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America fears China’s geo-political power more than China’s economic might

Economically, the US had similar issues with Japan in the 1980s as it does with China today, but hardly anyone in the US spoke of ‘war’ with Japan then. This is due to the difference in Japan’s geo-political position vis-a-vis that of China.

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The Bannonite wing of the new American right is angry about China. The anger stems primarily from the fact that China’s manufacturing has outpaced that of the US and economies similar to that of the US, which in turn has arguably been a cause of US industrial decline.

Steve Bannon recently gave a speech in the Chinese island of Hong Kong where he stated that while the US is at “economic war” with China, but that nevertheless he and Donald Trump admire China and President Xi Jinping in particular.

In this sense, Bannon has admitted the hypothesis I recently offered that many in the US are jealous of Chinese economic strength and wish that the US might be able to replicate a similar success story among its declining industrial base which still has a great deal of latent potential.

READ MORE: Steve Bannon’s China Syndrome reveals America’s jealousy of a China that is ‘great again’

In this sense, while Bannon’s talk of ‘war’ is worrying, his honestly is nevertheless, refreshing. Furthermore his genuine affection for the American working class is admirable and honourable, even if attacking China is not necessarily the best way to express such feelings.

Bannon’s remarks exist at a time when the neo-con faction of the so-called US right (a deceptive term if there even was one, but one which still is pervasive), don’t particularly care about the US industrial working class. However, they do care about US military hegemony and consequently, they are keen on disrupting China’s growing super-power status. Because China’s ascent to the position of global leadership, along with a renewed Russia and a still strong, though declining US, is largely fuelled by China’s economic engine, the neo-cons likewise seek to do whatever they can to disrupt China’s economic progress.

China’s One Belt–One Road is a testament to the fact that China seeks to use economic cooperation in order to diversify its national interests and increase its economic wealth and consequently, its influence. This contrasts with the Russian model of effective diplomacy based geo-political leadership and the US model of neo-imperialist proxy wars/hybrid wars.

In this sense, there are important economic similarities, but key geo-strategic differences between America’s current position via-a-vis China and America’s position vis-a-vis Japan in the 1980s and 1990s.

Made in Japan

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the moniker “Made in Japan” stood for cheap goods that were generally of lesser quality via-a-vis their western counterparts.

By the end of the 1970s, “Made in Japan” meant goods, particularly in respect of electronics and motor vehicles that were often superior to their US counterparts, all while still being more affordable and more reliable.

By the late 1980s, many Americans were complaining of Japan “dumping” their goods at US ports. At this time, Japanese money flowed into American cities and a combination of economic uncertainty mixed with what can only be described as latent anti-Japanese sentiments dating back to Pearl Harbor and the US experience in the Second World War in the Pacific, led to an anti-Japanese backlash that is hardly ever discussed today.

An article from the New York Times originally published on 14 August 1987, titled “U.S. Takes New Tack On Japanese Dumping”, states the following,

“In an action that could speed up price increases on products imported from Japan, the Commerce Department has found that two Japanese companies have been selling roller bearings at illegally low prices.

The case was brought because many Japanese companies have put off raising prices to compensate for the much higher value of the yen against the dollar. Instead, they preferred to absorb costs resulting from a strong yen and even sell at a loss, rather than lose market share.

This is the first time Washington has moved in a significant way to penalize Japan for following this course. Higher Duties Possible

The yen has risen against the dollar by more than 60 percent since February 1985, which should mean that Japanese products would cost much more in the United States than before.

But some bearing prices failed to rise at all during the investigation period, between March 1 and Aug. 31 of last year.

Should the ruling be affirmed, it would result in higher customs duties on the imported bearings, which have a variety of industrial uses, especially in transportation equipment.

But many analysts said the case could set a precedent for other industries in which the dollar’s decline has failed to improve their ability to compete against the Japanese.

The decision comes as the trading relationship between the United States and Japan has been strained by the Toshiba Machine Company’s sale of sensitive military goods to the Soviet Union and a disagreement between Washington and Tokyo, now partially settled, over the dumping of computer chips. Looking for ‘Fair Value’

Koichi Haraguchi, information counselor at the Japanese Embassy, said it was ”not appropriate” for his Government to comment because this was an ”internal action taken in accordance with U.S. dumping law.”

