An Open Letter to Australia’s Politicians in Opposition to the Proposed Metadata Retention Laws March 17, 2015 – Written by: Rob Marsh

An Open Letter to Australia’s Politicians in Opposition to the Proposed Metadata Retention Laws

I recently wrote a rather long article on the potential dangers of new metadata retention laws to the fabric of our society and the functioning of our democracy. There is no issue I feel more passionate about in our society today, as it affects literally every one of us. We are witnessing the creation of the greatest weapon of oppression in the history of man, to quote Edward Snowden, and as individuals, citizens of a democracy, and human beings, we owe it to ourselves and each other to do what little we can to stall and hopefully stop this legislation from passing into law.

To that end, I’ve prepared an open letter to the politicians of this country outlining the failings of the legislation and other relevant information around metadata collection and the relation thereof to human rights.

Please send this to as many members of parliament as you can, and please share this template on your social media walls and any political groups you may be a part of. The more people that know that this is happening and that recognise that they are personally implicated in it, the more chance we have of stopping this draconian imposition on the freedoms of all Australians, rich and poor, powerless and powerful, male and female, old and young.

With your help, I sincerely believe we can make a positive difference.

An Open Letter to the Politicians of Australia on the Potential Adverse Effects of Proposed Metadata Retention Legislation on Human Rights and the Functioning of Our Democracy

This letter contains many references to the Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation, where there is a number or text enclosed in brackets like so: (5.17), refer to the appropriate section of the report.

[Politician’s name],

I am writing to you to express my deep and sincere concern with regards to the proposed Metadata Retention legislation that the government wishes to pass by the 27th of March 2015.

This legislation represents, contrary to the claims of those with vested interests in seeing the legislation pass, a grave threat to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and association that is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy.

You may not be aware of what the legislation addresses, or what the “telecommunications data” it refers to actually entails.

Nicola Roxon, in a statement to the Attorney General, describes telecommunications data as: “Telecommunications data is information about the process of communication, as distinct from its content. It includes information about the identity of the sending and receiving parties and related subscriber details, account identifying information collected by the telecommunications carrier or ISP to establish the account, and information such as the time and date of the communication, its duration, location and type of communication. (5.7)

The proposed legislation, based on the definitions above, would give the Australian government unprecedented access to nearly every aspect of the online activity of it’s citizens, and the ability to infer a disturbingly accurate “pattern of life” from the collected data.

For example, you may have your cellphone’s GPS services enabled to use Google Maps. That data, in conjunction with your phone records and timestamps on the above data could clue in a security agency as to your most likely whereabouts on any given day. This poses an enormous risk to freedom of the press, as governments could use these capabilities to track journalists and their sources to frequented meeting places, limiting concerned parties’ abilities to bring sensitive information to the public for democratic review.

“The database will contain every page they accessed – every article they’ve read on a newspaper site, any online political activity, any purchases on ebay, books bought from amazon, Facebook pages visited etc.” – Ian Quick

In the words of former NSA/CIA Director Michael Hayden:

“We kill people based on metadata.”

Fears about the above stated powers and the implications thereof have been echoed by several EU countries.

The Romanian Court, with regards to local metadata retention, held that a “continuous legal obligation” to retain all traffic data for six months was incompatible with the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. (5.26)

In Germany, the Constitutional Court described metadata retention as a “serious restriction of the right to privacy” and stated that a “retention period of six months [was] at the upper limit of what should be considered proportionate”. (5.27)

The Czech Constitutional Court, in analogous statements, described misgivings about the potential abuses of these powers: “Individual citizens had insufficient guarantees against possible abuses of power by public authorities.” (5.28)

The EU Court of Justice found that the 2006 European Data Retention Directive violated citizens “fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data”.

With such strident international condemnation, it seems to go without saying that any committee responsible for review of similar legislation would be given express access to details of the proposed changes and sufficient resources to complete a sincere and detailed examination of the material. Oddly enough, these criteria were not met: “Having commenced the inquiry at the beginning of July 2012, the Committee was asked to report if at all possible by the end of the calendar year. This afforded the Committee a highly compressed and unachievable time frame of less than six months to examine what is an extensive list of potential reforms, some of which are far reaching.” (Introduction, Page 3)

It seems that the government also failed to provide the committee with the relevant draft legislation, leaving those involved to rely on speculation and inference rather than an appraisal of the raw data: “The Government sought the Committee’s views on a mandatory data retention regime. The Committee did not have access to draft legislation. Furthermore, the inadequate description of data retention in the terms of reference and discussion paper also impaired both the public discussion and the Committee’s consideration of the data retention issue.” (1.29)

The question of how efficacious metadata retention is in solving and preventing crime is a raging debate.

