

Silicon Valley giant Facebook announced Friday that it would be deleting all positive posts about recently assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on its platform and its subsidiary Instagram. The reason for this, it explained to CNN, was that the new U.S. sanctions made it illegal to promote any message supporting a person or group that the government describes as a terrorist organization. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its leadership,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Instagram had already closed Soleimani’s account in April last year, following Trump’s designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group. Following the news Friday, Twitter suspended Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s account for “unusual activity.” It was later reopened.

Last week Trump threatened to wreak havoc and destruction on Iran, promising to destroy dozens of major Iranian cultural sites, recognized immediately by the international community as a major war crime and a crime against humanity. The president has backed away from open war, but also announced new “punishing” sanctions on the Islamic Republic

In the rush to comply with these new rules, big American companies have gone overboard. Paypal, for example, began blocking donations to alternative media website The Grayzone that mentioned “Iran” in the title or text. The Grayzone has been a rare source of pushback to the Trump administration’s plans for war in the region.

Last year Medea Benjamin traveled to Iran to catalog the effect of the already existing sanctions. She described a population of 80 million who had seen their savings wiped out as the value of the Iranian Rial had plummeted. “Sanctions are suffocating people’s life choices,” she explained, meeting women who could no longer attend foreign universities and men who could not afford to get married. The sanctions have also greatly increased poverty and homelessness and made it much harder for people to get lifesaving medical treatment, as foreign drugs are nearly impossible to come by. Nevertheless, Iranians were able to distinguish between citizens and government; the overwhelming message Benjamin received was “Americans good, Trump bad.”

While support for, or even knowledge of Soleimani may be very low in America, a 2019 study conducted by the University of Maryland found that “General Soleimani remains the most popular Iranian public figure,” with 59 percent of Iranians viewing him “very favorably” and over four in five of his country folk having a positive opinion of him overall. Instagram is extremely popular in Iran, with at least 24 million users as of early 2018– around a third of the entire population. That is why banning positive descriptions of Soleimani is such a far-reaching and problematic issue. While deleting messages of support for the government or suspending Khamenei’s account may seem a petty, childish retaliation for opposing the Trump administration, it actually has profound ramifications for freedom of access to information.

Foreign countries rely on Silicon Valley social media giants for news and opinions as much as Americans do. Billions of people get their news from Facebook, but the decision means the world will not be exposed to one side of the argument. Furthermore, social media is one of the only places Americans could be exposed to an Iranian opinion, but the latest decision effectively blocks off this avenue of information and communication. Instead, we are exposed only to the opinion that the world and Iranians themselves hate their government. Last week the hashtag #IraniansDetestSoleimani trended on Twitter in the U.S., but not in the Middle East. Furthermore, the message was being boosted by Trump fans pretending to be Iranian.

Iran is not the only enemy of the U.S. government targeted by social media. Hundreds of accounts supporting the Venezuelan government, including that of President Nicolas Maduro himself, have been suspended or deleted by Facebook and Twitter, the former also removing the pages of independent media outlet Venezuelanalysis and international network TeleSUR English when Trump’s eye was cast upon the country.

That Facebook’s actions appear to be coordinated with the U.S. government is not a coincidence. Since 2018 it has partially outsourced its editorial control over news and content to the Atlantic Council, the think tank of NATO. The Council’s board is a who’s who of high government officials like Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, ex-Generals like Wesley Clark and David Petraeus, and CIA chiefs like Leon Panetta, Michael Hayden and Robert Gates. Effectively then, the “deep state” is controlling what Americans– and the rest of the world– reads for news, creating something close to a global state-controlled media apparatus.

In response to Facebook’s decision, Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabiei called the move an “undemocratic and unashamed action” claiming it continues to give the real terrorists an “open voice.”

The Iranian government is considering its response, with some media speculating it may go so far as to block Instagram entirely. But, as with the Soleimani assassination, because of the imbalance of power between Iran and the U.S., its reaction will be limited in scope, as big tech giants like Facebook are too powerful to hurt.

Feature photo | Klevo | Shutterstock

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Big Tech Firms Are Joining Trump’s All Out War Against Iran appeared first on MintPress News.

Trump Backs Away from Threats to Retaliate for Iranian Missile Strikes, Promises New Sanctions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/01/2020 - 6:14am in

WASHINGTON DC — In a statement delivered late Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump made it clear that the U.S. would not militarily respond to the missile strikes launched by Iran on U.S. military installations in Iraq on Tuesday, strikes that were themselves retaliation for the Trump administration’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and the leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Front, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Despite the ultimate de-escalation following several hours of tension after Iranian missiles struck the Ain al-Assad base in western Iraq, Trump struck a tough tone towards Iran and outlined few new policies to be pursued in his short speech. Among the policies outlined in Trump’s speech was the imminent imposition of “new punishing sanctions” against Iran, which is already heavily sanctioned by the U.S., and calls to increase NATO’s involvement in the Middle East, reflecting the president’s unwillingness to pursue a direct military approach to Iran without at least some international backing. This despite the fact that several NATO allies have already begun to withdraw their troops from the Middle East amid fears of a direct war between the U.S. and Iran.

