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Elon Musk to create a site to battle fakes news, its name: PRAVDA

The creator of Space X and Tesla wants to battle fake news with “Pravda”

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Elon Musk is creating a website where “…the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication,” as he said in a tweet.

Interestingly enough, he plans on naming it Pravda.

When we hear the name Pravda, we think of many things; for Russian speakers, this means “The Truth”, however, it was also the name of a famous Soviet newspaper, which has survived in various successor forms. For example, Komsomolskaya Pravda, who wrote an article (in Russian) about Musk’s idea of the site.

Musk also created a poll, asking people to vote as to whether or not they felt this was a good and useful idea, and so far, according to RIA Novosti, 88% of the 68 thousand asked, supported the creation of Pravda.

Musk said the site should not only have protection from bots, but also work to expose anyone who uses them for misinformation. While we know little about the purposed site, based on the description, it seems to be highly community based, where people essentially “rate” as he said, articles, journalists, editors, publications, etc. This could possibly be similar to how Reddit is karma based, though on a much higher level, with “the public” leaving reviews of articles and those who publish them.

This is perhaps the most important aspect of his announcement, in this age of fake news, the idea of the public rating the “truth” of an article. This is an issue perfectly captured in RIA Novosti’s headline describing his idea, which said in Russian “Everyone has his own Pravda (Truth)”. The double entendre of the word Pravda in Russian made the headline so poetic, and so powerful in revealing the major implications of this website. Before we jump into these implications, it is worth noting something interesting about the word Pravda, that non-Slavic speakers may not understand.

While the word does indeed mean “Truth” in Russian, it can also have the connotation of meaning “Law” (which is technically Zakon), for example, Russkaya Pravda, the earliest code of Laws in Rus’ (which was far more progressive than western laws for its day, even outlawing capital punishment in the High Middle Ages). The word can also mean in a classical sense Justice, and Righteousness as well.

This is because, in the West, its understood that just as religion is separate from the state, and the individual from the collective; there is the notion that the law, in its current form may not necessarily be what is right or true. To the Russian Orthodox Soul, this is ridiculous. It does not mean Russians can’t recognize if this is a reality, but deep down, it’s hard for Russians to understand how the Law should not be Just or Right. This is because if Russians believe that which is right, should be law, and is always based on truth, and likewise, if something is wrong, whether morally, spiritually, or literally, it must ultimately be based on lies. It is interesting to take a moment and observe this difference in Russian mentality about the word “Truth”, and compare it to the western one, where Justice, Truth, and Righteousness are seen as three distinct things.

The issue with Elon Musk’s Pravda, however, is just as the RIA Novosti headline described it.

Everyone always has his own truth. As we have seen in recent years, with the unprecedented battles throughout the entire world over “fake news”, what is true, and what is fake has become not only blurred, but highly contested in fierce battles between states and leaders.

What often happens is when one side does not like what the other is saying, they accuse them of spreading “fake news’. While the idea of lying is quite ancient, the new focus on “Fake News” is different, as both states and mega-companies like Facebook, which essentially control as much private information as states, are cracking down on what they perceive to be fake news.

Elon Musk notably came into his own conflict with Facebook about the massive scandal over how they handle their user’s data. He shocked everyone when deleted his Facebook accounts. Bare in mind, alternative media was reporting on what Facebook has been doing for years, however, until recently, it was branded mostly as conspiracy theories. Now that the truth is out, there are, of course, no apologies.

Love him or hate him, no one can deny Musk is very powerful, and he has proven he can achieve amazing things; he’s one of the few people that can seemingly turn any random idea into instant success – his track record speaks for itself.

As a result, we should be aware that if his previous record of success continues, and he develops this website, it will almost certainly become a big deal, and therefore, it’s worthy of our attention.

And so this brings us back to Pravda. As RIA Novosti said, everyone has their own Pravda, everyone has their own truth. It’s the age we live in. The biggest concern is if everyone has their own truth – which truth will be represented at Pravda.

Fake news is everywhere, and the average person is not an expert on every subject. We’ve seen time and time again how fake news is most commonly believed by uninformed people. Fake news is often so successful due to the general ignorance of the population about the subject in question.

Take for example the Ukraine Crisis; an article at the Washington Post found that less than 20% of Americans could locate Ukraine on the map, and the least informed among them (those who could not find it) was the group which most strongly supported military intervention in Ukraine.

About one in six (16 percent) Americans correctly located Ukraine, clicking somewhere within its borders. Most thought that Ukraine was located somewhere in Europe or Asia, but the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off … locating Ukraine somewhere in an area bordered by Portugal on the west, Sudan on the south, Kazakhstan on the east, and Finland on the north….The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.

This would also imply these uninformed people, who couldn’t locate the nation, yet somehow felt their country should start a war there, believed the lies about a “Russian invasion”. They certainly can’t speak Ukrainian and/or Russian, or know anything about the culture for that matter. This is the issue with crowdsourced fact-checking. If the fact checkers are the general populace, they may be capable of speaking as to what is happening right before their eyes, but how are they informed enough to fact check stories about events in a distant country?

The public cannot be expected to be an expert on every subject. This is why there is no such thing, and likely never will be, an absolute direct democracy, where all matters are decided on by the people. Almost every form of large-scale human government and organization has a dedicated class of leaders. In Monarchies, the Sovereign is believed to be appointed by God, in representative democracies and republics, the people vote to elect leaders, who then represent them and make decisions on their behalf.

Even under the officially communist Soviet Union, and other socialist states, which had the official the goal to make all working people equal, it is still accepted there must be a dictatorship of the proletariat, to guide the people on the way to achieving communism. Without getting into a debate on the meaning and forms of Democracy, the fact remains, there is no practical system in which a majority vote can decide all matters.

One the one hand, it can lead to dangerous ochlocratia (Mob rule), in which there exists a tyranny of the majority, for example, 51% of the population voting to deprive the other 49% of their rights. On the other hand, individuals simply can not be considered capable of making high-level decisions on all major issues.

This is why we have doctors to help us with issues of our physical health, Clergymen to help us with our spiritual health, a military to defend us, economic experts to advise on these matters, lawyers on to council on legal issues, etc. So for example, continuing with the Ukraine crisis, say there is an article speaking about the major persecution of the canonical Orthodox Church occurring in Ukraine.

Ukrainian politicians want to DEMOLISH Kiev church lead by former US Navy chaplain

If people who believe the fake news about a “Russian invasion” hear the story, and find the Church belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate, they may assume the so-called Kiev Patriarchate is the legal Ukrainian church, whereas the former is under Russian influence. They may assume any news in favor of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church “of the Moscow Patriarchate”, must be biased in favor of Moscow, and so they can vote on the story as fake news.

These people are not clergymen or educated lay people, aware of the fact that the Church under Moscow is the only Orthodox Church in Ukraine which is recognized by the international Orthodox community, and supported by the majority of Ukrainians, as shown in this comparison below. They’re also not lawyers practicing Ukrainian law, and they don’t understand what is legal or not in Ukraine. How then, are they qualified to speak on issues in Ukraine, or Syria, or any distant country.

This is a potential danger of having the public vote on the truth of articles. It could be a good idea, but the scrutiny of a court of law could easily be thrown out in favor of a court of public opinion. Case in point, there was a very interesting poll by the very popular comment site Disqus, which we use on Duran (feel free to say hello in the comments and I will try to reply).

Disqus created a (now closed) poll, that asked users across all the many sites which use their comment service why they choose to downvote comments (Disqus users can upvote or downvote comments).

Here are the most common reasons Disqus observed about why people downvote comments:

  • The comment does not contribute to the discussion
  • You disagreed with the comment
  • You don’t like the user
  • You think the comment should appear lower in the discussion thread

The most common reason they found, for why people downvote, is that they disagree with the comment.

While this is not definitive, as they could disagree because they think a comment is factually wrong, they could also disagree simply because they don’t like it. Very often, in this era of fake news, humans make decisions as to what they believe and what they don’t, based on their preexisting biases.

Many don’t actually listen to hear all the viewpoints and make their own decision, but they enter into a story with a preconceived notion of what they believe, and they are essentially listening to confirm their biases. If they don’t agree with what they hear, they will label it as fake news. As a result, not only can the general public be misinformed, but they can also downvote a story simply because they don’t agree with it, considering their feelings to be the truth.

The idea purposed by Elon Musk may require a group of professional fact checkers, in addition to the public voting. This would ironically be not unlike Facebook, who announced they would work with “Third Party Fact Checkers” on news stories. Musk’s Pravda could face the same issues, as FB’s program, which allowed the mainstream media to fact-check themselves.

If one has no issue with the narratives pushed by the corporate media, this may not be an issue for them, but for those who consider the corporate media to be a key source of Fake News, this is naturally an issue. The “anti-fake” website could become subject to mob rule, where people vote based on their opinions rather than facts, and curated by the same people pushing the fake news.

Of course, there is also the biggest elephant in the room, given the name, is Pravda about obtaining the truth, or will it be another mainstream site directed against Russia and “Russian hackers”, as part of the general #Russia-gate story?

While the idea of Pravda could potentially be great, there can be major concerns with the execution. In all honesty, it will hinge on what Elon Musk specifically feels about the issue of fake news, and where it’s coming from. Everyone has their own “truth”, but the only one that will matter in on this website, is Musk’s.


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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

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The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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