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

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

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

Interestingly enough, he plans on naming it Pravda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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