The duties are intended to raise the Japanese selling prices to what the Commerce Department has determined to be ”fair value.” This is computed on the basis of the exporters’ home market price, his selling price in other markets outside the United States, his cost of production and other factors including a margin of profit.

The department singled out two Japanese companies for sales of tapered roller bearings. It said that the Koyo Seiko Company was selling bearings at 70.44 percent below the computed fair value and that the NTN Toyo Bearing Company was selling bearings for 47.05 percent less”.

In summary, in the 1980s and into the 1990s, many in the US were upset with Japan for selling  goods to the US, which in spite of the strength of the Yen versus the Dollar, were still sold cheaply to US consumers due to Japan implementing a strategy based on volume rather than an instant Dollar for Dollar profit.

Déjà vu +

Today, an equal and opposite charge is levelled against China. China is accused of dumping high quality and/or much sought after goods on US soil for prices that generally are better than that of the domestic competition. Interestingly, where Japan was lambasted by the US for a strong Yen, China is inversely lambasted for having an allegedly weak Yuan.

This general attitude towards Chinese monetary policy is succinctly expressed in a piece from the Global Finance School economic news website:

“China periodically announces that it will float the value of the Yuan, which has traditionally been pegged to the U.S. Dollar. The Chinese central government has so far not made any serious changes. Many countries have legitimate reasons for a fixed exchange rate, but a large, economically powerful country like China should have the strength to maintain a stable currency in the open market without manipulation. Economists suggest the Yuan is undervalued by 15% to 40%, though it is hard to accurately conclude. The People’s Bank of China currently holds $3.2 trillion of foreign-exchange reserves.

How does China keep the Yuan weak? By buying US currency and treasury notes on the open market, China keeps demand for the US dollar high. They can afford to buy and hold so much US currency due to their huge trade surplus with America, and they buy US currency roughly equal to this surplus. To keep the influx of dollars from increasing the Chinese money supply, China “sterilizes” the dollar purchases by selling bonds to Chinese investors like commercial banks. By boosting the dollar, still one of the most powerful worldwide currencies, the Yuan looks weak in relation. For the last few years China has maintained the value of their currency at just under 7 Chinese Yuan to $1. Today $1 equals 6.54 Yuan. Something close to 5 Yuan to the dollar might be a better valuation based on other market factors.

The cheap Yuan gives China an unfair advantage in the export market, encouraging the United States’ growing trade deficit with China and keeping goods in markets like India from competing locally.

Holding so much US currency gives China a lot of power over the dollar, and thus the US economy. What if China’s central bank decided to sell a large amount of US dollars and treasury notes all at once? The dollar could drop, leaving the US economy gasping for breath.

Unnaturally cheap goods and services from China hurt growing economies like India. India has a trade deficit of $19.2 billion with China. India has the potential to manufacture and sell lower priced goods, if the Rupee could compete with the Yuan.

By making other currencies relatively expensive, the booming Chinese population is discouraged from importing goods from other countries, including India, the United States, and Europe, because the cost is artificially inflated. This restricts a balance in trade and increases other countries trade deficits with China”.

This analysis fails to take into account the fact that in almost all sectors, China’s industrial infrastructure is vastly more advanced than that of India, in spite of India’s development in such areas. Simultaneous to this, the article does not take into account the fact that US industry is in need of large scale modernisation and that modern EU industry is among the most regulated in world history. These are not value judgements on any of these economies or cultures, but they are the objective realities.

However, the article does display the angry attitude that many have towards China maintaining an monetary policy that has merely taken advantage of America’s large national debt combined with the fact that the US refuses to peg the Dollar against a metallic standard as many US monetary conservatives like Ron Paul have suggested for decades.

In short, whether competing against a vibrant 1980s style Japanese economy that could outproduce the US in spite of a high valued Yen or in competing with a China capable of a titanic industrial output irrespective of the valuation of the Yuan versus the Dollar, many of the same complaints have been made.

The geo-political X-factor 

Few Americans in the 1980s or 1990s spoke of “war” with Japan, whether economic or otherwise. The reason for this is due to the fact that Japan is a geo-political ally of the United States and has been so consistently since 1945.

If America cracked down on Japanese imports too severely, it would have made for an awkward geo-political situation that the US had invested greatly in on many fronts.