Electronic Freedom Australia noted that it was “highly questionable” whether data retention would aid in the investigation of terrorism, organised crime or other serious illegal activities:

“It is worth noting that determined criminals will have little difficulty disguising or anonymising their communications. There are many relatively simple and effective tools available that allow for the protection of communications from surveillance.” (5.167)

This is an excellent point. The proposed legislation is no secret. Those in the criminal world will have no doubt heard of the potential for their activities to be monitored and have likely already taken steps to anonymise their online behaviour. Even in the event that the scope of the metadata retention reforms is so broad that it includes tools for opening encrypted chats and messaging services, it is not unlikely that tech savvy individuals on the wrong side of the law will be developing tools to combat this unwanted intrusion, rendering the legislation effectively useless in dealing with its raison d’être: combating terrorism and serious crime.

An unintended consequence of the introduction of metadata retention could be the opposite of what it is designed to achieve: a progressive opacification of the internet, with more and more users turning to encrypted browsing and communication, thereby shrinking the usable pool of data.

“Why do we imagine that the criminals of the greatest concern to our security agencies will not be able to use any of numerous available means to anonymise their communications or indeed choose new services that are not captured by legislated data retention rules?”

This quote from Communications Minister Macolm Turnbull, in addition to his recently revealed use of the messaging app Wickr, which provides a platform for anyone to send and receive self-deleting encrypted messages, seems to indicate that the reforms are likely to bring about little change in the positive ability of law enforcement agencies to stop criminal activity.

Add to this comments made by Blueprints for Free Speech, indicating that “there is no evidence to suggest data retention would assist with the prevention of crime or terrorism. A 2011 study of Germany’s Data Retention Directive found it had no impact on either the effectiveness of criminal investigation or the crime rate. Further, the study specifically found that countries without data retention laws are not more vulnerable to crime.”

Make no bones about it, metadata retention is mass surveillance. It can be used to form a dataset, a pattern of life indicating your movements, interests, affiliations and beliefs. You will be paying for this intrusion of privacy through rises in service bills, a kind of “tele screen tax” if you will. You will be at a higher risk of identity theft through the creation of ‘honeypots’ of data, irresistible to organised criminals and foreign actors. Your basic rights to privacy, to freedom of speech, to live as a dignified human person, are being infringed upon in ways that do not preclude a broadening of the scope of these abuses.

Even the supporters of the legislation don’t buy into their own rhetoric, with members of the Liberal party using Wickr on a daily basis, showing the world that privacy is of the utmost importance even to those who adamantly maintain that it isn’t.

With unanimous condemnation from leading human rights groups around the world, with a public backlash on a scale almost never witnessed, with the potential for so much to go horribly wrong, we simply must put a stop to this.

Tony Abbott has made statements that he wants a parliamentary inquiry into the legislation to be scrapped. I think it’s our responsibility as members of our democracy to ask why anyone would want a piece of legislation with so many potential avenues for abuse to pass without appropriate scrutiny.

I implore you, with the utmost sincerity and urgency, to do whatever is within your power to oppose this legislation at the very least until it is put before an independent NGO and reviewed in depth, with all the aspects of the legislation made available for public review and scrutiny.

Thank you for your time and your consideration, I hope that we, together, can make history and bring our society forward into an age of social egalitarianism, where the ideals of freedom of speech and thought, freedom of association and transparency of government are enshrined as they once were, as the foundations of a working democracy.



For more information on the legislation you can refer to the Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation, which you can find here: http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=pjcis/nsl2012/report.htm

An independent summary/opinion piece on the legislation can be found here: https://wideeyedandhopefullywild.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/metadata-and-you/


For the sender of this email: you can find the contact addresses of your parliamentarians at these links:



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Facebook, Google Outline Unprecedented Mass Censorship at US Senate Hearing – by Andre Damon and World Socialist Web Site

 In this Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, file photo, from left, Facebook's General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter's Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Google's Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker, are sworn in for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian election activity and technology, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

The hearing was called to review what technology companies are doing to shut down the communications of oppositional political organizations.

Press review: Damascus to deal death blow to al-Nusra and CEFC set to seal Rosneft deal – By TASS

January 19, 13:00 UTC+3

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday

© Sergei Bobylev/TASS


Izvestia: Syria’s Idlib offensive to deal final blow to al-Nusra terrorists

The Syrian army is gearing up for a large-scale offensive in Idlib, with the goal of encircling and wiping out Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist group, outlawed in Russia), three sources in the country’s army told Izvestia on Friday. The ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party also confirmed the plans to the paper.

