The arbiters of truth 5

From now on, when you write news on Facebook, it will be judged by certain people – specially talented, it is implied, in being totally uninfluenced by their own likes and dislikes – and if they reject it as untrue, it will be …

Deleted? Banned? Demoted? Obscured?

Discredited, anyway.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Facebook Inc. is inching closer to fact-checking the news on its platform, a role that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg shunned a month ago, by rolling out steps to weed out “the worst of the worst”, the social media platform said on Thursday.

It has inched all the way. It is commissioning fact-checking.

Facebook said it has identified several markers of sites that consistently peddle fake news, and it will demote posts from those sites in people’s news feeds.

It is also outsourcing the delicate task of determining whether individual stories are true or false to a few external organizations and tweaking its news feed algorithm based on their rulings. It is unusual for Facebook to entrust outsiders with this much power to influence the way posts are played in the news feed, the central stream of information that is customized for each user by Facebook’s algorithm. …

Mr. Zuckerberg initially dismissed concerns over fake news, but later backed away from that stance. Still he remains wary of Facebook becoming the “arbiters of truth” … 

By drafting the help of a network of fact-checking groups affiliated with the Poynter Institute, a journalism nonprofit based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Facebook is seeking to keep the task at arm’s length. …

(More about Poynter below.)

The fact-checking organizations — Snopes.com, PolitiFact, ABC News, Factcheck.org and the Associated Press — will sift through the flagged stories to determine if they are fake. It will be up to those organizations to determine whether or not to fact-check them. …

Facebook’s partnerships immediately sparked questions among users and conservatives on the neutrality of the fact checkers themselves.

“Fact checkers all seem to be from the left,” said a Twitter message from the account of Republican strategist Evan Siegfried. “Not good for conservatives.”

If a fact checker determines articles are untrue, those stories will appear lower in Facebook’s news feed and publishers can’t promote them with Facebook ads, the company said. The links will also carry a warning label to indicate that their accuracy is in dispute.

ABC news and the Associated Press (AP) as arbiters of truthful reporting? Orwell, your Ministry of Truth exists, and rules over us! Both are notoriously left-biased. (Read about ABC’s bias here. As for AP – Google “Associated Press misreporting” and see instantly on page one just some of the topics they’ve lied about.)

But wait! Worse is to come.

Aaron Klein writes at Breitbart:

The organization partnered with Facebook to help determine whether a certain story is “disputed” is financed by billionaire George Soros and a slew of other left-wing funders.

The partnering organization is Poynter. It has set up a new subsidiary for this task, the International Fact-Checking Network, and yes, it is funded by George Soros, the ideal man to head Orwell’s Ministry of Truth!

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) drafted a code of five principles for news websites to accept, and Facebook yesterday announced it will work with “third-party fact checking organizations” that are signatories to the code of principles.

Facebook says that if the “fact checking organizations” determine that a certain story is fake, it will get flagged as disputed and, according to the Facebook announcement, “there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed”.

IFCN is hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. A cursory search of the Poynter Institute website finds that Poynter’s IFCN is openly funded by Soros’ Open Society Foundations as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Poynter’s IFCN is also funded by the Omidyar Network, which is the nonprofit for liberal billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The Omidyar Network has partnered with the [Orwellian-named] Open Society on numerous projects and it has given grants to third parties using the Soros-funded Tides Foundation. Tides is one of the largest donors to left-wing causes in the U.S.

Another significant Poynter Institute donor is the Craig Newmark Foundation, the charitable organization established by Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark. On Monday, just days before the announcement of the Facebook partnership, Poynter issued a press release revealing that Newmark donated $1 million to the group to fund a faculty chair in journalism ethics.

States the press release:

The gift will support a five-year program at Poynter that focuses on verification, fact-checking and accountability in journalism. It’s the largest donation Poynter’s ever received from an individual foundation.

The Newmark Chair will expand on Poynter’s teaching in journalism ethics and develop certification programs for journalists that commit to ethical decision-making practices. The faculty member will also organize an annual conference on ethics issues at Poynter and be a regular contributor to Poynter.org.

Newmark funds scores of liberal groups also financed by Soros, including the Sierra Club, the New America Foundation, and the Sunlight Foundation.

Newmark also finances the investigative journalism group called the Center for Public Integrity, where he serves on the board.  Soros’s Open Society is another Public Integrity donor.

Soros has earned his megafortune in part by short selling currencies and causing economic crises. He is credited with breaking the pound on September 16, 1992 in a day that became known in Britain as “Black Wednesday.” He reportedly made $1.2 billion from that crisis.  In 2002, he was convicted for insider trading.

