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Tyler Durden

A Four Person NATO-Funded Team Advises Facebook On Flagging 'Propaganda'

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This is not at all comforting: during a week that's witnessed Alex Jones' social media accounts taken down by Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Google, and what appears to be a growing crackdown against alternative media figures including several prominent Libertarians, notably the Ron Paul Institute director, and the Scott Horton Show, who found their Twitter accounts suspended — we learn that the Atlantic Council is directly advising Facebook on identifying and removing "foreign interference" on the popular platform. 

While the initiative was initially revealed last May through an official Facebook media release, more details of the controversial think tank's role have been revealed. 

Supposedly the whole partnership is aimed at bringing more objectivity and neutrality to the process of rooting out fake accounts that pose the threat of being operated by nefarious foreign states.

And yet as a new Reuters report confirms, Facebook is now itself a top donor to the Atlantic Council, alongside Western governments, Gulf autocratic regimes, NATO, various branches of the US military, and a number of major defense contractors and corporations.
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After A Week Online, NATO's Latest 'Counter-Disinfo' Facebook Game Is A Complete Flop

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We might consider this a bit of lighthearted weekend humor, but unfortunately it's all too real and all too lame, especially consideringsignificant funding and resources actually went into this. And given that it's NATO, somebody's tax dollars had to actually foot the bill. But even NBC's write-up of the story comes close to making fun of NATO's latest attempt to combat fake news in pointing out that "reaction... appears to muted."

NATO a week ago launched its newly unveiled "weapon in the disinformation battleground" to counter the big scary Russians and all others bent on manipulating the news toward their own sinister ends, as NBC explains:
Researchers at the defense alliance have developed a Facebook game that they believe can help people to be more discerning when sharing news online.

Initial reaction to the game, which is called The News Hero, appears to be muted. By Friday morning, it had received just 50 likes and one share.
The online game is designed to be played and shared on Facebook, and far from being some kind of action/spy or historical thriller (which might actually be somewhat interesting among the youth it aims to target), it places gamers in the position of being a news publisher in a professional newsroom.
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US And Allies Planning Evacuation Of White Helmets From Syria

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Perhaps we are about to witness the final chapter to the controversial White Helmets saga?

As we've detailed many times before both the West and the group's leadership have long claimed it's nothing but a humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) devoted to rescuing Syrian's in the midst of war; however, new reports reveal the US and UK are mulling plans to evacuate the group's members who, far from being a "neutral" NGO, are funded by Western governments which have simultaneously sought the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

US government officials say White Helmets members are in "imminent danger" and face the threat of assassination as pro-government forces advance deeper into southwest Syria.

CNN reports the following based on diplomatic sources:
The fate of some 1,000 volunteers and their family members, and the need to plan a possible evacuation for them, has become a focus of discussions of several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, France and Canada, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the subject and two administration officials.
And CNN reports further that President Trump broached the subject at the NATO summit in Brussels last week...
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'No Nerve Agents' In Douma: OPCW Report Demolishes White House Sarin Narrative

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A preliminary report published Friday by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found no traces of any nerve agent at the site of a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma. The OPCW report states this unambiguously as follows:
"No organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties."
Compare the newly published official OPCW findings with the 5-page White House assessment released on April 13th, just days after the alleged attack. Now contradicted by the new OPCW findings, the White House asserted that sarin was used at Douma:
A significant body of information points to the regime using chlorine in its bombardment of Duma, while some additional information points to the regime also using the nerve agent sarin.
Firebrand British MP George Galloway responded as follows moments after the OPCW's findings were made public...
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Syria: 'Rebels Played Russian Roulette, And Lost'

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Middle East analysts are appropriately noting, "Rebels played Russian roulette, and lost" after Syrian Army ground forces accompanied by overwhelming Russian airstrikes in Syria's contested southwest region have collapsed anti-government lines with rapid speed. 

Early Friday a major strategic victory was announced as government forces took the Nassib border crossing after recapturing a string of over 8 border outposts in Daraa province.

The Nassib crossing is among Syria's most important and busiest international border crossings, and sits along the Damascus-Amman international highway. Prior to the war it was a main artery for Syrian exports to GCC countries. 

Opposition leaders have confirmed the crossing will now be controlled by Syrian government and Jordanian authorities for the first time after the FSA flag long flew over the outpost since anti-Assad militants captured it in 2015. 