The Syrian government forces have surrounded a large group of militants to the southeast of Idlib and seek to create a foothold for an offensive against al-Nusra’s major stronghold, Syrian army sources said. Terrorists from the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) will be also surrounded and as these two groups fight each other, the mop-up operation is expected to be a success soon, one of the sources said.

A Syrian MP from the ruling Ba’ath Party, Jamal Rabia, told the paper that during the operation, control over the strategic Abu al-Duhur airport will be established. It will be used for a speedy and uninterrupted supply for the forces.


“Syria’s generals with the help of Russian instructors have mastered the tactics of creating “pockets” and are successfully implementing it,” First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house) Defense and Security Committee Frantz Klintsevich said.

“I’m sure that in the near future if Syrian forces continue their offensive at the same pace, the territories held by militants will be liberated.”


Izvestia: Russia no longer implicated for alleged role in Montenegro coup attempt

Russian officials, including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, are not mentioned anymore in the legal proceedings in connection with the 2016 coup d’etat attempt in Montenegro, leader of the Montenegrin opposition and one of key suspects Milan Knezhevich told Izvestia.

“Now the accusations are only against two “Russian nationalists,” who had been earlier called special agents,” said Knezhevich, who heads the Democratic Front that unites the country’s key opposition forces. “This is a drastic change in the situation. Apparently, the prosecutor has realized that this staged case won’t be a success if it is linked to Russia.”

The politician said Montenegro’s major goal is to end the trial before the presidential election set for March 2018. “The court should announce the sentence before the election to fully discredit the opposition in the eyes of Montenegrins. If they continue searching for a ‘Russian’ trace, the process may be delayed. Moreover, the prosecutors have not offered any hard evidence so far,” he noted.

Montenegro also understands that if Russian state structures are mentioned in the verdict, this will inevitably result in economic losses for Podgorica. Montenegro could lose Russian investments, energy projects and tourists, Pyotr Iskenderov, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Izvestia. “This fact plays an important role when financial support from the United States and the European Union is not expected. At present, Washington is not even planning to help its traditional allies, let alone Montenegro,” he stressed.


Vedomosti: China’s CEFC waiting to seal Rosneft stake purchase

The deal on selling 14.16% shares of Russian oil and gas major Rosneft to CEFC China Energy may be sealed next week, two sources close to the negotiations told Vedomosti. Another source familiar with one of shareholders said the deal may be closed “in two weeks at maximum.” The document, which the sides plan to sign at a ceremony, has been already drafted, he said.

Upon closing the deal, CEFC will become the third largest shareholder of the Russian oil company, the paper writes. Other Rosneft shareholders are the state’s Rosneftegaz with 50% plus 1 share and Britain’s BP with 19.75% of shares. Qatar’s QIA and Glencore, an Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company, have 5.3% of Rosneft’s shares. QIA and Glencore have not commented on whether their representatives will withdraw from the board of directors.

Initially, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin expected to close the deal by the end of 2017, however, the reasons for the hold-up are unknown, the paper writes. “Most likely, the delay is because of the Chinese side,” Raiffeisenbank analyst Andrey Polischuk said. CEFC reported that it had secured the approval of China’s National Development and Reform Commission in September. However, since then China has stepped up its foreign currency control, Vedomosti says.


Kommersant: Donbass reintegration law shows Kiev snubs EU, wagers on US

On Thursday, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed a law on Donbass’ reintegration that lays the groundwork for relations with the breakaway republics and is aimed at launching a mechanism for their return to Ukraine. Although President Pyotr Poroshenko had initially worked to turn the document into a tool for fulfilling the Minsk deal, the law confirms Kiev’s refusal to honor the deal reached with the mediation of Russia, France and Germany, the paper says.

The introduction of the “Russian aggression” notion is aimed at outlining Ukraine’s new approach to the negotiations, Director of the Kiev-based Institute of Global Strategies Vadim Karasev told Kommersant. Kiev’s major goal is after signing the Minsk accords three years ago, to acknowledge that the Donbass war is a conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which will now have to come to terms. Earlier, Kiev held talks with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, while Moscow was not considered as a party to the conflict.

“Following the adoption of the law three scenarios are possible: freezing the conflict, unfreezing it or a Russian-Ukrainian settlement on a bilateral basis,” Karasev stated.

According to the expert, Kiev’s withdrawal from the Minsk deal comes as a result of its plans to turn its back on the EU and shift towards the United States. “Ukraine believes that the mediation of Germany and France has failed, given that Berlin and Paris have been unable to ensure the Minsk deal’s implementation. That’s why today Kiev is placing its strategic stake on Washington, expecting that only US strategic pressure on Moscow will be rather tough and effective,” the expert said.


