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Examining Myanmar’s address to the United Nations

Myanmar has delivered its most throughout statement to-date on the Rohingya crisis. Myanmar still needs to explain the situation further,

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While many speakers that the UN General Assembly, particularly those from Muslim nations as diverse as Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, have called on the body to do more for the Muslims of the state of Rakhine in Myanmar, the people known as the Rohingya.

Yesterday, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went further calling for ‘safe zones’ inside Myanmar. However, the majority of her comments on foreign policy were a condemnation of Pakistan with references with the war of 1971 which saw East Pakistan breaking away and becoming the independent nation of Bangladesh.

However, few have examined what Myanmar has had to say. In general, Myanmar has been quiet on the subject, although not totally silent. One of the problems Myanmar has created for itself from the onset of the world turning its attention to the long-running Rohingya crisis, is that in an age of 24 hour news media, Myanmar has not been very adept at explaining its position.

By contrast, outside of Wahhabi and crypto-Wahhabi circles, most people have come to understand Syria’s noble position of fighting terrorism in order to preserve a multi-culture, tolerant, modern, secular, pluralistic society which lives up to the modern revolutionary ideals of Ba’athism.

This is partly because many individuals in Syria’s government are astute at speaking before international audiences and international reports. President Bashar al-Assad is eloquent and gentlemen even when discussing very difficult issues and Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s envoy to the UN, is scholarly and extremely well spoken in several languages, including English and his native Arabic.

In Myanmar by contrast, the public voice of leadership, Aung San Suu Kyi is largely a figurehead who has been expected to do things she has never prepared herself for. Without meaning the following as an insult, she attained her position more because of her lineage than because of any real achievements. Her period of “house arrest” was a generally placid affair compared for example to the jailing and torturing of Nelson Mandela by the racist former regime of South Africa.

So while not a classic freedom fighter like Mandela or Arafat, but also not a processional political speaker like Vladimir Putin or Bashar al-Assad, her position has largely been one of sticking to the more mundane issues she has felt comfortable speaking about ever since she emerged as the Sate Counsellor of Myanmar.

Myanmar’s real power base, the Tatmadaw (military), has likewise not been adept at PR, just as for example the Greek military regime of Colonels (1967-1974) had equally bad PR problems.

This is deeply unfortunate however, because while Myanmar is miles away from the simple fight of good versus evil that one sees in Syria, it is also not a matter of a text-boook genocide such as the one currently taking place in Yemen where expensively armed Saudi armed forces are killing and starving civilians in Yemen while adding fuel to the flames of a civil crisis which prior to the Saudi invasion was political with sectarian overtones. Saudi has made the Yemen conflict into one that is sectarian with political overtones.

Understanding the Myanmar/Rohingya conflict is best achieved through understanding international non-alignment

Another reason that explaining the Myanmar crisis isn’t easy is because few political leaders are telling the full complex truth, though many are telling bits of truth. It must be said that while the multifaceted and long running Civil War(s) in Myanmar are not a matter of non-Muslims killing Muslims in an ethnic cleansing, civilians are dying, including Muslims. Non-Muslim civilians, including Christians are dying as well. All of this should be condemned and it in fact was condemned by Myanmar.

In this sense, the sympathy felt by Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, parts of the Arab world and particularly by the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kydarov, should not be dismissed as “propaganda”.But neither is it true that the government is intentionally targeting civilians. ONe has to ask why would the government do such a thing? There is no logical answer in this context. It is also not true that jihadist style terrorists are not emended among the Rohingya.

With these realities in mind, here are the remarks on the subject, offered  by Myanmar’s Vice President Henry Van Thio, before the UN General Assembly:

Yesterday, the State Counsellor briefed the Diplomatic Corps on the government’s efforts regarding national reconciliation and peace. She highlighted the achievements in the past 18 months and challenges that remain. In touching upon the situation in Rakhine, she said that Myanmar shares the concern of the international community regarding displacement and suffering of all communities affected by the latest round of terrorist attacks.

She also stressed that “We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace, stability and rule of law throughout the State. The security forces have been instructed to adhere strictly to the Code of Conduct in carrying out security operations, to exercise all due restraint, and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage and the harming of innocent civilians. Human rights violations and all other acts that impair stability and harmony and undermine the rule of law will be addressed in accordance with strict norms of justice. We feel deeply for suffering of all the people who have been caught up in the conflict.

Mr. President,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The situation in Rakhine has been one of the top priorities of the government since it assumed office. The government has been endeavoring to restore peace and stability and to promote harmony among all communities. The Central Committee on Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development of Rakhine State, chaired by the State Counsellor herself, was established on 30 May 2016 to address the specific needs of the State. Additionally in August 2016, she set up a commission headed by Dr. Kofi Annan to advice the government on sustainable solutions to the complex situation in Rakhine.

We have been striving to ensure that the Rakhine State is duly developed while
ensuring peace, stability and societal cohesion. This is no easy task. Deep mistrust developed over decades has to be slowly chiseled away.
On 24 August 2017, the Kofi Annan Commission released its final report. Our government immediately welcomed it.
We had hoped that today’s occasion would be an opportunity for us to
communicate to the world the progress that we have made towards implementing the Commission’s recommendations.

It is therefore with deep regret that instead, I must primarily address you on the
current state of affairs in Rakhine State, following the recent attacks by the terrorist
group known as ARSA (the terrorist group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) last month.

Mr. President,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are aware, within hours of the release of the Advisory Commission’s report,
a series of coordinated attacks were carried out on 30 police outposts in Northern Rakhine. The ARSA claimed responsibility for the attacks. These attacks ignited fresh violence in the region, resulting insignificant loss of life, widespread suffering and mass displacement of all communities.

Those who have had to abandon their hearth and home are many – not just Muslim
and Rakhine, but also small minority groups such as Daingnet, Mro, Thet, Mramagyi
and Hindus. Most of the world has been oblivious of their existence and plight.
Let me be clear. The government of Myanmar is deeply concerned about the
present situation in Rakhine. Our deepest sympathy goes to the families of all innocent
civilians and members of the police and security forces who have lost their lives. There
is no denying that this is a problem of significant magnitude.

I am happy to inform you that the situation has improved. No armed clashes have been reported since 5 September. Accordingly, we are concerned by reports that the numbers of Muslims crossing into Bangladesh remain unabated. We would need to find out the reason for this exodus. What is little known is that the great majority of the Muslim population decided to remain in their villages.
We share the need to ensure that vital humanitarian assistance is provided to all those in need.
Moreover, we acknowledge that the duty to respond to the challenges in Rakhine
State is first and foremost the duty of our national government. The situation in
Rakhine is complex. The challenges we face are significant. We have accordingly
adopted an integrated national strategy to address this problem.

I am pleased to announce the launch of a committee chaired by the Union Minister
of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement to implement the recommendations of the
Advisory Commission. To ensure transparency and accountability, the Committee is
mandated to publicly issue a progress report every four months. In addition to the
Committee, we intend to establish an Advisory Board comprised of eminent persons
from both Myanmar and abroad.

At present, humanitarian assistance is our first priority. We are committed to
ensuring that aid is received by all those in need, without discrimination. We have
already dedicated significant national funds and resources to humanitarian relief
operations.

I am also pleased to inform you that a new government-led mechanism, established
in cooperation with the Red Cross Movement, has also started its humanitarian
assistance activities.

On behalf of the government of Myanmar, I would like to express my gratitude to
all those countries who have offered to contribute towards this assistance programme.
In particular, we are grateful for the generous offers of support that we have recently
received from many of our friends across the world.

At the same time, we are working hard to enhance relations with Bangladesh. The
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the National Security Advisor visited
Bangladesh in January and July of this year. We were hoping for a visit from the Home
Minister of Bangladesh but it had to be postponed as the Minister could not come in
August. We will welcome him at any time that he is able to come and hope to take
forward our cooperation on border security matters.

There has been a call for the repatriation of displaced people who have recently fled
from northern Rakhine to Bangladesh. The State Counsellor in her speech yesterday
stated that Myanmar was prepared to start the verification process at anytime. Our two
neighbors have had the experience of such a process in 1993 through the establishment
of a joint working group for implementation of repatriation process. We can develop a
process based on the experience of 1993.

Mr. President
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Myanmar stands together with the rest of the world in condemning terrorism in all
its forms and manifestations. Terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to
international peace and security. Our position is clear. We cannot condone terrorism.
At the same time, the government is working to ensure that acts of terrorism will
not distract us from pursuing the long term strategy that is necessary to address the
complex challenges in Rakhine State today.

The recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission provide us with a
clear roadmap. Our implementation Committee began its work last week and in due
course we will be inviting observers to witness some of our programmes.

Mr. President,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The recent events in Rakhine State are a painful reminder that we face difficult
challenges ahead on the long journey towards peace, prosperity and democracy.
However, please allow me to reiterate this: our commitment to peace remains as
strong and as unwavering today as it was one year ago when our State Counsellor,
DawAung San SuuKyi, first addressed you from this podium.

As part of this commitment, we have made the national reconciliation and peace
process our top priority. Our vision here is clear: to achieve a democratic, federal
Union, based on the principles of freedom, justice, equal rights and self-determination.
With regard to the peace process in the country, I am pleased to inform you that in
May this year, we successfully held the second session of our Union Peace Conference.
For the first time, we were able to discuss and define key principles that will form the
basis of a federal, democratic Union. The Union Accord, consisting of thirty-seven
principles covering the political, economic, social and environmental sectors was
signed by representatives of the government, the parliament, the military, ethnic armed
organizations and political parties.

Although we have made real progress, we know that the road ahead is long and
convoluted. Our democratic transition is fragile. At this important juncture in our
nation’s history, we only ask that the international community continues to support our
efforts to achieve peace, prosperity and democracy.

The remarks by Myanmar’s Vice President constitute the most throughout explanation of the government’s position to-date.

The danger however, is that the statement might be drowned out by both the well-meaning and devious voices who have taken on board, a more simplistic explanation of the crisis. India, which seeks to use its support of Myanmar towards its own economic gain, is  employing an exploitative tactic which  is ultimately unhelpful, especially when one accounts for the deeply discriminatory policies against minorities which has become a feature of the current Indian government.

What will therefore become necessary is for Myanmar to borrow a page from Syria’s book and internationalise the conflict on a limited basis and more importantly, on Myanmar’s own terms. The fact that Syria invited Iran, Russia and Hezbollah into the conflict to help fight terrorism, has meant that there is increasingly little room for others to get in the way. This has helped Syria preserve her sovereignty and end the crisis on terms set by Syria, not foreign actors.

Myanmar could and should work on putting together a regional peace keeping initiative (certainly not a military contingent) made up various nations. China and Russia come to mind and as a Muslim nation of South East Asia, Indonesia could also help assist, if the terms agreed to met various preconditions on all sides.

The danger for Myanmar is that if the issue is internationalised by Myanmar’s enemies, it could put Myanmar’s territorial integrity into danger. It could also lead to terrorist groups in Rakhine receiving additional arms both through a misunderstanding of their role and due to the fact that some international players, want to purposefully inflame the situation for their own perceived gains.

The statement Myanmar’s Vice President delivered before the UN is actually a very good start, but unless Myanmar continues to positively engage with her allies and the United Nations, there could be a slippery slope for a country that many seek to destabilise, not because of real sympathies with any one faction in the Civil War, but because of Myanmar’s strategic importance for China.

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Le RuseNeilHelga FellayJDoDeborahRCostigan Recent comment authors
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JDo
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JDo

WhaT gives? Duran providing cover for ethnic cleansing of human beings (muslims or otherwise) in Myanmar? What is going on there must be condemned unconditionally….

Godfree Roberts
Guest

Don’t jump to the conclusion that our media propose. Read more widely.

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Read up on this, and don’t swallow the MSM propaganda. This situation has nothing to do with religion. It is all about two pipelines transporting oil from Burma directly to China, to be financed by something other than US dollars. The conflict has been manufactured by Israel (which has provoked the initial attack allegedly by the Rohingyas against the Burmese Security Forces who retaliated. Israel provides all the weapons and ammunition, and its lackeys, the US MSM, rages about genocide. This is a pretext we need for “humanitarian intervention” – but not because the US cares about the Rohingyas, but… Read more »

Godfree Roberts
Guest

Here’s an excerpt from http://www.gearoidocolmain.org/rohingya-psyops-us-covert-war-myanmar/ “The United Nations has accused the Government of Myanmar of committing ‘genocide’ against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country’s troubled Rakhine State. In recent weeks the crisis in Myanmar has escalated, with human rights groups and NGOs publishing copious denunciations of the alleged human rights abuses and mass murder committed by the Myanmar Armed Forces, (Tatmadaw). The Myanmar government claims that they are fighting a war on terrorism against forces which seek to destabilise the state, Islamist forces in particular. They also claim that the so-called ethnic minority commonly referred to as ‘Rohingya’ are… Read more »

JDo
Guest
JDo

“…In the 19th century, the British Raj brought in Bengalis to work…”. I suppose, even after 200 years, it is now justified to massacre them?

“Despite thousands of serious allegations of rape, pillage and mass murder committed by these Bengali immigrants in Myanmar…” You are sounding too much like AfD in Germany … Just throw blanket accusations at a vulnerable group, and after that anything is allowed.

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Before replying to Godfree Roberts, you probably should have read the link he provided. Your response to him shows that you either did not read it or did not understand it, if you read it.

JDo
Guest
JDo

Actually I did the report on the link and quoted a passage for that article.

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Thank you very much for this link. It is difficult to find cogent information on this topic. My only criticism is that it refers to western, or US, involvement, but for some reason never mentions the agent that actually stirs the geopolitical pot, Israel. The US and NATO are merely supine tools at Israel’s disposal, yet Israel itself always remains under the radar and is rarely even mentioned, and never held accountable for anything. Doing so is being criminalized, I know. The only thing I have read so far is that both parties in the Burmese conflict are being armed… Read more »

Godfree Roberts
Guest

Can you provide a link for Israel’s involvement? It sounds familiar!

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Actually, more than one. But here is one – look at the last paragraph of the exerpts: The “Rohingya insurgency” in Rakhine state is hardly the organic, local response to long-standing state suppression it claims to be. The group, now known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and formerly known as Harakah al-Yakin, is led by Ataullah abu Ammar Junjuni, a Pakistani national who worked as a Wahhabi imam in Saudi Arabia prior to arriving in Myanmar. According to a Reuters report from last year, the group is financed by both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — and “a committee… Read more »

Godfree Roberts
Guest

Thanks. The whole thing sounded fishy from the start…

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Indeed it did. Every red flag I can think of. And when it turned out that the pictures of the slaughtered Rohingya babies were stock footage from other conflicts, that did it for me. they don’t learn from experience. Now, that the White Helmets propaganda has been debunked for what it is, they are still resorting to the same cheap tricks.

Godfree Roberts
Guest

The same tricks are not working as well anymore. MSM credibility is below 20% in the US, and almost as bad throughout the West. They’re losing control of the narrative.

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Still trying to remember where else I read about Israeli financing. Also found this: Excerpts: “In many respects, the issues in Myanmar are just another way for Israel and the west to distract Muslims from the plight of Palestine, the group of mostly Muslim and some Christian peoples who have suffered the longest under oppression, starvation and ethnic cleansing. Rohingya has its own ‘free army’ now, something which can only made a bad situation worse. Specially this ‘free army’ used to be known as Al-Yaqeen and is related to branches of the banned Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement which continues to… Read more »

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

and this: https://www.globalwitness.org/…/myanmar-oil-and-gas/

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Here I found more, and something more specific: Israel has continued to sell weapons to Myanmar as thousands of Rohingya refugees flee the military’s violent crackdown in the Rakhine state. The weapons sold to Myanmar include over 100 tanks, weapons and boats used to police the country’s border, according to human rights groups and Burmese officials. Israeli arms companies such as TAR Ideal Concepts have also been involved in training Burmese special forces who are currently in the Rakhine state where most of the violence has taken place. Images previously posted on the arms company’s website showed its staff instructing… Read more »

Godfree Roberts
Guest
Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Thank you very much. We have to put this information out there, to counter the MSM propaganda which (shockingly) is still believed verbatim by a majority of Americans.

JDo
Guest
JDo

I actually have boycotted our media ever since their promotion of the war against Saddam’s fictitious WMD. So no worries there. But in this particular case I happen to have first hand information from the region. It is ethnic cleansing of the natives.

Godfree Roberts
Guest

I live near the Thai-Myanmar border where 5-10% of the population are Muslim and Thai-Muslim relations are good. There is no word here of one-sided atrocities and a general acknowledgement that ‘Saudi money’ is behind much of the problem. Beware atrocity stories, especially where resources are concerned..

JDo
Guest
JDo

I too, have numerous sources of first hand information (independent of any media or journalists) about the refugee flow into Bangladesh and the atrocities these men, women and children are fleeing from. It is heartbreaking. I do not know who is doing what in Myanmar, but please do not justify them by saying that “Despite thousands of serious allegations of rape, pillage and mass murder committed by these Bengali immigrants in Myanmar…” (as in one of your recent posts on this thread). This is a typical xenophobic excuse. All communities are very similar, with good and bad among them (exceptions… Read more »

Godfree Roberts
Guest

Were you equally outraged by Syria’s “Sarin gas”? Iraq’s “WMD”?

JDo
Guest
JDo

I had and have immense sadness and empathy for the victims in Syria – whether sarin gas or not. No matter who the perpetrators are, when the big dogs fight, it is the helpless innocents who suffer (I, as a child, had experienced the horrors of a civil war). So, I am a bit saddened at the tone of may comments here that seem to have a taint of xenophobia and anti-muslim sentiment. As for Iraqi WMD, not sure where you are going with the question. As I had mentioned before, that was the moment when I had stopped reading/watching… Read more »

XRGRSF
Guest
XRGRSF

Perhaps Myanmar, unlike Europe, is reluctant to be overwhelmed by a typical creeping Muslim invasion.

JDo
Guest
JDo

A second surprise on Duran, which I have actually started to like – this time this bigoted commentary. The people being killed and evicted are natives.

XRGRSF
Guest
XRGRSF

Why am I not surprised at your position that anyone who disagrees with you is a bigot. That’s the usual response of the political agitator. The people of Myanmar lived more or less peacefully with the Rohingya until the Rohingya decided to become tools of greater Islam, and the Anglo/Zionist empire. The Buddhists of Myanmar don’t need or want the Islamic grief, and the Rohingya are becoming very unwelcome. That’s what happens when a minority ethnic group really irritates the majority ethnic group or haven’t you read enough history to know this. Have you noticed the enormous propaganda push this… Read more »

JDo
Guest
JDo

If you don’t consider broad brush statements like “allegations of rape, pillage and mass murder committed by these Bengali immigrants in Myanmar, …“, “ … a typical creeping Muslim invasion….” (taken from some of the comments here) to be bigoted, then I am in the wrong community. Additionally, when someone says “this Wahabbist insurrection” then he/she shows his/her lack of knowledge about south/east Asia. Wahabism comes from Saudi Arabia, does not represent the majority of Muslims, and traditionally is not practiced by Muslims living in that part of the world. These people (Muslim or otherwise) are as much victims of… Read more »

XRGRSF
Guest
XRGRSF

What if it’s true? What if your precious Rohingya Bengali immigrants are guilty as charged? Wahhabism has been violently exported by Saudi Arabia throughout the world. The Wahhabi terrorists have been active in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East; Syria, Lybia, and Iraq especially come to mind. I think Myanmar is well aware of the danger of Wahhabi terrorists. The suffering of the Rohingja may be real, but what caused the reaction of the Myanmar Buddhist community? It’s not the nature of Buddhists to pick a fight without just cause. Good luck with regime change in Myanmar, but the victim… Read more »

JDo
Guest
JDo

Regime change? Are you suggesting that? I did not. First you make racist/xenophobic comments, and when I show the evidence then you go mum and try to put words in my mouth. And you don’t seem to understand that these Rohingyas can be as much victims (of geopolitics and Wahabism) as anyone else. Do you realize that non-wahabi Mulsims have suffered 1000x more than any other ethnic and religious group in the hands of Saudi Wahabis and muslim extremists? I suppose not. I am as much against empire and Anglozioinism as anyone else. But that does mean that one has… Read more »

Curtis Bok
Guest
Curtis Bok

Once again, the use of bold lettering in the midst of a long quotation highlights the terrible, difficult-to-read typeface that is your new ‘standard’ for quotations. Why do you not learn from this and change the font?

Neil
Guest
Neil

So, is ARSA a Soros organisation?

Le Ruse
Guest
Le Ruse

Hoping for a Kosovo Mark II..

Neil
Guest
Neil

Is this the CIA and a Soros NGO spreading Wahhabi philosophy amongst Myanmar’s young Muslims, then arming them, and all that?

Le Ruse
Guest
Le Ruse

Got it ?
Objective ?? To stop China building a pipeline, see @ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-11/china-opens-delayed-myanmar-oil-link-to-get-mideast-crude-faster..
remember ! It’s always shekels !!

hvaiallverden
Guest
hvaiallverden

Yup finally an more sober article, witch gives us al an more nuanced image of the issue in Myanmar/Burma. Yeah, how uh…. CONvenient and of course, CONvinsing when the lying prestitutes take an side, we all know the truth is diametrically opposite to any type of sniveling drivel the can muster, Muslims on top of it, yeah, they have to be terrorists, not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims, right Americans, whom else, huh, yeah one tribe likes t behead, the other one loves to sodomize. uISISa (Their GOD=Guns, Oil and Drugs) or ISIS (saudi backed lunatics,… Read more »

SFC Steven M Barry USA RET
Guest
SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

The Buddhist Burmese are wise to ruthlessly suppress this Wahabbist insurrection before it gets much traction.

Le Ruse
Guest
Le Ruse

Otherwise, that will be their future ?..comment image

DeborahRCostigan
Guest
DeborahRCostigan

Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
On tuesday I got a brand new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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hvaiallverden
Guest
hvaiallverden

I have no mercy, again, this time an different angle witch even I was not aware of, all thoe I have had it in the corner of my eyes, but the MSM is as usually either dead silent or lies about everything, its no middle ground. I sincerely hope, since this case is getting uglyer by the day, that this Myanmar officials are honest, I dont expect much to be frank, because non of this latest events are new, and the hate propaganda against Islam isnt even new, but again, we are feed half of everything or story’s witch is… Read more »

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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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