Video: Why “FAKE NEWS” Is Crucial For A Free Society

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the latest to join the “War on Fake News,” warning everyone of the danger to society caused by fake news articles that are shared on social media.

In a statement released on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg listed a series of steps he intends to take in order to “take misinformation seriously.” These steps include:

– Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.

– Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.

– Third party verification. There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.

– Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.

– Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.

– Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We’re looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.

– Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.

One of the most important items in the list is what Zuckerberg referred to as “Disrupting fake news economics.” Now, what Zuckerberg says is that Facebook intends to suppress links from fake news sites to that those sites so they don’t get as much traffic, and in turn don’t generate as much revenue.

But the problem Zuckerburg does not address is the one of who will be in charge of determining what news websites are fake?

Earlier this week, a list was circulating on the internet from a professor titled “fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media.” While the list has since been deleted by the author, its contents still serve as an important reminder of the danger of categorizing “fake news.”

This list, which was pushed by several mainstream media outlets as the gospel for which news websites should not be trusted, made the fatal mistake of mixing satire and spam, with credible news. Now, no news website is accurate 100 percent of the time, but to call credible sources like Zero Hedge, The Free Thought Project and Project Veritas, among others, “fake, false or regularly misleading,” simply isn’t true.

While Zuckerberg might be addressing Facebook’s censorship of certain websites now, it didn’t just begin. The algorithms used by the social media giant has been used to censor a host of alternative media websites that dare to question the U.S. government and to challenge the status quo.

And it’s not just Facebook. Twitter has recently been censoring users with links to the “Alt-right” movement by banning their accounts. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey listed a series of changes the platform will be using, which includes re-training Twitter’s support team to recognize certain forms of “online abuse.”

There will always be social media users who share links from fake news websites—they could be your friends or family members—but they should have the freedom to make that choice.

The problem is that you have billionaires like Zuckerberg and tech CEOs like Dorsey deciding what you should and should not be allowed to see. While tech companies may own the websites you visit the most, if they really cared about the First Amendment, they would leave it up to the users to determine what they think is “fake news.”

 

Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

Dakota Access Pipeline Funding: Banks and Oil Companies in the Endless Destruction of Native Lands

pipeline

Back on Sept. 3, 2016, Labor Day weekend in America, protesters in North Dakota representing the Standing Rock Sioux were attacked with dogs and pepper spray while attempting to halt construction on an approximately $4 billion crude oil pipeline that would extend nearly 1,200 miles from the northern interior of the U.S. to south-central Illinois. One of the oil companies “responsible” for the pipeline is Dakota Access, LLC — a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC.

Some quick facts about the pipeline, from an Energy Transfer Partners website:

The pipeline will “…transport crude oil from the Bakken/Three Forks play in North Dakota to a terminus in Illinois with additional potential points of destination along the pipeline route.”

“The pipeline will translate into millions in state and local revenues during the construction phase and an estimated $156 million in sales and income taxes.”

“The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a $3.7 billion investment into the United States directly impacting the local and national labor force by creating 8,000–12,000 construction jobs and up to 40 permanent operating jobs.”

“The pipeline is anticipated to be fully functional by 2016.”

Ultimately, this is conjecture.

WHO ARE THE SIOUX?

About the Sioux:

“The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is situated in North and South Dakota. The people of Standing Rock, often called Sioux, are members of the Dakota and Lakota nations. ‘Dakota’ and ‘Lakota’ mean ‘friends’ or ‘allies’. The people of both these nations are often called ‘Sioux’, a term that dates back to the seventeenth century when the people were living in the Great Lakes area. The Ojibwa called the Lakota and Dakota ‘Nadouwesou’ meaning ‘adders’. This term, shortened and corrupted by French traders, resulted in retention of the last syllable as ‘Sioux.’ There are various Sioux divisions and each has important cultural, linguistic, territorial, and political distinctions.”

Where do they live?

“The Great Sioux Reservation comprised all of present-day South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including the sacred Black Hills and the life-giving Missouri River. Under article 11 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, the Great Sioux Nation retained off-reservation hunting rights to a much larger area, south to the Republican and Platte Rivers, and east to the Big Horn Mountains. Under article 12, no cession of land would be valid unless approved by three-fourths of the adult males. Nevertheless, the Congress unilaterally passed the Act of February 28, 1877, removing the Sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux Reservation. The United States never obtained the consent of three-fourths of the Sioux, as required in article 12 of the 1868 Treaty. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that ‘A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history.'”

As the years wore on, and more of their land was claimed by the invader — the U.S. government — the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe eventually formed their own constitution in 1959 to be overseen by a Tribal Council.