Kommersant: Israeli weapons eclipse Russian arms on Indian market

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wrapping up his six-day visit to India on Friday, the first one for the Jewish state’s head for over the past 15 years. Kommersant writes that the trip has shown that military-technical cooperation is of major importance for both countries. The parties agreed to resume talks on signing a $500 mln contract to supply India with Spike anti-tank missiles. Closer ties between the two countries come amid the new “honeymoon” in US-Israeli relations and also India turning into Washington’s key partner in Asia.

India is wagering on attracting investments and cutting-edge foreign technology while Israel, which used to have rather strained bilateral relations for years, has become one of its priority partners.

Until recently, Moscow and New Delhi had been developing military and technical cooperation: for five years India had remained among top buyers of Russian weapons. However, in 2017 the situation changed, the sides did not sign any contract.

“Israel is filling a number of niches on India’s weapons market that Russia cannot occupy due to technological restrictions. The United States cannot do this either due to red tape and its intention to link weapons supplies to general political issues,” Vasily Kashin, senior research fellow at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Kommersant. Israel’s Spike missiles, equipped with imaging infrared seekers, don’t have full counterparts in Russia. Besides, Israel outpaces Russia in drones and is a major supplier of these technologies to India, he said. Even if Russia has similar weapons, in some cases India still gives priority to cooperation with Israel due to its intention to diversify sources of supplies.


TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press review



World Bank predicts Russia able to reach global economic growth average rates – By TASS

January 19, 13:44 UTC+3

It is necessary to enhance the efficiency of capital and labor in order to achieve high growth rates

© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. Russia is able to reach average global economic growth rates of around 2.9%, Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva said in an interview with TASS.

“The World Bank projects a 2.9% global economic growth rate through 2020. I assume this is an attainable goal for Russia,” she said.

According to Georgieva, it is necessary to enhance the efficiency of capital and labor in order to achieve high growth rates.

“Specifically for Russia it means a serious approach to investing in people, in human capital, particularly in the quality of education and labor,” she explained.


Digitalization can totally change the structure of the Russian economy, which is already happening, Georgieva added.

Asked how seriously digitalization can change the structure of the Russian economy, she said: “It [digitalization – TASS] can turn it around, and it is already turning it around to be precise.”


Fake identities, phoney reporting, and the ‘Inside Syria Media Center’ – Alexander Mercouris

Counterpunch exposes what looks like a fake reporting project


Two weeks ago, on 5th January 2018, Counterpunch published its follow up investigation to the previous investigation it had carried out into the mysterious personality of “Alice Donovan”, a writer whose pieces both Counterpunch and The Duran had published, and who the Washington Post had  exposed following a tip-off from the FBI to be a fictitious personality, with the FBI alleging that she was a Russian intelligence concoction.

Over the course of its previous investigation of “Alice Donovan” Counterpunch did indeed provide strong grounds for doubting that she is a real person.  Counterpunch also discovered that her “writings” depended heavily on plagiarism of other writers’ work.

In the aftermath of Counterpunch’s article we deleted the “Alice Donovan’s” articles which we had published and I wrote an article for The Duran in which I discussed the affair and Counterpunch’s role in exposing it.

Counterpunch’s original investigation of “Alice Donovan” however also raised questions about a writer who The Duran has also published called Sophie (or Sophia) Mangal, as well as the Inside Syria Media Center, which Sophie Mangal has claimed to work for.

Sophie Mangal is the writer whom “Alice Donovan” has most heavily plagiarised, and the seemingly close connection between Sophie Mangal and “Alice Donovan” led Counterpunch to make further enquiries about her.

At this point I should say that The Duran is very familiar with Sophie Mangal.  Over the two years of our existence she has flooded us with literally scores of submissions, the overwhelming majority of which were about the Syrian war.  All of these submissions took a strongly pro-Syrian government position.

Sophie Mangal’s submissions however tended to be very brief and one dimensional, lacking much in the way of analysis and context.  Accordingly, though we are always willing to consider submissions, in Sophie Mangal’s case we only felt able to publish a few of them.

This however did not seem to deter her in the slightest.  We still continued to receive submissions from her at a prodigious rate.

Unlike “Alice Donovan” Sophie Mangal did however appear to have a genuine personality.

I actually corresponded with her on the subject of the draft constitution the Russian government proposed for Syria, which was discussed some months ago at the Astana talks, and of which the Inside Syria Media Center sent us a copy.  The replies I got were definitely written by a real person.  In the article I subsequently wrote about this draft constitution I acknowledged Sophie Mangal’s help and that of the Inside Syria Media Center’s in writing it.

Counterpunch’s latest investigation has however exposed how threadbare the background of Sophie Mangal’s personality actually is.

