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The US risks disaster with North Korea; it must open talks with Kim Jong-un without delay

The alternative to negotiations with North Korea is an uncontrolled nuclear arms race in the north Pacific with an adversary whose capabilities the US has repeatedly and grossly underestimated and which it knows next to nothing about.

Alexander Mercouris

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On 31st July 2017 I wrote an article for The Duran in which I said that the US is overreacting to the North Korean ballistic missile tests

Here is what I wrote in that article

……though the test launches of the Hwasong-14 missile represent an impressive technical achievement – all the more so because the missile is mobile and road launched – the missile appears to be still in its development stage, with its payload apparently small and with great uncertainty as to whether the North Koreans have miniaturised their nuclear warhead technology sufficiently to arm it.  There is therefore still time before the missile enters service and does so in any quantity.

Beyond these questions there remains the overriding fact that even if North Korea does eventually field a number of operational missiles of this sort its nuclear capabilities will still be overwhelmingly dwarfed by those of the US, a fact which because of the immense industrial and technological disparity between the two powers will never change.  What that means is that unless the entire North Korean leadership – including Kim Jong-un – are intent on a bizarre form of suicide, there is no possibility of North Korea launching nuclear armed Hwasong-14 missiles at the US except in self-defence.

The US can therefore afford to take these North Korean missile tests in its stride.  By contrast threatening military action against North Korea – or worse still actually engaging in it – is the one thing that might actually provoke North Korea to strike against the US – or more realistically against one of the US’s allies – of which in all other respects no risk exists.

In the short time since those words were written it has become clear that North Korea’s capabilities have been grossly underestimated.  There are now reports that the Defense Intelligence Agency – the US intelligence agency once headed by General Flynn – has reported to the US National Security Council that North Korea has successfully miniaturised a nuclear warhead and developed a re-entry vehicle for its Hwasong-14 missile.  Supposedly North Korea also now has a stockpile of up to 60 nuclear bombs – far more than previously thought.

If this information is correct then the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme has advanced much faster and much further than anyone – including the Chinese and the Russians – anticipated, further confirming my longstanding point that the perennial claim that the country is a backward economic basket-case simply cannot be true (see below).

However the main contention I made in my article of 31st July 2017 remains true.  Even if North Korea has indeed developed a useable nuclear weapons capability which it is able to launch against the continental US – or against the US’s far flung network of military bases like Guam – sooner than anyone expected, its nuclear weapons capability is still overwhelmingly dwarfed by that of the US and will always be so.

For North Korea to launch an unprovoked attack on the US would therefore be an act of national suicide, both on the part of its people and its leadership, and there is nothing to suggest that North Korea’s leaders are considering it.  On the contrary the consistent explanation the North Koreans give for their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme is that it is defensive – intended to deter a US attack upon themselves – and – as I have repeatedly pointed out – that is the only explanation which makes sense.

Here is what I wrote about North Korean intentions on 29th April 2017, during the previous occasion when relations between the US and North Korea seemed to be veering towards crisis

What purpose then does the North Korean nuclear weapons programme have?

An obvious starting point in any discussion of this issue ought to be what the North Korean government itself says.

There is a difficulty here because the political language North Korea uses comes across to a foreign ear as so rhetorically inflated and bombastic that it is sometimes difficult to take it seriously.  However this commentary in Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s Workers Party, explains the motivation behind North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme clearly enough

Recently, the U.S. representative to the UN, faulting the DPRK’s just measure for bolstering the nuclear deterrence, said that it may pose threat to the U.S. and several other countries and that “countries doing bad acts” like the DPRK would not sign the convention on banning nuclear weapons nor would be willing to implement it.

This is a gross distortion of the situation.

The U.S. is deliberately distorting and hyping up the situation in a bid to turn the table in its favor. The aim is to brand the DPRK as a harasser of peace, cover up its true colors as a hideous nuclear criminal and justify its moves for stifling the DPRK.

It has neither qualifications nor rights to fault the DPRK’s measures for bolstering the nuclear deterrence.It is also not entitled to trumpet about the convention on banning the nuclear weapons.

The U.S. is trying to convince the public that the world denuclearization has not been realized because of the DPRK. This is senseless rubbish shunning the historical course of why the DPRK was compelled to opt for having access to nuclear weapons and bolstering them qualitatively and quantitatively and why it became necessary for the world to have the convention on banning nuclear weapons.

