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Another American known wolf? Fort Lauderdale shooter known to FBI, worked for security, amid backdrop of mass drills

Another shocking active-shooter incident rocks America. This time, according to Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s Department, thirteen people were shot, including five dead, after an apparent shooting rampage took place at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport.

Shawn Helton

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Published with the permission of the author. First appeared on 21st Century Wire

At the moment, there is still no clear motive for the shooting attack and no evidence linking the suspect to terror. However, officials have yet to rule out the possibility of terrorism.

The timing of this shooting attack cannot be overstated, as there was a major US intelligence review over an alleged Russian hack influence on America’s 2016 election that was scheduled on the very same day…

‘KNOWN WOLF?’ – (Photo illustration 21WIRE’s Shawn Helton)

NOTE: It only took a matter of hours for the Fort Lauderdale shooter’s back story to emerge.

According to authorities, the suspected airport shooter, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, checked a declared handgun inside his luggage, later retrieving it at Fort Lauderdale Airport’s Terminal 2 baggage claim. Santiago then reportedly loaded the gun in a bathroom came out in the terminal opening fire on fellow travelers – including a series of head shots.

After the shooting spree, the suspect was reported to have calmly turned himself to the police.

According to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel,  “The shooter is in custody and unharmed,” said. “No law enforcement officers fired any shots.”

The whole series of events is strange to say the least, but the oddities didn’t stop there. 

Santiago-Ruiz’s US military background includes service in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard in 2007, according to the Department of Defense. Santiago-Ruiz was listed as a combat engineer who had been deployed to Iraq in April 2010, returning to US soil in 2011. Later in November of 2014, following a move to Alaska, he became a member of the Alaska National Guard. In August of 2016, Santiago-Ruiz was transferred to Inactive Ready Reserve.

Additionally, Santiago-Ruiz was stated to be employed by an as of yet unnamed Anchorage security company while living in Alaska.

According to the Associated Press and Miami’s local CBS News affiliate, “The Pentagon said he [Santiago-Ruiz] went AWOL several times as a specialist during a stint with the Alaska National Guard and was demoted to private first class, the Associated Press reported. He was given a general discharge, which is lower than an honorable discharge.”

Earlier reports stated that Santiago-Ruiz flew on a flight from Canada. Air Canada promptly denied that the suspected airport shooter was on any of their flights. Other US mainstream outlets later stated that he arrived on an in-bound Delta Airlines flight instead.

AIRPORT SHOOTING’ –  Esteban Santiago is in custody following a shooting at a Fort Lauderdale airport. Authorities gathered travelers on the tarmac after the incident. (Image Source: Chicago Tribune)

Interestingly, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was on the scene of the shooting, and was ‘live-tweeting’:

Another Known Wolf?

As 21 WIRE has documented over the years, many so-called shooting/terror/attacks involve individuals being monitored by security services prior to an alleged act taking place. A place where a ‘lone wolf’ graduates into the ranks of a known wolf. In fact, very often those being watched by authorities exhibit all the tell-tale signs of a patsy or an informant, working either for a law enforcement or intelligence agency. Historically, government operators have often made use of low-life criminals, and mentally disturbed individuals to fulfill various role in entrapment stings or sometimes as bonafide actors in an actual attacks.

In any case, alleged attackers and security agencies have a dicey relationship, making any link between them highly suspect in nature.

In January of 2015, a strategic security service think-tank known as The Soufan Group, reported that a larger national security threat resides with radicals who’ve had a lengthy criminal background with known ties to security agencies:

“The Soufan Group, a New York think tank, said a better term for “lone wolves” would be “known wolves“, given how many are already known to Western intelligence agencies before they strike.

“These individuals, acting alone or in small groups … have been on the radar of various agencies and organisations, highlighting the difficulty of effectively monitoring and managing people at the nexus of criminality and terrorism,” it said in a report this week…”

The Fort Lauderdale shooting story rapidly emerged out of corporate media halls looking to sell the public on the latest tragic shooting in America. The Hollywood International Airport shooting has elements of other high-profile shooting events in recent history, such as the TSA/LAX shooting, the the Tucson shootingOrlando Pulse nightclub shooting, the San Bernardino shooting attack, the Chattanooga military base shooting siege, as well as the aspects of the Aurora theater shooting and the Grand theater shooting in Lafayette and many others.

