LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, bruised by scandal and faced with an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, is refusing to change course. “We have a chance,” he bullishly proclaimed on Jan. 4, “to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.”
Public health experts may disagree. Yet Mr. Johnson is at least being consistent — not only with his conduct throughout the pandemic, where lockdowns were a last resort and restrictions were to be shelved as soon as possible, but also with the political platform that elevated him to the highest office. After all, this is the man who rose to power — bringing about Brexit in the process — on the promise to restore “freedom” and “take back control.”
Undeterred by the pandemic, Mr. Johnson has been quietly pursuing that agenda. But instead of reforming the country’s creaking democracy and shoring up Britons’ rights, he and his lieutenants are doing the opposite: seizing control for themselves and stripping away the freedoms of others. A raft of bills likely to pass this year will set Britain, self-professed beacon of democracy, on the road to autocracy. Once in place, the legislation will be very hard to shift. For Mr. Johnson, it amounts to a concerted power grab.
It’s also an answer. Mr. Johnson is a political chameleon, and his true ideological bent — liberal? one-nation Tory? English nationalist? — has long been a subject of speculation. Now he has, beyond any doubt, revealed who he really is: a brattish authoritarian who puts his personal whims above anything else. And whatever his future, Britain will be remade in his image.
Amid the chaos wrought by the pandemic, Brexit tumult and increasing questions about the stability of Mr. Johnson’s individual position, the full scale of the impending assault on civil liberties has — understandably — not yet come into focus for much of the British public. The list of legislation is long and deliberately overwhelming. But pieced together, the picture is bleakly repressive.
First, there’s the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, a draconian and broad piece of legislation that effectively bans protest in England and Wales. The police would be equipped to shut down demonstrations that create “serious disruption.” Those who break this condition, which could be done just by making noise, would face prison sentences or hefty fines. Combined with other measures, such as outlawing traditional direct-action tactics like “locking on,” the bill could eventually make it almost impossible to attend a demonstration without committing an offense.
Yet it goes beyond protest, putting minority groups in the cross hairs. New trespass provisions, which make “residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle” a criminal offense, would essentially erase nomadic Gypsy, Roma and Traveler communities from public life. And the expansion of police powers would not only allow officers widespread access to private education and health care records, but also pave the way for suspicionless stop and search. Ethnic minority communities, disproportionately singled out for police attention, are likely to bear the brunt of such overreach.
Similarly punitive is the Nationality and Borders Bill. Stiffening Britain’s already hawkish immigration policy, it seeks to criminalize asylum seekers who take unsanctioned routes: Refugees who arrive by boat, for example, could face up to four years in prison, regardless of the validity of their claim for safe haven. And if claimants escape traditional jail, they would be kept in concentration camp-style housing and offshore processing centers, sites long denounced by human rights activists.
Not even British citizens are safe from the dragnet. A provision slipped into the bill in November by its architect, the home secretary, Priti Patel, would endow the government with the power to remove British citizenship from dual nationals without notice. Those singled out might not even have recourse to the law: Proposed reform of the Human Rights Act would make it easier for the government to deport foreign nationals and deny them claims of mistreatment.
Such draconian measures, in time, are sure to be contested. But the government has a plan for that: draining the life blood from democracy. There’s the Elections Bill, which — alongside potentially disenfranchising millions through the introduction of mandatory voter ID — aims to furnish the government with new powers over the independent elections regulator, sealing up the political process. Unless substantially amended, the bill’s consequences could be constitutionally far-reaching.
The urge to centralize power also underlies the Judicial Review and Courts Bill, which would enable Mr. Johnson and his ministers to overrule judicial review findings that challenge their agenda. The Online Safety Bill, ostensibly designed to regulate Big Tech, is yet to be introduced to Parliament. But many free-speech advocates fear that it could be used to silence critics on social media, censoring those reporting details Mr. Johnson’s government would rather keep from public view. No more pesky judges or overly inquisitive journalists interfering with government business.
