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Censorship by surrogate: Why Musk's document dump could be a game changer

twitter facebook collage biden joe hunter trump
"Handled." That one word, responding to a 2020 demand to censor a list of Twitter users, speaks volumes about the thousands of documents released by Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, on Friday night. As many of us have long suspected, there were back channels between Twitter and the Biden 2020 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to ban critics or remove negative stories. Those seeking to discuss the scandal were simply "handled," and nothing else had to be said.

Ultimately, the New York Post was suspended from Twitter for reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. Twitter even blocked users from sharing the Post's story by using a tool designed for child pornography. Even Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was suspended for linking to the scandal.

Twitter's ex-safety chief, Yoel Roth, later said the decision was a "mistake" but the story "set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack and leak campaign alarm bells." The reference to the APT28 Russian disinformation operation dovetailed with false claims of former U.S. intelligence officers that the laptop was "classic disinformation."

Comment: See also:


Eye 1

Twitter is fun again! Everything in the files about how national security agencies manipulate what we get to see and hear

elon musk twitter profile
© Chris Delmas / AFP/Getty Images
An important story developed this weekend, unspooling in real time on Twitter over a Friday evening. Basically, billionaire Elon Musk gave a good friend of mine — the journalist Matt Taibbi — extensive access to Twitter's internal e-mails and communications, and told Taibbi he could start sharing.

What ensued was an epic takedown of Twitter, delivered on Twitter, in what was ultimately a 41-Tweet thread. It was parceled out as fast as Taibbi could post, side by side with readers commenting in real time — offering responses ranging from "wow!" to "this is garbage", claims that history was being made before our eyes countered by sarcastic gifs of a sesame seed bun with no hamburger inside, and quite a few variations of the line: "This is fun! Twitter is fun again!"

And it was! Twitter indeed used to be fun, with real Americans — as opposed to computer bots and paid hacks — posting real-time opinion and wit, all in a format that mandates brevity. But in recent years, most of the fun has been policed out. So it was odd to once again enjoy scrolling through a feed. One of my favorite podcasters, MIT researcher Lex Friedman (clearly one of the kinder souls on planet Earth), weighed in:


Comment: See also:


Bizarro Earth

American Airlines to shut its San Francisco crew base, cites economic factors

American Airlines
© Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
By January 31, American Airlines flight attendants based in SFO must select an airport from a list of the airline's hubs outside of California to work out of.
"Today it's with great regret that I let you know about our decision to close the SFO flight attendant base," American Airlines executive Brady Byrnes said in the September memo obtained by Insider.

In closing its San Francisco base, citing economic factors and shifting customer demand, American presented 400 flight attendants with a choice that many said felt impossible to make: leave the airline or leave the state.

The base is home to some of the carrier's most senior flight attendants, two-thirds of whom have been at the airline for 13 years or more, according to the union representing American Airlines flight attendants. By January 31, they must select an airport from a list of the airline's hubs outside of California to work out of. For those who can't or won't, the only options are to retire early (if eligible) or resign, the union told Insider.

Comment: Whilst the alleged motivations may be different, at least one of the consequences will be reduced air travel, which reflects moves over in Europe:


Magnify

Mongolia protesters storm government building accusing officials of stealing coal export profits

coal mongolia
© Brücke-Osteuropa, public domain, cc.
Protesters demanded to know where profits have gone from the mining of resources such as Mongolia's giant Tavan Tolgoi coking and thermal coal deposit.
Protesters gathered at Ulaanbaatar's Government Palace on December 4 demanded the names of officials who have allegedly embezzled Mongolian state coal export profits of Mongolian tughrik (MNT) 44 trillion ($12.8bn) in the past two years. Christmas trees in Sukhbaatar Square were burnt down and protesters briefly blocked the capital's main boulevard, Peace Avenue.