It turns out that apart from a mountain of articles, a single photograph (see caption) and a few emails there is no independent trace of her.  Attempts to check facts she has provided about her background have led nowhere.

Moreover it has turned out that just as “Alice Donovan” has been plagiarising articles by Sophie Mangal, so Sophie Mangal has been plagiarising articles by other writers.

Moreover Counterpunch’s enquiries about Sophie Mangal raised serious questions about the reality of yet another writer who also seemed to have some connection to the Inside Syria Media Centre.  This was Anna Jaunger, some of whose articles The Duran has also published.

It turns out that not only was there not much evidence for the actual existence of Anna Jaunger, but plagiarism appeared to be involved in her work as well, and – even more seriously – there was also clear evidence of identity theft, with the photograph “Anna Jaunger” has provided of herself being the stolen photograph of another woman.

Overall Counterpunch’s investigation exposes what looks like a veritable labyrinth of invisible or non-existent writers hiding behind concocted identities and fabricated life stories, with all of this somehow connected to the Inside Syria Media Center, and with the entire project depending heavily on plagiarism to give its mathematically prodigious output at least some appearance of substance.

Counterpunch’s discoveries raise serious questions which require full answers.

I accordingly took down Sophie Mangal’s and Anna Jaunger’s articles which The Duran had published and immediately emailed both Sophie Mangal and Mariam Al-Hijab, the editor in chief of the Inside Syria Media Center, saying that there were serious questions about their work which urgently required answers, and asking them to contact me to explain themselves.

To my astonishment instead of receiving a reply what I got from Sophie Mangal was two new submissions, both on the topic of the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme and both sent via the same email server – mail.com – which Counterpunch had flagged in its investigation.  The second of these submissions came with a brief introductory email which reads as follows

Dear colleague, this is the special investigative correspondent, Sophie Mangal.
I submit here my new article in English and kindly request that you look into the possibility of publishing it on your website.

The first submission did not come with any message.

Further requests sent to Sophie Mangal since we received these submissions have gone unanswered.  I now believe that Sophie Mangal’s emails attaching her two latest submissions were machine generated, and were triggered automatically by the emails I had sent her.  Presumably following the exposure the device which generated these emails has been turned off.


In other words I now think that there is no longer any actual person at the other end of the email address which we have used in the past to correspond with Sophie Mangal.

If I am wrong about this, then I invite Sophie Mangal and Mariam Al-Hijab to contact me in order to explain themselves and to put me right.  However I now inform them in advance that should they do so I will consider myself duty bound to share whatever explanation and information they give me with other concerned websites, including of course Counterpunch.

Assuming that I don’t hear from Sophie Mangal and Mariam Al-Hijab – as I expect – what conclusions can be drawn from this strange affair?

Firstly, it is clear that some sort of organisation is involved, and that someone has gone to some trouble to set up what increasingly looks like a media centre with dummy reporters to spread stories about the Syrian war.

I say this because based on Counterpunch’s investigation the “Inside Syria Media Center” despite having a live website has something of the appearance of a phantom, much as Sophie Mangal now does.

At this point it is important to say that a distinction must be made between a concocted and completely fictitious identity and a genuine writer who writes under a pseudonym.  “Alice Donovan” and probably “Anna Jaunger” look to be the former not the latter, and one should not confuse the two.

Secondly, though this project has generated a massive amount of raw output in the two or so years of its existence, it has remarkably little to show for the resources which have been put into it.

Some articles have been published on some sites – including unfortunately ours – but they have added precisely nothing to the overall debate, and there is not a scintilla of evidence that they have swayed anyone.  All that they have done is badly duplicate the work of actual writers, some of whom they have plagiarised.

I am not going to venture a guess as to who is behind this project, save to say (1) that if it is an intelligence agency then its crudeness argues strongly against it being the intelligence agency of any of the major powers; and (2) all the indications are this project has its origins in the Middle East.

As to the FBI’s theory that Russian intelligence is behind “Alice Donovan”, not only have I seen no evidence for this, but the sheer crudeness of this project to my mind all but rules that idea out.

Putting aside that there is no obvious motive for Russian intelligence to set up a project of this kind, its botched implementation makes it inconceivable to me that the Russians could have been involved in it.

I appreciate when I say this that I may be attributing to Russian intelligence more sophistication and intelligence than it actually has.

However everything that I have heard about Russian intelligence suggests that it is very sophisticated and intelligent indeed, which makes it impossible for me to believe that it could have been involved in a crude and amateurish project like this.

That is all that I feel that it is possible to say about this strange affair.  Moreover despite Counterpunch’s painstaking and thorough efforts I doubt that we will now ever learn the full truth.  Whoever is behind this project now knows they have been exposed and will take whatever precautions they can in order to conceal themselves.

In the meantime Counterpunch deserves everyone’s thanks for exposing this troubling and frankly ugly sham.

In the present heated atmosphere distinguishing fact from fiction in today’s news is becoming difficult enough.  If this affair shows anything it is that we now also need to be on our guard about some of the purported messengers of that news.

Cynics will no doubt rightly say that it was ever thus.  Still it is good to be reminded of it from time to time, and we at The Duran certainly will try to learn this lesson.  In the meantime we can only apologise to our readers for letting ourselves be gulled in the way that we were.

We also express our thanks to Counterpunch for putting us right, and for all the hard work they have done in exposing this ugly sham.

The Duran

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Russian Evening News Exposes Monsanto’s Evil Methods (Video) – By Leo Standish ( Russia Insider )

Russian Evening News Exposes Monsanto’s Evil Methods (Video)

“The Kiev government also plans to sell 10.5 million hectares of land to foreign companies, which is 1/9 of Europe’s arable land. It is possible that a lion’s share will go to Monsanto.”

MORE: Business

The EU has just extended a contract with Monsanto for five more years despite the history of problems caused by their pesticides. This decision was carried out against the will of the people . 

In the following clip (with text below) Russia’s top news anchor tears into both Monsanto and the corrupt politicians who collaboratively awarded them major agricultural contracts impacting the majority of Europe. The correspondent then shows us the tragic human cost of Monsanto’s deadly products.



It’s a colossal corruption scandal, which the European Union prefers be hushed up. Probably, for corruption reasons as well.

On Monday, an EU ad hoc appeal committee voted to extend the license allowing farmers to use a fertilizer called glyphosate. The current license expires on December 15.

Glyphosate is a common defoliant to eliminate weeds. It’s produced by the giant transnational corporation Monsanto. Monsanto has a bad reputation. It was this company that produced the military defoliant chemical Agent Orange, used by the Americans during the Vietnam War to find Vietcong guerrillas hiding in the jungle.

It was this company that produced the currently prohibited agricultural poison DDT. Some want glyphosate to be banned, too, since it is practically not excreted from the human body, but is accumulated, and, according to a timid assessment by the World Health Organization, is “a possible carcinogen,” that is, causes cancer.

The forces of glyphosate’s supporters and opponents, however, are not equal. In Europe alone, Monsanto spends about 1.5 billion euros a year on its lobbying projects. This is an open figure. Certainly, there is also a classified one.

In the US, the list of official lobbyists of the powerful company includes prominent senators and statespeople. Even Hillary Clinton doesn’t hide that she is connected with Monsanto and promotes the corporation’s interests.

Bill Gates invested tens of millions of dollars in Monsanto. He’s notorious for his obsession with reducing the world’s population. Take, for instance, his project to use ultrasound to stop the production of sperm in male testicles.

However, let’s return to the vote in the European Commission to extend the license for glyphosate on the continent. According to the rules, a decision is passed if at least 16 EU countries with a total population of 65% of the entire EU population – the so-called demographic majority- votes for it.

Let’s count. 18 countries voted “for”. Here everything is okay. Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the UK. Portugal abstained. But, according to the rules, abstainers are coupled with those who are “for”.

So, the total population of these 19 countries is just slightly more than 65% of the total population of the European Union. To be more precise, it’s 65.71%. Everything seems transparent. But there’s one little thing. No demographic majority would have been achieved without Germany. Germany was represented by a man with a very honest face, the Minister of Agriculture, Christian Schmidt.

But until recently Germany has always been against glyphosate. And this is how Schmidt should vote. But Schmidt voted for glyphosate. Has Germany changed its stance at the last second? No. It’s simply because Schmidt personally decided so.

Chancellor Merkel was quietly enraged by this. The vote was not in accordance with the instructions of the federal government, and such behavior on the part of Minister Schmidt does not comply with the norms.

Chancellor Merkel:

“That’s all, she scolded him. Now journalists in Berlin are talking about Schmidt’s dismissal, but they are journalists. No one is really going to dismiss Schmidt.”

Resignation is impossible now, as all ministers are currently acting, and there is no new government coalition in Germany so far. A scandal has already broken out, and then there’s some Schmidt on top of it. But this is how things are done in Europe.

OK, he did so, and Europe will be etched for another five years. OK, they hushed it up for clarity. Anastasia Popova is reporting from Europe about how things are done over there.


Theo, 10, is fond of reading books about knights, where good conquers evil.

For him, the same battle was a two-year debate to ban glyphosate in Europe, a poison for plants, which made him disabled while he was still in the womb.

Sabine Grattalou, Theo’s mother:

“When I used this product in the stables, I was 3 weeks pregnant. It was the very beginning of pregnancy, I did not know about it yet. But embryos’ organs are being formed during this period, esophagus and trachea.”


They were told that glyphosate is safe and fully dissolves in the soil. These commercials were broadcast on all French TV channels. It predetermined the choice of the parents. When the boy was born, he could not speak at all before the age of 3. To date, he has undergone 52 operations. But the doctors could restore neither his health nor his voice.

Theo Grattalou:

“Do not believe the commercials because Monsanto has made a false video claiming that it is a bio-product, that it decomposes, that it is safe for human health. At first, I was surprised at the vote, and then I became angry. Especially, because of Germany. The Minister of Agriculture made a personal decision which concerns the entire country.”


Christian Schmidt surprised everyone when he broke ranks with Angela Merkel and the federal government, saying “yes” to the license. His vote allowed it to clear the threshold of 65%.

He faces early retirement at home for his actions. The chancellor herself criticizes him publicly, but there is an interesting nuance. Last year, the German enterprise Bayer decided to buy Monsanto for $66 billion.

Marie-Monique Robin, journalist:

“Their goal is to control the world’s entire food chain from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s table. Should this deal be approved by the EU, we’ll get an industrial monster, they will control everything: seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, but also all medicines that will treat people, sick from these chemicals.”


The journalist says that the US is experiencing a surge in intestinal diseases, autism, diabetes, and cancer. The molecules of glyphosate are the reason for it.

A similar situation exists in Argentina and Sri Lanka.

Film frames:

“In Denmark, pigs that ate soy with the weedkiller became infertile or they had miscarriages. Piglets were born with deformities. This piglet was born yesterday, with deformities. He has exencephaly. There’s no upper part. There’s no skull, the brain is exposed. Fortunately, he was born dead. With the increased level of glyphosate, there have been more piglets like this.”


Two French farmers filed a lawsuit against Monsanto. One of them has already won the trial. Both have cancer, caused by glyphosate fumes.

It’s a rather minor trouble for a company whose profits last year amounted to $ 13.5 billion. A suspended license in the EU would be far more painful. However, Monsanto not only invests in paid research, but also lashes out on the lobby.

In Brussels alone, they spend about half a million euros per year on this. Despite the petition and the appeals of the European Parliament, 8 countries voted to allow glyphosate, one country abstained, only 9 voted against it, including France.

Macron promises to find alternatives to Roundup within 3 years, but, economically, the French farmers are not ready yet to give it up right away.

Henri Jasse, farmer:

“We mainly use this product after harvesting to cleanse the land. Sometimes before sowing, when we prepare the ground and burn the weeds. We spray it, and in 5-6 days we can sow.”


It’s cheap and quick, which is often the determining factor for farmers. Not everybody can afford another way of farming by alternating crops and growing bio.

Henri Jasse, farmer:

“If you use a lot of Roundup and glyphosate, it’ll affect the plants. It won’t remain in the soil, but it will backfire on us through the food we eat. But people still keep using it. It’s just practical. It’s like McDonald’s, we know that it’s harmful, but we still go there.”


Founded more than a hundred years ago in the USA, Monsanto produced Agent Orange which Americans used in the Vietnam War to burn all the plants, which resulted in 3 million people affected by dioxin and crippled children. Monsanto developed DDT, dubbed chemical AIDS. It’s genetically modified seeds that change the biochemistry of the body. They are still banned in the EU, but it is already possible to buy GMOs for animal feed. It is produced in North, South America, Asia, and Africa. There are Monsanto offices in 66 countries around the world.

A whole plant for the production of GMO seeds has been built in Pochuyki, Ukraine.

A Ukrainian farmer:

“It’s not very good for me, soon I’ll have to sell my house and flee. The youth voted for this plant to produce seeds and poisons, maybe they were bribed?”


The Kiev government also plans to sell 10.5 million hectares of land to foreign companies, which is 1/9 of Europe’s arable land. It is possible that a lion’s share will go to Monsanto. It already chose 10 fields for genetic testing on plants. It’s planning to seize control of the whole market. Ukraine ranks third in the world for the export of corn, and fifth for the export of wheat. The association agreement with the EU will allow it to eventually introduce these products to the European market.


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Hold Your Applause for Trump Selling Snake Oil – By Phil Butler

Author: Phil Butler




When Donald J. Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the race for the U.S. presidency in 2016, about a billion-people pegged their hopes on the billionaire developer’s promises. Now, a little more than a year into his presidency, and those vested hopes have evaporated. The only “genuine” good news where Trump is concerned, comes with the relief Hillary Clinton is not madam president. But the question now arises; “Did Clinton and the globalists really lose?”