It’s a truism that nations sleepwalk into tyranny, and England — the most politically powerful of the nations comprising Britain — is no exception. For decades it has possessed all the necessary ingredients: ever more spiteful nationalism, press fealty sold to the highest bidder and a fervent, misplaced belief that authoritarianism could never set up shop here, because we simply wouldn’t let it.
In this event, though, concerted opposition to Mr. Johnson’s plans has not materialized. Establishment politics have been no match for the determination of Mr. Johnson and his allies: A hefty and largely supportive Conservative majority means that even when the Labour Party has decided to oppose legislation, its votes have barely counted. And despite valiant efforts by a coalition of grass-roots groups and the initial groundswell of the “Kill the Bill” protests, a mass movement opposing these bills has failed to come together. Instead, a miasma of grim inevitability has settled in.
That’s dangerous, not least because this authoritarian assault is so comprehensive that once settled as law, it will prove very tricky to unpick. Like many leaders who seek to transcend the constraints of democracy, Mr. Johnson may not foresee a future where he isn’t the one calling the shots. But the miserable shadow his power grab will cast over Britain is likely to last far longer than the tenure of the would-be “world king” himself.
His place in the history books, however, is secured. He will forever be the libertine whose pursuit of personal freedom and “control” saw his countrymen robbed of theirs.
Since the 2016 presidential election, we’ve seen the rise of a new McCarthyism, fueled by former and current US government officials, and boosted by media outlets (Russia rigged the 2016 election! Russia hacked the power grid! Russia created Black Lives Matter and the NoDAPL protests!) However, the groundwork for this campaign was laid in 2012, by an oft-referenced but little understood bill called the Magnitsky Act.
The true story of the Magnitsky Act is one of the financial crimes, international power politics, and score-settling cloaked in concern for human rights. Russian director and filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov is here to tell us this story.
You can watch his film: Behind the Magnitsky Act here:
Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder & Corporate Censorship
Big monopolies like Youtube, Vimeo, Twitter, and Facebook seem to have power over citizens by deciding who to platform and who not to platform. The first amendment applies only to state actors, therefore these corporations are exempt. However, with these near-monopolistic powers do we need to change the laws?
Next week, we will be interviewing Andre Nekrasov, the director of the film Magnitsky Act, Behind the Scenes. Unfortunately, thanks to the long-arm and infinite wealth of Mr. Bill Browder, this movie will not be available on Youtube, Vimeo or any movie theatre in America.
I have included a threat letter Mr. Browder has sent to Vimeo where he accused the filmmakers of defamation. Without any hearing, without any recourse, this film was removed from Vimeo.
Police are now playing copyrighted music like Taylor Swift to trigger DMCA takedowns of protester videos. Cenk Uygur and Brett Erlich discuss on The Young Turks.
Read more HERE: https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvxa7… “Turns out that Beverly Hills PD isn’t just into Sublime—they also like the Beatles. In a new video that LA area activist Sennett Devermont says was taken on January 16th, we can see Devermont trying to ask Sergeant Billy Fair—now best known for blasting Sublime at BHPD HQ—a question. But suddenly, he is interrupted by the mournful voice of Paul McCartney:…”
- The police officer had that song prepared, if there’s no consequence for this, it’s a dangerous precedent
- honestly, this is brilliant! you have the right to record the police – they are not taking that right away from you – you could still use that footage in a court of law. You do not have the right to post whatever you want online – that’s a privilege that can be revoked for any reason, including copyright (???)
- You can take the music out easily – you just need Audacity, reverse the music being recorded, add it back in, and WOILA! The music is canceled! This leaves whatever is being said STILL being said and would come in clearly. By the way Audacity is TOTALLY FREE!!!!!!
- I think Taylor Swift has grounds for a lawsuit that her music was used to cover up a potential violation of civil rights/criminal activity by police officers. Therefore smearing her reputation.