“The Tribal Council consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, a Secretary, and fourteen additional Councilmen which are elected by the tribal members.”

And now, once again, they are up against the sprawling U.S. empire, which will stop at nothing when natural resources are coveted for the invader’s profit machine. This time, it’s the unelected bureaucracy of oil companies and monopolistic energy partnerships in America paired with the funding from nearly 20 U.S., U.K., and other international banking institutions who are all involved in this endless destruction of Native lands.

Combined with a militarized police state — hundreds of arrests, assaults with batons and rubber bullets, armored vehicles with sound cannons, Humvees, helicopters flying overhead, and troops from the National Guard — the recent events in North Dakota resemble that of a war zone, more than a peaceful protest.

TRANSPORTING OIL OUT OF NORTH DAKOTA

Crude oil transported out of North Dakota has traditionally been shipped on rail cars to get to the east coast. Over the years, the competitive push to match domestic demand with imported crude oil pressurized the internal transport system, increasing rail-car shipping incidents.

From Pennsylvania StateImpact, “a reporting project of NPR member stations”:

“Refineries on the East Coast used to rely on crude oil from Nigeria and the Gulf of Mexico shipped on large tankers. Today, trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale travel on rail lines through Pennsylvania. The rail shipments are part of a larger nationwide boom in rail traffic resulting from the oil and gas boom and have helped keep refineries in the Philadelphia region stay in business.

However, increased traffic on the rails has resulted in a surge in accidents, including an explosive derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec that left 47 people dead in July 2013. The crude-by-rail phenomenon has come under intense scrutiny from federal agencies, as well as state and local governments across the country who worry that a derailment in more populous cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia could result in catastrophe.”

This, in tandem with crashing oil prices.

Paired with a previous announcement in May 2015 from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), for new rules to “strengthen the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail”.

And you’ve got a perfect environment for vulture capitalist intervention.

THE BANKS SWOOP IN

Back in September, Democracy Now! did an exclusive report entitled “Who’s Investing in the Dakota Access Pipeline? Meet the Banks Financing Attacks on Protesters”.

“We continue our conversation with Hugh MacMillan (senior researcher at Food & Water Watch) on his new investigation revealing the financial institutions backing the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline project.

The investigation, published by research outlet LittleSis, names more than two dozen major banks and financial institutions helping to finance the Dakota Access pipeline. It details how Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and other financial institutions have, combined, extended a $3.75 billion credit line to Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access.”

In the interview, MacMillan begins:

“Dakota Access, LLC is a joint venture of Phillips 66, and a joint venture of two members of the Energy Transfer family, Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics. Enbridge (Energy Partners) and Marathon (Petroleum Corporation) oil have bought into this joint venture. Together, they now have about a 37% stake in the pipeline, the Dakota Access pipeline.”

When Amy Goodman asked how the banks were involved, MacMillan responded:

“They’re banking on this company, and banking on being able to drill and frack for the oil to [be sent] through the pipeline over the coming decades. So they’re providing the capital for the construction of this pipeline.”

MacMillan then asserts that the 17 banks in their funding of the Dakota Access pipeline through Energy Transfer Partners are also coupled together with an existing pipeline that will be converted to extend from the southern end of the Dakota Access pipeline all the way down to the Gulf Coast.

“Where there are refineries and also export infrastructure.”

Here is a picture of that proposal from the Sunoco Logistics website:

dakota access pipeline

MacMillan stated the ultimate goal of the pipeline projects will be to have one pipeline that would run from “near the Canadian border on down to the Gulf Coast of Texas, over 1,800 miles.”

As to which banks, specifically, are directly involved in the Dakota Access pipeline:

“Citibank is the bank that’s been running the books on the project. And that’s the bank that ‘beat the bushes’ and got other banks to join in. So we have Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas, SunTrust, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Mizuho Bank, TD Securities, ABN AMRO, DNB First bank (based in Philadelphia), ICBC London, SMBC Nikko Securities, and Societe Generale.”

Goodman then asked MacMillan about the drop in demand for oil, in the past year, with regard to a personal conversation she had with an oil trucker.

“If you ask Morgan Stanley, they said a year ago that the oil producers are getting into ‘prison shape’ — without irony. So these are long term investments from the banks. They fully expect the United States to maximize its production of oil and gas through widespread fracking.”