The demonstration, attended by dozens, was called in response to rumours allegedly spread by the prime minister in reference to huge amounts of coal profits that have been stolen, or embezzled into private entities, rather than placed in the government fund.

Comment: TheIns.rt provides more details:
Media reports revealed the day before that the amount of coal taken out of the country was different from the amount received by China. As a result, China executed the officials involved in the theft of the raw materials, and the media reported that the PRC sent the names of local politicians involved in the theft to Mongolian Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai.


Few official sources support the claim that those involved received the death penalty. Although China has been known to execute officials involved in serious financial crimes.




The protesters are now demanding that the government and the president name the people involved and expose the corrupt scheme. According to Baza, law enforcement suppressed the first attempt to storm the building, but protesters are continuing to try to force their way in.
Some commentators are highlighting how, whilst the grievances are legitimate, the incitement of these protests could also be partly connected with US agencies:






Newspaper

Air raid alert announced in several Ukrainian regions, Kiev's residents head to subway station

Kiev subway air raid
© Twitter
An air raid alert was declared on Sunday afternoon in several regions in central and eastern Ukraine, according to reports published by the official air raid alert service.

Air raid sirens are sounding in the Dnepropetrovsk, Poltava and Kharkov regions as well as in the parts of the Zaporozhye region controlled by the Kiev regime.

Comment:








Magnify

Iran abolishes morality police, or did they?

President Ebrahim Raisi Iran
© AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
President Ebrahim Raisi
Iran's Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri announced on Saturday night that the hated Morality Police would be disbanded. The news was broadcast over state media outlets but was not confirmed by the Interior Ministry.

Recently, President Ebrahim Raisi said there would be no discussions of reform until the "riots" ended. That may still be true, as Montazeri pointed out that the Morality Police were not under the judiciary's authority and would continue "to monitor behavioral actions at the community level."

Iranians are skeptical.

Comment: RT reports:
The morality police was established in 2005 to control how people comply with Islamic rules regarding their clothes and behavior. It was sanctioned by the EU, US and the UK over the death of a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini, who was arrested over allegedly wearing an "improper" hijab and died hours later.


More on that here.


Iran has seen weeks of violent protests that erupted in mid-September over the death of Amini. While the Iranian authorities claim that she died of a pre-existing medical condition, her family insists she was beaten to death while in custody.

According to figures released by Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the riots have claimed the lives of more than 200 people. Earlier this week, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, who serves with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps put the total death toll during the unrest at "more than 300 people."

Iranian officials have accused foreign players, especially the US and Israel, of inciting violence and trying to destabilize the country.



Sherlock

'Intentional vandalism' at substations caused power outages for 40K in North Carolina, police enforce curfew

powerlines
© Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg via Getty
This file images shows Progress Energy Inc. powerlines lead from a substation in Durham, North Carolina, on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011. Duke Energy Corp. was nearing an agreement to buy Progress Energy Inc. to form the largest U.S. utility.
A North Carolina sheriff and power company official said "intentional vandalism" at substations has caused outages for about 40,000 customers expected to last longer than 24 hours.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields reported that the mass power outage across the county is being investigated "as a criminal occurrence," according to the sheriff's office's Facebook page.

Just after 7 p.m. on Saturday, several communities across Moore County began experiencing power outages. As utility companies began responding to the different substations, "evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites," the sheriff's office said.

Comment: KTVZ reports:
2 substations damaged by gunfire

Authorities have announced a mandatory curfew in a North Carolina county where around 40,000 customers lost power after two power substations were damaged by gunfire Saturday night.

The county will implement a mandatory curfew from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., starting Sunday night, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a news conference Sunday.

Municipality and county officials "have formed a plan for the night and the next few nights that we may be out of power. It's a very serious situation," Fields said. "So we've come to an agreement to best protect our citizens and to protect the businesses of our county, we're going to implement a curfew tonight."