And that’s the least of his offenses. See the very long list of the organizations through which he works his evil will, and read what their principles and purposes are.

Poynter, meanwhile, has hosted controversial journalism programs in the past, including one that was accused of downplaying the threat of global Islamic terrorism. FoxNews.com reported the course suggested reporters “keep the death toll from Islamic terrorism in ‘context’ by comparing that toll to the number of people killed every year by malaria, HIV/AIDS and other factors”.

It is typical of the Left to compare terrorism to accidents and diseases, as though no moral decision is involved in the committing of random murder. This amounts to a condoning of terrorism, which positively encourages it.

The course taught reporters that the term “jihad” means internal struggle, and it discussed what it claimed was the issue of “right-wing activists” attempting to link American Muslims to terrorism.

As examples of fact-checking, the propagation of such blatant lies does not inspire confidence.

The section includes the good-journalism tip that reporters should check to see if experts they’re interviewing “have a bias or a stake in the story you are covering.” But then it only cites examples of anti-Muslim groups.

The course in Islam, Fox News reported, was supported by a group calling itself the Social Science Research Council, which has received funding from Soros-financed groups.

In response to the report, the Poynter Institute explained that it created the course “as a tool for journalists who want to be accurate in educating their audience about the religion and culture of Islam, Muslim communities in the U.S., and the distinctions between Islam as a political movement and the radical philosophies that inspire militant Islamists”. 

As there is NO distinction to be drawn between “Islam as a political movement and the radical philosophies that inspire militant Islamists”, those journalists who long to achieve strict accuracy will be teaching a lie from the get-go.    

“We believe there is a need to better understand the complexities of Muslim societies and the online course offered by Poynter and Washington State University is a vital resource toward that end,” Poynter added.

The values underpinning the course are truth, accuracy, independence, fairness, minimizing harm and context — the core journalistic values on which we build all our teaching here at Poynter.”

No one should be surprised at Poynter’s capacity for self-deception. It is what makes Leftism possible.

What of the other “fact-checkers”  on which Facebook will rely?

Poynter owns the Tampa Bay Times, and the Tampa Bay Times owns Politifact,

Politifact declares about itself:

PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partner news organizations to help you find the truth in American politics. …

Control of the newspaper and its operations, however, lies with a single executive. Upon retirement, that leader picks a successor. …

We received a grant from the Democracy Fund that has assisted us in expanding to new states. …

For our PunditFact project — which fact-checks talking heads and opinion leaders – we have received grants from the Ford Foundation and the Democracy Fund. Seed money for the project was provided by craigconnects. …

The Democracy Fund is administered by the iniquitous United Nations. The Ford Foundation funds such causes as Black Live Matter.

 When it comes to the question of “Who is PolitiFact?” or “Who pays for PolitiFact?”, we can assure you that no one is behind the scenes telling us what to write for someone else’s benefit. We are an independent, nonpartisan news organization. We are not beholden to any government, political party or corporate interest. We are proud to be able to say that we are independent journalists. …

Sorry, but we find that really, really hard to believe.

Then there is Snopes.com. It too is heavily left leaning(Read about it here and here.)

And what of Factcheck.org?

We quote from (conservative) Free Republic, which investigated it:

The “Truthfulness” website called FactCheck.org is itself decidedly BIASED toward the LEFT …

Among several proofs of this assertion, it cites this:

The sponsoring agency behind FastCheck.org, is itself supported by the same foundation, the ANNENBERG FOUNDATION, that Bill Ayers secured the 49.2 million dollars from to create the Chicago ANNENBERG Challenge “philanthropic” organization in which Barack Obama was the founding Chairman of the Board for and Ayers served as the grant writer of and co-Chair of for its two operating arms.

That’s Bill Ayers the terrorist. Read here how he and Barack Obama tried to “push radicalism in schools” through the Annenberg Challenge.

Free Republic concludes its report on Factcheck.com with a question:

Does the LEFT have no conscience at all?

Answer: Absolutely none.

Has all this been revealed to Mark Zuckerberg? Does he not know or not care?

Facebook is a global platform. With this ploy, the lying Left has brought off a power-grab of immeasurable proportions. From now on it will be the arbiter of truth, all over the world.

And for the Left, “truth” equals political correctness.

But does anyone over there on the Left know what you stand for now? Where you’re going, or why?

Iran and the Bomb 3

The International Atomic Energy Agency has written a report stating that Iran can now make the bomb and is now developing a missile delivery system.

VIENNA — Experts at the world’s top atomic watchdog are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead, according to a secret report seen by The Associated Press.The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that the agency’s leaders share Washington’s views on Iran’s weapon-making capabilities.It appears to be the so-called “secret annex” on Iran’s nuclear program that Washington says is being withheld by the IAEA’s chief.The document says Iran has “sufficient information” to build a bomb. It says Iran is likely to “overcome problems” on developing a delivery system.

A Daily Telegraph report has more:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has always publicly denied any ambition to build a weapon. But the IAEA report says that he wanted to acquire nuclear weapons as long ago as 1984, when he served as president. He allegedly told a meeting of senior officials that a “nuclear arsenal would serve Iran as a deterrent in the hands of God’s soldiers”.

Emanuele Ottolenghi also writes in Standpoint about the Iranian nuclear programme and the West’s possible response:

The American report was a game changer. It declared that Tehran had “halted its nuclear weapons programme” in autumn 2003. It suggested that Iran had suspended its military programme “primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran’s previously undeclared nuclear work.”

There were many caveats to this judgment, buried in the footnotes and intervening text, but the headline was that Iran no longer pursued nuclear weapons. The report undermined any residual credibility to the threat of US military action. Diplomacy was the only option left. George W. Bush endorsed it — and a new proposal was delivered to Iran with the signature of the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in June 2008. President Obama picked up where Bush left off, and made engagement with Iran a centrepiece of his new foreign policy. Then, recently, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a nuclear umbrella to US allies in the region, as if to suggest that the US was now resigned to a nuclear Iran.

The answer came recently, in two separate reports that were leaked to the press. Last March, a German intelligence report was submitted to Germany’s Constitutional Court to back the conviction of a German-Iranian businessman accused of supplying Iran with technology for its nuclear programme. The defence had cited the NIE to suggest that the transaction, which occurred in 2007, could not have been used to supply Iran’s military programme, given that the latter had been halted four years before. The court upheld the conviction based on the intelligence, which contradicted the NIE — the weapons programme, the German spies said, had never been suspended. A more recent report, published in July in The Times, cited Western intelligence sources as suggesting that Iran had indeed halted its weapons programme in 2003 but only because by then it had been successfully completed.

If the report is accurate, it answers the question the NIE did not address. Iran stopped its nuclear weaponisation programme in 2003 because its strides had far outpaced the enrichment programme. The decision to suspend had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq or with the much-vaunted secret negotiations between the US and Iran that were ongoing in Paris at the time. It mattered little that IAEA inspectors had started snooping around the recently exposed nuclear installations. Rather, Iran had finished the weaponisation part of the programme before it had completed perfecting a delivery system and mastering the enrichment process.

Iran’s decisions have never been influenced by offers and incentives. The only thing that has ever mattered to Tehran was time. The only reason Iran might still be willing to negotiate is again time: if it still needs time to complete its goal of nuclear weapons capability. US engagement will not change this. Iran can build a bomb, has been busy building one and has never even considered changing its mind.

There are some analysts who believe that the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) will prevent war between Israel and Iran. IMED believe this to be completely untrue. Iran’s autocratic regime is not rational, and the concept of self-destruction in the name of religious self-sacrifice is not just likely; it is expected. After all, praise and encouragement of suicide bombers is not an uncommon sight in Iran.

This excellent article by Shmuel Bar explains the need to negate the (apparently) comforting theory of MAD:

The countries of the Middle East will probably be more predisposed than the Cold War protagonists to brandish their nuclear weapons, not only rhetorically but through nuclear alerts or nuclear tests, leading to escalation. Once one country has taken such measures, the other nuclear countries of the region would probably feel forced to adopt defensive measures, leading to multilateral escalation. However, such multilateral escalation will not be mitigated by Cold War-type hotlines and means of signalling and none of the parties involved will have escalation dominance. This and the absence of a credible second-strike capability may well strengthen the tendency to opt for a first strike.

True, we may safely assume that the leaders and peoples of the Middle East have no desire to be the targets of nuclear blasts. However, the inherent instability of the region and its regimes, the difficulty in managing multilateral nuclear tensions, the weight of religious, emotional and internal pressures and the proclivity of many of the regimes in the region towards military adventurism and brinkmanship do not bode well for the future of this region once it enters the nuclear age.

For news on Iran and the nuclear programme, visit IMED’s blog – also look out for our campaign against the Iranian nuclear programme, coming soon in the UK.