Is the Fort Lauderdale airport shooter another case of a known wolf – triggered into action?

The apparent Fort Lauderdale airport shooter, Santiago-Ruiz, who is said to be Puerto Rican was born in New Jersey (living in Alaska), and was well-known to authorities, having recently undergone a mental health evaluation after allegedly visiting an FBI office in Alaska where he claimed he was under ‘CIA mind control,’ with voices in his head telling him to join ISIS’:

“They say last November, he walked into the FBI’s office in Anchorage, Alaska, claiming that  his mind was being controlled by the CIA and that it was forcing him to join ISIS. He appeared agitated and incoherent, and made disjointed statements — and although he said he didn’t wish to hurt anyone, agents were concerned by his erratic behavior and decided to call local authorities, a senior federal law enforcement official said.

Local police took him to a local medical facility for evaluation, and the FBI closed its assessment of Santiago after conducting database reviews, interagency checks and interviews with family members, the official said.”

Shades of the Manchurian Candidate?

We’re also told that the suspect’s aunt had flagged his mentally unstable condition previously. According to USA Today:

Yet the troubling episode is now part of an emerging profile of a deeply disturbed man described by his aunt Friday as someone who had “lost his mind.”

Maria Luisa Ruiz of Union City, N.J., said her nephew, who had moved to Alaska for work as a security guard, only recently began to show signs of instability.

“Like a month ago, it was like he lost his mind,” she said “He said he saw things.”

The inclusion of Santiago-Ruiz’s alleged ‘voices’ in his head, supposedly triggered by the CIA, immediately recalls another bizarre case that was also difficult to comprehend – the Navy Yard Shooter from 2013.

Here’s a passage from a 21WIRE report discussing the apparent Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis:

“Rather than get caught up in the ‘fear campaigns’ sold to us by our favorite news anchor-zombies, its important to consider another aspect of these mass shootings by making a tally of  the trigger points that media uses to manipulate public perception, as they carefully propagandize certain elements within a crisis making sure to illicit ‘the right’ reaction from every major demographic.”

Is this what we are seeing in the aftermath of the Fort Lauderdale shooting?

Heavy.com added the following details about the supposedly troubled Santiago-Ruiz:

The shooter – whose troubled behavior had already drawn the attention of the FBI, Army, and Anchorage police – arrived Friday afternoon at the busy airport on a flight from Alaska, with the gun used in the shooting properly stored in his checked baggage, NBC News reports.

One report said the shooter, who lived in Alaska, had no other luggage but the gun, which federal rules allow a person to declare at a ticket counter and check under the plane but not carry on.”

In addition to Santiago-Ruiz’s lengthy time with the US military and the National Guard, in recent years, the suspected shooter was involved in various crimes. Here’s a passage from The Daily Beast describing some of Santiago’s background:

“According to charging documents provided by the Anchorage prosecutor’s office to The Daily Beast, on January 10, 2016, Santiago verbally assaulted his then girlfriend, a 40-year old mother of one child from a previous marriage whom The Daily Beast is not naming, through a locked bathroom door, telling her to “Get the fuck out, bitch.” After he forced his way in by breaking down the door, he smacked her in the head and strangled her. By the time police arrived, Santiago had fled the scene.

Santiago was arrested days later and released on the condition that he have no contact with the victim, but in February, Anchorage police found him at his girlfriend’s residence and he was charged for violating the conditions of his release. That case is still pending.

Alaska court records show a criminal record under Santiago’s name for minor traffic infractions including operating a vehicle without insurance and a broken taillight. Records also show his landlord evicted him for non-payment of rent in February 2015.

The assault case was resolved in March when Santiago entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, an alternative to adjudication where prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges in exchange for Esteban’s completion of requirements, the details of which are unknown.”

While Anchorage municipal prosecutor Seneca Theno told The Daily Beast that previous charges against Santiago-Ruiz are unlikely to be dropped following the airport shooting – you still have to wonder what ‘requirements’ were asked of Santiago-Ruiz to get the alleged assault charges dropped from his record in the first place, given the brutal nature of them.

