Sunday 25th of September 2022

your truth has been erased……...

Most of the fact-checking organizations Facebook has partnered with to monitor and regulate information about Ukraine are directly funded by the U.S. government, either through the U.S. Embassy or via the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an information war as bitter as the ground fighting has erupted, and Meta (Facebook’s official name) announced it had partnered with nine organizations to help it sort fact from fiction for Ukrainian, Russian and other Eastern European users. These nine organizations are: StopFake, VoxCheck, Fact Check Georgia, Demagog, Myth Detector, Lead Stories, Patikrinta 15min, Re:Baltica and Delfi.

 

BY ALAN MACLEOD

 

“To reduce the spread of misinformation and provide more reliable information to users, we partner with independent third-party fact-checkers globally,” the Silicon Valley giant wrote, adding, “Facebook’s independent third-party fact-checkers are all certified by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The IFCN, a subsidiary of the journalism research organization Poynter Institute, is dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide.”

The problem with this? At least five of the nine organizations are directly in the pay of the United States government, a major belligerent in the conflict. The Poynter Institute is also funded by the NED. Furthermore, many of the other fact-checking organizations also have deep connections with other NATO powers, including direct funding.

 

STOPFAKE

Perhaps the most well-known and notorious of the nine groups is StopFake. Established in 2014, StopFake is funded by NATO’s Atlantic Council, by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Embassy in Ukraine and the Czech Foreign Ministry. It has also received money from the U.S. via the National Endowment for Democracy, although that fact is far from trumpeted by either party.

One potential reason for this was alluded to in a 2016 article reprinted by StopFake itself. As the article notes, “in the case of StopFake.org when opponents want to insult the project, they immediately invoke National Endowment for Democracy donor support as evidence of U.S. government and CIA involvement.”

In the wake of the Russian invasion, the NED pulled all public records of their Ukraine projects from the internet. Nevertheless, incomplete archived copies of those records confirm a financial relationship between the groups.

StopFake was explicitly set up as a partisan organization. As a glowing report on them from the International Journalists’ Network notes, the majority of StopFake’s fact-checks are on stories from Russian media, and the motivation for its creation was “Russia’s 2014 occupation of Crimea and a campaign to portray Ukraine as a fascist state where anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia thrived.”

While it is indeed incorrect to label Ukraine a fascist state, the country clearly has one of the strongest far-right movements anywhere in Europe. And unfortunately, StopFake itself is far from an apolitical bystander in that rise. Multiple established Western media outlets, including The New York Times, have reported on StopFake’s ties to white power or Nazi groups. When local journalist Ekaterina Sergatskova exposed these links, death threats from far-right figures forced her to flee her home.

Indeed, according to some, one of StopFake’s primary functions appears to be to promote the far-right. A long exposé by Lev Golinkin in The Nation cataloged what it called StopFake’s history of “aggressively whitewashing two Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups with a long track record of violence, including war crimes.”

Surely StopFake’s most famous former host is Nina Jankowicz. Jankowicz was briefly head of President Biden’s newly formed Disinformation Governance Board before public uproar caused her to resign. Dubbed the “Ministry of Truth”, both the board and Jankowicz generated strong opposition. Yet few mentioned the fact that, while at StopFake, Jankowicz herself had, on camera, enthusiastically extolled the virtues of multiple fascist paramilitaries.

In a 2017 TV segment about the Aidar, Dnipro-1 and Azov Battalions, Jankowicz presented the groups as heroic volunteers deafening Ukraine from “further Russian separatist encroachment.” As she stated,

The volunteer movement in Ukraine extends far beyond military service. Volunteer groups are active in supporting Ukraine’s military with food, clothing, medicine, and post-battle rehabilitation, as well as working actively with the nearly two million internal refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine,”

This framing jars with multiple reports from human rights groups such as Amnesty International, who claim that the Aidar Battalion is guilty of a litany of abuses, “including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.” Amnesty also accuses Aidar and Dnipro-1 of “Using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.”

Azov, meanwhile, is the most infamous organization of the lot. The group’s insignia is directly lifted from the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division, a unit responsible for carrying out some of the worst crimes of Hitler’s holocaust. The Azov Battalion also dip their bullets in pig fat before battle as a calculated hate crime, attempting to block Jewish or Muslim enemies from a better afterlife. Andriy Biletsky, the group’s founder, said in 2010 that he believes Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen” – the word Hitler used to describe Jews, Poles, Ukrainians and other peoples he designated for extermination.

In February, Facebook announced that it was changing its rules on hate speech to allow praise and promotion of the Azov Battalion. Was this on StopFake’s recommendation? MintPress asked Meta/Facebook for comment on their fact checking partner’s ties to far right groups and if StopFake had influenced their decision to allow pro-Nazi content on their platform, but did not receive a reply.

As Golinkin noted in his article for The Nation, StopFake has also defended C14, another fascist paramilitary, describing it merely as a “community organization”, citing C14’s own denial of its pogroms against Roma people as “evidence” of its innocence. This designation clashes even with the U.S. State Department, which classifies C14 as a “nationalist hate group.” The “14” in its name refers to the “14 words” white supremacist slogan.

 

StopFake has made a number of controversial claims, including that the rise in anti-semitism in Ukraine is “fake” – even going so far as to brand well-established outlets like NBC News and Al-Jazeera as printing fake news about the Azov Battalion’s role in this. In an article entitled “Russia as Evil: False Historical Parallels. Some peculiarities of Russian Political Culture,” it also insisted that Hitler’s concentration camps were modeled on Russian ones set up by Vladimir Lenin. In reality, the German government pioneered the use of concentration camps during their genocide of the Herero and Namaqua peoples between 1904 and 1908 in Namibia. The British and Spanish were also early adopters.

In addition, StopFake has close links with The Kyiv Post, a Ukrainian outlet directly funded and trained by the National Endowment for Democracy. Since 2016, the Post has published 191 StopFake reports.

 WHO IS THE NED?

Why receiving funding from the National Endowment for Democracy should immediately raise suspicions of any organization is because the NED was explicitly established by the Reagan administration as a front group for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Although it is funded by Washington and staffed by state officials, it is technically a private company and therefore not subject to the same legal regulations and public scrutiny as state institutions.

The CIA has used the NED to carry out many of its more controversial operations. In recent years, it has trained and funneled money to the leaders of the Hong Kong protesters to keep the insurrection alive, fomented a nationwide campaign of demonstrations in Cuba, and helped attempts to topple the government of Venezuela. Perhaps most importantly for this story, however, the NED was also involved in the 2014 coup that removed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych from power. Regime change is, in short, one of its primary functions.

The NED does this by establishing, funding, supporting and training all manner of political, economic and social groups in target countries. According to its 2019 annual report, Ukraine is the NED’s “top priority”. The agency has (officially) spent over $22 million in Ukraine since 2014.

In their more candid moments, NED leaders are explicit about the organization’s role. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA,” Carl Gershman, NED president from 1984 to 2021 said, explaining why his organization was set up. NED co-founder Allen Weinstein agreed: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” he told The Washington Post.

 

READ MORE:

https://www.mintpressnews.com/facebook-fact-checking-organizations-ukraine-funded-washington/281618/

 

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the bad times…..

By Ralph Nader

In 1980 we produced a report titled How to Appraise and Improve Your Daily Newspaper: A Manual for Readers, authored by David Bollier, one of our precocious interns, who had just graduated from Amherst and went on to become an expert on the Commons (See, bollier.org). I thought about this past initiative to empower readers/consumers while contemplating what is happening in recent months to the print edition of the New York Times.

The editors call it an historic revamping in the digital age that is absorbing a growing, aliterate younger generation. I call it a frantic overreach replacing serious content with excessive photography and graphics slouching toward stupefaction. (The digital Times is doing very well).

I spend serious time reading the New York Times in print – marking up at least 30 selections daily and sending them to a variety of advocates, scholars and groups. I started reading this august newspaper at the age of ten.

Until the Internet Age of verbal incommunicados, I extended my reading experience by speaking frequently with New York Times editors, reporters and opinion-writers. Many a story idea flowed from these conversations.

Many a change for a better country resulted. What, why and how the New York Times has moved so heavily into a vast visual mix of magazine styles and supplemental entertainment for its various sections. There is a daily Arts Section, but not a single weekly section devoted to Civic activities, which should invite an extensive assessment by journalism critics and serious journalists.

Also useful would be an evaluation of the many other New York Times’ commercial ventures – launched by the desperate management to make up for the loss of print advertising – (space and classified) revenues.

However, here I wish to register an objection to the very recent unseemly, inexplicable collapse of the Times’ historic editorial and op-ed pages that are arguably the most significant two pages in all of our country’s mainstream journalism.

