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Wed, 10 Feb 2016
The World for People who Think

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Tips for trolls: How to stifle critical thought, dissent, and the search for truth

© Gaertringen / Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)
Beware of smiling trolls.
This is Part 2 of a three-part series on the insidious techniques of trolls, spooks, feds, saboteurs, provocateurs, disinformants — whatever you wish to call them.

These techniques were posted anonymously on the Internet some time ago. They appear to have been written by a professional troll for the "benefit" of less experienced trolls on how to prevent the sharing of inconvenient facts on political forums. As we pointed out in Part 1, we would normally not publish such material because we cannot verify any of it.

And yet... we feel we have seen every one of these methods in action.

As you read this, you may have a sense of deja-vu. Or you may have witnessed yet other maneuvers not described below. We encourage you to add your own observations to this ongoing collection. We would love to hear from you.

It is probably unnecessary, but we are obliged to make this statement: Far from endorsing these attempts to hijack free and open discourse, we believe that exposing them can help blunt their power to confuse and control. Forewarned is forearmed.

Comment: Don't miss Part 1 of this series: The art of disinformation and distraction: How trolls control an internet forum


San Francisco riot police 'sweep away' homeless protesters ahead of Superbowl festivities

© AP/Eric Risberg
People hold up signs and a tent during a protest to demand city officials do more to help homeless people outside Super Bowl City, in San Francisco on Feb. 3, 2016.
The priorities of San Francisco city government are being put on stark display as homeless people, and those supporting them in protest, are being cleared out to make way for Super Bowl festivities. The spectacle of American football, and the millions of dollars that come with it, are far more important than the well-being of the city's less fortunate.

On Wednesday, a few hundred protesters showed up at Super Bowl City to bring attention to the homeless population that is being increasingly shoved aside while San Francisco subsidizes the wealthy. Under the name "Tackle Homelessness," protesters set up tents and carried signs such as "house keys not homelessness" and "Hey Mayor Lee, no penalty for poverty."

As this video shows, protesters were met by a swarm of about 100 police officers dressed in riot gear, issuing orders over a loudspeaker to pack up their tents and clear the area within one minute.
"You have one minute to disassemble those tents and put them away. If they're not disassembled, we will confiscate them and we will book them as evidence and keep them as safekeeping."
The heavy hand of the police state demonstrated here is a reflection of what goes on every day in San Francisco. Instead of taking measures to aid the homeless, the city is increasingly penalizing them. According to the organizers of Tackle Homelessness, citations are on the rise for those sleeping in the streets, and there is only one shelter bed for every six homeless people.
"The major freeway arteries, the encampments surrounding them, have been displaced. People have been getting ticketed, getting arrested, having their property confiscated," said Jennifer Friedenbach with the Coalition on Homelessness."

Comment: Mobilizing and coming together in public spaces on issues that matter to a community aren't allowed in a pathocracy. For something more interesting to watch than the Superbowl, check out our latest Earth Changes Summary video to see what's been happening on our planet and what is in store for the future.

SOTT Earth Changes Summary - December 2015: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs

See also: San Francisco scrambling to relocate homeless before Super Bowl 50


Anti-TPP protest begins in San Francisco outside US senator's office

© AFP 2016/ Saul Loeb
The US public should reach out to Congress and urge their representatives to block the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Global Policy Analyst Maira Sutton said during a protest against the trade deal in San Francisco, California on Thursday.

Sutton, who rallied in front of the office of US Senator Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco, argued that the TPP agreement threatens Internet users, extends restrictive intellectual property laws, and rewrites rules on its enforcement, among its other controversial aspects.

"We have to preempt this legislation from getting introduced," Sutton stated. "Please call your representatives... call them every day."

Comment: This needs to be done all across the US to let the government know this free trade agreement will not help the people.


UN censures France for children's rights abuse

© www.unhcr.org
Asylum seekers braving the cold at the refugee camp in Calais.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has censured France for failing to stop the corporal punishment of children and ill-treatment of Roma and asylum-seeking minors. The CRC issued non-binding recommendations on Thursday, calling on the government in Paris to work more effectively to halt violence against children. "No violence against children is justifiable," said the CRC after a review of the state of child rights in France, urging the government in Paris "to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, including in the family, in schools, day cares and in alternative care."

The UN body also said it was "concerned by cases of ill-treatment of children with disabilities in institutions," specifically urging France to ban "packing," a technique in which children with autistic spectrum disorders are wrapped in cold, wet sheets. The CRC said packing amounted to "ill treatment."

The situation of asylum seeking minors was also of high concern for UN officials, with CRC member Hynd Ayoubi Idrissi particularly raising the plight of those living in squalor refugee camps in the northern port city of Calais. Idrissi said what was happening on the ground in the camps was far distant from the policies of the French Interior Ministry.

"More and more children are being placed in administrative waiting zones, in hotels which don't comply with the minimum child protection standards," she said in at a press conference, adding that those children "had difficulty in exercising their right to access health care services."

The CRC report came a day after French authorities evacuated 400 people from the Roma community from their camps on a disused railway line in northern Paris. The move prompted the Council of Europe to express concern over France's "mass expulsion policy."

Comment: The CRC's recommendations are non-binding, therefore able to be ignored or side-stepped until they are ratified. Recommendations or not, the health and welfare of minors should be on top of every country's list of rights and guarantees.


Leaked Denver police manual reveals 'shadow teams' to target and arrest vocal protesters

© AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
Riot police amass at the Occupy Denver protest in front of the state Capitol building Friday, Oct. 14, 2011.
A leaked police manual reveals how Denver police respond to marches and other forms of protest, including their use of undercover "platoons" of officers to pick out leaders for later arrest.

