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What “community standards” did this comment breach? #20

The following comments – sent in to us by a reader – were censored by The Guardian. Which of the well-publicised CiF “community standards” did they breach? Removed comment, posted under the Politics live feed on Tuesday 5th of March: …aaannnddd the gap where it used to be: So: Which of the Guardian’s “community standards” did these comments break? Does it “misrepresent the Guardian and its journalists”? Is it “persistent trolling or mindless abuse”? Is it “spam-like”? Or “obviously commercial”? Is it “racism, sexism, homophobia or hate-speech”? Is it “extremely offensive of threatening?”? Is it “flame-wars based on ingrained partisanship or generalisations”? Is it not “relevant”? If none of the above – why were they taken down? See our archive of censored comments. And if you see any egregious examples of the Guardian censoring its “free” comment sections – email us at editor@off-guardian.org, and send us screen caps if possible

The Skripal Case: An Alternative Narrative

Michael Antony The recent titbit fed to us by Bellingcat (reputedly close to MI6) that a third Russian agent was booked on the flight from Heathrow to Moscow on the night of 4th March 2018 — the flight taken by the two alleged GRU officers filmed in Salisbury — but didn’t show up for it, has pointed to a possible solution to the baffling Skripal puzzle. What if the third man, or perhaps the man who was supposed to take his place, was by then lying in Salisbury Hospital in a coma from opiate poisoning? What if Sergei Skripal was a triple agent trying to escape back to Russia to tell the world the truth about the Steele Dossier, which he had helped to concoct as a scurrilous, obscene joke and which had unexpectedly become the new bible of the insane war party in Washington? This is the alternative narrative I will set out in detail here so that the reader can judge whether it forms a more plausible and coherent story than the mishmash …

The Skripal Case: One Year On

Dear Assistant Commissioner Basu,

It is now a year since the events in Salisbury that shocked the nation, and indeed the world. Since then, your organisation has conducted an investigation into the case, and has laid out a case about what happened in a series of statements, notably those made on 5th September (no longer available on your website), in which two suspects were formally accused, and another on 22nd November, following the screening of the Panorama documentary: Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack — The Inside Story.

A Religious Wake-up Call

Kevin Smith and Lesley Buckley What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Gospel of Mark, 8:36 I’ve been looking at religion for some time now, thinking if there are areas where perhaps it can be more involved as a voice against regime change, extremist ideology and continuous war. My thoughts on the concept of religion and its basic teaching are positive. Despite what some people say, I think peace and compassion is a strong theme in the writings of the Bible and Koran. But, I’m sure like me there are many of us who take issue with the behaviour of the religious hierarchy and some followers. Recently, I attended a course which explores the basics of Christianity and what underpins Christian beliefs. Among the thoughts I had is why Jesus has not paid us a return visit maybe to give us a further chance to change. With so many more people living on our planet and in such dangerous and immoral times, surely we are in need …

Why has CounterPunch spiked Andre Vltchek’s ‘Lies of the Empire’?

Ramin Mazaheri I first started reading Andre Vltchek on the website CounterPunch, which is a truly great leftist website… even though I will probably never get published on there, even if I was relaying the cure for cancer: CounterPunch appears totally opposed to working with any state media, and I work for Iran’s PressTV. Rather anarchist and ivory-tower, but… whatever. Reporters have only two choices: work for either privately-owned or state-owned media. I.e., you can work for shareholders, a patrician family (whether urban giants or rural petty tyrants), or some billionaire whose new sports team is in the middle of a boring rebuild, or you can work for the People. I chose the People. Even if this closes a million doors to me – and the fact that I work for the Iranian People closes a million others – I have zero regrets. (Blogging – working for Yourself – is now a third choice, but I don’t have the tech savvy to make that economically viable, and the vast majority of blogging journalists say the …

What “community standards” did this comment breach? #19

The following comments – sent in to us by a reader – were censored by The Guardian. Which of the well-publicised CiF “community standards” did they breach? Removed comments, posted under their Politics live thread on the 20th of February: Another user actually commented on the fact the thread had been removed: …that thread was also removed. So: Which of the Guardian’s “community standards” did these comments break? Does it “misrepresent the Guardian and its journalists”? Is it “persistent trolling or mindless abuse”? Is it “spam-like”? Or “obviously commercial”? Is it “racism, sexism, homophobia or hate-speech”? Is it “extremely offensive of threatening?”? Is it “flame-wars based on ingrained partisanship or generalisations”? Is it not “relevant”? If none of the above – why were they taken down? See our archive of censored comments. And if you see any egregious examples of the Guardian censoring its “free” comment sections – email us at editor@off-guardian.org, and send us screen caps if possible UPDATED 4/3/2019 to correct an incorrect link

Venezuela: US regime change operation falters

Tony Kevin The US-led regime change operation in Venezuela formally began with a bang , on 23 January 2019 in Caracas, when self-declared Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, who had come out of obscurity a few months earlier, declared himself interim President of Venezuela and the incumbent, Nicolas Maduro, as illegitimate. Guaidó was immediately supported by the US, its close NATO allies, and many but not all Latin American nations. But really it began in 1998, with US anger at the democratic election of President Hugo Chavez, with his avowedly socialist and nationalist program. In ensuing years, Chavez (1998-2013) , and Nicolás Maduro (2013-present), earned the loyalty of the Venezuelan poor and lower middle class through progressive social justice reforms. Some – not all – of the elite and upper middle class were alienated. Some emigrated , some remained and plotted for the socialists’ overthrow. Neither Bush nor Obama attacked Venezuela’s socialist government militarily. But especially after 2013, the US stepped up political and economic sanctions against Maduro’s Venezuela, focussed on Venezuela’s rich oil resources and …

OPEN THREAD: The Second Referendum

Labour released a statement today, saying that they will support a “people’s vote” on any possible Brexit deal: We will also be backing the Cooper-Letwin amendment to rule out a no deal outcome. One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent no deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly rejected deal. That’s why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country. The Labour statement was predictable divisive – with some people declaring it a triumph for The Independent Group, the newly-defected “centrist party”: This *might* make the Independent Group the most successful political party of all time https://t.co/WdTNzL7gmo — Jonathan Freedland (@Freedland) February 25, 2019 While others see it as a massive blunder: If #LabourConference were to block #Brexit it would be worse than a crime it would be a blunder. A #KhakiElection would then follow. May for Britain …

Samara’s Aid Appeal False Claims Exposed

Steven Sahiounie Samara Levy, “Pride of Britain” nominee, a British woman running her own charity known as Samara’s Aid Appeal, was under suspicion of fraud. The detailed claims she made concerning hospitals she claims to have founded, supported and developed have been proven to be untrue. Careful verification in Syria has proven that Samara Levy has never been connected with any medical facility in Syria. After contacting the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf), and the Syria Trust for Development, none of these officials confirmed any knowledge of Samara Levy, or her charity having ever made any medical projects in Syria. The World Health Organization visits many hospitals in Syria, but they are Syrian projects and none are run by Samara Levy. The Church Connection Samara Levy is a member of St. Peter’s Church, Brighton. In a church website, dated December 2018, A statement appears strongly endorsing Samara’s Aid Appeal: “it’s sensible and verifiable and going to people in real need.” The article states the people helped are displaced inside Syria. A …

Venezuela: An Open Letter to the UN Secretary General

The most noble task of the United Nations is to create the conditions conducive to local, regional and international peace, to work preventively and tirelessly to avoid armed conflicts, to mediate and negotiate to reach peaceful solutions, so that all human beings can live in human dignity and in the enjoyment of the human right to peace and all other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. I am particularly worried by the Orwellian corruption of language, the instrumentalization and weaponization of human rights and now even of humanitarian assistance.

George and the ‘ISIS Bride’

Kevin Smith Two things I gave up in the New Year after many years were smoking and reading the London Evening Standard. I used to pick up the newspaper at the tube station on the journey from work back to the sticks. ​The newspaper over the last year has got worse in many ways, not least the reporting of Syria and foreign affairs. It’s that bad that there should be an Off-Evening Standard – set up by people who read it so Londoners don’t have to. The Evening Standard is one of those newspapers which is so inept or/and dishonest on these matters it always forces me to pick up my pen and write just to get it out of my system. So in a way it’s a source of negative inspiration for my writing and last year I wrote this for Off- Guardian, about an article Jeremy Hunt published in it. However my son who works in London brings it home and the other day, venturing out into my garden for a crafty vape …

Turkey’s dangerous game causing Idlib catastrophe

Firas Samuri The meeting of the heads of Russia, Turkey and Iran dedicated to the Syrian settlement was held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 14, 2019. Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Erdogan discussed possible ways of the political resolution of the Syrian crisis, joint steps that would help to calm the situation in Syria and seriously advance the peace process by showing respect for international law and the agreements undertaken by the parties concerned. Speaking of the peaceful settlement in Idlib, the sides have agreed to continue working on the implementation of the Sochi summit. The certain adjustments on transferring Idlib’s largest part under Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (former Al-Qaida terrorists or HTS) control would be made. As of yet, it is not clear whether the hostilities against terrorists would open. The detailed answer could be given only after having analyzed the Turkish activity on implementing all the points of the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in Idlib as well as after having studied the development of the situation …

What “community standards” did this comment breach? #18

The following comment – posted to twitter by Craig Murray – was censored by The Guardian. Which of the well-publicised CiF “community standards” did they breach? Removed comment, posted under this live news feed earlier today: Screen shot of where it used to be: For those of you unfamiliar with the video Craig linked to, or the story connected with it: In 2017 Joan Ryan MP was secretly recorded having conversations with employees of the Israeli embassy, in which she appeared to be accepting large amounts of money in order to influence other MPs.: This recording was released as part of the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby. In the same documentary is this clip where an Israeli embassy employee discusses a plan to “take down” Jeremy Corbyn. Seven of the eight (so far) Labour defectors were members of the Labour Friends of Israel. Joan Ryan was the chair. But back to Craig’s comment, and its removal: Which of the Guardian’s “community standards” did it break? Does it “misrepresent the Guardian and its journalists”? Is it …

Ukraine: NATO in the Constitution

Manlio Dinucci The day after the signature of NATO’s membership protocol with North Macedonia as its 30th member, Ukraine did something without precedent: it included in its Constitution the engagement to enter officially into NATO and the European Union at the same time. On 7 February, on a proposition by President Petro Poroshenko – the oligarch who made himself rich by plundering public properties, and who is once again a candidate for the presidency – the Kiev parliament, by 34 votes to 35 with 16 abstentions, approved these amendments to the Constitution. The Introduction pronounces “the irreversible movement of Ukraine towards Euro-Atlantic integration”; articles 85 and 116 state that it is a fundamental duty of the parliament and the government to “obtain Ukraine’s full membership of NATO and the EU”; article 102 stipulates that “the President of Ukraine is the guarantor of the strategic decisions of the State aimed at obtaining full membership of NATO and the EU”. The inclusion in the Ukrainian Constitution of the engagement to enter officially into NATO bears with it …

Trump buys Lithuania, EU cannot stop it

Adomas Abromaitis The US President Donald Trump is no doubt a successful businessman who rules his country as if it is a huge enterprise. And this kind of management, to his mind, should lead to success. And very often it really works. As a wise leader he uses different tools to reach his goals. Thus, the most cunning one, which the US exploits in Europe – is indirect influence on the EU countries to gain the desired aim. The EU just becomes a tool in “capable hands” of the US. Let us give the simple example. Last week the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania announced that the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai would get de-icing equipment for the aircraft. It would be acquired according to an agreement signed by the Ministry of National Defence and the AF Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate (AFSACD) on behalf of the Government of the United States of America. It is known that the new equipment is capable of removing ice from aircraft at the necessary height which …

10 reasons the Gilets Jaunes are the real deal

Ontological security, everybody needs it, but right now it’s in short supply especially in big metropolitan cities. No wonder people are confused and afraid, walking backwards into the future, stuck knee-deep in mud dreaming that somehow, through some miracle, everything will, “Please!”, return to normal.

So amidst of this Tower of Babble, let’s resolve one conundrum for you.

Here are ten reason the Gilets Jaunes (unlike US sponsored colour revolutions) are the real deal, by which I mean the direct expression of the people of France.

The Peaceful Revolution

Eddison Flame How can we fight back against people who control a vast military, financial, information, and surveillance machine? Fiona Jenkins, via Off-Guardian The problem is even worse than you suggest. Not only do they control a vast military, the whole financial apparatus, a massive and invasive system for information indoctrination and narrative control, and a sprawling inescapable system of surveillance, but, in addition to all this, we the people are entirely dependent on their system for our very survival. As it stands right now, there is no safe place in the world for anyone to escape this system. You are absolutely right to wonder, what can we do? I disagree however with your proposal that a potentially viable solution is the one expressed by Moti Nissani in his article The Al-Sabbah Brigade. Anyway, his solution is not my solution. I will say, however, that his formulation of the problem we are facing is excellent. His analysis of the situation we find ourselves in is very good, and I encourage anyone who doubts the claims …

“Pride of Britain” Nominee Under Suspicion of Fraud

Samara Levy is a British woman who runs a charity called “Samara’s Aid Appeal”. She has a very active website as well as a Facebook page. She is a registered UK Charity, which claims to send supplies and medical units to Syria. She has an extensive network of donor-volunteers across UK, and is networking with many churches of all denominations. However, the claims she makes are seemingly not verifiable, and in direct contradiction with the facts on the ground in Syria.

Geopolitics of Europe and the Iron Law of Evolutionary Biology

Europe after the Brexit, NATO 70 summit and Turkish geopolitical vertigo Professor Anis H. Bajrektarević A freshly released IMF’s World Economic Outlook brings no comforting picture to anyone within the G-7, especially in the US and EU: The WTO Round is dead, trade wars are alive, GCC is rapidly Pakistanising while the Asia’s core and its Far East slows down. No comfort either comes from the newest Oxfam Report – Are 26 billionaires worth more than half the planet?, which the ongoing Davos Vanity Fair known as the WEF tries to ignore (as much as this gathering of capital sustains in ignoring labor). The Brexit after-shock is still to reverberate around. In one other EXIT, Sartre’s Garcin famously says: ‘Hell is other people’. Indeed, the business of othering remains lucrative: The NATO 70 summit will desperately look for enemies. Escalation, the best way to preserve eroded unity, requires the confrontational nostalgia dictatum. Will the passionately US-pushed cross-Atlantic Free Trade Area (substituting the abandoned TIPP and compensating for the Sino-US trade war) save the day? Or, …

Goodbye ‘Freedom and Democracy’ – Hello ‘Rules-based International Order’

Paul Carline The banner and the clarion call of western countries, and their own asserted legitimation – especially when they are engaging in illegal wars and coups – used to be “freedom and democracy”: the precious gift they were generously and selflessly offering to a backward world – or one allegedly in the ‘chains’ of Socialism/Communism. There was “Radio Free Europe”, for example, pushing out western liberal propaganda, primarily against the countries of the former Soviet Union. The Washington-based “Freedom House” organisation, which claims to be independent, has around 150 staff members in Washington and in ‘field offices’ around the world. Its President is Michael J. Abramowitz, who before joining Freedom House in 2017, was director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Levine Institute for Holocaust Education. Before that, he was National Editor and then White House correspondent for the Washington Post. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former fellow at the German Marshall Fund and the Hoover Institution. He is also a board member of the National Security …