Enforcing a curfew during a power outage seems to be a rather strange move, especially if unrest or looting is not common in the area. Although, it's notable Europe's preparations for energy blackouts include similar restrictions: Switzerland unveils raft of lockdown-style restrictions to conserve power when energy crisis bites, includes BAN on electric cars


A state of emergency went into effect at 4 p.m. Sunday as law enforcement, city and energy officials are investigating the incident and working to restore the two substations, authorities said. Law enforcement has also been providing security for the stations, according to the sheriff.

substation power
Fields said multiple rounds were fired at the two substations. "It was targeted, it wasn't random," he said.

No suspects have been identified in connection with the incident. Fields would not say if the criminal activity was domestic terrorism.

"The person, or persons, who did this knew exactly what they were doing," Fields said. "We don't have a clue why Moore County."


A trial run in the backwaters before testing it out in more populated areas?


Fields acknowledged a woman who posted on Facebook Sunday morning indicating she had been questioned by law enforcement in connection with the incident. Fields did not name the woman, but said she posted false information on social media claiming to have information behind the incident.

"We don't have anything," Fields said, when asked about a possible motive. "No motivation, no group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept they're the ones who [did] it."

A gate at one of the locations also appears to have been taken off its hinges, Mike Cameron of the Southern Pines Fire and Rescue Department told CNN on Sunday afternoon.

Cameron said the area is experiencing increased emergency calls due to the lack of power, adding that auto accidents have occurred because traffic lights are out. People who rely on oxygen have placed emergency calls, he said.

More than 37,000 customers were without power across the county Sunday evening, according to the Duke Energy outage map. According to poweroutage.us, about 38,000 customers had lost power in Moore County and neighboring Hoke County.

Moore County Manager Wayne Vest said a shelter, running on a generator, opened Sunday afternoon at the Moore County Sports Complex in conjunction with the Red Cross. Vest said additional trailers with bathroom and shower facilities are also being brought to the shelter.

Power restoration could take until Thursday, energy company says

The estimated cost of the substation damage is in the "millions," the sheriff said.

Restoration to the two substations could take until Thursday for some customers, Jeff Brooks, principal communications manager for Duke Energy, said at Sunday's news conference.

"We are going to be working around the clock, all hands-on deck, to get power back as quickly and safely as possible," Brooks said.

Duke Energy will continue to work with the Moore Sheriff's Office and county officials to support the investigation.

Brooks said there had been "intentional impact" on the substation damaging multiple pieces of equipment of the substations, causing power to go out. In this instance, rerouting power is not an option, he said.

"Equipment will have to be replaced," Brooks said. "We are looking at a pretty sophisticated repair with large equipment. This will be a multiday restoration for most customers, extending possibly to Thursday."

A local supermarket is distributing ice to impacted residents, according to a news release from grocery chain Harris Teeter.

The power outage has also led officials to cancel Monday classes for all schools in the county. "An announcement will be made tomorrow evening to inform parents and staff of the status of schools for Tuesday," Moore County Schools said in a tweet Sunday afternoon.

FBI has joined the investigation, congressman says

Several communities across the county began experiencing power outages just after 7 p.m. Saturday, the Moore County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post.

"As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites," the office said.

At least two substations were vandalized "with criminal intent," US Rep. Richard Hudson said Sunday morning in a release.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are responding, according to Hudson. He said the motive remains unknown.

Hudson, whose congressional district includes Moore County, said the Southern Pines Police Department has opened a community center for residents to charge devices.

CNN has reached out to Southern Pines police and the FBI.

During the Sunday news conference, Fields addressed rumors circulating on social media that the attack was an attempt to thwart a local drag show.

Fields said law enforcement is working every angle, but "have not been able to tie anything back to the drag show," which was scheduled for Saturday night in the nearby town of Southern Pines.

On its website, the Sunrise Theater advertised the "Downtown Divas!" drag show starting at 7 p.m. The power was cut shortly after that time, Fields said.