FOX NEWS echoes a Sun Sentinel report, “Why the gunman may have chosen South Florida was unclear. He had no clear connection to the state aside from relatives in the Naples area, a two-hour drive away, the Sun Sentinel reported.

The same FOX report adds the following about Santiago-Ruiz’s alleged lengthy mental health battle:

“Bryan Santiago said his brother never spoke to him directly about his medical issues.

“We have not talked for the past three weeks,” Bryan Santiago said. “That’s a bit unusual … I’m in shock. He was a serious person … He was a normal person.”

Mass Shooting Distraction?

Another aspect to these highly emotive and polarizing known wolf shooting events, is that usually they dominate US media coverage for several days. As other charged elements of an alleged shooter/attacker are propagandized, such as Santiago-Ruiz’s Palestinian scarf image (seen on the left) seized upon by FOX News anchors who fused Santiago-Ruiz’s allegedly ‘ISIS-like’ hand gesture with the Gaza-Israeli conflict.

The shocking scene at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport occurred the same exact day US intelligence leaders briefed President-elect Donald Trump on so-called Russian hack allegations in the lead up to the 2016 election.

Back in September of 2016, while examining the aftermath of the New York and New Jersey bomb plot/attack, we analyzed whether a deeper social engineering agenda might have been at play – as part of a larger geopolitical drama unfolded in Syria appeared to be masked by media.

When looking deeper, we discovered other overlapping stories that coincided alongside the ‘known wolf’ NYC bomber. Here’s a passage that discussed the NYC attack that seemed to bury Western coverage regarding a vicious airstrike campaign that killed dozens of members of Syria’s army:

“You have to wonder, were the events in New York and New Jersey also a weapon of mass distraction, following a major international embarrassment for the United States both at home and abroad – the brutal airstrike campaign in Syria that killed over 70 Syrian troops?

This unlikely bombing incident just happened to also coincide with the UN General Assembly in NYC, where President Obama was delivering among other speeches, his “War on Terror” addresses to the international community. No surprise then, with the city suddenly on ‘high terror alert’ – that Obama quickly, confidently and comfortably used his center stage spotlight at the UN, shifting into ‘national security’ mode – boasting how quickly his police forces solved the case. It was almost if he was ready for events that weekend.”

Similarly, you have to consider if this new high-profile shooting event at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport will dominate the news cycle, as the US intelligence community scrambles to prove Russian hack allegations over the next week.

On January 4th ABC News reported the following:

“The classified report requested by President Barack Obama detailing Russia’s alleged role in cyberattacks during U.S. presidential elections dating back to 2008 is now complete, and he is expected to receive the first briefing on its findings on Thursday afternoon, U.S. officials tell ABC News.

President-elect Donald Trump, who said last week he would receive his briefing on the matter on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, is scheduled to receive his briefing on Friday. Both briefings will be conducted by the heads of relevant agencies, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA.

U.S. officials denied claims from Trump that his special briefing was delayed so the U.S. intelligence community could strengthen its case against Russia. Officials instead said there may have been a scheduling disconnect or some confusion on the part of the Trump transition team.”

Interestingly, other explosive high-profile stories went to the back burner, such as the Chicago kidnapping and teen torture story – and the fallout from CNN’s Don Lemon following his egregious comments after the tragic racially motivated attack.

Media Memory: Reports of a ‘Second Shooter’ at Terminal 1

During the later hours of the US mainstream media coverage, networks like CNN were still floating the possibility of a second shooter, as reports emerged of shots fired in the adjacent terminal housing United Airlines, Terminal 1.

Interestingly, local reports also reported eye-witness accounts of a ‘second gunman’ involved in the Fort Lauderdale shooting. Here’s a passage from an ABC News affiliate discussing the reports of a second gunman at the Fort Lauderdale shooting:

“All day I’ve heard people talking about second incidences,” Catie Rutledge wrote on Instagram. “After waiting on the tarmac for hours and hunting someone down to get our bags, we are now waiting for a bus, so that we can leave the airport.”

