Showing posts from December, 2016

Facebook will allow users to flag articles as fake news

Facebook is making good on its promise to try to eradicate "fake news". One of the techniques Facebook will use for doing so is a tool that will allow users to flag anything that they consider to be fake news.
The 1.8 billion users of Facebook will be able to click the upper right-hand corner in any post to flag the content as fake news. There is one huge problem right off the bataccording to an article in Zero Hedge. Not all posts can be flagged,only thosenot from "legitimate news sources". Which outlets are legitimate news sources and why? Even if a new source has an excellent reputation it can still carry fake news especially if the news is produced by the governmentas in the coverage of the issue of Hussein's having WMD.Zero Hedgeasks of the list of legitimate news outlets: ".. does it include the likes of NYTs and the WaPos, which during the runup to the election declared on a daily basis, that Trump has no chance of winning, which have since posted d…

Production to re-start from two oil fields in western Libya

Protesters who have been blocking pipelines from Sharara and El Feel oil fields have agreed to reopen them. Oil industry and security officials claim that production could start again within days.
Before the uprising against Gadaffi in 2011, Libya was producing up to 1.6 million barrels per day. While production has doubled since September when eastern oil crescent ports began to export again, it is still just around 600,000 barrels a day. Opening the new fields could boost production by another 365,000 barrels a day. A faction of the Libyan Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) has blockaded one pipeline since November of 2014 and another from April of 2015. A tweet claims an even longer blockade: "The blockade of El Feel was on 31-May-2013, Elshara on 25-June-2013 Both by Zintanis. Jadran blocked terminals after July-2013". Jadhran blocked ports in the east. The group said it had agreed to unblock both: "The National Oil Corporation should start its work as soon as possibl…

North Korean You Tube Channel closed down due to US sanctions

YouTube has decided to block the channel of North Korean state television as a consequence of U.S. sanctions on the country. The ban will not only be a blow to the propaganda efforts of North Korea but also to those doing research on the country.
Apparently the channel was not removed because of the propaganda it produces, but because North Korea could actually make money through Google's built in advertising system. Under the sanctions it is not legal to do business with those in North Korea who operate the channel. TheU.S. Treasury Press Center says: "OFAC has designated the Workers’ Party of Korea, Propaganda and Agitation Department (the “Propaganda and Agitation Department”) as an agency, instrumentality, or controlled entity of the Government of North Korea. The Workers’ Party of Korea has full control over the media, which it uses as a tool to control the public." OFAC is the Office of Foreign Assets Control. What is not clear is if North Korea actually participat…

Free from the Islamic State Libya's Sirte has both a mayor and military governor

(Dec. 13)Just the other day, councilors from the city of Sirte elected Mukhtar al-Madani as mayor of Sirte. Today the military commanders of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous (Solid Structure or BAM) named Brigadier Ahmed Abu Shahma as military governor of Sirte.
The Libya Observer claims the move is happening because BAM believes that Madani is loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and a supporter of his Dignity Operation. While this may have been true in the past, as reported in a recent Digital Journal article Madani said that the would be not be involved in the dispute between the UN-brokered Government of National Accord and the rival House of Representatives(HoR) government with its commander Haftar. He would be concentrating on rebuilding Sirte. Six of seven councilors who had earlier opposed Madani when he was appointed interim mayor by the HoR government supported him in the election. The election was organized under the auspices of the GNA. The present defense minister Al-Mahdi al-Ba…

Obama refuses to declassify torture report

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, along with many human rights and transparency advocates have been pressing President Obama for some time to declassify the unabridged version of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report.
TheCommittee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program as it is called is nearly 7,000 pages. The report was approved on December 13, 2012 by a vote of nine to six, with seven Democrats, one Independent and one Republican voting in favor of publication and six Republicans voting against. Instead of declassifying the report or having it declared an official record of one of the agencies that has a copy, Obama has decided to place the report in his official presidential records. The records will be subject to public requests only after 12 years in 2029 which could then trigger a declassification process. Obama passed up options to declassify large swathes of the document. Far from being open and more transp…

Newly freed from the Islamic State, Sirte has new mayor

Now the the Islamic State(IS) or ISIS have been defeated in Sirte, the city is attempting to return to normal with the election by city councilors of mayor Mukhtar Al-Madani
Six of seven Sirte councilors voted in Al-Madani at a meeting in Tripoli. The meeting was called by the Committee for Municipal Council Elections (CCMCE) and was supervised by the chair Otman Gajiji. Sirte's municipal councilors were originally elected in May of 2014. The last time an election for mayor was to be held was two years ago on the third of December. CCMCE officials on their way to Sirte to hold the election were intercepted and seized by gunmen who did not want the election to go ahead. Madani is close to Abdullah al-Thinni head of the House of Representatives (HoR) government and a rival to the UN-brokered Government of National Accord. Al-Thinni had appointed Madani acting mayor of Sirte early this summer. This appointment was not accepted by other councilors, the Al Bunyan Al Marsous mostly Misr…