It is none other than the U.S. which compelled the DPRK to have access to nuclear weapons and it is again the U.S. which persistently forced the DPRK to bolster them qualitatively and quantitatively.

The DPRK’s nuclear deterrence is not to threaten others but it is a means for self-defence to defend the sovereignty of the country from the U.S. nuclear war provocation in every aspect.

The DPRK will continue to exercise this right with dignity no matter what others may say.

(bold italics added)

In other words North Korea decided to acquire nuclear weapons not out of some fanatical desire to attack the US, or because it wants to use its nuclear weapons to conquer South Korea or to hold the entire world hostage – all of them suicidal acts of no conceivable benefit to itself – but because it feels threatened by the US.

This is both clear and logical and is in line with what is known of the recent historical record.

I repeat all this today especially because so much Western commentary seems to assume the opposite.  Here for example is a commentary which appeared on 9th August 2017 in the London Times, whose owner Rupert Murdoch is known to be close to US President Trump and which may therefore reflect his thinking or that of his advisers

The questions the US intelligence community will be asking are: what are Kim’s intentions? Does he really intend to launch a nuclear ICBM attack on an American city? If so, what does he expect to gain by doing so?

Intentions are always the most difficult part of intelligence analysis. The North Korean leader has publicly warned that he wants to attack the US. But is it just the warning of a seriously insecure, isolated leader or does he really believe the launching of an ICBM will solve his problems and bring the US to its knees?

(bold italics added)

The highlighted words straightforwardly describe North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un as wanting to attack the US and therefore as a crazed fanatic – a sort of real life Captain Ahab figure with nuclear missiles – whose hatred of the US is apparently so extreme that he is busy acquiring nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for no other reason than because he wants to attack the US.  The implication is that unless he is stopped he will actually do so before long.

Nothing Kim Jong-un has ever said or which has been said by any other official of the North Korean government gives any reason for thinking that this is the case.  All the comments they have made – and all the surrounding facts which are known and which provide the context for these comments  – shows on the contrary that Kim Jong-un and North Korea’s other leaders are rational people and that North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme is as they say defensive, and has no other purpose other than to deter a US attack on themselves.

Given that this is so there is no reason to fear an unprovoked North Korean nuclear attack on the US or indeed on any other country – including South Korea – and there is no reason or excuse to go on talking as if there is a real risk of one.

The tragedy is that if direct talks leading to a peace treaty between the US and North Korea had taken place before the mid 2000s – as was in fact promised – they might have borne fruit by now.  In that case we would be looking at a peaceful and stable situation in the Korean Peninsula without North Korea having acquired ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons or feeling the need to do so.

Instead – because of the folly of previous US administrations, most especially of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations – North Korea now possesses both ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and may have – though this is still disputed – the continental United States within reach.  Needless to say, that will make negotiating with North Korea leading look like a US climbdown.

Not only will that be a humiliation for the US – and one which it will not be able to conceal – but it will also be a disaster for the world’s already tattered nuclear non-proliferation regime, laboriously created by the superpowers in the 1960s, but already honoured increasingly in the breach.

To be clear, the US starting talks with North Korea now – after North Korea has acquired ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons – when the US has previously consistently refused to do so, will serve an object lesson to the whole world and to force the US to the negotiating table is to threaten it with nuclear weapons.

That is a lesson all sorts of people around the world are going to learn.  The high probability is that the result will be that what is left of the world’s nuclear non proliferation regime will collapse.  Deplorable though that prospect is – and to be clear, the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons is a very bad and dangerous thing – it is the inevitable consequence of the reckless regime change follies the US has indulged in since the end of the Cold War.

There is however nothing now to be done about this, and the US needs to put aside its customary intransigence and fire-eating and counter-productive rhetoric and do what the Chinese are urging it to do, which is sit down and talk with North Korea now.

Apparently the North Koreans have said at a conference in Manila that they are prepared to sit down and talk – though they have reiterated that they will not under any circumstances give up the ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capability which they have so painstakingly acquired – something which should surprise no one.

The alternative is to go on as we have been doing: lurching into an uncontrolled arms race in East Asia that the US knows almost nothing about.

One of the points I have repeatedly hammered home in The Duran about the US’s conflict with North Korea is the US’s catastrophic ignorance of the country.   Here is what I said about this in my article of 29th April 2017

One of the difficulties in discussing North Korea is that knowledge of the so-called ‘hermit kingdom’ is so limited.No Western leader has ever met with Kim Jong-un, and nor at the highest level have the Chinese and Russian leaderships.  There is scarcely any knowledge of the institutional frame-work within which he works.  We do not know who his top advisers are and how he consults them.  We do not know how well-informed he is about the world or even about North Korea itself.  We do not know how intelligent he is, or if there is any institution like a Politburo or a cabinet or a Security Council which he consults.  We do not know what his exact relationship with his top civilian and military officials is.

The West’s extraordinary ignorance of the most basic facts about North Korea is shown by the fact that there is even uncertainty about the identity of the institution or institutions which control North Korea’s secret police……

It is clear however that the North Korean government, however it is organised, is efficient or at least effective, that it is in complete control of the country, and that it both makes decisions regularly and is able to enforce them across the whole country.

Just as we know next to nothing about North Korea’s government, we are similarly profoundly ill-informed about North Korea’s economy.

North Korea’s success in pursuing a ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme shows North Korea must have a significant industrial and technology base, which must encompass fields like advanced chemistry and nuclear physics.  North Korea’s success in making its own smart phones and tablets and in developing its own apparently extensive intranet (the “Kwangmyong“) suggests it must have a reasonably sophisticated computer and IT industry it can draw upon.  Pictures of Pyongyang, which appear from time to time in the Western media, show it to be a highly modern even futuristic city, a significant fact in itself even if Pyongyang is a show-case which is not representative of the whole country.

Nonetheless despite these obvious signs of industrial and technological strength and modernity there remains a widespread view that North Korea is a primitive basket-case of a country, with its people struggling in conditions barely above subsistence.

Frankly that doesn’t seem fully consistent with the known facts.

Lastly, we remain supremely ignorant of North Korea’s actual military capabilities.  Though North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests no-one outside North Korea knows how many nuclear weapons it has, or whether it possesses the means to deliver those nuclear weapons it does have.

The latest report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency, even if it exaggerates North Korean capabilities, highlights the disastrous consequences of this ignorance, and of the bad and arrogant decisions it has led to.

It turns out that North Korea may now have an intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capability bringing even Washington DC within reach that even the Chinese and the Russians thought thought it would not acquire before 2040.  A North Korean nuclear challenge that no-one outside Pyongyang imagined the US would face for another 20 years is already upon us.

At its most basic level, this is a catastrophic failure of intelligence, showing how completely wrong about North Korea at least in this respect the US and most of the rest of the outside world has been.  How do we know if instead of talks there is now an arms race that there won’t be other, possibly still more catastrophic, intelligence failures further down the line?

I will finish by quoting a famous epigram attributed to the Chinese thinker Sun Tzu

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you are a fool and will succumb in every battle

In relation to North Korea it is high time the US admitted that it doesn’t know its enemy, and there are times when I wonder whether it even knows itself.

In other words the US has been behaving like a fool, setting itself up for defeat in a conflict involving nuclear weapons where its own national territory may be at risk.  In the interests of the world and itself it is desperately important that it stops doing so.

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Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

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Google Manipulated YouTube Search Results for Abortion, Maxine Waters, David Hogg

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News.

The Duran

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Via Breitbart


In sworn testimony, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Congress last month that his company does not “manually intervene” on any particular search result. Yet an internal discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News reveals Google regularly intervenes in search results on its YouTube video platform – including a recent intervention that pushed pro-life videos out of the top ten search results for “abortion.”

The term “abortion” was added to a “blacklist” file for “controversial YouTube queries,” which contains a list of search terms that the company considers sensitive. According to the leak, these include some of these search terms related to: abortion, abortions, the Irish abortion referendum, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and anti-gun activist David Hogg.

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News by a source inside the company who wishes to remain anonymous. A partial list of blacklisted terms was also leaked to Breitbart by another Google source.

In the leaked discussion thread, a Google site reliability engineer hinted at the existence of more search blacklists, according to the source.

“We have tons of white- and blacklists that humans manually curate,” said the employee. “Hopefully this isn’t surprising or particularly controversial.”

Others were more concerned about the presence of the blacklist. According to the source, the software engineer who started the discussion called the manipulation of search results related to abortion a “smoking gun.”

The software engineer noted that the change had occurred following an inquiry from a left-wing Slate journalist about the prominence of pro-life videos on YouTube, and that pro-life videos were replaced with pro-abortion videos in the top ten results for the search terms following Google’s manual intervention.

“The Slate writer said she had complained last Friday and then saw different search results before YouTube responded to her on Monday,” wrote the employee. “And lo and behold, the [changelog] was submitted on Friday, December 14 at 3:17 PM.”

The manually downranked items included several videos from Dr. Antony Levatino, a former abortion doctor who is now a pro-life activist. Another video in the top ten featured a woman’s personal story of being pressured to have an abortion, while another featured pro-life conservative Ben Shapiro. The Slate journalist who complained to Google reported that these videos previously featured in the top ten, describing them in her story as “dangerous misinformation.”

Since the Slate journalist’s inquiry and Google’s subsequent intervention, the top search results now feature pro-abortion content from left-wing sources like BuzzFeed, Vice, CNN, and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. In her report, the Slate journalist acknowledged that the search results changed shortly after she contacted Google.

The manual adjustment of search results by a Google-owned platform contradicts a key claim made under oath by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in his congressional testimony earlier this month: that his company does not “manually intervene on any search result.”

A Google employee in the discussion thread drew attention to Pichai’s claim, noting that it “seems like we are pretty eager to cater our search results to the social and political agenda of left-wing journalists.”

One of the posts in the discussion also noted that the blacklist had previously been edited to include the search term “Maxine Waters” after a single Google employee complained the top YouTube search result for Maxine Waters was “very low quality.”

Google’s alleged intervention on behalf of a Democratic congresswoman would be further evidence of the tech giant using its resources to prop up the left. Breitbart News previously reported on leaked emails revealing the company targeted pro-Democrat demographics in its get-out-the-vote efforts in 2016.

According to the source, a software engineer in the thread also noted that “a bunch of terms related to the abortion referendum in Ireland” had been added to the blacklist – another change with potentially dramatic consequences on the national policies of a western democracy.

youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

At least one post in the discussion thread revealed the existence of a file called “youtube_controversial_query_blacklist,” which contains a list of YouTube search terms that Google manually curates. In addition to the terms “abortion,” “abortions,” “Maxine Waters,” and search terms related to the Irish abortion referendum, a Google software engineer noted that the blacklist includes search terms related to terrorist attacks. (the posts specifically mentions that the “Strasbourg terrorist attack” as being on the list).

“If you look at the other entries recently added to the youtube_controversial_query_blacklist(e.g., entries related to the Strasbourg terrorist attack), the addition of abortion seems…out-of-place,” wrote the software engineer, according to the source.

After learning of the existence of the blacklist, Breitbart News obtained a partial screenshot of the full blacklist file from a source within Google. It reveals that the blacklist includes search terms related to both mass shootings and the progressive anti-second amendment activist David Hogg.

This suggests Google has followed the lead of Democrat politicians, who have repeatedly pushed tech companies to censor content related to the Parkland school shooting and the Parkland anti-gun activists. It’s part of a popular new line of thought in the political-media establishment, which views the public as too stupid to question conspiracy theories for themselves.

Here is the partial blacklist leaked to Breitbart:

2117 plane crash Russian

2118 plane crash

2119 an-148

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

2121 florida shooting crisis actors

2122 florida conspiracy

2123 florida false flag shooting

2124 florida false flag

2125 fake florida school shooting

2126 david hogg hoax

2127 david hogg fake

2128 david hogg crisis actor

2129 david hogg forgets lines

2130 david hogg forgets his lines

2131 david hogg cant remember his lines

2132 david hogg actor

2133 david hogg cant remember

2134 david hogg conspiracy

2135 david hogg exposed

2136 david hogg lines

2137 david hogg rehearsing

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

The full internal filepath of the blacklist, according to another source, is:

//depot/google3/googledata/superroot/youtube/youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

Contradictions

Responding to a request for comment, a YouTube spokeswoman said the company wants to promote “authoritative” sources in its search results, but maintained that YouTube is a “platform for free speech” that “allow[s]” both pro-life and pro-abortion content.

YouTube’s full comment:

YouTube is a platform for free speech where anyone can choose to post videos, as long as they follow our Community Guidelines, which prohibit things like inciting violence and pornography. We apply these policies impartially and we allow both pro-life and pro-choice opinions. Over the last year we’ve described how we are working to better surface news sources across our site for news-related searches and topical information. We’ve improved our search and discovery algorithms, built new features that clearly label and prominently surface news sources on our homepage and search pages, and introduced information panels to help give users more authoritative sources where they can fact check information for themselves.

In the case of the “abortion” search results, YouTube’s intervention to insert “authoritative” content resulted in the downranking of pro-life videos and the elevation of pro-abortion ones.

A Google spokesperson took a tougher line than its YouTube subsidiary, stating that “Google has never manipulated or modified the search results or content in any of its products to promote a particular political ideology.”

However, in the leaked discussion thread, a member of Google’s “trust & safety” team, Daniel Aaronson, admitted that the company maintains “huge teams” that work to adjust search results for subjects that are “prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content” – all subjective terms that are frequently used to suppress right-leaning sources.

He also admitted that the interventions weren’t confined to YouTube – they included search results delivered via Google Assistant, Google Home, and in rare cases Google ’s organic search results.

In the thread, Aaronson attempted to explain how search blacklisting worked. He claimed that highly specific searches would generate non-blacklisted results, even controversial ones. But the inclusion of highly specific terms in the YouTube blacklist, like “David Hogg cant remember his lines” – the name of an actual viral video – seems to contradict this.

Aaronson’s full post is copied below:

I work in Trust and Safety and while I have no particular input as to exactly what’s happening for YT I can try to explain why you’d have this kind of list and why people are finding lists like these on Code Search.

When dealing with abuse/controversial content on various mediums you have several levers to deal with problems. Two prominent levers are “Proactive” and “Reactive”:

  • Proactive: Usually refers to some type of algorithm/scalable solution to a general problem
    • E.g.: We don’t allow straight up porn on YouTube so we create a classifier that detects porn and automatically remove or flag for review the videos the porn classifier is most certain of
  • Reactive: Usually refers to a manual fix to something that has been brought to our attention that our proactive solutions don’t/didn’t work on and something that is clearly in the realm of bad enough to warrant a quick targeted solution (determined by pages and pages of policies worked on over many years and many teams to be fair and cover necessary scope)
    • E,g.: A website that used to be a good blog had it’s domain expire and was purchased/repurposed to spam Search results with autogenerated pages full of gibberish text, scraped images, and links to boost traffic to other spammy sites. It is manually actioned for violating policy

These Organic Search policies and the consequences to violating them are public

Manually reacting to things is not very scalable, and is not an ideal solution to most problems, so the proactive lever is really the one we all like to lean on. Ideally, our classifiers/algorithm are good at providing useful and rich results to our users while ignoring things at are not useful or not relevant. But we all know, this isn’t exactly the case all the time (especially on YouTube).

From a user perspective, there are subjects that are prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content. Now, these words are highly subjective and no one denies that. But we can all agree generally, lines exist in many cultures about what is clearly okay vs. what is not okay. E.g. a video of a puppy playing with a toy is probably okay in almost every culture or context, even if it’s not relevant to the query. But a video of someone committing suicide and begging others to follow in his/her footsteps is probably on the other side of the line for many folks.

While my second example is technically relevant to the generic query of “suicide”, that doesn’t mean that this is a very useful or good video to promote on the top of results for that query. So imagine a classifier that says, for any queries on a particular text file, let’s pull videos using signals that we historically understand to be strong indicators of quality (I won’t go into specifics here, but those signals do exist). We’re not manually curating these results, we’re just saying “hey, be extra careful with results for this query because many times really bad stuff can appear and lead to a bad experience for most users”. Ideally the proactive lever did this for us, but in extreme cases where we need to act quickly on something that is so obviously not okay, the reactive/manual approach is sometimes necessary. And also keep in mind, that this is different for every product. The bar for changing classifiers or manual actions on span in organic search is extremely high. However, the bar for things we let our Google Assistant say out loud might be a lot lower. If I search for “Jews run the banks” – I’ll likely find anti-semitic stuff in organic search. As a Jew, I might find some of these results offensive, but they are there for people to research and view, and I understand that this is not a reflection of Google feels about this issue. But if I ask Google assistant “Why do Jews run the banks” we wouldn’t be similarly accepting if it repeated and promoted conspiracy theories that likely pop up in organic search in her smoothing voice.

Whether we agree or not, user perception of our responses, results, and answers of different products and mediums can change. And I think many people are used to the fact that organic search is a place where content should be accessible no matter how offensive it might be, however, the expectation is very different on a Google Home, a Knowledge Panel, or even YouTube.

These lines are very difficult and can be very blurry, we are all well aware of this. So we’ve got huge teams that stay cognizant of these facts when we’re crafting policies considering classifier changes, or reacting with manual actions – these decisions are not made in a vacuum, but admittedly are also not made in a highly public forum like TGIF or IndustryInfo (as you can imagine, decisions/agreement would be hard to get in such a wide list – image if all your CL’s were reviewed by every engineer across Google all the time). I hope that answers some questions and gives a better layer of transparency without going into details about our “Pepsi formula”.

Best,

Daniel

The fact that Google manually curates politically contentious search results fits in with a wider pattern of political activity on the part of the tech giant.

In 2018, Breitbart News exclusively published a leaked video from the company that showed senior management in dismay at Trump’s election victory, and pledging to use the company’s power to make his populist movement a “hiccup” in history.

Breitbart also leaked “The Good Censor,” an internal research document from Google that admits the tech giant is engaged in the censorship of its own products, partly in response to political events.

Another leak revealed that employees within the company, including Google’s current director of Trust and Safety, tried to kick Breitbart News off Google’s market-dominating online ad platforms.

Yet another showed Google engaged in targeted turnout operations aimed to boost voter participation in pro-Democrat demographics in “key states” ahead of the 2016 election. The effort was dubbed a “silent donation” by a top Google employee.

Evidence for Google’s partisan activities is now overwhelming. President Trump has previously warned Google, as well as other Silicon Valley giants, not to engage in censorship or partisan activities. Google continues to defy him.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to [email protected].

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Are You Suffering From Toxic Masculinity? Know The Warning Signs

Are you or a loved one suffering from toxic masculinity? Know the warning signs so you can seek help.

The Duran

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Via BabylonBee.com:


More than 40% of men today suffer from it—and their loved ones pay the price.

It’s called “toxic masculinity,” and it’s the latest disease to plague the nation. It can affect every aspect of a toxic man’s life. Worst of all, toxic masculinity is contagious, so if you’re infected, you need to know right away so you can avoid spreading it to your friends and family.

Are you or a loved one suffering from toxic masculinity? Know the warning signs so you can seek help:

  • Even the faintest whisper of facial hair – If you have a mustache, schedule a check-up. If you find a goatee on your face, consider going into the emergency room. If you have a full-grown beard, well, it’s probably too late for you.
  • A belief that men and women are at least a little bit different – Should you be infected with the cancerous idea that men and women are even the slightest bit different from one another, you could have toxic masculinity. If you’re a woman who believes this, then you suffer from an even worse disease called internalized misogyny.
  • Throwing a professional wrestler off a steel cage right through the announcer’s table – Men who suddenly look around and find that they’re tossing a professional wrestler off a steel cage to plummet right through the announcer’s table are at high risk of developing toxic masculinity. If a man in your life is suffering from this symptom, encourage him to stop wrestling in the WWE immediately.
  • Eating meat on occasion – A disease like toxic masculinity can quickly change your diet. If you find yourself leaving your vegan avocado quinoa toast smoothies untouched in favor of wolfing down some bacon-wrapped bacon, you might have toxic masculinity.
  • Holding the door open for a woman once in a while – It looks innocent enough: a woman approaches, and you hold the door so she doesn’t have to open it again. Seems like common courtesy, right? WRONG. It’s one of the first warning signs of toxic masculinity, and you need to do better if you’re going to beat this thing. One way to reduce your toxic masculinity is to slam the door right in a woman’s face and scream, “EQUALITY!!!” through the glass when she glares at you.
  • Yelling stuff about freedom and charging into battle wearing blue face paint – If you find yourself charging into battle against the English wearing blue face paint in the 14th century, you might be beyond medical help. Do all of society a favor and get yourself drawn and quartered so no one else catches this contagious illness.
  • Being a man who doesn’t hate himself – This is the most telling sign. If you’re a biological male and you don’t hate yourself, toxic masculinity is already coursing through your veins. If there’s going to be any hope of recovery, you need to begin hating yourself today.

If you or your man are showing one or more of these symptoms, contact your medical professional today. Get help, before it’s too late.

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