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“It’s not hard to bring out the worst in large numbers of citizens by constantly pressing their buttons; fear, hate, greed, false pride and blind loyalty are the main emotions used to manipulate people so much these last years. Reversing this process and empowering people through courage, love, generosity, humility and critical thinking is harder but it can and must be done.” -- Coleen Rowley for RootsAction; FBI whistle blower

What is what and who is who and who cares what if who is not, said the reflection to the shadow.



Julian Assange and the war against freedom
There is and never was anything illegal in the case of Julian Assange other than the continued and deplorable actions of dark elements within the US administration - actions which in any other instance would have seen the case thrown out - thrown out due to actions by these dark elements which themselves are outside of and shun both US and international law.
  Should the UK grant the US the Assange extradition request, then the UK administration and justice system will themselves become accomplices of those dark elements.
  One of the underlying tenets, or principles of modern journalism is to examine and report to the public any underhand, illegal or dubious activities of the powerful, including those in government.
  The current US witch hunt against Assange is the greatest threat to and assault upon journalism and the reporting of the truth in history.

_____________

Covid-19 and the future
Social and domestic life in most of the developed and sheltered countries of our world has been torn apart by the covid-19 disease and the lock down measures taken by governments.
 
The wealth of a nation depends on the health and well being of its people and not on their enslavement by capitalism and its goals.
  The coronavirus tragedy unfolding in the US, which does not have a free national health service, will bear sad testimony to that.
  The same scenario is also unfolding in the UK, which once had one of the best free national health services in the world but which has been drastically under resourced by successive governments over the past decade and more.
  In the less developed and less sheltered countries the suffering caused in the main by other people continues unabated - except those suffering must now also face a pandemic.
  Humanity is truly at a crisis crossroads with few, if any, avenues of escape.
  We are not a pleasant species to ourselves when we find ourselves feeling backed into a corner, as human history undeniably shows.
  The only way out of the mess is for us all to work together as a cohesive species and try to forge a true global balance between nature and the survival of civilisation.
  At this present time such a reality appears further away than the ship smoke disappearing below the far horizon.
  Can we pull the ship closer?

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Julian Assange — a warning
The illegal seizure and arrest of Julian Assange should serve as a warning of just how corrupt the involved governments and their minions have become.
  One of the first tricks of dirty governing when faced with any embarrassing exposure of underhand activity is to attempt to discredit and assasinate the character of those releasing the information. History bears testimony to such acts.
  One of the accusations amongst many used to justify the seizure and arrest of Assange was that he used Wikileaks to “meddle” in the internal affairs of states.
  Given that such is exactly what the United States and United Kingdom has persistently done over the past 100 years, such an accusation can only be described as blatant, unashamed hypocrisy. History will reveal such human dregs for the garbage they truly are.
  Dark days indeed lie ahead.


 

Contributed opinion items appear below


When algorithms come for journalists       printable version
22 Feb 2021: posted by the editor - Journalism

By Freedom of the Press Foundation
Journalists - especially those without institutional newsroom support - rely on tools from major tech companies like Google and YouTube for newsgathering, production and distribution as a matter of course. As these information giants publicly wrestle with controversial content moderation decisions that dominate headlines and Congressional hearings, their decisions also run the risk of stifling routine reporting. When content is removed or an algorithm tweaked behind closed doors, news organizations and journalists are often left without any sort of transparency into the process or a clear path to appeals.

In the last month, Freedom of the Press Foundation and the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker experienced this first-hand, with the temporary takedown from Google Docs of an online database we've used to track more than 2,500 tweets by former President Donald Trump attacking the media. We've used this public spreadsheet for data analysis over the years, and provided it to readers and other journalists to do their own exploration of Trump's anti-media tweets and their effect on press freedom.

Two weeks ago, the database was taken down by Google and replaced with a notice claiming an unspecified “terms of service” violation.

Neither Freedom of the Press Foundation nor Stephanie Sugars, our reporter whose personal account “owns” the document, were notified of its removal, and no recourse was offered.

"When I discovered the spreadsheet had been flagged, I was at a complete loss for how to contest the decision. Even the directive from Google's Help screen was useless, as it said to request a review when the document was already open. I couldn't open the document at all, and when I tried it disappeared from my Drive,” according to Sugars.

Still, we were lucky. Some of our colleagues know employees at Google, and our allies know even more. After many people made private inquiries on our behalf, the document was restored without explanation a day after we discovered it was down. Obviously, that course of action is not available to most.

We still have no idea why the Trump tweet database was taken down.

Even a temporary suspension can have serious drawbacks for reporters or outlets that are providing timely reporting or live broadcasts. Since the beginning of 2021, for example, the progressive news outlet Status Coup has seen both widespread adoption of its live-streaming footage and an increase in restrictions from YouTube, where it broadcasts. As it was covering a pro-gun rally in Virginia last month, its feed was abruptly cut for violating the service's firearms policy. Similar to allies stepping in in our Trump tweet database situation, high-profile criticism of Silicon Valley appeared to lead to the stream's restoration.