MacMillan summarized what he believed was most crucial for people to understand about the Dakota Access pipeline:

“Well, I think it’s important to see the forces behind this particular pipeline as the same forces behind numerous other pipelines across the country, both to support fracking for tight oil as well as fracking for shale gas, all toward maximizing production of oil and gas. When the science is clear that we need to maximize what we keep in the ground. Our current policy has not made that switch. And if you look at the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Technology Review, published a year ago, you’ll see under clean energy technologies, permeability manipulation is included along with improved understanding of well integrity and improved understanding of injections and how they’re causing earthquakes, such as [what] occurred over the weekend in Oklahoma. The Quadrennial Technology Review speaks of a future mastery of the subsurface towards maximizing production.”

OTHER HANDS IN THE POT

Most recently, it has come out that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million invested in Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of the Dakota Access pipeline, in addition to having $500,000 – $1 million invested in Phillips 66 — a company which will also hold a 25% stake in the pipeline. Kelcy Warren, co-founder and chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, donated more than $100,000 to Trump’s campaign, and he gave nearly $67,000 to the Republican National Committee since Trump became the party’s controversial candidate for president in the 2016 election.

According to the Guardian, Warren gave a $3,000 personal donation to Trump’s election campaign back in June. That amount exceeded $2,700 — the legal limit for individual contributions. Previously, Warren donated $550,000 to current Texas governor Greg Abbott’s 2014 campaign. After Abbott won the election, he then appointed Warren and his wife to state boards, the Guardian reported.

“Warren has worked in the energy industry for the past 25 years and has a net worth of $3.8bn, according to Forbes. The Texas-based businessman has said concerns over the Dakota Access pipeline are ‘unfounded’ and insisted there are no Native American artifacts at risk from its construction. He vowed that Energy Transfer Partners will press ahead with the project.”

RECENT RESPONSES FROM POLITICIANS ON DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a statement with regard to the Dakota Access pipeline project and the ongoing protests where hundreds have been arrested in recent weeks.

“It’s important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators’ rights to protest peacefully, and workers’ rights to do their jobs safely…”

Bernie Sanders made a much less benign statement on the issue:

“The major global crisis facing our planet today is climate change. The vast majority of scientists tell us that climate change is real, it is caused by humans and it is already causing devastating problems. They say that if we do not aggressively transition our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy, the planet we leave our children will be a much less habitable place.

Like the Keystone XL pipeline, which I opposed since day one, the Dakota Access fracked oil pipeline, will transport some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Regardless of the court’s decision, the Dakota Access pipeline must be stopped. As a nation, our job is to break our addiction to fossil fuels, not increase our dependence on oil. I join with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many tribal nations fighting this dangerous pipeline.”

Here is Sanders’ letter to U.S. President Barack Obama on this issue, from Oct. 28.

A previous letter, dated Oct. 13, was also sent to the president, regarding the halting of construction on the Dakota Access pipeline. That letter was also signed by Sanders, in addition to four other U.S. Senators.

Collectively, banks from nearly a dozen countries are involved in the funding of the Dakota Access pipeline.

And, last weekend, on Friday, Oct. 21, an oil pipeline was breached, spilling gasoline in close proximity to the Susquehanna River, in an area of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania — about 100 miles north of the state capital, Harrisburg. The spill was estimated at 1,300 barrels, or 55,000 gallons of gasoline.

The owner of that pipeline is Sunoco Logistics, which has had over 200 leaks of crude since 2010, much more than any of its competitors.

It’s the same oil company that will be operating the Dakota Access pipeline.

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Bryan is a freelance writer/copy editor/copywriter. He reads, researches and drinks beer. He also writes poetry, short stories, essays, and is working on various novels, some of which include private documentation of traveling and living in Philadelphia, Colorado, and New Jersey. Currently, he lives in South Philadelphia. He also paints and records his own music.

Trump Calls for Investigation into Obama After Latest Wikileaks Dump

Donald Trump has called for an investigation into President Barack Obama after Wikileaks published more of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails — including one that suggests the president knew about her private server.

Wikileaks

Wikileaks

“Well, I now see why the president stuck up for Hillary, because he didn’t want to be dragged into it… Because he knew all about her private server,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters.

“This is a big thing. This means that he has to be investigated.”

The email that Trump was referring to was an exchange between top Clinton aide Cheryl Mills and Clinton’s traveling press secretary, Nick Merrill.

Merrill had forwarded Mills a tweet which quoted Obama saying that he learned about Clinton’s private server at “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.”

“We need to clean this up,” Mills responded to the tweet to campaign chairman John Podesta. “He has emails from her — they do not say state.gov.”

The conversation implies that Obama knew about Clinton’s emails — as he had some from her using her private email address.

Immediately after Obama’s statement, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest claimed that “was referring specifically to the arrangement associated with Secretary Clinton’s email.”

