Friday, January 19, 2018

World Socialist Web Site calls for international coalition of socialist and anti-war websites

From WSWS:



World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board chairperson David North called January 16 for the formation of an international coalition of socialist and anti-war websites and journalists to counter Internet censorship.
North issued the call during a livestreamed webinar with journalist Chris Hedges, Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship. The webinar attracted a substantial global audience and was viewed more than 15,000 times on Facebook and YouTube in the 24 hours after it aired. A statement from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange supporting the event was read during the broadcast.
“A coalition needs to be formed to rigorously defend internet freedom, net neutrality, to organize the defense of both websites and individuals who come under attack,” North said. He urged participation in the coalition of all “those who are committed to the fight for socialism and opposition to war,” adding, “The World Socialist Web Site and the International Committee are willing on this principled basis to work with those who understand the critical issues involved.”
Read the full report on the WSWS.

Just one day later, Facebook and Google outlined unprecedented mass censorship at a US Senate hearing. The actions by the social media companies demonstrated the enormous importance of the issues discussed at the WSWS webinar. Watch the full event here and sign up to get involved. 
 
Fraternally,
World Socialist Web Site


Facebook and Google outline mass censorship

By Andre Damon
Behind the backs of the US and world populations, social media companies have built up a massive censorship apparatus staffed by an army of “content reviewers” capable of seamlessly monitoring, tracking, and blocking millions of pieces of content.
The character of this apparatus was detailed in testimony Wednesday from representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by South Dakota Republican John Thune.
The hearing was called to review what technology companies are doing to shut down the communications of oppositional political organizations. It represented a significant escalation of the campaign, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to establish unprecedented levels of censorship and control over the Internet.
 Read more »

Julian Assange calls effort of corporations to control Internet discourse “an existential threat to humanity”

The following statement was sent by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the January 16 webinar Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship, featuring journalist Chris Hedges and WSWS Chairperson David North. Assange sent the statement from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been trapped for five and a half years.

The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans. Between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence.
While the internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity.
While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities.
I commend WSWS for drawing attention to this phenomena.
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Articles: Copyright © 2017 wsws.org, All rights reserved.












Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 19, 2018.  Chaos and violence continue and it's getting harder and harder for Hayder al-Abadi to spin present day Iraq as 'success.'




I'm under 25 & I know who Ashleigh Banfield is. She was the reporter on NYC streets during 9/11. She interviewed Taliban prisoners during the Iraq War. & She's the woman who made sure Brock Turner's mugshot was on CNN. IDK who TF Katie Way is, but she's no journalist.





Actually, Jailain, I'm not sure you know who Ashleigh Banfield is.

Her most courageous moment was regarding the Iraq War -- and that was calling out the coverage of it.

You do mention the Iraq War but I'm not sure you understand that either.  Taliban?

Did you study with Dick Cheney?  Was Bully Boy Bush your tutor?

The Taliban is in Afghanistan.

As for Katie Way, I detest the article she produced (the bad date = abuse nonsense).  But she is a journalist.  And the fact that you're Tweeting about her underscores that.

And I doubt Katie Way would confuse Afghanistan with Iraq.


Iraq where the greed keeps the foreign fighters on the ground . . .


BP strikes deal with Iraq to exploit giant Kirkuk field. Agreement cements Baghdad control over Iraqi Kurdistan after its failed independence bid.





The greedy swoop in.  Iraq's a country with double-digit unemployment (16% is the official number).  An oil rich country that can't take care of its citizens.  Where does the money go?  Don't ask Hayder al-Abadi -- he's spent three years now insisting he was going to fight corruption.  They can do show trials of Sunnis they wrongly call members of ISIS and carry those trials out in 15 minutes but somehow it's different for the corrupt.  Probably the difference results from the fact that the ones stealing from Iraq are the political class.


A country of widows and orphans.  That's what the Iraq War has created and continues to create.


Hayder's taking to crowing a lot lately.


The number of Iraqis returning to their home has now surpassed the number of IDPs in Iraq. With the support of its local and international partners, the will continue working to ensure the safe and dignified return of all displaced Iraqis to their homes and communities




He forgets that many of the displaced have been forced to return and forced to return to unsafe areas.