Trump also called for a diplomatic solution with Iran, deriding the JCPOA, the binding deal signed during the Obama administration between Iran, China France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States. Trump’s offer is likely to be ill-received as the deal’s European signatories, China, Russia and the Iranian government have all sought to salvage the deal from which Trump unilaterally withdrew nearly two years ago. 

Trump’s statement ultimately ended with an unexpected call for peace, a stark departure from his earlier threats to strike 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, should Iran retaliate militarily for the assassination of General Soleimani. “To the people and leaders of Iran, we want you to have a future and a great future, one that you deserve. One of prosperity at home and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” the president said.

Perhaps more telling than what President Trump did say is what he left out of his speech. He did not comment on the several disputed reports of U.S. troops withdrawing from bases in Iraq, Kuwait or Syria prior to and after the Iranian strike. If these claims are substantiated, they would explain Iran’s limited reprisal as Iranian officials have stated multiple times since the assassination of General Soleimani that their new policy, and ultimately their revenge, would be to force the U.S. to remove its military assets from the Middle East entirely. Trump also failed to address now confirmed reports that the U.S., as well as Iraq, received advanced warnings of the Iranian strike before it took place, which signaled that Iran had little desire to spill the blood of the American and Iraqi soldiers present at the bases targeted during the strikes.

A recent vote by Iraq’s Parliament to expel U.S. troops and claims made by Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that Trump threatened his life and the life of Iraq’s Defense Minister if they pursued reports of a “third side” attacking both Iraqi protesters and Iraqi security forces near the U.S. embassy in the lead-up to the U.S.’ killing of Soleimani and al-Muhandis were also left unaddressed. Adil Abdul-Mahdi has asserted that the motives behind these threats were the U.S. administration’s desire to see Iraq’s government rescind an “oil for reconstruction” deal with China.

Following Iran’s military response to the deaths of Soleimani and his Iraqi ally, Trump’s tone — at least publicly — was dramatically less bellicose than some of the president’s recent tweets promising to strike Iranian territory should Tehran retaliate against the United States. While the promised strikes on those sites did not materialize, they did signal a new era for the U.S. military in the Middle East and potentially the world, one in which U.S.’ hegemony is more dubious than ever. Indeed, the United States military has not been directly targeted by another government in recent memory, especially without being followed by an overwhelming U.S. military response.

Feature photo| President Donald Trump walks off after addressing the nation from the White House on the missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops, Jan. 8, 2020, in Washington. Evan Vucci | AP

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

The post Trump Backs Away from Threats to Retaliate for Iranian Missile Strikes, Promises New Sanctions appeared first on MintPress News.

Sanctions, Security and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/12/2019 - 2:00pm in

Binoy Kampmark The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, construction of which is intended to transport 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Germany per year under the Baltic Sea, is a ragbag of options and promises.  The fruit of a deal between Berlin and Moscow, it has troubled those within Russia, Germany, Europe and …

How can the US lecture China on the rights of Muslims?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 5:00pm in

Andre Vltchek In 2019, I wrote a long analysis about “the Uygur issue”; analysis which will be soon published as a book. For some time, I have been warning the world that the West, and the United States in particular, are helping to radicalize the Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province and outside. And not only that: …

No! KKK’s David Duke and BNP’s Nick Griffin DON’T Support Corbyn!

Really brilliant post yesterday by Zelo Street, demolishing the Tory lies that David Duke, the head of the KKK in Louisiana and Britain’s own Fascist abomination, Nick Griffin, support Jeremy Corbyn. The claim was made a year or so ago by the Times and the Scum in order to add some spurious credibility to the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour leader and his supporters.

This began with Henry Zeffman in the Thunderer writing

“A white supremacist and former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan praised the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership as a sign that people were recognising ‘Zionist power’ and ‘Jewish establishment power’. David Duke, who led a branch of the KKK based in Louisiana in the 1970s, told listeners to his radio show in 2015: ‘It’s a really good kind of evolutionary thing, isn’t it, when people are beginning to recognise Zionist power and ultimately the Jewish establishment power in Britain and in the western world.”.

The problem with this was that two years after the claim Zeffman had uncovered, Duke had seriously revised his opinion of Corbyn, calling him ‘Marxist filth’. 