CNN has reached out to the Sunrise Theater as well as the Southern Pines Police Department. CNN has also reached out to Sandhills Pride, the organization behind Saturday's drag event.

"This was a terrible act," North Carolina State Senator Tom McInnis said during the news conference. "And it appears to be an intentional, willful and malicious act, and the perpetrator will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Crews were experiencing "multiple equipment failures" that are affecting substations in Moore County, Duke Energy spokesperson Brooks told CNN affiliate WRAL.

"We are also investigating signs of potential vandalism related to the outages," Brooks said.

Deputies and officers from other law enforcement agencies responded to the different sites to provide security, according to the sheriff's office.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Sunday tweeted that state law enforcement would join the investigation.

"I have spoken with Duke Energy and state law enforcement officials about the power outages in Moore County. They are investigating and working to return electricity to those impacted," Cooper said. "The state is providing support as needed."

Moore County is in central North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.
Taken together with the numerous food processing fires, as well as the gas, oil, and power plant explosions, it seems reasonable enough to suspect that there could be more to this than just the sabotage of a drag show or a any kind of personal vendetta. And, if that is indeed the case, then one can expect to see an increase in similar incidents in the future:


Megaphone

Musk declares New York Times 'lobbying firm for far left' after reportedly ignoring 'Twitter Files' story

Elon Musk new york times
© AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Tesla CEO and Twitter owner Elon Musk slammed the New York Times on Saturday, calling it a "lobbying firm" for leftist politicians.
Twitter owner Elon Musk called The New York Times a "lobbying firm for far left politicians" on Saturday.

The world's richest man made his comments on Twitter Saturday in response to the claim that the news outlet featured no articles about the revelation of Musk's "Twitter Files" the morning after they dropped on Twitter.

On Friday evening, Substack journalist Matt Taibbi - with content apparently provided to him from Musk - revealed over Twitter a series of documents and emails revealing the internal communications of Twitter staff debating whether to censor the New York Post's Hunter Biden laptop story on their platform ahead of the 2020 presidential election, which they ultimately did.

Several emails exposed that Twitter staff engaged in emergency censorship of the story, even though high-level employees were clearly apprehensive of the move. One email revealed that then-Twitter Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth acknowledged the shakiness of their reasons in squashing the story, but encouraged it anyway, citing the "lessons of 2016."

Comment: See also:


Biohazard

Scientist who worked at Wuhan lab says COVID was man-made virus

Wuhan research lab
© AFP via Getty Images
A scientist who worked at a research lab in China has claimed that COVID was a man-made virus that leaked from the facility.
A scientist who worked at a controversial research lab in China has claimed that COVID was a man-made virus that leaked from the facility, according to a report.

Andrew Huff, who worked for a New York-based non-profit that studied viruses, said COVID leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China two-plus years ago and blamed authorities for the "biggest US intelligence failure since 9/11," Britain's The Sun reported Saturday.

The lab has been at the center of fierce debates about the origins of COVID, with both Chinese government officials and lab personnel denying that the virus leaked from the facility.

Huff, an epidemiologist, said in his new book, "The Truth About Wuhan," that the pandemic was the result of the US government's funding of coronaviruses in China.

Comment: See also:


Newspaper

Brussels auctioneers retract sales of colonial era human skulls from Congo following backlash

skull

Auctioneers Vanderkindere have decided to cancel the planned auction of three 19th century human skulls that originated in Congo. The firm has now issued an apology, while there are growing calls for the sale of human remains to be banned by law.
The auction was planned to take place in Brussels using the international website of auctioneers Drouot. The skulls were to be auctioned between lots consisting of paintings, jewellery, fur coats, furniture and other antiques, but courted widespread criticism.

Auctioneers Vanderkindere have now apologised for the planned sale of the Congolese skulls that are linked to the Belgian colonisation of Central Africa.

"We in no way support the suffering and humiliation that people were subjected to during the colonial period" they said in a statement.