The implosion of these pages started some months ago when I noticed that op-eds were displacing the previously sacrosanct space for the Times’ daily editorials. From the usual three editorials taking up the left half of the page (the rest of the page was reserved for letters-to-the-editor), emerged op-eds such as the tepid exchanges between professed “liberal” Gail Collins and “conservative” hawk Bret Stephens (whose earlier Wall Street Journal writings argued for illegal wars and imperial armed violence overseas). Now in addition to each having a weekly column, they engage in strained exchanges in the weekly opinion feature “The Conversation.” What is the point of using precious space in the New York Times to showcase Bret seeking agreement on current news topics with the more moderate Gail, especially compared to featuring vibrant, fresh columns the editors could be seeking from more freelance contributors? (See some little covered subjects listed on Reporters Alert: reportersalert.org).

The pages are getting more exclusive. Preference for the remaining space not occupied by regular columnists now goes to writers who have been signed up for Times podcasts and Times newsletters. This paper is pointing toward a journalistic monoculture, keeping out of its pages knowledgeable, experienced writers on many important, ignored subjects and positions.

It keeps getting worse. In the last week or so the former editorial space was taken up with a long demand for New York City to teach children how to swim. (Important, but belonging to another section). The entire editorial page was recently an artistic portrayal of the headline “The Choices My Mother Could, and Couldn’t, Make.” (Good for another section). And just this August 3, 2022, another full-page article titled “Liz Cheney is Prepared to Lose Power, and It Shows” replaced editorials with a gigantic picture of the legislator’s face.

Is it not enough that photographs and graphics have taken up huge spaces (in the Business Section, and in the various Sunday sections) where paying readers used to receive content? The editorial and opinion pages that used to be a haven of print, with no photographs taking up space for precious content, are now also losing space to gratuitous graphics – art over function.

To be sure this is a visual age. But there is such a thing as much too much. Visuals have replaced the incisive Sunday Business Section articles by Gretchen Morgenson, consumer features by Joe Sharkey and others. Now there are photographic/print articles that have some serious readers shaking their heads and asking what are they doing in the Times Business Section.

Page two of the daily Times often has reporters explaining how they got their break-through stories, including glimpses up front and personal. I may have missed it, but no such explanations were printed giving the real reasons for thinning down the editorial and op-ed pages.

I never thought that the Washington Post – owned by Jeff Bezos – would ever overtake the Times in presenting serious content. They now have, especially comparing its Sunday Outlook Section with its remodeled counterpart the Times Sunday Opinion Section. The Post readers still receive three editorials a day. The Post also devotes a full page on Saturday to letters-to-the-editor, unlike the Times.

As for editorials, I noticed one, just one, in a recent six-day period, demurely tucked in the lower quarter of the opinion page. Whatever happened to the dozen or more full-time editorial writers who robustly championed serious issues? Have they been laid off, reassigned or what?

The Times still produces remarkable, pioneering features such as its spectacular series on the illegal predations and burning of the critical Brazilian Amazon Forest. It publishes other domestic muckraking stories so good that they beg the formation of a citizen group just to extend this newspaper’s exposure of wrongdoing and to push for reforms.

But there are also bizarre forays, such as the eleven full biographical pages on Fox’s Tucker Carlson (which he used as a promotion).

There are many other regular strange journalistic misadventures, filled with over-visualizations surrounding puzzling choices of subject matter. For instance, the Times is hung up on narrative features about little-known, extreme right-wing groups and ventures. The subjects love it. They raise money off this coverage, becoming a big act for their followers. Readers are left wondering whether anything is happening on the progressive side of the political ledger in this election year.

What should be done? Open a couple of pages for long-time readers, who have a comparative perspective, to express their opinion of these changes. Have the editors give us the reasons for these changes, beyond self-reinforcing surveys.

Of course, the Times needs to react to what the new generations of readers want to read (hopefully uplifting the quality of its many such pages). Nonetheless, its most basic mission is to offer the readers what they need to know about this tormented world of ours in the far fewer print pages they are allocating for that purpose.

Years ago, it used to be said “You can always tell a Times man, but you can’t tell him much.” Please reverse your slide toward mediocrity and recover a sense of your own special significance in an unceasingly deteriorating journalistic culture of print, radio and television and social media.

 

READ MORE:

https://scheerpost.com/2022/08/06/to-the-new-york-times-we-thought-we-knew-ye/

 

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GusNote: Many news outlets ARE AFRAID OF TELLING THE TRUTH, especially in regard to Ukraine and China. Both issues have a designed history which the US want to prevent: Ukraine IS GOING TO BE SPLIT INTO TWO COUNTRIES, LIKE IRELAND AND ENGLAND. China and Taiwan WILL EVENTUALLY BE REUNITED as per the original ONE-CHINA POLICY...  When? Sooner that we think, and the US should stay out of both regions. But the US EMPIRE wants to detroy Russia and China. This is the ultimate goal, regardless of people being and going to be killed.

 

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