And the BNP’s former fuehrer has crawled out from whichever stone he’s been hiding under ever since his stormtroops gave him the heave-ho to make it clear that he does not, after all, support Jeremy Corbyn either. After reading headlines claiming that Corbyn’s speech to the CBI raised the issue of anti-Semitism once again, Griffin tweeted

“Have read that headline several times. Can easily be read that someone at the Mail still has the occasional ‘hurrah for the Blackshirts’ moment!”

Zelo Street remarks that the Heil’s history is so notorious that even Griffin knows about it. Which I suppose he would, actually being one of the Fascists the Heil supported back then. But in an answer to the question who he would personally support in the election, Griffin responded

None of them. Though I did give the Zio-media a stick to beat Corbyn by saying I’d vote for him on foreign policy grounds. But unless he comes out to oppose the UK sanctions on Syria that are killing thousands of children & adding to the refugee flood, I won’t be doing so”.

It should come as no surprise that neither Duke nor Griffin support Corbyn. And in Griffin’s case, he makes it clear that he only said he did in order to cause trouble for the Labour leader.

Despite Conservative claims on both sides of the Atlantic that the Nazis were socialists, because they said they were, Hitler’s crew were far from it. Both the Nazis and the Italian Fascists were strongly in favour of private industry. When in power, they both embarked on massive privatisation programmes. The Nazis celebrate the entrepreneur of part of the biologically superior elite, who had a natural right to rule. And before the Nazi seizure of power, Hitler told a meeting of leading German businessmen that he had no intention of nationalising anything and private enterprise needed a strong ruler to protect it. Under Mussolini, the Italian Fascists declared that private industry was the best economic system and the very foundation of the country and state.

David Duke is a member of the Republican Party, or he was. Who are very keen on protecting and extending private enterprise against the state – not just in industry, but in healthcare and education, and also against the environment. So are other members of the Klan. A few years ago Duke frightened the Republicans by threatening to reveal the identities of other Republican politicians, who wore white sheets at their klonvocations. Of course Duke was going to find out eventually what Corbyn really stood for, and denounce him as a Commie. Just like the Tory press has been trying to smear him and his followers as Communists, Trotskyites, Stalinists or whatever.

And Duke obviously didn’t know about Corbyn’s Jewish supporters.

Contrary to what the press and media want you to believe, Corbyn ain’t an anti-Semite and has Jewish supporters. People like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewdas, the Jewish Socialist Group, and London’s Haredi community. Because he’s actually stood up for Jews and Jewish issues. Mike and the other left-wing bloggers have put up lists of the numerous occasions Corbyn intervened on the community’s behalf. He has the support of Shraga Stern and London’s Haredi community because he stopped their historic burial ground from being redeveloped. And rather than wanting the mass carnage of Israelis, he simply wants an end to the Israeli state’s system of apartheid and oppression of the Palestinians. But that enrages Israel and its apologists, who unable to refute the allegations against them with fact, simply turn to smearing their opponents – including and especially self-respecting Jews – as anti-Semites.

Duke’s comment about Corbyn looks like his ideas about the Labour leader came from the biased reporting of the lamestream media. I dare say Duke would have gone berserk if he’d realised then that Corbyn is pro-Jewish and anti-racist, with Jewish supporters, along with those from Britain’s other ethnic communities.

However, if Duke and Griffin aren’t supporting Corbyn, other members of the far right are supporting the Tories. Like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, alias Tommy Robinson, formerly of the EDL, formerly of PEGIDA, former special adviser on Islam to UKIP. And for some reason the Tories are keeping very quiet about his support, while definitely not repudiating.

They can’t really, not when so much Tory strategy is based on stirring up hatred against ethnic minorities and immigration, particularly Islam. Mates Jacobs uncovered a whole mass of islamophobia, racism and anti-Semitism in the social media groups for supporters of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg. Some of whose members even believed in the same ‘great replacement’ nonsense – the conspiracy theory that the Jews are deliberately introducing and encouraging non-White immigration in order to destroy and replace White Europeans – that Duke and the Klan believe in.

Corbyn doesn’t have the support of David Duke or Nick Griffin. But the Tories have the support of Tommy Robinson, and some of their members certainly have extreme right-wing views. Which is why Boris isn’t going to have an inquiry into Tory islamophobia until after the election.

He’s probably hoping that by that time he’ll be safely in No. 10 and people will have forgotten about the whole scandal. Don’t let him.

For further information, see:

Inverting reality – blockading the Persian Gulf

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/08/2019 - 9:25pm in

David Macilwain When trying to understand the way that the Skripal hoax was effected, I found it useful to consider “the conspirators’ view”. Simply detailing all the evidence that the Salisbury poisonings were not the work of Russian agents and that claims were fabricated by some other parties was easy but insufficient, as the crime …