By contrast, China’s expansion while fuelled by its economic might, has wide ranging geo-political implications. If One Belt–One Road and cooperative monetary initiatives from the BRICS as well as other groups can help create a trading, financial and monetary system wherein the US Dollar, US dominated World Bank, US ally dominated IMF and US military alliances that are often prerequisite for doing deals with the US can be bypassed; the US will have increasingly little to offer the wider developing world and frankly the wider global east as a whole.

READ MORE: BRICS in talks to create own cryptocurrency in another blow to US Dollar

This is what America fears most. Far from propping up the Dollar, China with its gold reserves, Dollar reserves and the impetus to begin trading with Asian and Eurasian partners in local currencies, could do more damage to US hegemony than the dumping of anyone’s goods at US ports could ever hope to achieve.

READ MORE: 2017 BRICS Declaration: Emphasis on a results based, ideology free model of global economic cooperation and development

In this sense, America’s implicit fear is that Chinese initiatives could transform into a proverbial all-purpose lubricant which oils the machine of global trade, global finance and global monetary exchange. In so doing, China could undermine America’s role as the de-facto international financial and monetary hub. So goes the Federal Reserve, so goes America. This is especially the case since the US did so little to protect its manufacturing  base from internal crises  in the late 20th century. This has left America widely exposed to pressures from the international monetary and financial markets without the safety net of a strong domestic base for industrial production.

Japan’s success in the 1980s and China’s success today, demonstrate that if one has a modern, skilled and dynamic industrial base, one can whether the storms of both ends of the monetary valuation spectrum and still manage to have a powerful working economy that produces much sought after goods on world markets as well as domestically.

One of China’s biggest markets is its still partly untapped domestic market. This is something that is often forgotten in western discussions about China, as is the fact that increased Chinese labour costs mean that the idea of ‘cheap Chinese labour’ is no longer a reality. Mexico for example now has cheaper labour costs than does China. This is why many “American” cars are no manufactured in Mexico.

The idea that the Chinese economy only succeeds because of cheap labour and an ‘undervalued’ Yuan is a fallacy that only harms the ostensibly pro-western causes of those making the allegations.

The classic American export

In reality, the two most dynamic heavy industries in the US at the moment are the defence industry and the energy sector. This ironically is how many critics of Russia in the US, including John McCain have used to lambaste Russia, a country whose economy is actually diversifying far more than it is given credit for.

In this sense, exporting war is important for the United States and from different perspectives, both the neo-cons/neo-libs and Bannonites realise this. If America makes the machines of war and little else, war itself becomes an export commodity. In this sense, the US has also lost the moral argument to One Belt–One Road, a program which implicitly requires peace and stability along its trading routes.

A solution

There is a way to peacefully make America great again, so to speak. America could inject the same amounts of capital into its consumer industrial base as it does in respect of the defence industry. If the US did this, it could in surprisingly short order (if managed properly) become a respected and respectable competitor to the dynamic economies of Asia and Eurasia, in spite of the value of the Dollar, as Japan proved in respect of the Yen.

Here though, the outsourcing acolytes among the neo-cons/neo-libs would kick up a fuss and thus far the Bannonites haven’t produced a concrete manifesto for such plans. Such plans would however be vastly more productive than the neo-con hybrid wars or Bannonite economic wars against China could ever hope to be.

The world’s geo-political realities have become America’s foreign policy problems, all because the US is too busy pointing fingers at successful economies rather than investing in its own. The fault here lies with the American political culture.

Protectionist Ross Perot once talked of a “giant sucking sound” that would take jobs and economic vitality away from America if NAFTA was signed. NAFTA was signed and while the deal is deeply flawed, the biggest giant sucking sound of all is the one coming from the Washington D.C. swamp which no one America seems capable of draining.

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Voltaire
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Voltaire

While China builds on a global scale…

The United States kills, maims and destroys on a global scale…

Simon
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Simon

Exactly. And all this angst in the USA about China is far too late.
I realised that years ago when I first visited China and saw their shining cities of the future, their awesome infrastructure.
In comparison the US looks as if it is still stuck in the 70s.
China is already the premier economy on earth.