On Jan. 19, Unicorn Riot, an independent media collective with several members in the state, published a heavily redacted version of the 2011 edition of the "Denver Police Department Crowd Management Manual" obtained through a Colorado Open Records Act request. Days later, an anonymous source sent them an unredacted copy of the 2008 edition of the manual. The two editions appear to have few differences and the policies described in both versions match the behavior of police toward protests, according to activists and journalists interviewed by MintPress News.

"This manual has been a tremendous help to our reporting in terms of understanding the police apparatus that is deployed at protests," representatives of Unicorn Riot told MintPress by email.

Eye 2

Virginia Tech students arrested for murder of 13-year-old girl allegedly plotted crime to stop victim from revealing sexual relationship

Suspects on right: David E. Eisenhauer, 18, and Natalie Marie Keepers, 19, face charges in connection to the death of 13-year-old Nicole Madison Lovell (pictured left).
Two engineering majors at Virginia Tech university carefully planned the kidnapping and killing of a 13-year-old girl, buying cleaning supplies and a shovel at separate Wal-Mart stores, and then hiding her body in the trunk of a Lexus, a prosecutor alleged on Thursday.

Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt described how authorities believe David Eisenhauer and Natalie Keepers plotted the stabbing death of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell, and argued that Keepers 'is in the same position as the person who carried out the murder.'

Pettitt did not suggest a possible motive, or describe the killing itself, but police sources have told CNN that Eisenhauer plotted to kill Lovell because she was 'planning to expose' their sexual relationship.

The police sources claim Eisenhauer had sexual contact with Lovell before she disappeared from her home on January 27, after meeting her on an anonymous messaging app called 'Kik'.

If true, 18-year-old Eisenhauer would have been breaking sexual consent laws in the state.


Mass protests block roads in New Zealand as TPP is signed into agreement

© FivePoint Five / YouTube
A group of around 1,000 activists protesting against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have blocked roads in Auckland, as the participant states' delegations gathered in New Zealand to formally sign the controversial free trade agreement.

The TPP agreement, hailed as the "biggest trade deal in a generation," was signed in a ceremony attended by ministers from the 12 Pacific Rim countries at Auckland's Sky City Casino, to the dislike of hundreds of protesters.

Ahead of the signing, activists gathered on Aotea Square and set out on a march through the streets to SkyCity Auckland, where they were met by dozens of police officers outside the venue. Others staged a sit in at the intersection of Federal and Victoria Street, blocking traffic, to protest a deal that will now take up to two more years to ratify.


Why are Kindergartners being groomed for the military at school?

© Jared Rodriguez / Truthout
Military recruitment efforts, whether societal or sponsored directly by the US military, reach children as young as preschool, priming them to think of war and soldiering as cool and exciting, without any discussion of the trauma and death they bring.
When he got home from Iraq, Hart Viges began sorting through his boyhood toys, looking for some he could pass on to his new baby nephew. He found a stash of G.I. Joes - his old favorites - and the memories came flooding back.

"I thought about giving them to him," he said. But the pressures of a year in a war zone had strengthened Viges' Christian faith, and he told the Army that "if I loved my enemy I couldn't see killing them, for any reason." He left as a conscientious objector. As for the G.I. Joes, "I threw them away instead." Viges had grown up playing dress-up with his father's, grandfather's and uncles' old military uniforms. "What we tell small kids has such a huge effect," he told Truthout. "I didn't want to be the one telling him to dream about the military."


Iran: Researchers request release of jailed chemist

© Fanood~enwiki/Wikimedia Commons
Chemist Mohammad Hossein Rafiee
In early 2014, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's administration was in the middle of intense negotiations with the United States and other nations to limit Iran's nuclear aspirations. Rouhani, considered a moderate reformer, was under attack by his country's hardline conservatives, who opposed a potential deal. Rouhani challenged Iranian intellectuals to come out and publicly support his policies.

"Why is the university silent? Why are the professors silent?" Rouhani said. "What are you afraid of?"

One answer may be that they were afraid of being jailed, suggests Anna Maryam Rafiee, a cultural heritage specialist in Toronto, Canada. Her father, chemist Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, has been stuck in a cell in Iran's notorious Evin Prison since June 2015, after speaking out in favor of the nuclear deal that was announced a month after he was imprisoned.

Now, more than 300 scholars and scientists, including seven Nobel laureates, have signed an open letter calling on Iran to release Rafiee. "Restricting Dr. Rafiee's rights to freedom of expression through arrest and detention, the conditions of his prosecution, and his inhumane conditions in Evin Prison represent violations of both the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Islamic Republic of Iran adheres," the 27 January letter says. Numerous organizations, including Amnesty International and the American Chemical Society, are also calling for the release of the chemist, and the U.S. government has said he is a political prisoner.


Germany joins the war on cash

It was just two days ago that Bloomberg implored officials to "bring on a cashless future" in an Op-Ed that calls notes and coins "dirty, dangerous, unwieldy, and expensive."

You probably never thought of your cash that way, but increasingly, authorities and the powers that be seem determined to lay the groundwork for the abolition of what Bloomberg calls "antiquated" physical money.

We've documented the cash ban calls on a number of occasions including, most recently, those that emanated from DNB, Norway's largest bank where executive Trond Bentestuen said that although "there is approximately 50 billion kroner in circulation, the Norges Bank can only account for 40 percent of its use."

Comment: For more see: