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NewsGuard: The Anatomy Of What Censorship Looks Like

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    FakeNews watchdog NewsGuard aims to hold independent media accountable for their stories. Funded by Clinton donors and big pharma, with ties to the CFR, NewsGuard seems to have a clear agenda in favour of mainstream media.

  • Reflect On:

    The image for this article was chosen specifically. Many are attempting to make it feel like the internet is a fake news haven, but is mainstream media just as guilty? More? Be sure to listen to our podcast on this topic!

You may recall an expose we did on NewsGuard back in January 2019. We covered who owns NewsGuard, the various agencies tied to the company and how their ratings have gone thus far.

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At the time, the CFR linked and Big Pharma funded ‘fake news watchdog’ had not yet ‘vetted’ Collective Evolution and thus we had no direct experience with them yet. But the day did eventually come! Before they got to us, NewsGuard was already clear in its approach: give poor ratings to anyone in alternative news, alternative health or who didn’t cover things in classic mainstream narratives.

Note: you can explore this entire story with us via our podcast episode here.

This isn’t a secret either. The app has a very low rating on Google’s store, and many of the reviews of the app all reveal what’s going on quite clearly as it isn’t hard to see.

Tor-Andreas BråtenModified Jan 24, 2019
Good idea, poorly executed. I would like to see this done by an unbiased AI rather than biased people. Try to see what the news sites are “pushing”; Is it USA Neo Liberal friendly news, then green check. Everything else, proceed with caution… I know I’m biased myself, but this is beyond ridiculous…

Artex JayModified Jan 26, 2019
Needs to be worked on a lot. Has potential but at the moment seems to be quite biased. Favoring mainstream sites over the independent ones who give either a different opinion or does not run with the same leftist narrative like CNN.

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John LittleModified Jan 24, 2019
This horrifyingly biased ‘news guard’ will only filter out views that disagree with neocon and center-left opinion. News sites with a history of falsifying reports and sloppy fact checking sail right on through this ‘addon’. You should ONLY install this, if you like a good ‘brainwash’.

Dennis KapatosModified Feb 1, 2019
Stay away! This cr-app is garbage and was created with the intention to push people towards the neocon/neoliberal perspective. Just search the internet for NewsGuard. Their board of advisers includes many neocons including Tom Ridge and Michael Hayden.

Grant SternModified Nov 21, 2018
This is a biased news ratings plugin designed to decry perspective in journalism.

Michael La Riviere Mar 26, 2019
The concept with NewsGuard is to instill doubt when it comes to authentic and true news which refutes government propaganda. One has to obtain the news on any government issues away from mainstream media because they are extremely reluctant to post anything that is not right wing propaganda. Beware of this App!

It’s all about doubt. Instead of examining a story, much like Snopes might do, NewsGuard simply tries to tells you to proceed with caution or proceed safely. There is no clarity on what a website does right or wrong regularly. For example, if a website spent 2 years falsely reporting a story in hundreds of articles and broadcasts, you’d think that might get a poor rating, vs a website that may make a couple of journalistic mistakes and corrects them. But a user has no clarity of this when using the app.

This it’s all about creating doubt so people will stay away. Given almost all of the independent media has a “proceed with caution” rating, the agenda seems clear here.

Our Story

I received an email from someone named John Gregory at NewsGuard. He said he had some questions for me and would love to talk before they publish our rating. This was on March 19th, 2019 and 5:50 PM EST. I was able to properly read this email by 3:00 PM EST March 20th, 2019, by that point John and the NewsGuard team had already published their rating regardless of having not spoken to me.

They of course published in their rating, which has now since changed slightly, “Joe Martino did not answer our email discussing our rating.”

This was tactic number one that, after research, NewsGuard seems to do to many people. Allege that you do not respond, when in reality you just haven’t got it in the very short time period they give you prior to publishing their rating. I responded on the 20th of March and let them know I was aware of their organization, had done a story on them in January and ended up preferring to not engage with their organization as they have a track record of not listening to nor taking anything seriously that is said in response to their baseless claims.

After all, how do you speak to a company about vaccines and health research when they are funded by pharmaceutical giants?

I knew this as I had already done my research and spoken to many friends in alternative media who have had this happen to them. For example, my friend Sayer over at GreenMedInfo, a website that publishes articles based on the database of research and scientific studies it compiles, told me that he went through the entire process with NewsGuard and it was like talking to a wall. Their illogical methods and agendas as the first and foremost at the company, not unbias journalism.

NewsGuard’s Focus

We recorded a podcast episode exploring our NewsGuard rating and going through the stories they claim are fake, when in reality they are simply spinning words to have them say whatever they wish to report to users.

NewsGuard decided to define Collective Evolution as “A website that regularly promotes debunked conspiracy theories like vaccines cause autism and that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were staged.” Yet it gives CNN who, like other mainstream media outlets, have come under fire lately for 2 years of false reporting on Russian collusion, the Convington kids story, and the Jussie Smollet story, a perfect rating, defining them as “A website of Cable News Network (CNN), the first Television network in the United States dedicated exclusively to news. Founded in 1980 by media businessman Ted Turner, CNN pioneered the 24-hour news cycle.”

You’ll notice, one is a nice about section as seen with CNN’s rating, the other is a slam at an organization as seen in our rating. That alone should tell you what NewsGuard’s intentions are: create doubt and fear.

In the end, NewsGuard went after us for 9/11, talking about UFO’s, and talking about vaccines. They claim all these things are debunked conspiracies when in reality they are not, and when we discuss them we do so with research, integrity and studies. We talked about all of this on our recent podcast episode here.

I and Arjun Walia, a senior journalist at CE, went through every aspect of their rating and discussed the lack of proper research on NewsGuard’s part in the podcast episode. Our purpose here was to not only show the lack of proper research on NewsGuard’s part but also to illustrate the overall thought processes and irresponsible journalism that goes into much of the censorship we see today.

This is important as many of us are not quite aware of how these decisions are coming to be, as well as who exactly the people and institutions are behind censorship. In the case of NewsGuard, you have severe conflicts of interest going out to essentially clean up ‘bad press’ being put out against large corporations and big pharma. Luckily, not many are downloading nor using NewsGuard’s app.

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‘Jeffrey Epstein Committed Suicide’ Rules Medical Examiner

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    New York’s chief medical examiner has ruled Jeffrey Epstein's death suicide by hanging.

  • Reflect On:

    How could the biggest most important witness of our lifetime die so carelessly before trial? Why is there still so much we haven't been told about this Epstein case?

New York’s chief medical examiner has completed their autopsy and ruled that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide by hanging himself his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.

Epstein was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges that had been reported for years but not much was done about them. His case is the highest profile case in a very long time involving many high level and elite figures and politicians.  Due to this, many believe he may have been murdered, and regardless of this ruling, that may still be the case.

It appears Epstein fashioned a noose out of a bedsheet and hung himself from a bunk bed in his cell. Epstein was allegedly able to kill himself just days after being taken off suicide watch at the prison as he had previously attempted suicide. Just so happens, guards on duty at the prison reportedly left Epstein unsupervised for longer than prison regulations require, giving him the time to commit suicide.

If Epstein’s case is this high profile, and he is likely the biggest most important witness is perhaps our lifetimes, how is it that the prison could have let this happen so easily and carelessly? Worthy of questioning regardless of the medical examiners ruling.

More details to come.

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The First & Only No-Kill State For Shelter Animals In The US Has Been Declared

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Photo courtesy of Brandywine Valley SPCA
Photo courtesy of Brandywine Valley SPCA

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    America has finally announced its first no-kill state: Delaware. All brick-and-mortar shelters in the First State have at least a 90% save rate which qualifies it as the very first full state working to lead a no-kill movement.

  • Reflect On:

    The no-kill movement is a beautiful one. It shows that the human-animal bond is not only seen and felt, but important enough to us as a collective to take action. Do you believe the goal of having all of America being no-kill by 2025 is attainable?

Sound the alarm! Happy news to share with you all today… Amid all of the perceived chaos that is taking over our screens and mainstream media, it’s always important to touch base on the good news that occurs. This week, Delaware has become the first official no-kill state for shelter animals, and I couldn’t be happier to hear and share this.

As not only a pet lover myself, but a cat-mom of 3 amazing shelter animals as well, I know and have seen the various traumas that can result from either life before being placed into a shelter or during their time there due to anxiety, etc. — and it doesn’t stop there. We’ve all heard the stories, and though I had yet to dive into the details myself personally due to not having the heart for it, it is a fact that some shelters rid themselves of ‘unwanted pets’ every cycle as the shelter seeks more room for new-coming potentials.

A volunteer cradles three rescued kittens.

Photo courtesy of Brandywine Valley SPCA

With that said, this is very BIG news — not only has Delaware taken on the task to reevaluate how its shelters are run and deal with overcrowding, but Delaware has also taken initiative in the ‘no-kill’ movement.

A Best Friends Animal Society volunteer hugs a rescue dog.

Photo courtesy of Brandywine Valley SPCA — The work of staff and volunteers at rescue organizations across the country and public support have already helped drastically reduce the number of pets dying each year in shelters from an estimated 17 million in the 1980s to now around 733,000 dogs and cats. Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

The nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society, which is working with shelters, animal welfare organizations and government agencies across the country to make America a no-kill country by 2025, announced the news at their annual conference in Dallas, Texas.

Linda Torelli, director of marketing for the Brandywine Valley SPCA, which has three locations in Delaware and cares for more than 14,000 animals each year, credited a multipronged approach with helping the First State achieve no-kill status — and its citizens.

“The community in Delaware is very oriented to pet advocacy, so we had their support,” she told TODAY.

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Brandywine Valley SPCA implemented numerous programs so that 95% of animals that enter the open-admission shelter find homes. Torelli said because cats are euthanized at twice the rate of dogs, the nonprofit instituted the practice called trap, neuter and return, aka TNR, to save the lives of feral or “community” cats that would otherwise be euthanized. In TNR, advocates humanely trap the felines, and veterinarians spay or neuter them before they are released back into the community.

Open adoptions — which don’t require time-intensive applications that involve things like home inspections but instead focus on matching a pet with a potential adopter’s lifestyle — help move animals more quickly through the shelters. – As reported by TODAY

The Takeaway

We all either know someone or are that someone who has gone to a shelter and adopted their best friend at some point. And while we all aim to do our part, it’s a HUGE step to know that shelters themselves are now also taking initiative so that there is ‘no pet left behind’ if you will.

So many wonderful pets, companions, and memories are birthed thanks to adoption and it is beautiful to see that more intention is being set on creating a community that is aware of a movement to aid in eliminating the need to kill for the lack of insufficient adoptees. As a personal thank you to all of you who have or will adopt and welcome a new friend into your lives & homes – a reminder to remember you are saving a life when doing so. So, THANK YOU! And thank you, Delaware, for being the shift!

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What Are The Hong Kong Protests All About?

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Photos by Anthony Kwan & Peter Y. Chuang, Unsplash

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Protests in Hong Kong against an 'Extradition Bill' that threatens the freedom of residents have ramped up, to the point where the Hong Kong Airport had to be shut down and the Chinese army is closer to intervening upon this semi-autonomous nation.

  • Reflect On:

    Is Hong Kong now the central theatre playing out the struggle between Eastern and Western sociopolitical ideologies?

I decided to take on this article, first to inform myself better about the motivations behind the Hong Kong protests, which have been ratcheting up in recent days, and then to pass on a basic understanding to you, the reader, so that together we can follow the events going on in this allegedly ‘autonomous’ Chinese territory with some degree of context.

First, it must be understood that Hong Kong developed into a commercial powerhouse as a British colony, and its residents enjoyed some aspects of democratic freedom not available on mainland China. British rule of Hong Kong ended when it was returned to China in July of 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems.” The “Basic Law” constitution guaranteed to protect, for the next 50 years, the democratic institutions that make Hong Kong distinct from Communist-ruled mainland China.

The struggle for an expansion of democratic freedoms on the island have been ongoing in some form or another ever since, with some initiatives specifically supported by the “Basic Law.” Meanwhile, the national Chinese government has attempted to resist such reforms, and has been working to augment its own power and influence over Hong Kong:

  • In 2003, Hong Kong’s leaders introduced legislation that would forbid acts of treason and subversion against the Chinese government. But when an estimated half a million people turned out to protest against the bill, it did not go forward.
  • In 2007, China delayed constitutional plans to implement universal suffrage in elections for the chief executive of Hong Kong until 2017; however, they added more seats for lawmakers elected by direct vote in a way that divided the pro-democracy camp.
  • In 2014, the Chinese government introduced a bill allowing Hong Kong residents to vote for their leader in 2017, but the candidates still needed to be approved by Beijing. Massive protests led legislators to formally reject the bill, and electoral reform stalled. As a result, the current chief executive, Carrie Lam, was hand-picked in 2017 by a 1,200-person committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites.

In other words, it was not a question of if there would be another populist uprising in Hong Kong, but when.

New Extradition Bill Is The Catalyst

Earlier this year, Chief Executive Lam pushed amendments to extradition laws that would allow people to be sent to mainland China to face charges. In some ways, this had a similar agenda to the bill introduced in 2003 that would have directly forbidden acts of treason and subversion against the Chinese government.

This latest bill is a bit more subtle, but the end result would be the same: those Chinese dissidents who are working for greater autonomy from mainland China and full democracy in Hong Kong are de facto enemies of the state, since they are working to erode China’s power over the economic and political affairs of Hong Kong. And China wants to be able prosecute such activities.

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Even before this bill, Beijing’s influence over Hong Kong had been on the rise. Activists have been jailed and pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from running or holding office, while independent booksellers started disappearing from the city, before reappearing in mainland China facing charges. And so when the extradition bill came out, the population of Hong Kong clearly saw it as an attempt to undermine and subvert The “Basic Law” and give Beijing full authority to try pro-democracy activists under the judicial system of the mainland.