KateAJones
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KateAJones

Boost your earnings on Google & make $99/hour by working from a home computer.
on friday I bought a gorgeous Chrysler when I got my check for $9277 this munth. it’s actualy the most comfortable job Ive ever had . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away got over $99, per/hr . check
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André De Koning
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André De Koning

Succinctly put and an interesting article!

louis robert
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louis robert

The “peaceful” solution proposed, like all genuinely peaceful solutions the Empire could come up with, entails the abandonment of Empire. That will not happen. The Empire will simply continue on seeking world hegemony through full spectrum dominance, blaming all the while others like e.g. China and Russia for its own mistakes and failures, more and more often threatening the world with nuclear war in the demented hope of maintaining itself as number one in an American world. That imperial strategy is doomed. China has already defeated the Empire at its own game. In tomorrow’s world the game will be China’s… Read more »

JNDillard
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JNDillard

The swamp won’t and can’t be drained until there is a Constitutional convention. The basic rules of the game have to be changed fundamentally.

stevek9
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stevek9

This is largely due to the de-facto status of the dollar as the worlds ‘reserve’ currency. Countries around the World, including China want to hold dollars, which requires a trade surplus. They have to manipulate the value of their currency to maintain that. In addition, competing in the most open market in the World (the US) helps with industrial development, as it is extremely competitive. China no longer needs to run these big surpluses, and in fact their people would live much better if they did not. Real goods improve standards of living, not numbers in computers at the US… Read more »

Shahna
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“In so doing, China could undermine America’s role as the de-facto
international financial and monetary hub. So goes the Federal Reserve,
so goes America.”
———————–
They’re doing it. It’s happening. Good.
So phuck off and goodbye.

hvaiallverden
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hvaiallverden

Amen to it all.

PS: louis r, is equally good.
cheers

peace

RoHa
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RoHa

Even in the early 1960s, those of us who were keen on photography (as I was when I was a boy) knew that “Made in Japan” on photographic equipment meant high quality, good design, reasonable price, and incomprehensible instruction manuals.

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“China’s manufacturing has outpaced that of the US”

2016: US exported goods to China worth $115 billion, and imported from China for $463 billion. Trade deficit for US – $348 billion.
From the beginning of 2017: US exports to China – $69 billion, imports from China – $273 billion. So far, the trade deficit – $204 billion.
Besides, China holds $1.4 trillion of US debt. If they decided to reclaim the money, US must declare bankruptcy as it cannot pay that much back, as US currency reserve being of $116 billion.

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May survives ‘no confidence’ vote as UK moves towards March 29 deadline or Article 50 extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 168.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the ‘no confidence’ vote that UK Prime Minister May won with the a slim margin…meaning that though few MPs have confidence in her ‘Brexit withdrawal’ negotiating skills, they appear to have no problem allowing May to lead the country towards its Brexit deadline in March, which coincidently may be delayed and eventually scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Tony Blair is cozying up to Brussels’ oligarchs, working his evil magic to derail the will of the British people, and keep the integrationist ambitions for the UK and Europe on track.

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Via RT


The UK government led by Theresa May, has survived to fight another day, after winning a no-confidence vote, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, following parliament rejecting the PM’s Brexit deal, earlier on Tuesday evening.

The no-confidence vote was defeated by 19 votes – the government winning by 325 to 306. It’s a rare positive note for May’s Tory cabinet after the humiliating Brexit defeat.

Speaking immediately after the vote, a victorious May said she was “pleased” that the House expressed its confidence in her government. May said she will “continue to work” to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum and leave the EU.

May invited the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with her individually, beginning on Wednesday evening.

“I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit,” she said.

Responding to the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House had “emphatically” rejected May’s deal on Tuesday. The government, he said, must now remove “clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would result from that.”

Labour will now have to consider what move to make next. Their official Brexit policy, decided by members at conference in September, states that if a general election cannot be forced, then all options should be left on the table, including calling for a second referendum.

Liberal Democrats MP Ed Davey also called on May to rule out a no deal Brexit.

The way forward for Brexit is not yet clear and May’s options are now limited, given that the Brexit deal she was offering was voted down so dramatically on Tuesday.

Gavin Barrett, a professor at the UCD Sutherland School of Law in Dublin, told RT that May will now have to decide if her second preference is a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. Her preference will likely be a no-deal Brexit, Barrett said, adding that “since no other option commands a majority in the House” a no-deal exit is now “the default option.”

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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.

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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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