He also forgets the issue of the ages of the displaced.


REUTERS reports:

About half the 2.6 million people displaced in Iraq after a three-year war with Islamic State militants are children and persisting violence hampers efforts to ease their suffering, the United Nations said on Friday.

While the Baghdad government last month declared victory over Islamic State after wresting back almost all the territory IS seized in 2014, persistent bombing and shooting attacks make it difficult to rebuild the lives of displaced people, according to UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency.
"We believe that as a result of the conflict, a lack of investment over the years, and the poverty ... that there are 4 million children now in need across Iraq," said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF chief representative in the country.


Not really a success for Hayder, no matter how he spins it.

B-b-b-ut at least he vanquished ISIS, right?

Uh . . . no.

From the US Defense Dept this morning:




Strikes in Iraq
There were no reported strikes conducted in Iraq on Jan. 18, 17 and 14.
On Jan. 16 near Rutbah in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets, destroying three ISIS underground facilities and a generator.
On Jan. 15 near Rutbah in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets, destroying two ISIS weapons caches.
On Jan. 13 near Mosul in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets, destroying an ISIS tunnel.
On Jan. 12 near Tuz in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of three engagements against an ISIS tactical unit.

Yes, the US continues to bomb Iraq.


It says it's targeting ISIS. 

That sort of contradicts Hayder's boasts of triumph.

As does the continued violence.  WORLD BULLETIN reports, "At least three civilians were killed Friday in two separate bombings in Iraq’s Baghdad and Diyala provinces, according to local security sources."  And the death toll has now climbed to four with at least two people left injured.


'Success'?  Does that also include the continued targeting of civilians by Hayder's militias?



and have seen widespread violations against Kurds since the military takeover of the disputed areas by the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias in mid-October.






The more time passes, the less impressive he comes off.

Which is why he wants the elections to be held in May and not postponed.

On the elections, MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:

The Iraqi parliament has failed to set a new date for the upcoming legislative elections, Iraqi media sources reported yesterday.
Media sources quoted Members of the Parliament (MPs) as saying that yesterday’s session was devoted to a secret ballot on holding the elections on either 12 May, the date that was announced by the Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, or in early December 2018.
During the session, Kurds and Shiites MPs both stressed the importance of holding elections on time, while Sunnis argued that it should be delayed.
Of the 260 MPs in attendance, 149 suggested a secret vote on the matter, but Shiite MPs objected, arguing it was illegal.
Parliament speaker Salim Al-Jabouri, a Sunni, decided at the end of yesterday’s session to postpone the voting session to next Saturday, after the “secret voting to delay the elections failed.”


If elections are going to take place in May, this vote needs to happen soon.  In the past, three months has been used as the minimum required to prepare for elections.  Electronic voting -- if paper ballots are indeed out the window in Iraq as some insist -- will not mean less time required since there will need to be training and planning to utilize those.

The US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following yesterday:


The U.S. government strongly supports holding the Iraqi national elections in May 2018, in line with the Iraqi constitution.  Postponing the elections would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the constitution and damaging Iraq’s long-term democratic development.
To that end, the United States is providing assistance that will help ensure that all Iraqi voices are heard and counted, including the approximately 2.6 million Iraqis who remain displaced from their homes in the liberated areas.  USAID is assisting in the training of local civil society groups in election monitoring and providing Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) with six elections advisors who will help IHEC strengthen its electoral systems, personnel, and processes in the following ways:

  • Enfranchise internally displaced Iraqis by focusing on voter registration and ensuring electronic voting systems are effective.
  • Improve provincial electoral administrative capacity to support voting in recently liberated areas.
  • Help the new IHEC Board of Commissioners finalize a sound operational plan for the May 2018 elections.


Support for Iraq’s democratic institutions is a key part of the United States’ ongoing commitment to a federal, democratic, prosperous, and unified Iraq.  By exercising their constitutional right to vote, Iraqis will signal their commitment to governance through peaceful processes rather than through violence.



The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and LATINO USA --  updated: