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

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© 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

 
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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

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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.”

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http://tass.com/economy/985842

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.

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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.


Transcript:

Anchor:

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.

Correspondent:

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.”

Correspondent:

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.”

Correspondent:

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.”

Correspondent:

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.”

Correspondent:

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.”

Correspondent:

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.”

Correspondent:

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?”

Correspondent:

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

 

 

T453564121

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.”
https://journal-neo.org/2018/01/17/hold-your-applause-for-trump-selling-snake-oil/

‘Made in America’: El Salvador’s mass graves are the worst “shitholes” – By Roberto Lovato (Latino Rebels)

Victims of the El Mozote Massacre

© Magnum Photos/CC
Victims of the El Mozote Massacre

My journalist’s hiking boots still have leftover feces and dirt from the ultimate shitholes of El Salvador: its mass graves. Many of the thousands of graves that my sources there have mapped were dug by U.S.-trained and funded security forces in the 80s. Most of the rest were dug more recently by L.A.based-gangs steadily deported to El Salvador by U.S. immigration authorities since the 90s.

President Trump’s characterization of Africa, Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” disturbed me, but I wasn’t sure why. The comments were made during a discussion about the temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of Salvadoran, Haitian and other immigrants Trump had just rescinded. In search for an answer, I went home and pulled out and studied my boots , which were tattered after too many visits to mass graves, mass graves with the remains of Salvadorans-in El Salvador, in Mexico and in the deserts of south Texas. Wearing my hiking boots during visits to numerous sites along this chain of devalued life led me to the conclusion that mass graves were the ultimate shitholes.

What made me most uncomfortable was less about Mr. Trump’s choice of word than how he used it: he mistook the shithole part for the whole country. Trump’s rhetorical fallacy feels like a cover-up, a distraction from the fact that El Salvador’s mass graves contain fingerprints and other evidence that point to the United States as an accomplice to the mass murder and violence that created them. Viewed from this perspective, Trump’s “shithole” comment said in words what all US presidents have said with their policies towards countries like Haiti and El Salvador.

Consider, for example, the Salvadoran case of El Mozote, the site of the massacre of almost a thousand peasants, a crime whose irresolution still haunts many. Some 37 years after the mass massacre, forensic evidence from mass graves proved that 553 of those victims were children, many of them under six years old.

Protest against US involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1989

© Linda Hess Miller/ Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Protest against US involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1989

El Mozote is the best documented of El Salvador’s thousands of mass graves, many of which remain unexcavated. Forensic experts with El Salvador’s Institute for Legal Medicine and the world renown Argentine forensic team told me that their evidence -bones, shoe marks, hair samples, bullet shells- of the mass killing at El Mozote pointed to elite Salvadoran soldiers trained in places like Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, Georgia, formerly known as the notorious “School of the Americas.” Evidence from recent Salvadoran and international court cases corroborates this. The boots, bullets, weapons, helicopters and uniforms used during the massacre were all Made in the U.S.A. And the evidence trail isn’t limited to El Mozote.

A United Nations Truth Commission established by agreement between the Salvadoran government and the FMLN guerrillas at the end of the civil war in 1992 concluded that U.S. trained security forces had perpetrated 85% of the killings of innocents during the war that left over 75,000 dead. Most of the perpetrators remain free. The forensic evidence left by El Salvador’s US-trained and funded military is undeniable at El Mozote, in the murder of El Salvador’s only saint, Monseñor Romero, in the case of the 4 Maryknoll nuns raped and killed in 1980, just as it is in the cases of the tens of thousands of other, lesser-known slaughtered innocents.

The war-era mass graves I visited around an area called Panchimalco are located right next to the more recent mass graves dug by gangs in the area. Like the weapons and training used by the Salvadoran military, the gangs themselves were also born in the United States, specifically Los Angeles’ Pico Union neighborhood. I remember because I was there in the early 90s, when police of the Rampart police division -the site of the worst police scandal in U.S. history- started pushing the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs to escalate the warfare between them. The Rampart division’s well-documented tactics -planting guns for false arrests, taking a young man in gang from one neighborhood into the hostile territory of rival gangs, shooting and even killing gang members and make it seem like rival gangs did it- did much to foment violence among the gangs.

Most damaging for El Salvador and its shitholes was the way LAPD then broke sanctuary laws designed to protect people fleeing extreme violence and other disasters from deportation. In the early 90s, the LAPD and INS began the fatal practice of handing the young gang members over to the then Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for deportation. In the process, these agents of US policy helped create a gang culture in a country with no history of U.S.-style gangs and gang warfare. These gangs have since gone on to fill the mass graves that mark El Salvador as one of the most violent countries on earth.

In immigration terms, the shithole is a distraction. Calling the countries shitholes, but also designating them as counties ready to both receive hundreds of thousands of deportees and lose billions of dollars sent home by them is also a logical -and tragic- fallacy, another policy failure. But if the President is going to use such language, he should back up his words with policy that recognizes U.S. responsibility for the foreign war and immigration policies that create catastrophes. In other words, I would prefer Trump walk the shithole talk-and can give him the hiking boots to do it with.

Comment: See: Senators Cotton and Perdue: “Trump didn’t say shithole”For more on the supposed Trump comment and it’s relevance to the state of world affairs, check out SOTT radio’s: The Truth Perspective: Left by the Wayside on a Right-hand Turn: What Happened to SOTT.net?

See Also:

 

How Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Google silence and crush dissent – By Joanne Nova

Stomped

© Police State USA

Insidious is the word

Even if you don’t use Twitter or Facebook, you need to know this. If you disagree with big-government intrusion and rampant corruption, these dirty tricks are working against you, though you may never have sent one tweet or opened a facebook account. They’re stopping the thousands who agree with you from meeting, organising, helping each other, and generally clawing back power from the deep state. We’ve known about Google bias for years, but there are so many other ways to suppress a good idea. Twitter employee admits they target conservatives, and shadowban them:

Daniel Greenfield:

How do you know you’ve been shadowbanned? You may be tweeting, but you’re no longer being heard. You wonder if maybe people just aren’t interested in what you have to say.

But they might be interested. Twitter just isn’t interested in letting them read your messages.

Shadowbanning is the censorship that social media companies do in the shadows. It’s cowardly and dishonest. And it’s how the big firms get away with covertly censoring conservatives.

“The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting and no one sees their content,” Abhinav Vadrevu, a former Twitter employee, explains in Project Veritas’ undercover investigation of the company.

“They just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it.”

Twitter employees are so closeted (and selected) they have no idea that real people may even be patriots who talk about guns, flags, or the cross. Algorithms pick up these words, and “delete accounts that twitter employees think are bots. ” Some Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) may never have met an outspoken patriot.

Conservatives Are Being Destroyed by Facebook, Twitter and Google Without Even Realizing It,

By John Hawkins:

Today, as you read this, my website Right Wing News is shutting down operations. It has been around since 2001, but became massive a few years ago because of Facebook. …

In July of 2015, in just a week, the Right Wing News Facebook page reached 133 million people. Because conservatives were sharing content they were interested in, little ol’ Right Wing News … was driving the same amount of web traffic as some of the biggest newspapers in America.

Facebook bleeds groups dry slowly:

..what Facebook giveth, Facebook can take away.

…Facebook systematically, methodically reduced the reach of all its pages with each algorithm change. By then, most of us understood where it was going long-term. If Facebook killed every conservative page overnight, there would be a huge outcry. On the other hand, if Facebook slowly strangled us to death, we’d fade away and would people even notice? …

As someone who has been working for a living in this business since 2005, let me drop a little truth bomb on you. We are now in a very oversaturated, corporation-dominated media environment. If you don’t already have a legacy website that captured traffic years ago and held onto it, huge traffic you can bring in from elsewhere, or millions of dollars to spend, your chances of getting a political website off the ground today are infinitesimal. …

Except Facebook has for all intents and purposes announced that it’s killing off pages. So much for having a conservative voice there.

Youtube is demonetizing conservatives and libertarians:

Dennis Prager’s PragerU is suing YouTube for exactly that reason. Just to give you an example of the sort of content YouTube thinks is over-the-line, here are some of the videos it demonetized: Why America Must Lead, The Ten Commandments: Do Not Murder, Why Did America Fight the Korean War, and The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians.

Of course, YouTube would claim that it’s not censoring the videos because it didn’t take them down. However, people are not going to spend large amounts of time and money putting together high-production-value videos if they’re not going to be allowed to make money on those videos because of their political beliefs. …

These giant monopolies are staffed and owned by people who really do despise you:

Many of these companies effectively became monopolies because they worked hard to serve ALL of their users. Now that they completely dominate their spaces in the marketplace, their liberal political views are impacting their services. As Robert Conquest once said, “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing” and that is a much bigger threat than most conservatives realize. …

We’ve already lost the schools, Hollywood and the mainstream media. What happens when you can’t get out conservative opinion via social media because they block, shadow ban and demonetize everyone who gets any traction? What happens if they put rules in place that essentially make expressing conservative opinions something that gets you kicked off their service? You’re pro-gun? Sorry, not allowed. You don’t like gay marriage? Get out of here. Criticizing Black Lives Matter? Out of bounds! We can hope for the best, but that seems like the future we’re headed toward and it’s one that will leave conservatism weaker than ever.

Fight back, spread the word. First we make sure everyone knows. Then we find alternatives and take back the schools, the movies, and grow the alt-media. Despite all this concerted, organised, dirty-work, Trump still won, over half the population in western nations are skeptical, and the extreme left have parked themselves far out on bizarre, indefensible ideas. Windmills won’t hold back the tide, and almost no one believes they will. The bubble will pop, it’s fragile, which is why the deluded and rent-seeking are working so hard to stop the sensible masses from even talking to each other.

They are ripe for the mocking, and we still have free speech.

h/t David E

Shadowbanned through their own home P.C.,
In ways that the user can’t see,
With communication denied,
To sympathizers worldwide,
On the whim of the Left or Leftie.

-Ruairi

* * *

PS: I’m a slack slack tweeter (four months between messages). I don’t think my tweets are being blocked. If you “follow me” @JoanneNova, can you check now, and find a way to let me know if you can’t see the tweet today in your account? Thanks.

INTO THE BLAST FURNACE: THE WAR AGAINST IDLIB’S TERRORISTS AND THE KURDISH DILEMMA – By Ziad Fadel

fcce9-1g7eof1yictunofsukq1flq

All eyes are on Idlib today and the American fall-back position in the northeast.  The Syrian government’s strategy of making truces with terrorists and offering them safe passage to Idlib where they were heaped up has paid dividends.  What is amazing is that so many of the terrorist commanders could not see this coming.  Today, even with Turkish collusion, terrorist jihadists are bracing for their apocalypse.  As terrorist propagandists describe it, “it’s the most violent air campaign we have ever seen in Syria!”  Gee.  Surprise!  That they could not imagine this happening is a good sign of the enemy’s naivete.  It was obvious to all my readers that this was going to happen.

Turkey is conflicted about this largely Syrian-Russian-Iranian stratagem.  While valuing their relationship with Russia and Iran, the Turks are unwilling to break away from their Assado-phobia.  It might be that they feel a sense of shame for promoting the war so openly, but, now seeing no path out but to cling to the tired mantras that have justified their own involvement in the dissemination of terror throughout the Fertile Crescent, they persist in prolonging the war against Damascus  The Turks and their foreign policy are adrift in a sea of contradictions.

Erdoghan is reportedly enraged by the Zionist moves on Jerusalem inspired by Trump’s lunacy.

Erdoghan is reportedly enraged by the U.S.A.’s unwillingness to extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey to face charges of seditiion and treason – not to mention his involvement in an attempt to overthrow the government in Ankara.

Erdoghan is enraged by the U.S.A.’s support for the Kurdish SDF, a group the Turks equate with the PKK with whom they have fought an endless insurgency which aims to establish a Kurdish state in Turkey.  He has punished the U.S. and NATO by purchasing an S-400 anti-aircraft system from Russia.

Erdoghan is enraged by Saudi Arabia’s efforts to chastise Qatar for its cuddling up to Iran.  He has sent troops to Qatar to help defend that nation if KSA decides to repeat another blunder on its own borders.

Erdoghan is enraged by KSA’s and Egypt’s hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group it is said to which Erdoghan either belongs or is supporting wholeheartedly.  He is even more enraged by Egypt’s mistreatment of Hamas officials and troops – Cairo’s efforts to blunt Hamas’s military capabilities – destroying tunnels, seizing weapons and killing fishermen.  Hamas is, of course, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Erdoghan is miffed at everybody.  He’s even enraged by Dr. Assad’s durability.

Erdoghan has also expressed rage at the massive military operation aimed at exterminating the entire structure of Alqaeda in Idlib.  He has railed against the Syrian Air Force’s bombardment of Alqaeda bases, labeling the air attacks as “murder of civilians”.  It has been reported that the Turkish military gave aid to Alqaeda terrorists in their counter-offensive to halt the Syrian Army’s advance on the Abu Dhuhoor Air Base.  That advance has recommenced and the SAA has recaptured all villages lost to the terrorist/Turk counter-attack.

Well, that’s just too bad.  And it makes no sense for him to involve his country in a losing effort to keep the terrorist groups in Idlib on life support while cutting his ties to the Americans and Europeans.  I don’t know what Macron is thinking now, but it must be something along the lines of cursing the world for imposing crackpot Trump and even loonier Erdoghan upon what should have been a more rational world. Erdoghan doesn’t sense it, but, his options lessen with each gambit he makes.  He has now threatened to invade northeastern Syria to tamp down the moves toward solidifying the American plan to establish a state for the Kurds (remember my post on that subject). If he does do that, he will be ordering his forces to fire on a fellow NATO member, the United States, which has over 10,000 troops on the ground helping the Kurds to set up the requirements of statehood.  A mess is in the making.  Whenever the United States develops  very clever plans, you can already figure its going to get mired in a new overseas war.

I have received information that the plan to establish a Kurdish rump state in the northeast was initially suggested by the Zionist entity.  According to my source, Mossad developed the plan on orders from Mileikowski (a/k/a Netanyahu) to give the Americans a fighting chance at blunting the rapid proliferation of Iranian influence in the region.  We now know, that the new Kurdistan in the north and the endless training in the south at Al-Tanf are meant to squeeze any efforts by Iran to project its economic power by extending a natural gas pipeline across Syria to the Mediterranean and its military power by roadways across Iraq and Syria to South Lebanon, Hizbollah’s home territory.

There can be no more screw-brained a plan than this one.  And if the U.S. is counting on Turkey to keep up its end by continually aiding and abetting the terrorists of Hay’`at Ahraar Al-Shaam (read: Alqaeda), it appears that kind of expectation is the stuff of delusion. The Turks are increasingly moving away from NATO and have little respect for the United States, as I wrote earlier.  They have, since 2015, closed their borders to Syrians coming from Idlib.  They have tightened controls over supplies to the Alqaeda terrorists.  The one thing they have not done completely is block smugglers from delivering much-needed material to the thugs who populate Idlib.  This is how the terrorists were able to manufacture the drones that attacked the Russian base at Humaymeem.  The state which gave them the basic design is clearly the Zionist Settler State.

Russia quickly retaliated against the terrorists by striking their factory and killing most of those who were responsible for the manufacture and design of the drones.  The intelligence they received identifying the location of the factory was, reportedly, from Turkey.  And Russian vengeance was most sweet.

Syrian Air Force bombing of Idlib is intensifying exponentially, as the terrorist propagandists admit.  The Syrian Air Force has been 100% revamped and modernized.  The army is much stronger.  Even with the American-made TOW anti-tank system, the terrorists have no chance because Syrian engineers developed the Saraab 1 and 2 which have effectively neutralized the efficacity of the TOWs.  With no new technology to help them, the terrorists are simply flipping their hour glasses until the final moments.

Saudi Arabia has ceased all funding to the Alqaeda led by Muhaysini.  There are no smugglers with briefcases full of money to pay salaries to the terrorists whose families have now become sorrowful characters in a Greek tragedy eerily unfolding every day.  With a Europe unwilling to accept them, the smuggling business is seeing a brisk upturn as families spend every item of jewelry on a passage to Greece and, hopefully, to Europe. I cannot envision a scenario more deprived of hope than what these wretches are facing.  It is only a matter of time.

The Americans have given the PKK MANPADs.  That’s going to make Erdoghan real happy.  There is already talk that the Turkish offensive at Afrin will begin today, Wednesday, January 17, 2018.  I hope the Kurds and the Turks blow each other up.  I pray for a bloody encounter that will teach the Turks about supporting terrorism and the Kurds about overreaching and treason.

In the meantime, another drama is taking place in the Eastern Ghouta.  The Army of Islam is still receiving its salaries from KSA.  But, as I understand it, the Saudis have given the ‘Alloosh brothers a limit.  They have been told to negotiate at Geneva or Sochi or get left out.  Don’t believe the nonsense spewed out by fake-news organizations about how popular the terrorists are in the Ghouta.  They are not popular.  They are only tolerated by a population of drudges. The decision has been made to beat the terrorists into the ground with air power.  Watch carefully the position taken by ‘Alloosh at Sochi – we predict a sudden abandonment of entrenched positions and an acceptance of Dr. Assad’s leadership.  They have no other choice.  And so little time.  ZAF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________________________
NEWS AND COMMENT:
Petri Krohn shares this with us. The premise is simple, FSA = Alqaeda. Share with friends:

https://www.libertarianinstitute.org/foreign-policy/no-fsa-al-qaeda/https://www.libertarianinstitute.org/foreign-policy/no-fsa-al-qaeda/

Chris sends this article explaining why imbecile Trump reneged on his promise to leave Afghanistan when in office.  This article pushes the thesis that the U.S. is terrified of the Chinese-led Belt Road project.  Just as afraid of Iran’s natural gas pipeline.  And you wonder why North Korea will not give up its nuclear arsenal!

https://journal-neo.org/2018/01/12/is-trump-afghan-policy-aimed-at-taliban-or-at-china/

Bullshit For Breakfast: Kellogg’s Processed Breakfast Cereal Health Claims Are Reasonably Unbelievable – By Doug DiPasquale

Special K advertisement

I feed my unborn baby heat-treated extruded grain slurry with added low quality folic acid because advertising.

Sometimes you just have to marvel at the lies we’re surrounded by. The number of untruths proffered by advertising is so blatant that it’s rather astounding that it isn’t illegal. Well, technically it is illegal, but it seems advertisers are well aware of ways around the rules, or simply break them until they’re called out.

In a previous piece, I detailed a lawsuit filed against Coca-Cola by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) for claims the company had made for their product “Vitaminwater,” a sugary soft drink masquerading as a health beverage. In the legal proceedings, Coke’s lawyers argued that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” Essentially, Coca-Cola’s stance is that if you’re stupid enough to believe them, that’s too bad for you, and that it is within their rights to lie, exaggerate or otherwise skew the truth about their product in advertising it to the public because there’s no risk of anyone reasonably believing it.

Since the writing of that piece, the suit has been resolved. From CSPI:

The agreement approved yesterday by Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York bars Coca-Cola from making those health claims in connection with Vitaminwater, as well as such statements as “vitamins + water = what’s in your hand,” “vitamins + water = all you need,” and “this combination of zinc and fortifying vitamins can… keep you healthy as a horse.” The company will also prominently add the words “with sweeteners” on two places on the label where the brand’s name appears.

How about ‘vitamins + water + sugar + hype = soda – bubbles‘? Can they put that on the bottle? That seems reasonable.

However, it seems this one successful case hasn’t done much to dissuade Super-Global-Mega-Big-Processed-Food-Corp, all rights reserved, from deceptively portraying their garbage as health foods. A case in point, the above Kellogg’s ad came across my screen this week and I was instantly filled with doom. While it doesn’t specifically state that eating Special K will help your baby be healthy, that is what is implied. Imagine someone actually following this as if it was solid health advice.

Despite what the Coca-Cola lawyers said, people do believe these kinds of health claims. Maybe if anyone asked us outright, we might say, ‘No, I don’t believe that advertising copy is a good source of health advice’. But because we’re exposed to an estimated 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day, we’re obviously not consciously thinking about all of them. They’re mostly seeping into our brains, with us largely unaware that it’s happening, carried along with the billions of other data passing through there on a daily basis, also largely unfiltered. Advertisers know what they’re doing; they’ve sussed all the psychological tricks for influencing the masses. They’ve been studying the science of persuasion for a century or more. Getting small pieces of information into brains by appealing to emotions and bypassing the critical faculties is, most of the time, enough to peddle influence into our buying habits; or worse yet, our eating habits.

So if a woman sees the above ad, whether she’s consciously thinking about it or not, an association between Special K and healthy pregnancy has been made and registered by her unconscious mind. Obviously, this isn’t going to affect everyone the same way, but advertizers’ healthy balance sheets prove that the shotgun approach has a proven track record. So God knows how many women are going to be under the impression that the folic acid content of Special K, a processed food with little-to-no actual nutritional value, will contribute to giving them healthy babies.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, or vitamin B9, naturally found in foods. While folate is needed by women prior to becoming pregnant and in the initial stages of pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus, folic acid is actually a poor substitute, needing to be metabolized by the liver in a complicated conversion process. If someone lacks or is deficient in an important enzyme in this process, combined with too much folic acid consumption (mostly from fortified processed foods, if not supplementation), it can lead to excess unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream. This has been associated with a host of problems including ischemic heart disease and cancer (for more on this, please see Chris Kresser’s excellent article: The little known (but crucial) difference between folate and folic acid).

So, essentially, Special K is advertising their bullshit breakfast cereal as ‘healthy for preggers’ because they’ve fortified it with a piss-poor version of a nutrient vitally needed in pregnancy. Actually, it’s not just breakfast cereal – the company has also released a new line of protein bars; substandard processed foods marketed as healthy meal replacements or something necessary for powering workouts (which is total nonsense). Protein bars are nothing more than candy bars with added protein from questionable sources. Here’s Kellogg’s new ad launching the campaign:

So inspiring! Ladies, are you with me?!

The hashtag that has been launched to accompany the campaign, #poweringyou, doesn’t seem to have a lot of traction yet (making it ripe pickings for hijacking; hint-hint), but I was surprised to find that tweets were almost exclusively positive. On closer inspection, they’re mostly branding companies praising the advertising campaign for portraying “a range of women being active” (a virtue signal to liberals that the ad features multiple ethnicities and makes a special effort to show a lesbian couple), that the protein bars are “a healthy snack” for women on the go, and a series of people trying to find the catchy tune featured in the ad. So where’s all the outrage?

As with most modern advertising, what Kellogg’s is selling here is a lifestyle, aimed at women who see themselves as being, or would like to be, active, trendy, possibly pregnant and of course, empowered (note how close “#poweringyou” is to “empowering you”. Probably not an accident). It’s feminist breakfast cereal! It’s about time! I mean hey, I’m an empowered woman! I carry groceries with a baby strapped to me! I do jazzercise in my underwear with my multi-racial friends! I crawl through the mud like an army bootcamp thingy! I should eat Special K! It’s so me!

The slogan, “With nutrients specifically designed to help women be the best version of themselves,” is pretty insulting when you think about it. I’m not a woman and I’m insulted. The idea that processed junk food will help anyone “be the best version of themselves,” could only be believed by someone who is achingly stupid. It is literally going to do the opposite, and I don’t care how many low-quality vitamins you throw in there. A processed diet is going to make you look, think and feel substandard, at best.

So in order to undo what this advertising has done, let’s take a look at what ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals really are.

From the Weston A. Price Foundation:

Cold breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry and placed in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s or flakes or shreds. Individual grains passed through the extruder expand to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice. These products are then subjected to sprays that give a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.

Anything that starts out as something referred to as a “slurry” doesn’t sound very tasty. Much less so when the next step involves something called an “extruder”. Why people took to torturing the hell out of their food is beyond me.

In his book Fighting the Food Giants, biochemist Paul Stitt describes the extrusion process, which treats the grains with very high heat and pressure, and notes that the processing destroys much of their nutrients. It denatures the fatty acids; it even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added at the end of the process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially damaged by the extrusion process.

OK, so all that folic acid added into these preggo-bars and cereals don’t even necessarily survive the processing the “food” goes through. So, why are we eating this crap again?

And denatured, or rancid, fatty acids are no joke. From Sott.net’s Dr. Gabriela Segura: “Rancid fats not only mutate DNA directly, they also make DNA more susceptible to mutations induced by other environmental pollutants.” Makes you want to start your day off with a big bowl of DNA damage. It’s part of a balanced breakfast.

With so many millions of boxes of cereal sold each year, one would expect to see published studies showing the effects of these cereals on animals and humans. But breakfast cereals are a multi-billion dollar industry that has created huge fortunes for a few people. A box of cereal containing a penny’s worth of grain sells for four or five dollars in the grocery store – there is probably no other product on earth with such a large profit margin. These profits have paid for lobbying efforts and journal sponsorships that have effectively kept any research about extruded grains out of the scientific literature and convinced government officials that there is no difference between a natural grain of wheat and a grain that has been altered by the extrusion process.

The Price article highlights two studies, which are unpublished (likely due to the above-mentioned lobbying and journal sponsorships). One from 1942 put rats into 4 groups, feeding each a different diet. One given actual wheat plus vitamins, another puffed wheat (extruded) and vitamins, another given nothing but water and sugar and the last given only water and vitamins. You won’t believe what happened: the rats fed the puffed wheat died first! In fact, they only lived two weeks. They even died before the rats fed NOTHING but vitamins and water, who lived two months. So if you were thinking that breakfast cereals are better than nothing, apparently you were wrong.

The author summarizes the second study as follows:

Another unpublished experiment was carried out in 1960. Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor were given eighteen laboratory rats. These were divided into three groups: one group received cornflakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the cornflakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats eating the box became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. The rats receiving the cornflakes and water died before the rats that were eating the box! (The first box rat died the day the last cornflake rat died.) Furthermore, before death, the cornflakes-eating rats developed aberrant behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock. The startling conclusion of this study was that there was more nourishment in the box than in the cornflakes. This experiment was designed as a joke, but the results were far from funny.

While the above studies, being unpublished, don’t exactly make an open-and-shut case, they certainly point in the direction of needed further research. One is left to wonder why neither of these studies have been replicated (ahem, lobbying and journal sponsorships). The fact is, no processed food should be able to make health claims, especially for something as important as healthy pregnancy, unless they’ve actually done studies to show the effects of the food itself – not just the benefits of the individual nutrients they’ve added in. Otherwise no one can make a claim about the benefits of their processed slop because they don’t actually know. They’re just guessing, and not very educated guesses at that. In fact, they probably know they are lying.

The only thing that saves Kellogg’s is the fine print. Very few will read the tiny white letters at the bottom of the ad, which say “A serving of Special K cereals contain 15% of the nutrient reference value of folic acid which contributes to maternal tissue growth during pregnancy. Enjoy as part of a varied & balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.” This is nothing more than a legal disclaimer to make sure that, when you do what the ad says to do and things go pear-shaped, you’re not able to sue them. It doesn’t technically say that their products will give you good babies, despite the fact that this is clearly what they’re implying. They say ‘folic acid is good for babies and Special K has folic acid, so… you know,’ and leave you to do the math.

With a team of Coca-Cola lawyers arguing that “no consumer could reasonably believe” their advertising, maybe it’s time for us to start getting a lot more reasonable. If you want to make sure you’re getting enough folate, the reasonable response would be to skip the processed crap and eat an egg. Or eat organ meats and bone broth. Don’t fall for the lifestyle-marketed, manipulated foodstuffs; that would be unreasonable. Eat the same things your great grandmother ate when she was pregnant. It’s reasonable to believe that that will turn out well.

And just to get that hashtag hijack going:

Doug DiPasquale

Doug DiPasquale is a Holistic Nutritionist, Paleo enthusiast and health journalist living in Toronto, Canada. He’s a regular contributor for SOTT.net, Dot Connector Magazine, the Huffington Post Canada, The Food Network Canada and has contributed to many other blogs and online publications. He’s passionate about the food we eat, exposing the lies and faulty thinking of the “food police” and informing the public about how to eat real food, ie. replacing that wheatgrass shot with bacon.

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