As one of the analysts and journalists who’s attempted to moderate the so-called “fake news” aimed at all opponents of the liberal world order, I somehow figured Donald Trump would do what he said he would – and maybe even make America great again to boot. My first doubts came when the new president almost immediately stepped on Native Americans with his final approval of the Dakota pipeline. This easement for the energy industry angered both Native Americans protesters and climate change activists, but Trump and “his” America seemed to care less. An update from last month on Trump’s brilliant move reveals a preliminary report on suggesting the Keystone pipeline had the earmarks of an environmental disaster early on. In December of 2017 news reports came out suggesting construction goofs from 10 years ago may have led to the leak of 210,000 gallons of crude oil in a prairie grass field near the South Dakota-North Dakota border in November.

Since I’d supported Trump on the weight of his “Drain the Swamp” campaign promises, the sacrifices of a few indigenous people’s of America seemed to me a small price to pay for a rejuvenation of the American Way, and all. Then Trump pressed the cruise-missile button from his golf cart to send fifty-nine Tomahawks to strike an airbase in Syria. “Opps! Neocon/Liberal World Order against Russia back on,” I thought to myself. But it took Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, wild eyed Vietnam revisionist and National Security Adviser HR McMaster, and United Nations token US political bimbo Nikki Haley all defended the move in chorus. It was at this moment I really started to worry.

The months rolled on. Hillary Clinton and the swamp things that helped ruin the United States of America in the first place – they went nowhere! Instead of cleaning up like he said he would, Trump became the ring leader of a dog and pony show America gobbled up every day. CNN took the role of evil news channel, the vagina hat wearing Hillary fanatics mutated into Oprah for President campaign workers. And the “swamp” got bigger and a lot more murky, instead of the little Golden Pond MAGA fans envisioned. Trump became, for all intents and purposes, the buffoon to distract the audience in the three-ring-circus that is our leadership. The old “good-cop, bad, cop” routine wafted first under, then far above the big top. I got the nagging feeling we’d all been had, and that those pictures of the Clintons being chummy with Trump were more significant than we’d thought. Russia became more of an enemy than during the Obama administration. I now thing to myself; “How is that even possible?”

Next came the moronic Tweets concerning climate change. Even before Trump ditched the Paris Summit, Trump sidled up with the energy lobby in proclaiming invalid the whole of global warming science. His next moves were clearly designed to free up US corporations for reverting to 1970s misdeeds. Trump even resorted to citing Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal in his Tweeting rampages about indestructible Earth. This Tweet convinced me our new president is either a dumbass or just crazy:

“In the 1920’s people were worried about global cooling–it never happened. Now it’s global warming. Give me a break!”

I’ll not launch into a tirade here over “unlimited Earth theorists”, but predators like Donald Trump are the reason the oceans are heating up. Like Barack Obama before him (for those who remember) this president betrayed humanity just like Barack did in Copenhagen. Obama’s late fake out to side with environmentalists was for his legacy and his role in “good-cop, bad-cop”, but now it’s Trump’s turn. With a hundred Washington investigations supposedly going on – what do you want to bet nobody ever goes to jail over RussiaGate, the Podesta mess, the DNC, or any of the revelations we’ve seen?

Now the first straw that broke this hopeful American’s belief in ANYBODY EVER doing right from Washington, it fell the day Trump proclaimed Jerusalem capital of Isreal! Then UN Bimbolina Haley chimed in threatening the world, and Bibi Netanyahu smiled like a well-fed hog. Then I read Veterans Today Senior Editor, Gordon Duff’s scathing piece on Trump. In his most recent “Intel Drop”, Duff reminded me of Trump’s mob connections, and of the lunatic wannabe playboy we knew about decades ago. On reading this I thought; “How could you have forgotten what an asshole this guy always was?” Indeed, how could any of us forget narcissist, arrogant, loose cannot billionaire idiots? But then my childlike vision of new white picket fences for all Americans got even more glum when I read the news the bloodsuckers at BlackRock hit a record $6 trillion assets, helped by the spanking new Trump tax law. How could we be so stupid? Can’t anybody put 2+2 together anymore? The winner in these tax cuts is not middle America folks, it’s the bankers that loan money to the Federal Reserve! Get it? Sure, the middle class family gets a short break, but then when Uncle Trump needs more cash to help Israel kill more Arabs, where does it come from? I’ll let you do the math there, but Blackrock’s boss Larry Fink was the odds-on favorite to be Hillary’s treasury secretary, and now he cleans up… I leave you with a shorter definition for what we are witnessing in Washington, a definition of a Dog and pony show (see also: medicine show):

“A colloquial term that has come to mean a highly promoted, often over-staged performance, presentation, or event designed to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends.”

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”