“Yes, the president was aware of her email address,” Earnest said. “He traded emails with her. That shouldn’t be a surprise that the President of the United States is going to trade emails with the Secretary of State. But the president was not aware of the fact that this was a personal email server and that this was the email address that she was using exclusively for all her business. The president was not aware of that until that had been more widely reported.”

Trump made global headlines when he declared during the second debate that he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s corruption.

“If I win, I am going to instruct my Attorney General to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,” Trump told Clinton. “There has never been anything like it, and we are going to have a special prosecutor. I go out and speak and the people of this country are furious.”

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Cassandra Fairbanks is a DC-based writer and political commentator who has been published in a range of outlets including Sputnik News, Teen Vogue, TeleSUR, and Bipartisan Report.

VIDEO: More Arrested For THIS Than For All Violent Crimes Combined

It has been 45 years since Richard Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” in 1971. Yet on any given day in 2016, at least 137,000 people sit behind bars on drug-possession charges. It is an issue that neither one of the top two presidential candidates are asked about, and that’s because they likely won’t do anything different than what Obama has already done

In fact, in the time you have spent watching this video, at least one person has been arrested in the U.S. for drug possession. According to a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, 1.25 million people are arrested each year on drug possession charges.

Two-thirds of those people are currently in local jails, and the majority of them sit in cells for anywhere from weeks to months to years, awaiting their day in court, because they can’t afford to post bail. The majority of those people will end up pleading guilty and taking plea deals offered by prosecutors because they are threatened with exaggerated prison sentences, and because their debt is piling up at home.

[WATCH: Why It’s Illegal For Medical Marijuana Users To Own Guns]

Did you know that in the United States, police arrest more people for possession of marijuana than they do for all violent crimes…combined?

Chelsea Clinton recently made headlines for saying that marijuana can kill you, and while her claims have been mocked and ridiculed, she wasn’t completely wrong. Under the current law in the U.S. marijuana is classified of the list of the most deadly drugs. Can it kill you? No.. BUT it can be deadly in the sense that getting caught by police could change life as you know it.

So, what if you’ve never done drugs in your life, you’re not a minority, and you don’t live in a low income neighborhood where you could get arrested by mistake. Why should you care?

Well, in order to make a drug-related arrest, we have to have police officers to conduct a search and seizure. Then once the suspects are arrested, we have to have somewhere for them to go, and someone to maintain the jails and prisons. Essentially, someone has to pay for all of it. 

We live in a country where over 1 million are arrested on drug possession charges each year, and yet, in an election year, our top two presidential candidates typically aren’t asked about how they would deal with this massive problem. It all comes together to serve as a reminder that just as with the “War on Terror,” the “War on Drugs,” has been an absolutely failure.

Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

U.S.-Backed Saudi Coalition Bombs School, Hospital In Yemen

After bombing a school and killing ten children on Saturday, the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition launched airstrikes in Yemen, resulting in yet another bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital on Monday. This report is following several previous attacks on these hospitals by the US and Israel over the past 5 years.

Initial reports claimed that seven people were killed and 13 wounded. However, a report from Reuters cited a witness who said that the total number of causalities was still unknown, because “medics could not immediately evacuate the wounded,” due to the fact that war planes “continued to fly over the area and first responders feared more bombings.”

Monday’s bombing came just two days after an airstrike hit a school in a neighboring province of northern Yemen, killing ten children on Saturday. t

While UNICEF claimed that the children were studying in their classrooms at the time of the airstrike, the Saudi-led coalition justified the bombing by claiming that it had targeted a camp where Yemen’s Houthi rebels were training child soldiers.

After peace talks broke down last week, the coalition launched 30 airstrikes in one day, in the name of defeating Houthi rebels in Yemen. At least 18 civilians were killed at a market outside of Yemen’s capital.

Not only is the United States a part of the coalition responsible for the bombings, it touts Saudi Arabia as a close ally, despite the country’s long history of human rights violations.

While the U.S. is the largest exporter of weapons in the world, Saudi Arabia is the country responsible for purchasing the most weapons from the U.S., and just last week the Pentagon announced that it plans to sell over $1 billion more in weapons and military advisory to Saudi Arabia.

As Saudi Arabia leads the charge into a bloody battle that has already left at least 35 civilians dead in just one week, it raises several questions: Why isn’t the Pentagon stepping in? Why does the U.S. still consider Saudi Arabia to be such a close ally?  f it were a country like China or Russia launching airstrikes that led to such high civilian casualties, would the U.S. still be willing to fund the cause?

Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

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