Protests Erupted

Protests started small, relatively speaking, but as we have seen with the Yellow Vest protests, attempts to crack down with a hard hand are not deterring people as much as they used to, and in fact protesters become emboldened by seeing an increase in participation. Here is an early timeline of the protests:

  • March 31: the first protest was attended by 12,000 pro-democracy protesters according to organizers (police put the peak figure at 5,200).
  • April 28: an estimated 130,000 protesters joined the march against the proposed extradition law (police estimated 22,800 joined at its height), the largest since an estimated 510,000 joined the annual July 1 protests in 2014. A day after the protest, Chief Executive Carrie Lam was adamant that the bill would be enacted and said the Legislative Councillors had to pass new extradition laws before their summer break.
  • June 9th: while reports suggested it had been the largest ever, it was certainly the largest protest Hong Kong has seen since the 1997 handover, surpassing the turnout seen at mass rallies in support of the Tiananmen protests of 1989 and July 1st demonstration of 2003. CHRF convenor Jimmy Sham said that 1.03 million people attended the march, while the police put the crowd at 270,000 at its peak.
  • June 16th: even though a day earlier Carrie Lam announced that she would suspend the second reading of the bill without a set a time frame on the seeking of public views, the pro-democracy camp demanded a full withdrawal of the bill, and went ahead with the rally, which the Civil Human Rights Front claimed saw the participation of “almost 2 million plus 1 citizens.” The government issued a statement at 8:30 pm where Carrie Lam apologized to Hong Kong residents and promised to “sincerely and humbly accept all criticism and to improve and serve the public.” Still, she did not meet the protesters’ demands of withdrawing the bill completely or resigning.

As the timeline goes forward beyond the suspension of the second reading of the bill, the protests have grown bigger, with more widespread involvement. It is impossible to list all the events that have taken place, but a good compilation can be found here.

Police have violently clashed directly with protesters, repeatedly firing teargas and rubber bullets. As well, it seems that there have been instances of unsanctioned pro-Beijing thugs on a mission to injure protesters, where police did not intervene. However, as political authorities are slowly learning in recent times, protests that resist strong-arm tactics see their demands grow beyond their initial grievance and demand reparations for state violence that has occurred during the protests themselves. Protesters have vowed to keep their movement going until these core demands are met:

  • the resignation of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam
  • an independent inquiry into police tactics
  • an amnesty for those arrested
  • a permanent withdrawal of the bill

The Geopolitical Context

The protests here are emblematic of a larger struggle between different systems of national governance. Hong Kong is a particularly unique case as it is a region that developed some mature institutions of Western Democracy while still always being tied to a major Eastern civilization.

Beijing has issued increasingly shrill condemnations of the protest but has left it to the city’s semi-autonomous government to deal with the situation. But that does not mean they cannot influence even more serious internal measures. On Thursday, Chen Daoxiang, the head of the Chinese army garrison in Hong Kong, said the military was “determined to protect [the] national sovereignty” of Hong Kong and would help put down the “intolerable” unrest if requested. The army released a promotional video showing tanks and soldiers firing on citizens in an anti-riot drill.

A tweet yesterday from the Editor in Chief of China’s state-owned tabloid, Hu Xijin, warns of an imminent showdown in the wake of protests at the Hong Kong airport that were so disruptive that the Hong Kong airport authority advised all passengers to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible:

There is an implied threat that the mainland Chinese army may get involved. Chinese military vehicles have gathered in Shenzhen, a city in mainland China bordering Hong Kong, and military exercises may soon be underway.

Of course, the actions of the Chinese government are being closely watched by the Western world, and there has been no lack of condemnation for the strong-armed tactics of police. The condemnation will only increase if the Chinese government institutes even more severe measures. Countering this, Beijing has ramped up its accusations that foreign countries are “fanning the fire” of unrest in the city. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi has ordered the US to “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form”.

Whatever happens, the people in Hong Kong seem quite steadfast in demonstrating that they don’t want to allow meaningful change to be kicked down the road any longer, and certainly don’t want any more limitations to their freedom. We will see how this struggle plays out this time around.

The Takeaway

Before we start taking sides on the issues behind this protest, it is important to note that neither Chinese-style communism nor any current implementation of Western-style democracy present themselves as true vehicles for the full burgeoning of our individual sovereignty and our collective evolution.

Certainly the struggle in Hong Kong provides more and more individual citizens the opportunity to implicate themselves directly in our system of governance, and the ripple effect of this is that more people in the world will awaken to the fact that each and every one of us has an innate choice in the way we consent to be governed as a society.

Once we clear the veils of control-based deception and come to truly grasp our sovereignty and our ability to choose, we will then be in a much better position to give an informed consent to any social or political institutions we decide to create and maintain.

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