Dogs in small Finnish town to be fitted with special wolf-protection vests

A small town in the east of Finland, Nurmes, is to have its dogs equipped with special vests that residents hope will protect them from wolf attacks.
The vests contain chili cartridges.An attacking wolf biting into the vest will hopefully be deterred when it gets a chili blast in its face and mouth and cease its attack. The devices are to be ready for testing this spring. This year alone 52 dogs have been injured by wolves. You might think that it would be much simpler just to shoot or trap the wolves. However in Finland the grey wolf is a protected species. They cannot be killed without special permission. There are as few as 250 wolves in Finland most in the east as near the town of Nurmes. The chili vests were invented by Jussi Aro, who has been striving to develop a non-lethal means to stop wolf attacks on dogs for nearly a decade. He is not a Nurmes local but chose the town as a trial spot because of the large number of attacks on dogs and the many wolves reported in the area. In…

Big Brother bills passing through US Congress

One recent bill in the U.S. Congress is designed to crack down on websites suspected of spreading Russian propaganda. However, another more extensive bill goes even further establishing what Zero Hedge calls a de facto Ministry of Truth.
The two bills are discussed in a recent article inZero Hedge.The first bill H.R. 6393 the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 can be found here. I put in the reference since Zero Hedge is among those listed as a "fake news" site peddling propaganda in a source cited by a recent Washington Post article discussed in a Digital Journal Op Ed.. The bill passed with a large majority according to Zero Hedge but you can verify this fact on the GovTrack website,which shows the official count! The bill seeksto crack down on websites that are promoting Russian propaganda without indicating they are funded by Russian authorities. However, a second bill that is likely to affect the Internet even more and tries to control what Americans wi…

Net neutrality may be threatened by Trump administration

While the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a number of rules that are pro-consumer during the last few years, they were often passed by a meager three to two margin.
FCC board member Ajit Pai was often one of the two dissenters.Pai is likelyto become the chairman when the Trump administration takes power in January. He has made it known that he hopes to do away with the Open Internet Rule, popularly known as net neutrality.Wikipedia describesnet neutrality as follows: Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems. I…

US Defense Minister Ashton Carter announces 200 more troops for Syria

(December 10)Manama - US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that another 200 troops will go to Syria in order to aid an offensive by Kurdish and Arab fighters, the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), to free the city of Raqqa a stronghold of the Islamic State(IS) in Syria.
Speaking in Manama, the capital of Bahrain,Carter said: "I can tell you today that the United States will deploy approximately 200 additional US forces in Syria." There already are 300 US special forces operating in Syria backing the SDF troops. The offensive began in recent weeks and is taking place at the same time as an offensive against the IS-held city of Mosul in Syria. These two cities are the last two urban centers held by the IS after the Libyan city of Sirte fell to Libyan forces just recently. Their other Libyan stronghold of Derna was won by rival Islamist groups earlier this year. Carter said that bomb disposal experts, and trainers, will be included with the special forces. The IS have used car …

Filters used to detect fake news could be used to censor news

There is more and more concern about "fake news" as being responsible for events such as the election of Donald Trump, and Brexit. The Russians have been accused of using fake news to influence the US election.
An article in the Guardian by Jonathan Albright has an interesting analysis of the topic of "fake news". What he finds most interesting about the topic is not what many other stress, factual errors, misinformation, propaganda, or its relation to the election of Donald Trump.Albright claims: What’s scary about fake news is how it is becoming a catch-all phrase for anything people happen to disagree with. In this regard, fake news is sort of the stepbrother of “post-fact” and “post-truth”  –  though not directly related, they’re all part of the same dysfunctional family. Albirght notes that Facebook and Twitter have been accused of being responsible for the presidential election results in the US and events such as Pizzagate, described in a recent Digital Journ…

Obama will break his promise to close Guantanamo Bay

Obama's top counterterrorism adviser appears to have ruled out any last minute dramatic move by the president to close down Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office.
 1 of 3 Obama has continually promised to close the facility since he has become president butLisa Monaco,Assistant to the President for Counter-terrorism and Homeland Security, said: "At the end of the day, the domestic transfer restriction remains in place, so until Congress lifts that we’re not able to bring detainees here even to serve a life sentence, even to undergo prosecution to render a life sentence, so those restrictions remain in place. There will be some number that remain, absent an ability and a lifting of the Congressional restrictions to bring them to the Unuted States, they will remain in Guantanamo."She made the remarks at a discussion promoted by the Christian Science Monitor. This in effect acknowledges that prison at Guantanamo Bay will not be closed during Obama's term as president in…

Trump pick for Secretary of Defense is a general who is on the board of defense contractor General Dynamics

Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James Mattis, has plenty of experience in the armed forces but also serves on the board of General Dynamics, a prime U.S. defense contractor.
Dwight Eisenhower in a farewell address in January of 1961 warned that for security and liberty to prosper together that Americans must guard against the growth of unwarranted influence by what he called the "military industrial complex". Yet that is what has been happening for some time in the U.S. A study by theGovernment Accountability Office(GAO) in 2008 found: In 2006, 52 contractors employed 2,435 former DOD senior and acquisition officials who had previously served as generals, admirals, senior executives, program managers, contracting officers, or in other acquisition positions which made them subject to restrictions on their post-DOD employment.The GAO found that more than 400 of those former military personnel took private sector jobs where they competed …