- I would yelling and pretending I can’t hear through the music. Then file a compliant that a cop is playing music while conducting police work against policy
- People like Taylor Swift should Allowed the music to be played in these cases, to show how the police are trying to deceive rather than protect
- The labels do what the artist tell them because they want to keep a good relationship with the artist. No label is going to pursue legal action against someone without consent from the artist in question That’s why Metallica and all those asshats can eat my bag of s*** f**** posers
- If ur not doing any wrong why do u need the music?????
- Until police start holding their own accountable for their actions, they need to be filmed.
- Not amusing in the least. This an injustice and unprofessional.
- This is not a problem. All the good cops will be disgusted by this and force the bad cops to stop. Oh wait, i’m being told there are no good cops. That there are literally zero total good cops.
- Karens will be doing it next.
- I’ve also seen in a couple videos where the cop shines light in camera phone.
- It’s just evil anymore! A man becomes cop to have power over others…I have no wish for this power myself….anyone who wants power should not ever have it.
- Lol they’re so desperate to get away with breaking the law that they’ll do whatever they can to avoid being recorded. They’re such garbage
- The obvious next move here, is to tell the Cops that you cannot understand what they are saying, because they need to turn “their” music down. WHEN this one GOES TO COURT, the Judge will have some questions for them, about WHY they are playing tunes on the job, WHILE supposedly “communicating” with members of the public…
- If they are not doing anything wrong why do they object to being recorded? Doing this should be considered an admission of GUILT.
- This has happened before and the courts have been really pissed about it
- The Alameda county sheriff’s webpage has a complaint page, but not a comment page. And they post all sorts of threatening notices about filing complaints. “Go ahead and complain about us, but you might go to jail if you do.”
- As far as I’m concerned, when a cop pulls this stunt he/she is planning to commit a crime.
- This is frustrating, not because of what the cops are doing, but because of people’s misunderstanding of copyright rules on youtube and other platforms. There’s no such thing as an automated copyright strike. If you were going to get an automatic copyright strike, youtube would just stop you from posting the video. To get a copyright strike, somebody has to manually make a copyright claim on one of your videos, asking youtube to take the video down.
- Any cop caught doing this should be fired on the spot
- I’m no lawyer, but this seems like tampering with evidence, or obstruction of justice, or maybe an infraction of civil rights. Someone contact @LegalEagle and ask him about this.
- If they were not planning on committing illegal acts they would not be planning on preventing it from being recorded. This is prima facie evidence of pre-meditation to commit the crime.
- Easy fix, tell the cops you can’t hear a single word he’s saying until he turns the music off
- Hmmm.. evidence tampering if a criminal act happenedOverruled. Youtube is not a court.
- Just send it directly to the news channels, then.
- Please explain how playing music while someone is recording video is going to prevent that video being used as evidence? Are you saying that if the cop who killed George Floyd had played music while cameras were recording the lethal actions of Officer Chauvin, those recordings wouldn’t or couldn’t be used at his trial. Listen, there is no intent to use the music of Taylor Swift in violation of copyright by the person recording. It is not going to pass the Constitutional Test. The Supreme Court has already ruled that citizens have the right to record video of the police as long as they don’t interfere. One more thing, appreciate the dramatics but you didn’t have to mute Taylor Swift in the video you played.
You’re right…they probably didn’t have to mute it because the video would have just been demonitized in all likelihood. There is a less likely chance it would have been removed completely.It’s not about using it as evidence. It’s about preventing the clip from going viral. We’re saying if the clip of George Floyd had had blank space by Taylor Swift playing and had to be muted the world wouldn’t have heard people pleading for the cop remove his knee, or for Floyd pleading for his mother. Has nothing to do with court and everything to do with it even getting to court as these viral videos of abuse of power are what is holding police accountable.
- Wow, I thought police were for the people! ? Gee, I guess 1st amendment rights are only for Trumper Thumpers ! Stuff like that should at least cost that cop a hefty fine at very least!
- Sick and tired of entitled police officers who think they have a right to behave any way they please with no accountability. “Law and order” my a$$. They’re like bullies on the playground except with guns. A fast food worker making less than $10/hour is expected to have better customer service skills.
- So it seems the officers cannot give clear and precise instructions while playing music. That is why most officers ask to turn automobile or music off… So would the person be liable for anything?
- Sneaky per USUAL
- Easy fix… keep repeating, I can’t hear you, can you turn the music off… until they do and keep recording and repeating on camera…
- If you have seen a few videos of all the dimwitted frauditors, or “auditors” as they like to call themselves while running around filming and harassing any public official they can find, who follow cops, even when cops are investigating a crime scene, it is actually quite understandable that the police use this trick. I agree that they should be held accountable, but I get the feeling you overestimate the seriousness of all the various people, morons or not, who film their every step, usually only to get some clips for a YouTube channel.
- @John Doe So citizens have a right to record because its legal right? Whats the law against playing music from your phone? If you don’t like music being played, walk away. Your right to record should not infringe my right to play music? (I ain’t even a damn cop)
- @John Doe “it’s in a form to be readily distributed” That sounds like a you problem, if I was a cop I’d ask for a press card? Freedom of press? You mean any wally with a camera?
YouTube’s decision to demonetize podcaster Bret Weinstein raises serious questions, both about the First Amendment and regulatory capture
Matt Taibbi 22 hr ago 498 742
Just under three years ago, Infowars anchor Alex Jones was tossed off Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify, marking the unofficial launch of the “content moderation” era. The censorship envelope has since widened dramatically via a series of high-profile incidents: Facebook and Twitter
- suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story,
- Donald Trump’s social media suspension,
- Apple and Amazon’s kneecapping of Parler, the
- removal of real raw footage from the January 6th riots, and others.
This week’s decision by YouTube to demonetize podcaster Bret Weinstein belongs on that list, and has a case to be put at or near the top, representing a different and perhaps more unnerving speech conundrum than those other episodes.
Profiled in this space two weeks ago, Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying — both biologists — host the podcast DarkHorse, which by any measure is among the more successful independent media operations in the country. They have two YouTube channels, a main channel featuring whole episodes and livestreams, and a “clips” channel featuring excerpts from those shows.
Between the two channels, they’ve been flagged 11 times in the last month or so. Specifically, YouTube has honed in on two areas of discussion it believes promote “medical misinformation.” The first is the potential efficacy of the repurposed drug ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment. The second is the third rail of third rails, i.e. the possible shortcomings of the mRNA vaccines produced by companies like Moderna and Pfizer.
Weinstein, who was also criticized for arguing the lab-leak theory before conventional wisdom shifted on that topic, says YouTube’s decision will result in the loss of “half” of his and Heying’s income. However, he says, YouTube told him he can reapply after a month.
YouTube’s notice put it as follows: “Edit your channel and reapply for monetization… Make changes to your channel based on our feedback. Changes can include editing or deleting videos and updating video details.”
“They want me to self-censor,” he says. “Unless I stop broadcasting information that runs afoul of their CDC-approved talking points, I’ll remain demonetized.”
Weinstein’s travails with YouTube sound like something out of a Star Trek episode, in which the Enterprise crew tries and fails to communicate with a malevolent AI attacking the ship. In the last two weeks, he emailed back and forth with the firm, at one point receiving an email from someone who identified himself only as “Christopher,” indicating a desire to set up a discussion between Weinstein and various parties at YouTube.
Over the course of these communications, Weinstein asked if he could nail down the name and contact number of the person with whom he was interacting. “I said, ‘Look, I need to know who you are first, whether you’re real, what your real first and last names are, what your phone number is, and so on,” Weinstein recounts. “But on asking what ‘Christopher’s’ real name and email was, they wouldn’t even go that far.” After this demand of his, instead of giving him an actual contact, YouTube sent him a pair of less personalized demonetization notices.
As has been noted in this space multiple times, this is a common theme in nearly all of these stories, but Weinstein’s tale is at once weirder and more involved, as most people in these dilemmas never get past the form-letter response stage. YouTube has responded throughout to media queries about Weinstein’s case, suggesting they take it seriously.
YouTube’s decision with regard to Weinstein and Heying seems part of an overall butterfly effect, as numerous other figures either connected to the topic or to DarkHorse have been censured by various platforms. Weinstein guest Dr. Robert Malone, a former Salk Institute researcher often credited with helping develop mRNA vaccine technology, has been suspended from LinkedIn, and Weinstein guest Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) has had his appearances removed by YouTube. Even Satoshi Ōmura, who won the Nobel Prize in 2015 for his work on ivermectin, reportedly had a video removed by YouTube this week.
There are several factors that make the DarkHorse incident different from other major Silicon Valley moderation decisions, including the fact that the content in question doesn’t involve electoral politics, foreign intervention, or incitement. The main issue is the possible blurring of lines between public and private censorship.
When I contacted YouTube about Weinstein two weeks ago, I was told, “In general, we rely on guidance from local and global health authorities (FDA, CDC, WHO, NHS, etc) in developing our COVID-19 misinformation policies.”
The question is, how active is that “guidance”? Is YouTube acting in consultation with those bodies in developing those moderation policies? As Weinstein notes, an answer in the affirmative would likely make theirs a true First Amendment problem, with an agency like the CDC not only setting public health policy but also effectively setting guidelines for private discussion about those policies. “If it is in consultation with the government,” he says, “it’s an entirely different issue.”
Asked specifically after Weinstein’s demonetization if the “guidance” included consultation with authorities, YouTube essentially said yes, pointing to previous announcements that they consult other authorities, and adding, “When we develop our policies we consult outside experts and YouTube creators. In the case of our COVID-19 misinformation policies, it would be guidance from local and global health authorities.”
Weinstein and Heying might be the most prominent non-conservative media operation to fall this far afoul of a platform like YouTube. Unlike the case of, say, Alex Jones, the moves against the show’s content have not been roundly cheered. In fact, they’ve inspired blowback from across the media spectrum, with everyone from Bill Maher to Joe Rogan to Tucker Carlson taking notice.
“They threw Bret Weinstein off YouTube, or almost,” Maher said on Real Time last week. “YouTube should not be telling me what I can see about ivermectin. Ivermectin isn’t a registered Republican. It’s a drug!”
From YouTube’s perspective, the argument for “medical misinformation” in the DarkHorse videos probably comes down to a few themes in Weinstein’s shows. Take, for example, an exchange between Weinstein and Malone in a video about the mRNA vaccines produced by companies like Moderna and Pfizer:
Weinstein: The other problem is that what these vaccines do is they encode spike protein… but the spike protein itself we now know is very dangerous, it’s cytotoxic, is that a fair description?
Malone: More than fair, and I alerted the FDA about this risk months and months and months ago.
In another moment, entrepreneur and funder of fluvoxamine studies Steve Kirsch mentioned that his carpet cleaner had a heart attack minutes after taking the Pfizer vaccine, and cited Canadian viral immunologist Byram Bridle in saying that that the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t stay localized at point of injection, but “goes throughout your entire body, it goes to your brain to your heart.”
Politifact rated the claim that spike protein is cytotoxic “false,” citing the CDC to describe the spike protein as “harmless.” As to the idea that the protein does damage to other parts of the body, including the heart, they quoted an FDA spokesperson who said there’s no evidence the spike protein “lingers at any toxic level in the body.”
Would many doctors argue that the 226 identified cases of myocarditis so far is tiny in the context of 130 million vaccine doses administered, and overall the danger of myocarditis associated with vaccine is far lower than the dangers of myocarditis in Covid-19 patients?
Absolutely. It’s also true that the CDC itself had a meeting on June 18th to discuss cases of heart inflammation reported among people who’d received the vaccine. The CDC, in other words, is simultaneously telling news outlets like Politifact that spike protein is “harmless,” and also having ad-hoc meetings to discuss the possibility, however remote from their point of view, that it is not harmless. Are only CDC officials allowed to discuss these matters?
The larger problem with YouTube’s action is that it relies upon those government guidelines, which in turn are significantly dependent upon information provided to them by pharmaceutical companies, which have long track records of being less than forthright with the public.
In the last decade, for instance, the U.S. government spent over $1.5 billion to stockpile Tamiflu, a drug produced by the Swiss pharma firm Roche. It later came out — thanks to the efforts of a Japanese pediatrician who left a comment on an online forum — that Roche had withheld crucial testing information from British and American buyers, leading to a massive fraud suit. Similar controversies involving the arthritis drug Vioxx and the diabetes drug Avandia were prompted by investigations by independent doctors and academics.
As with financial services, military contracting, environmental protection, and other fields, the phenomenon of regulatory capture is demonstrably real in the pharmaceutical world. This makes basing any moderation policy on official guidelines problematic. If the proper vaccine policy is X, but the actual policy ends up being X plus unknown commercial consideration Y, a policy like YouTube’s more or less automatically preempts discussion of Y.
Some of Weinstein’s broadcasts involve exactly such questions about whether or not it’s necessary to give Covid-19 vaccines to children, to pregnant women, and to people who’ve already had Covid-19, and whether or not the official stance on those matters is colored by profit considerations. Other issues, like whether or not boosters are going to be necessary, need a hard look in light of the commercial incentives.
These are legitimate discussions, as the WHOs own behavior shows. On April 8th, the WHO website said flatly: “Children should not be vaccinated for the moment.” A month and a half later, the WHO issued a new guidance, saying the Pfizer vaccine was “suitable for use by people aged 12 years and above.”
The WHO was clear that its early recommendation was based on a lack of data, and on uncertainty about whether or not children with a low likelihood of infection should be a “priority,” and not on any definite conviction that the vaccine was unsafe. And, again, a Politifact check on the notion that the WHO “reversed its stance” on children rated the claim false, saying that the WHO merely “updated” its guidance on children. Still, the whole drama over the WHO recommendation suggested it should at least be an allowable topic of discussion.
Certainly there are critics of Weinstein’s who blanch at the use of sci-fi terms like “red pill” (derived from worldview-altering truth pill in The Matrix), employing language like “very dangerous” to describe the mRNA vaccines, and descriptions of ivermectin as a drug that would “almost certainly make you better.”
Even to those critics, however, the larger issue Weinstein’s case highlights should be clear. If platforms like YouTube are basing speech regulation policies on government guidelines, and government agencies demonstrably can be captured by industry, the potential exists for a new brand of capture — intellectual capture, where corporate money can theoretically buy not just regulatory relief but the broader preemption of public criticism. It’s vaccines today, and that issue is important enough, but what if in the future the questions involve the performance of an expensive weapons program, or a finance company contracted to administer bailout funds, or health risks posed by a private polluter?
Weinstein believes capture plays a role in his case at some level. “It’s the only thing that makes sense,” he says. He hopes the pressure from the public and from the media will push platforms like YouTube to reveal exactly how, and with whom, they settle upon their speech guidelines. “There’s something industrial strength about the censorship,” he says, adding. “There needs to be a public campaign to reject it.”
DUBAI, June 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday it seized 36 Iranian-linked websites, many of them associated with either disinformation activities or violent organizations, taking them offline for violating U.S. sanctions. Several of the sites were back online within hours with new domain addresses. “Today, pursuant to court orders, the United States seized 33 websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites operated by Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), in violation of U.S. sanctions,” the department said in a statement. https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-…
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