That option is not available to most. Should local journalists have to rely on higher-profile journalists to draw attention to their case?

And despite that reversal, Status Coup continues to face problems. Even though their channel was restored, Status Coup has made the editorial decision not to “go live” as it covers certain controversial events. Critical footage it shot from the Capitol Riots, which was later licensed by CNN and other networks and seen by millions of people, was taken down by YouTube, and much of it has not been restored. In the weeks since, some of the same raw footage was also removed from Google Drive, again citing unspecified Terms of Service violations, according to the outlet's co-founder Jordan Chariton.

Chariton also described the difficulty of planning reporting trips or assignments when the resulting stories are shaded with total uncertainty. “As a journalist you want to sink or swim on your judgment, what stories you choose, the way you report, building relationships with sources,” he said, but Status Coup's experience thus far “shows that you can be tenacious, work seven days a week, break big stories, and Google and the rest of them could choose to bury you, choose to take your footage down.”

Google's domination of search means it can have profound effects on distribution even for outlets that don't expressly rely on products like YouTube. U.S. Right to Know, a non-profit newsroom that engages in investigative journalism on public health issues, has provided Freedom of the Press Foundation with evidence of a sudden and dramatic drop-off in incoming traffic from Google search results after the search engine released a “core update” to its ranking algorithm.

U.S. Right to Know's Google referral traffic dropped off a cliff in the beginning of December, right when the algorithm change was announced. Was there some action that U.S. Right to Know took that triggered this? What can it do to rectify the situation? Its editors have no idea.

U.S. Right to Know has also previously attracted strong negative attention from the subjects of its reporting - Monsanto set up an “intelligence center” to monitor and discredit the organization and other journalists. In the absence of meaningful transparency or an appeal process, it's difficult to rule out the idea that such a motivated company could possibly have played a role.

This is only one example of many over the years where an algorithm change has killed a news outlet's traffic overnight. The New York Times wrote in 2017 how legitimate left-leaning independent news outlets were getting decimated by Google's attempt to eliminate “fake news.” Outlets large and small have long complained Facebook constantly wreaks havoc on their traffic - and in turn, their revenue - if they decide to de-emphasize certain subjects or news in users' newsfeeds. Newsrooms are stuck trying to read the tea leaves in vague announcements for how to respond.

To be clear, companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have their own First Amendment right to make decisions about what content they host and how they present that content. Efforts to diminish the liability protection afforded to tech platforms and websites of all stripes are misguided at best - and would unequivocally hurt the cause of free speech.

But that doesn't mean the companies that operate dominant tech platforms shaping our social information intake shouldn't be held accountable when their opaque decisions harm independent reporting and journalism.

Tech companies are so dominant that it's impossible to make or distribute news without them for many journalists. Given the importance of a strong and independent press, it's time these companies prioritize and allocate the resources that protect journalists from unexplained, random or otherwise punitive abuses of their power.

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Who overcomes by force, hath overcome but half his foe.”
John Milton

                                                     Origins of Poverty
When man came on earth he did not live in a society or hierarchy nor was he endowed with poverty. Good health, longevity, natural cheerfulness were his own even as he found himself amidst plenty. Like other species he lived or perished as the external resources permitted but he lived or perished as a group. Only when the society organised itself into a hierarchy, it was possible for one layer to exist while another persisted during times of scarcity. Organised ways of living, knowledge of all descriptions, systems created for comfort etc. interfered with the natural living of MAN in hundreds of ways. With the passing of time these stratifications of society come to stay and even create a psychology by which even the victim takes his victimization for granted. No question arises in his mind. ...

Had not the society organised itself in such a way that segments of it are protected and other segments were defenseless, MAN would have remained as MAN and would not have been bifurcated into poor and rich.

r

Reality Page | Local comment

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“Man was always destroying things, and beautiful things.
At the time they wouldn’t seem beautiful.
It was only afterwards that men felt pity for the things their hands had destroyed.”

  Walter Macken — The Scorching Wind

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Direct Input Headlines
When algorithms come for journalists - 22 Feb 2021 filed by the editor - Journalism
Leading digital players must adhere to democratic obligations - 15 Jan 2021 filed by the editor - Internet news
Restoring the Threat of Impeachment for Future Office Holders - 10 Jan 2021 filed by the editor - General, Features, United States
RSF condemns 'unnecessarily cruel' decision to keep Julian Assange detained - 06 Jan 2021 filed by the editor - General, Human Rights, Journalism, International, United States, United Kingdom
Covid-19 and mass inoculation - 28 Dec 2020 filed by the editor - Health, Opinion
Julian Assange’s extradition hearing marred by barriers to open justice - 10 Oct 2020 filed by the editor - Human Rights, Journalism, International, United States, United Kingdom
Arrest of indigenous Canadian reporter condemned - 16 Sep 2020 filed by the editor - Human Rights, Journalism, Canada


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