The ongoing major offensive to take back Daraa and Al-Quneitra provinces from long entrenched FSA, al-Qaeda, and ISIS groups began last month, and though predicted by many to be a long and grinding affair that held the potential for external state military intervention, the unexpectedly rapid advance of pro-government forces has stunned observers.
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Ben Rhodes Admits Obama Armed Jihadists In Syria In Bombshell Interview

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Someone finally asked Obama administration officials to own up to the rise of ISIS and arming jihadists in Syria. 

In a wide ranging interview titled "Confronting the Consequences of Obama's Foreign Policy" The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan put the question to Ben Rhodes, who served as longtime deputy national security adviser at the White House under Obama and is now promoting his newly published book, The World As It Is: Inside the Obama White House.

Rhodes has been described as being so trusted and close to Obama that he was "in the room" for almost every foreign policy decision of significance that Obama made during his eight years in office. While the Intercept interview is worth listening to in full, it's the segment on Syria that caught our attention.

In spite of Rhodes trying to dance around the issue, he sheepishly answers in the affirmative when Mehdi Hasan asks the following question about supporting jihadists in Syria:
Did you intervene too much in Syria? Because the CIA spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding and arming anti-Assad rebels, a lot of those arms, as you know, ended up in the hands of jihadist groups, some even in the hands of ISIS.

Your critics would say you exacerbated that proxy war in Syria; you prolonged the conflict in Syria; you ended up bolstering jihadists.
Rhodes initially rambles about his book and "second guessing" Syria policy in avoidance of the question. But Hasan pulls him back with the following: "Oh, come on, but you were coordinating a lot of their arms."
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US Officially Resumes Funding For The White Helmets In Syria

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In a somewhat surprising but not entirely unpredictable turn, President Trump has authorized new funding for the White Helmets which had previously been put on hold.  A State Department press release puts the initial funding figure at $6.6 million to continue what it calls "the vital, life-saving operations of the Syrian Civil Defense, more commonly known as the White Helmets." Elsewhere on the State Department's website the group is referenced as "first responders" in Syria; however, it remains an indisputable fact that the group only operates in al-Qaeda and anti-Assad insurgent held territory.
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Mueller Scrambles To Limit Evidence After Indicted Russians Actually Show Up In Court

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller is scrambling to limit pretrial evidence handed over to a Russian company he indicted in February over alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, according to Bloomberg.

Mueller asked a Washington federal Judge for a protective order that would prevent the delivery of copious evidence to lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, one of three Russian firms and 13 Russian nationals. The indictment accuses the firm of producing propaganda, pretending to be U.S. activists online and posting political content on social media in order to sow discord among American voters. 

The special counsel's office argues that the risk of the evidence leaking or falling into the hands of foreign intelligence services, especially Russia, would assist the Kremlin's active "interference operations" against the United States. 

“The substance of the government’s evidence identifies uncharged individuals and entities that the government believes are continuing to engage in interference operations like those charged in the present indictment,” prosecutors wrote.
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Trump 'War Games' Announcement Shocks South Korea, US Military Forces

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In what was perhaps the most surprising announcement to emerge from today's Trump-Kim summit, president Trump agreed to suspend military exercises with South Korea in return for a commitment to denuclearisation from North Korea.

As we reported earlier, Trump said the war games were expensive and “very provocative”, and yet stopping them has been called a "major concession", something the US has previously rejected as non-negotiable on the grounds that the exercises are a key element of its military alliance with Seoul, and maintaining a deterrent against North Korea. In return, Trump said Kim had agreed in a joint statement to reassert “his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

In other words, Trump made it appear that he is negotiating from a position of weakness to achieve a diplomatic goal which would have remained unachievable had Trump not taken the initiative. In doing so, however, he infuriated the neocons in his immediate circle. Immediately after the announcement, the WaPo's Josh Rogin noted that "Everything Trump is saying and doing goes directly against everything Bolton has ever said or believed about North Korea."

On the surface, anything that neocon warmonger Bolton hates can only be good.
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German Officials Admit 'Still No Evidence' From UK That Russia Poisoned Skripals

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It seems notably fortuitous that the world is now distracted with the ongoing actions surrounding President Trump - whether in Quebec tweet-slamming PM Trudeau, or in Singapore ahead of his historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

We say "fortuitous" since it offers UK PM Theresa May some breathing room as her dramatic, quickly determined, and globally propagandized claims that Russia was the culprit for the poisoning of the Russian ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter; remain entirely unsubstantiated by any proof.

However, just as May was hoping the world had forgot dozens of nations expelled hundreds of Russian diplomats on nothing more than her word and the constant Russophobic narrative pumped thru the eyeballs and earholes of the rest of the world; the Germans just threw a rather loud wrench in the slient-running PR campaign that has taken the Skripal-murdering Putin off the frontpage.
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