Category Archives: Guest Posts

Fixing the News: Blockchain-Powered Solutions for Media in Crisis

Editor’s Note: Does blockchain technology offer a potential solution to often misleading, censorial, and even fraudulent corporate news media that plagues the Western world? As the author notes in his conclusion, such projects may seem far-fetched at present, yet it was not that long ago that few believed Wikipedia would ever gain traction. Today’s real news and analyses are coming from citizen journalists who remain vulnerable to YouTube, Google, and social media gatekeepers. What if they were given the means to form their own “ecosystems” for news and commentary?

“Creating comprehensive community-powered marketplaces for production, distribution, and verification of news”

Kirill Bryanov
CoinTelegraph
(May 19, 2018)

In the US and around the world, quality journalism is going through difficult times. Against the backdrop of steadily declining trust in the mainstream press, systemic issues like the ever-intensifying political polarization of the media, proliferation of fake news, and asymmetric power relations between platforms and publishers, among others, stand in the way of the press striving to fulfill its crucial societal functions. The central role of the media in the society is, at least normatively, to provide the public with essential knowledge of the state of the world that would enable people to make informed choices. In a democracy, both institutional and social media are also supposed to facilitate an open arena for public discussion and deliberation where the wide array of voices and ideas are represented. However, the reality seems to be drifting away from this ideal in dramatic ways.

A longstanding critical tradition has an extensive list of claims to lay to the US media system’s structural deficiencies. Even in the pre-digital era, some scholars of communication were uneasy with the growing concentration of corporate ownership in media industries, seeing this trend as threatening the democratic process. Proponents of this intellectual current advocated for as wide a distribution of communication power as possible as a safeguard against power abuse at the hands of big corporate and state actors. The advent of digital news has seen yet another wave of similar criticisms, as it had soon become apparent that, contrary to early internet enthusiasts’ expectations, the new media ecosystem does not quite eliminate the disparities in communication power. Instead, it seemed to be reproducing the old patterns of power concentration, as well as giving rise to some new problematic trends.

Most of the contemporary media criticisms converge around one point: the digital news economy. The ad-based online business model often proves to be inadequate for sustaining certain forms of journalism that rely on specific and narrow audiences for financial backing. These forms happen to be the ones of social importance, like local news or investigative and issue reporting. Labelled the “attention economy,” the incentive system that social media news feeds have engendered rewards content that attracts eyeballs and generates clicks. Facebook and Google, which derive the bulk of their profits from selling targeted ads, have apparent reasons to stimulate as long user engagement with content as possible. Here’s where algorithmic newsfeeds come in handy, facilitating users’ selective exposure to content they will likely enjoy. Extrapolated to the political arena, this logic results in people getting locked up in ideological information bubbles, where partisan views become amplified and biases get confirmed. These bubbles also provide fertile soil for the spread of politically charged misinformation.

Aspiring media reformers have proposed multiple cures to these maladies. Among alternative models are philanthropic foundation-supported nonprofits, issue-specific donation-funded media outlets, and various forms of collaborative citizen journalism. Albeit sustainable in certain contexts, such solutions have so far failed to demonstrate flexibility and scalability needed to achieve any degree of mainstream adoption. Besides, these models mainly rely on goodwill of those people whose motivations are purely altruistic, which makes it difficult to ensure a steady flow of contributions.

A handful of blockchain-driven media startups that aspire to revolutionize the news economy are different in this important sense. They hope to not just draw in people longing for good journalism, but also provide them with economic incentives to contribute their efforts to sustaining the ecosystem for substantive news. Using the versatile incentive-building tools made available by crypto economy, combined with game-theoretic behavioral modelling and principles of decentralized governance, these projects aim at nothing less than creating comprehensive community-powered marketplaces for production, distribution, and verification of news.

A defining feature of each of these platforms is that they are all powered by the principles of the token economy. Unlike traditional fiat currencies or even a general-purpose cryptocurrency that could be used for any manner of transaction, crypto tokens are usually designed in a way that programmatically restricts the range of their uses to a certain set of roles and functions within a given system. Tokens therefore reflect the purposes and values of a certain platform, and can be used in order to align the economic interests of its individual users with the interests of the community at large. As a vehicle for transactions, such tokens are no longer a content-neutral instrument that simply enables transmission of information or value; rather, they entail the shared interests and values of those who subscribed to use them within a specific economic ecosystem.

Within the broader ecosystem of emerging blockchain-powered media startups, there is a wealth of platforms that use crypto-economic models to redefine the system of monetary exchanges between creators and consumers of information goods. The most common focus is on user-generated content and the ways in which regular folks in social media contexts are rewarded for their work: some examples include Steemit, Sapien, or Po.et, to name a few. The following review, however, focuses on a more specific set of projects, which explicitly address some problematic institutional aspects of the current news media system. As such, the projects in the list recognize the independent social value of news, and offer fixes that are designed to produce a better informed public.

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Trump Served Legal Notice Warning of Israel False Flag Operation

Editor’s Note: MHB has repeatedly explained how false flag terror plays a foremost role in contemporary history (e.g. here, here, and here). Unfortunately this very real phenomenon has been systematically unaddressed by Western governmental, educational and news media institutions. As a result the public is unable to consider or recognize the broader significance of seemingly spontaneous public events.

The most significant false flag incident  in recent history has been the the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, since these provided the basis and multiple rationales for the forfeiture of civil liberties amidst a broader “strategy of tension” at home and and a perpetual “war on terror” abroad. 

Via Middle East Monitor
(May 15, 2018)

US President Donald Trump has been served with a legal notice [full text of document below] reminding him of his Constitutional duties with regard to the situation in the Middle East, especially his decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and warning him of an impending Israeli false flag operation likely to threaten the lives of US citizens. America’s responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council are also pointed out by the signatories to the notice, who are British journalist Sarah Jane (Lauren) Booth; former CIA Operations Officer Philip Giraldi; ex-Pentagon official Michael Maloof; Scott Bennett, a former US Army Officer and State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism; ex-US Diplomat and Attorney J. Michael Springmann; and Edward C Corrigan, a Canadian Barrister and Solicitor.

Continue reading Trump Served Legal Notice Warning of Israel False Flag Operation

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Arlington Road

1999 Film Portending Today’s “Conspiracy-Fueled Climate”

Editor’s Note: Arlington Road was surely an uncommon Hollywood production in that it addressed “conspiratorial” subject matter, including false flag terror, blackmail by government agencies, the Patriot movement, and pedophilia, all in a not-so-thinly-veiled fashion. The film was developed in the shadow of Ruby Ridge, the Waco massacre, and the Murrah federal building bombing while also eerily anticipating the events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent culture of paranoia and conspiracy the government response to those events helped shape. Arlington Road was also an artifact examined in James Tracy’s infamous Culture of Conspiracy class, which he taught as a tenured faculty member at Florida Atlantic University prior to being terminated for not reporting his protected speech to school officials posted on this personal blog .

Mike D’Angelo
A.V. Club
(May 15, 2018)

Calling Arlington Road an unsung summer blockbuster admittedly stretches that category’s definition. A political thriller in the Parallax View mold, the film did get a wide release (in July 1999), but it was made for a relatively low budget and boasted decidedly mid-level stars: Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, and Hope Davis.

Nobody likely expected a box-office bonanza. Still, it underperformed even by that metric, finishing sixth on its opening weekend (even though the only other studio film to bow that week was American Pie), and received largely mixed reviews. In today’s conspiracy-fueled climate, the commercial and critical fate of a movie as deftly engineered and deeply cynical as this one might well be very different.

Bridges plays Michael Faraday, a history professor still mourning his late wife, who’d worked for the FBI and been killed in a Waco-style standoff. Seeking a playmate for his young son, Faraday is happy to meet new neighbors Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Robbins and Cusack), as they have a boy around the same age.

Soon, however, Faraday begins to suspect that this seemingly ordinary, exceedingly friendly couple is harboring some sort of dark secret. Some of the personal information they impart doesn’t check out, and as Faraday starts snooping around and keeping tabs, he discovers more and more discrepancies and inexplicable behavior. Eventually, he concludes that the Langs are homegrown terrorists plotting an attack.

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South Carolina to Equate Criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism

Concealed in State’s 2018-19 Budget

Rachel Blevins
FreeThoughtProject

The news that Israel killed more than 60 Palestinians on Monday alone, has sparked criticism from Americans who are frustrated with the United States’ failure to hold one of its closest allies accountable for the human rights violations it is committing—and individuals in one state will soon be labeled as “anti-Semitic” for openly voicing their opinion.

South Carolina will become the first state to legally define criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitism” when a new measure goes into effect on July 1, targeting public schools and universities. While politicians have tried to pass the measure as a standalone law for two years, they finally succeeded temporarily by passing it as a “proviso” that was slipped into the 2018-2019 budget.

Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir asks, “What is anti-Semitism today?” in his 2009 documentary, Defamation.

According to the text of the measure, the definition of “anti-Semitism” will now include:

  • a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities;
  • calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews; making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective; accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews;
  • accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;
  • accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations;
  • using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis;
  • drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis;
  • blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions;
  • applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;
  • multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations;
  • denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist, provided, however, that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.

As can be determined by the long list of ways in which South Carolina will now define “anti-Semitism,” individuals will be forced to tiptoe around a legitimate subject, and expressing an opinion that is no longer considered politically correct can now be legally used against them.

Calling out this bill is not antisemitic, it is pro free speech. Criticizing the Israeli government as well as any other government is the right and duty of all free humanity. Just as TFTP advocates for the freedom of Americans, we advocate for the freedom of Israelis and the Palestinians. Only through discussion and peaceful criticism will peace ever be achieved.

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South Florida Cop Suspended for Facebook Posts may be Sanest Cop in America

Editor’s Note: As of this writing North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell remains suspended with pay pending an internal investigation centering on his social media activity. Harrell’s case is similar to that of James Tracy in that his employer has taken issue with the policeman’s extracurricular commentary on the American police state and mass casualty events principally because of its content.

Now Florida public employers within the purview of the Southern District of Florida may very well be using the TracyvFAU decision as precedent to discipline workers based on speech-related “thought crime” offenses. There is no dispute that such employers and their legal advisors are aware of the court’s decision, and that the State of Florida fought vigorously to establish such a legal precedent. Please see our previous discussion of Officer Harrell’s situation here.

Carlos Miller
TheMaven.net
(May 6, 2018)

A South Florida cop suspended for comments he made on his personal Facebook page explains his views in detail.

The media had a field day mocking North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell last month for suggesting on his personal Facebook page that the victims of the Parkland school shooting were “paid actors.”

The media attention resulted in Harrell placed on paid suspension while his agency “investigates” his comments.

But it’s been more than a month now and the only thing to investigate is whether or not Harrell made those comments while on duty, which may be a violation of department policy.

After all, Harrell never made those comments in his capacity as a police officer.

Instead, he made them on his personal Facebook page to his friends and followers, whom he says consists more of police accountability activists than police officers, including myself, who met him in person years ago.

In fact, he makes no mention of being a police officer on the About section of his Facebook page, not that he makes it a secret either as he frequently speaks out against police abuse on his page.

That being said, I believe some of his views about mass school shootings are far-fetched and irrational; based more on speculation than substance; a conspiracy-laden dogma arising from a complete lack of trust in the government.

But I also believe he is one of the sanest cops in the United States, which may help you understand my view of cops in this country.

This, after all, is a cop who is fully aware of the growing police state in this country, especially for those who stand up for their Constitutional rights; a cop who runs a YouTube channel called “The Penitent Cop” where he tries to educate people about their rights when dealing with police.

But I’ve been told my views are also radical, so I am posting the entire interview above to allow you to judge for yourself. Please let us know what you think in the comments section.

Joining us in the interview was First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza, a longtime PINAC reader who also asked Harrell some questions.

From left to right, Marc Randazza, Carlos Miller and Ericson Harrell

Harrell, a 19-year veteran of the North Miami Beach Police Department, said he had a red pill awakening a few years ago while looking into the conspiracy theories behind 9/11.

That led him to question the government about everything, especially about mass shootings, many which he describes as being hoaxes, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Las Vegas massacre.

And while it’s understandable such comments may offend the family and friends of the victims slain in those shootings, it’s not like he tagged them in his post.

As mentioned before, the only thing his department can discipline him for is if he was making those posts during work hours, which he says he does not remember if he did or not.

But even if he did make those comments during work hours, that is much more preferable to me as a taxpaying citizen than having him spend those hours destroying the lives of innocent citizens, which takes place daily in cities throughout the United States.

But then again, I am considered a radical for my views, so maybe I’m failing to see what the big deal is here.

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Times of Israel: Jews *do* control the media

Dr. Eowyn
FellowshipoftheMinds
(April 28, 2018)

Any time someone says Jews control the news media, he/she immediately is accused of being anti-Semitic, Nazi racists.

But did you know that Jews openly admit that among themselves?

On July 1, 2012, The Times of Israel published an essay by Huffington Post blogger Elad Nehorai titled, “Jews DO Control the Media”.

Intended to be read by Jews, soon after the article began to receive the scrutiny of readers outside of its intended audience, Times of Israel replaced the author’s name with the alias “Manny Friedman,” perhaps because of Nehorai’s connection to the Chabad Lubavitch — a messianic, Jewish supremacist (Jews are an extension of God whom Gentiles are destined to serve), Orthodox Hasidic movement with a global reach. Some say the sect means to trigger a Third World War to bring on doomsday and the resultant reign of the Jewish people. President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka (who converted to Judaism) are members.

Nehorai’s biographical profile on the Huffington Post says:

Elad Nehorai is a writer living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Five years ago, he became a religious Jew in the Chabad Hassidic community and has since written about his experience extensively, most recently in his blog Pop Chassid. You can find him on Twitter as @PopChassid and Facebook.

Here’s a screenshot of the original article, with Elad Nehorai identified as the author (click image to enlarge):

Next, Times of Israel took down the essay and even removed it from its archives, which you can see for yourself here.

By then, however, the essay had been copied, pasted and re-published by bloggers, as well as preserved on the Internet Archive. (Sources: Under The Radar Media; What Really Happened)

Below is the article in its entirety.

Jews DO Control the Media

Manny Friedman • Times of Israel • July 1, 2012

This article was written under an assumed name.

We Jews are a funny breed. We love to brag about every Jewish actor. Sometimes we even pretend an actor is Jewish just because we like him enough that we think he deserves to be on our team. We brag about Jewish authors, Jewish politicians, Jewish directors. Every time someone mentions any movie or book or piece of art, we inevitably say something like, “Did you know that he was Jewish?” That’s just how we roll.

We’re a driven group, and not just in regards to the art world. We have, for example, AIPAC, which  was essentially constructed just to drive agenda in Washington DC. And it succeeds admirably. And we brag about it. Again, it’s just what we do.

Continue reading Times of Israel: Jews *do* control the media

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Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Receives Landslide ‘No Confidence’ Vote

Really About “Extorting Pay Raise”, Israel Says

Editor’s Note/Update: It appears that the untimely and curious death of Deputy Jason Fitzsimons may have played a role in Broward deputies’ clear discontent with Scott Israel, something the story below does not delve into. The Deputies’ union association president, Deputy Jeff Bell, stated prior to the vote that the union is accusing Sheriff Israel of

“many instances of suspected malfeasance, misfeasance, failure to maintain fiduciary responsibility by the sheriff, failure to properly investigate possible criminal conduct by members of his senior command staff and the lack of leadership that has crushed morale throughout the agency.” (Emphasis added.]

As many MHB readers know, there has been a complete corporate media blackout of Fitzsimons’ death and the unusual circumstances surrounding it.

Brad Slager
SunshineStateNews
(April 26, 2018)

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel’s image-rebuilding effort took a major hit Thursday when 85 percent of the deputies who voted in the International Union of Police Associations, Local IUPA 6020, electronic balloting used their votes to say they want Israel gone.

Israel’s only ray of light in the union count is the no-show total: The number of deputies who didn’t vote outnumbered the ones who did. Of a 1,300-member roster, the union received back ballots from 628 deputies — 534 of them expressing their dissatisfaction.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and former Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

On Friday, April 20, the union local sent out electronic ballots. Members were asked to lodge their collective opinion on Israel’s future following tempestuous months within their ranks as a result of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Israel had become a lightning rod in the weeks after the tragedy, at first appearing as a media fixture, later becoming the focus of negative speculation. As evidence emerged of inaction taken by his deputies during the shooting, and his department failing to intervene with the shooter after numerous visits to his home, Israel was eventually viewed as the sheriff whose inadequate leadership had let his troops down.

Continue reading Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Receives Landslide ‘No Confidence’ Vote

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Is Alex Jones About to Betray his Followers and the Conspiracy Research Community?

Editor’s Note: In our view this is not a terribly surprising development. As we have recently noted here, whether it is a matter of being compromised himself or playing the role of an agent provocateur in the Truth community to short circuit research efforts for “the other side,” Jones has been consistently inconsistent and even misleading in statements and analyses of numerous complex events, only one of which is the Newtown Connecticut school massacre. Perhaps this is why an increasing number of his fans and even employees have walked away from “Operation Infowars.”

Jim Fetzer
jamesfetzter.blogspot.dk

Instead of attacking the Sandy Hook parents who are bringing a lawsuit against him for defamation–because he has (from time to time) asserted that Sandy Hook was fake and that no children died (which implies that they are BIG TIME liars and frauds)–he has wimped out by making an appeal to pity, which is the elementary fallacy of using the unfortunate consequences of something being true as though it were proof that it’s actually false! He’s not going to get away with it–but why even try?

Sensing weakness–since truth is an absolute defense against defamation, but Alex is not arguing that his observations about Sandy Hook fakery are true–Lenny Pozner and Neil Heslin are not going to back down, even though they are (in the process) opening themselves up to discovery, which would provide an opportunity to establish the fact of Sandy Hook as an elaborate charade in a court of law. Neil Heslin, for example, longs for “a  knock-down, drag out fight”, which Alex ought to give him:

As it happens, I have been sending Infowars.com contacts, including Jerry Corsi, samples of proof that it was a staged event–a two-day FEMA exercise, with a rehearsal on the 13th, going LIVE on the14th–but received a cordial dismissal from Corsi and passive reception from others there–which is rather astonishing, since we have proven that the school was closed by 2008 and there were no students there. I recently made a summary overview of the history of research on Sandy Hook:

Continue reading Is Alex Jones About to Betray his Followers and the Conspiracy Research Community?

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Alex Jones Sued By Sandy Hook Parents

Broadcaster’s Comments Prompted Death Threats, “Torment”

Editor’s Note: In an ongoing war against free speech the popular media personality has been sued in Austin Texas by two families of Sandy Hook massacre event victims.  The legal actions are significant because if they are allowed to proceed Jones’ defense team will have the opportunity to proceed through discovery with the parties, requiring information and sworn testimony pertinent to plaintiffs’ claims be provided before proceeding to trial.


Sebastian Murdock
Huffungton Post
(April 17, 2018)

NBC’s Megan Kelly and Radio Host Alex Jones. Image Credit: AlexJonesChannel/YouTube

Alex Jones has spent years claiming the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School ― where a shooter killed 20 small children and six adults ― was faked. He has claimed the parents of these dead children are liars and “crisis actors.”

Now, those parents are coming after him.

Radio host Alex Jones commenting on Sandy Hook massacre in January 2013

In a pair of lawsuits filed late Monday, the parents of two children who died in the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, say Jones’ repeated lies and conspiratorial ravings have led to death threats. The suits join at least two other recent cases accusing the Infowars host of defamation.

I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.Neil Heslin, father of a 6-year-old boy killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.

Neil Heslin, the father of a 6-year-old boy killed in the shooting, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who lost their own little boy, filed the suits in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ conspiracy-minded media outlet is based. Each suit is seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jones, Infowars and a related company, Free Speech Systems LLC. Infowars reporter Owen Shroyer is also named in one of the suits.

“Even after these folks had to experience this trauma, for the next five years they were tormented by Alex Jones with vicious lies about them,” Mark Bankston, the lawyer handling the cases for the parents, told HuffPost. “And these lies were meant to convince his audience that the Sandy Hook parents are frauds and have perpetrated a sinister lie on the American people.”

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