There was panic when authorities feared there was a second gunman. Law enforcement asked travelers to seek shelter. Fear prompted many to say their final good byes to loved ones. Some frightened parents were in tears as they tried to protect their children.”

This aspect of the case seemingly disappeared from media outlets following Santiago-Ruiz’s arrest.

The phenomena of multiple shooters being immediately reported after an apparent mass shooting event was also echoed during both the Orlando nightclub shooting and the San Bernardino attack in 2015.

Later in the evening, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed that there was no second shooter – despite previous reports. The suspect was being interrogated by the FBI. This statement was in stark contrast to multiple witness statements made on national TV, placing the series of shots, or perhaps an additional series of shots and subsequent crowds fleeing in panic at Terminal 1 – that would either be instead of Terminal 2, or in addition to it.

This wasn’t just an anomaly – this was backed up by at least 2 different witnesses on CNN, perhaps more in other reports which 21WIRE has yet to collate here.

Was this a case of something that happened in Terminal 1 – either part of a drill, or another gunman – which was memory-holed by the media and DHS, or could this be we are looking at planted witnesses who got their lines wrong? This is a fair question to ask, considering we are talking about multiple witnesses stating the shots and crowds panicking in Terminals other than the official story in Terminal 2.

Here are four ‘alternative’ witnesses:

Witness 1: CNN’s coverage of the ‘Active Shooter’ festival at Fort Lauderdale Airport reveals yet another anomaly in their story. CNN reported the alleged shooter, Esteban Santiago, shot 5 people dead in the Delta Terminal 2, and yet, all the witnesses reported 4 shots fired in the United Terminal 1. When this witness, a father who flew in from Chicago, tells of the United T1 shots fired, CNN’s reporter Boris Sanchez appears to panic, possibly then receiving a feed in his ear and then essentially tells the witness ‘you are wrong, there were no shots fired in United Terminal 1.’ Was this bad reporting, or bad stage management by CNN? Watch:

Witness 2: Immediately after CNN’s Boris Sanchez mix-up with man flying in from Chicago at United Terminal 1, another CNN witness was suddenly produced, going by the name of ’Ryan Ward’, interviewed by Jim Sciutto, then comes on, using very scripted language apparently in an attempt to clean-up the inconsistent statements of the last witness. Ryan Ward describes the mayhem, people running, “luggage flying” and “people screaming, gunman coming” – even though he admits he was NOT in Delta Terminal 2 where police report the actual shooting took place. Ward claims he was in a wheel chair because of back surgery, but then claims he “got up and ran over“ to save a little girl and “I ran back over and pushed the mom into a corner and laid on top of her”. He then says that, “It does sound like it was an unsubstantiated second threat, but people certainly weren’t acting like it” – here he was mirroring the identical language used by the previous CNN reporters. Coincidence? Even more oddly, Ward claims he was flying Jet Blue, and that the, “Jet Blue staff were really great” – only problem is that Jet Blue is in Terminal 3, and not in T1 or T2. Watch:

Witness 3: Another witness, testifying multiple gunman on the scene, although the Terminal location being referenced by this 3rd witness is somewhat unclear:

Also, there is an additional media report by Intellihub of a pilot, in uniform and on-site, who also testifies about a loud commotion, with police in pursuit of a perpetrator seen in Terminal 1 – a stark contrast to the official story:

“The pilot believes that “there was another shooting” in Terminal 1 that law enforcement and the F.B.I. are likely covering up. ‘I could hear females screaming and people running away from terminal 1.’

The pilot said he feels that it was definitely “some kind of combined effort to attack” the airport.

EDITORS NOTE: If readers have any other witness reports of a ‘Second Shooter’ or shots fired in Terminal 2, please leave them below in the comment section.

Here’s an ABC News feature with Mark Lea, an apparent eye-witness (later photographed the crime scene) who came ‘face-to-face’ with Santiago-Ruiz – who also rather incredibly, managed to not get shot during the encounter…

Fort Lauderdale’s ‘Active Shooter’ Drills

Very often preceding an apparent shooting/attack there is the presence of mass casualty drills. Fort Lauderdale was no exception.

In 2015, the Sun Sentinel reported the following:

At a Fort Lauderdale cinema Wednesday, two men in camouflage gear calmly walked down the aisle and fired rifles and handguns at moviegoers.

Twenty-seven volunteers were “injured” in three theaters during the drill.

Fort Lauderdale police guarded and escorted paramedics wearing protective gear to tend to the wounded actors, even though the “shooters” weren’t captured and blank gunfire echoed elsewhere in the Riverwalk movie complex.

The agencies’ goal is to speed up paramedics’ responses during mass killings, domestic calls and other violent incidents.”

Similarly, in June of 2016, an inter-agency meeting described future protocols regarding mass drills:

“The meeting, held every quarter, is an opportunity for agencies to coordinate with one another and discuss the latest techniques in fighting domestic terror attacks.

Last month, agencies participated in an active-shooter exercise at the Fort Lauderdale Postal Facility.

In February, the group participated in Operation Heat Shield, consisting of weapons of mass destruction and an active shooting drill.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Rick Bradshaw of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said these training exercises are important.”

With such a large law enforcement effort to tackle the active-shooter, you have to wonder why and how these events seem to coincide with major attacks on US soil.

Here’s a YouTube video from commentator Peekay Truth discussing aspects of this latest mass shooting tragedy in America…

Dupes, Informants and Pawns

Additionally, as we’ve mentioned before, during the aftermath of 2014’s Canadian Parliament Shooting in Ottawa, we outlined many of the primary markers used in certain terror related events globally and other mass casualty incidents often seen in America.

The shocking event, like other bizarre attacks in recent years, have often distorted public opinion, pushing the populace towards new security measures in the wake of heavily coordinated and stylized crimes.

The suspected Parliament Hill and National War Memorial shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, (Left Image: therightscoop) had the perfect ‘modus operandi’ and résumé to be an informant for either a law enforcement or intelligence agency.

According to the Globe and Mail, Zehaf-Bibeau was already designated as a “high risk traveller” by the Canadian government’s security services – who had also seized his passport. Was this the reason why the Zehaf-Bibeau snapped? Was he being targeted or being pressured into becoming an informant?

Other terror stooges and suspicious intelligence ‘informant’ cases include the following:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (see his story here)
Buford Rogers
 (see his story here)
Jerad Miller (see his story here)
Naji Mansour (see his story here)
Quazi Mohammad Nafis (see his story here)
Mohamed Osman Mohamud (see his story here)
Timothy McVeigh (see his story here)
Salim Benghalem (see his story here)
Michael Adebolajo (see his story here)
Daba Deng (see his story here)
Elton Simpson (see his story here)
Man Haron Monis (see his story here)
Abu Hamza (see his story here)
Haroon Rashid Aswat (see his story here)
Glen Rodgers (see his story here)
Omar Mateen (see his story here)
Tashfeen Malik (see her story here)
Djamel Beghal  (see his story here)
Anjem Choudary (see his story here)
Cherif Kouachi (see his story here)
Said Kouachi (see his story here)
Amedy Coulibaly (see his story here)
Hayat Boumeddiene (see her story here)
Salah Abdeslam (see his story here)
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (see his story here)
Nidal Malik Hassan (see his story here)
Abdelhakim Dekhar  (see his story here)
Abdelhamid Abaaoud (see his story here)
Samy Amimour (see his story here)
Ismaël Omar Mostefaï (see his story here)
Mohamed Lahouij Bouhlel (see his story here)
Anis Amri (see his story here)

As we’ve mentioned here at 21WIRE before, many political leaders and media operatives bang the drums of security over so-called terror ‘sleeper cells’ hiding in a nation near you – none of them acknowledge the historical fact that they themselves have also helped to harbor, grow, foment and radicalize individuals through counter-terrorism operations for decades.

It is important to mention again, that the FBI created the counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) to influence and disrupt political factions from the inside out. Between 1956 and 1971 (including the Socialist Workers party in 1973), the FBI’s controversial program infiltrated and radicalized hundreds of left-wing and right-wing groups to control and neutralize political dissidents across America.

As we stated after the suspicious Oregon campus shooting in 2015, mass media has worked out their own formula for laying out a familiar series of polarizing political points in the aftermath of any ‘tragic’ event, as they have with many others incidents.

The Fort Lauderdale shooting appears once again, to purposefully redirect the public to look at a ready-made laundry list of items (in this case mental-health, supported by online rants on social media) about the persona of a shooter as an ironclad motive for a crime. The aftermath in the case of Fort Lauderdale is no different, as it rapidly descended into an overindulgent barrage of media speculation and theorizing.

All too often we’ve seen the ‘stage persona’ of any alleged attacker or killer being touted as hard evidence, despite the fact that even strong circumstantial evidence of any apparent crime would likely result in many hours of analysis and debate, potentially without a definitive conclusion, even if the evidence reaches a court room.

For the average person, it’s hard to differentiate from a drill or a real event, causing one to scrutinize the legitimacy of such an operation.

In recent years, the investigative tactics of various intelligence agencies have come into question, none perhaps more dubious than the Newburgh FBI sting that involved entrapping four men to participate in a fabricated event created by the bureau. Here’s a 2011 passage from The Guardian describing how an FBI informant named Shahed Hussain coerced four others into a fake terror plot:

“The “Newburgh Four” now languish in jail. Hussain does not. For Hussain was a fake. In fact, Hussain worked for the FBI as an informant trawling mosques in hope of picking up radicals.

Yet far from being active militants, the four men he attracted were impoverished individuals struggling with Newburgh’s grim epidemic of crack, drug crime and poverty. One had mental issues so severe his apartment contained bottles of his own urine. He also believed Florida was a foreign country.

Hussain offered the men huge financial inducements to carry out the plot – including $250,000 to one man – and free holidays and expensive cars.

As defence lawyers poured through the evidence, the Newburgh Four came to represent the most extreme form of a controversial FBI policy to use invented terrorist plots to lure targets. “There has been no case as egregious as this. It is unique in the incentive the government provided. A quarter million dollars?” said Professor Karen Greenberg, a terrorism expert at Fordham University.”

The whole episode seemed akin to the WTC 1993 bombing case, which involved yet another informant working alongside officials.

The Gun Control & Security Agenda

As pointed out in 21WIRE during 2015’s Oregon campus shooting, the primary focus for mass media concerning the Fort Lauderdale incident, will now be all of the hot button socio-political issues including ‘gun control-reform’ and those concerned over ‘mental illness’ background checks, along with those who constitutionally oppose such restrictive legislation.

It should be obvious by now that events like Fort Lauderdale, along with other ‘mass-shootings’, have become a sharp catalyst to usher in calls for endless new ‘mass shooting’ protocols, inter-agency ‘fusion’, ‘first-responder’ emergency medical protocols, and also for injecting more and more military terminology into civilian life – with the media playing a critical role in steering the public away from questioning any of the dubious elements surrounding any shooting event.

In a sense, the media is helping to nudge these shooting events out of the forensic sphere and into the political arena as quickly as possible, effectively closing the feedback loop of concerned citizens and those who may have been affected by an event.

The Fort Lauderdale shooting has prompted the mainstream media to feed into concerns over airport security, gun ownership and a persons mental health background. All of media’s fear-inducing drama regarding the Fort Lauderdale shooting boils down to a contentious battle over gun reform and mental health as the Obama administration comes to a close. No doubt this latest shooting will give cause to new security measures in airports across America.

Here’s another look at outgoing President Obama discussing his frustration on gun control in a ‘legacy’ interview with the BBC from 2015 – – amazingly, only a few hours before a mass shooting in Lafayette…

*UPDATE* – Broward Sheriff Scott Israel stated that deputies arrived on the scene between “60 to 70 seconds after the Fort Lauderdale shooting took place – quite an incredible response time by most law enforcement standards.

TMZ acquired footage of the Fort Lauderdale shooter in action – the video appears to display elements of staging – decide for yourself…

According to reports, “Airport officials, along with federal and local authorities, are investigating who had access to the footage and who allowed it to be taped without authorization, Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief told the Sun Sentinel.”

Stayed tuned as more details come out regarding the Fort Lauderdale shooting…

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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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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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