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A Pound of Flesh: Why is India trying to sabotage the Silk Road Initiative?

Ongoing conflicts between India and China are firmly rooted in Nahrendra Modi’s inability to compromise on the Silk Road Initiative. Read to find out why.

Haneul Na'avi

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Tarry a little, there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”

—Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene II

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned on his former One Belt, One Road (OBOR) allies, arrogantly demanding a pound of flesh from the People’s Republic of China.

As of late, Sino-Indian tensions have become inexplicably enflamed to pre-1962 levels, with border clashes erupting shortly after China began constructing an innocuous road through Bhutan.

“Diplomatic observers […] said they were surprised that China’s [project] in the Donglang area […] so quickly turned into the biggest military stand-off between the two armies in years,” SCMP noted.

The Washington Post also referenced the skirmishes as a pretext for rubber stamping ties with President Donald Trump, with Modi citing security fears to garner lucrative defence contracts.

“Beyond [defence] sales, however, the conversational landscape is bleak,” WP chided.

Following his US visit, Modi achieved historic lows as the first Indian PM to visit Israel, striking a 500 million USD arms deal with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two have been deepening cooperation between since Modi assumed office in 2014, and have been ramping up their effeminate bromance to epic proportions.

“According to Israeli media, the value of military exchanges between New Delhi and Tel Aviv amounts to one billion dollars each year,” PressTV mentioned.

Furthermore, in May 2017, Modi sloppily pieced together a One Belt, One Road ‘alternative’ with Japanese President Shinzo Abe after recoiling in indignation from the Chinese-led initiative.

“[…] it is still in the drafting stage and at least a year away from being committed to [and], there is no mention of any level of investment that would follow through,” Business Standard highlights.

Fortunately, these conflicts did not occur in a vacuum, and in order to fully understand India’s double-dealing, one must revisit events surrounding the May 15 Belt and Road Summit in Beijing.

29 countries attended, including delegates from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations; even the US. However India, the OBOR Initiative’s second-largest investor, boycotted the event.

His absence was a mum protest against People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping’s shrewd decision to deepen ties with Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC); a vital trade route into the Middle East for the OBOR.

Reuters elaborates:

Among the 3.4 billion yuan ($492.95 million) [agreements] signed on Saturday were [two] worth 2.3 billion yuan for an airport in the southwestern town of Gwadar, [the] establishment of the Havelian Dry Port in Pakistan [and] economic and technical cooperation worth 1.1 billion yuan for the East Bay Expressway linking Gwadar to Pakistan’s existing highway system.

Despite India’s snub, Sharif voiced his appreciation to China. ”Such a broad sweep and scale of interlocking economic partnerships and investments is unprecedented in history,” he stated.

Modi’s presence, however, was felt amongst pro-independence demonstrations that erupted across Pakistan’s semi-autonomous Gilgit-Baltistan region in protest of the summit, reminiscent of the Umbrella Revolution of Hong Kong and others, whom attempt to undermine and balkanise China.

The Times of India reported:

Various students and political organisations including Karakoram Students Organisation, Balawaristan National Students Organisation, Gilgit Baltistan United Movement and Balawaristan National Front […] described the project as an illegal attempt to grab Gilgit and see it as a “Road of Gulami or Slavery for Gilgit-Baltistan” [for] China to take over their territory.

Their accusations and timing are questionable, if not subversive. Gilgit-Baltistan has sought to integrate into Pakistani territory since 1947, implying the ‘movements’ as unrepresentative of the region. In contrast, their actions directly correlate to recent events on the CPEC.

On 15 March, Pakistan’s Minister for Interprovincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada revealed that his government “recommended that Gilgit-Baltistan should be made a province of Pakistan”.

He also noted that “a constitutional amendment would be made to change the status of the region, through which the USD 46 billion [CPEC] passes,” the Hindustan Times reported.

To date, Pakistan had shelved development projects in Gilgit-Baltistan for decades to abide by UN Resolution 47 and its settlement with India over the Jammu and Kashmir conflict.

However, that changed after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf assumed office in 2001. Chirayu Thakkar of South Asian Voices explains further:

With the manifestation of Gwadar Port, conceived through substantial Chinese investment in 2001, and subsequent rumination upon the [CPEC], it became increasingly inevitable for Pakistan to stabilize the region […] Pakistan’s waning enchantment with the United States and […] hostile neighbor like India makes it geo-strategically imperative for Pakistan to scale up its partnership with China by ensuring the smooth execution of CPEC.

Intimidated by this, India has fought to derail Sino-Pakistani ties, with tensions finally peaking at the May OBOR summit after Beijing and Lahore materialised groundbreaking deals.

Additionally, in order to antagonise Gilgit-Baltistan, the Modi government would need to crack down on Jammu and Kashmir—a region long opposed Indian imperialism. India’s anxiety at the OBOR summit is inextricably tied to its frustration to suppress Kashmiri independence.

A PressTV article palpably illustrates how India routinely jeopardises security in Jammu-Kashmir:

Tensions between Kashmiri students and government forces have intensified since April 15, when Indian forces raided a college in Pulwama […] to scare anti-India activists.

It continues:

The Muslim-majority region has witnessed an increase in mass protests and violent attacks since early July 2016, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.

This is not the first time Pakistan has raised concerns about Indian-backed insurgents in Balochistan; Pakistan’s largest and westernmost province.

Pakistani Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Zahid Nasrullah Khan expressed this in a passionate rebuttal to the Korea Times:

Balochistan has been victim of subversive activities by India. On 3rd March 2016 Commander Kulbushan Yadav the RAW operative (Indian intelligence agency) was apprehended by our authorities when he was trying to enter in Pakistan illegally [whose] objective was to instigate Baloch insurgents and finance [the] Baloch Liberation Movement in order for them to carry out subversive activities in Balochistan resulting in the killing of Pakistani citizens.

In addition to causing security headaches, Modi also selfishly declined invitations to join the CPEC, after Pakistani Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz offered to deepen cooperation between them.

“India should ‘shun enmity’ with Pakistan and join the USD 46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits,” he continued.

Following the summit, Ding Gang of the People’s Daily stated the following:

If New Delhi joins […] this will help alleviate tensions and confrontations between India and Pakistan. More importantly, the initiative can enhance local people’s living standards […] Civilians in the Kashmiri area have suffered from poverty and armed conflicts for decades. A responsible government has no reason to keep these innocent civilians enduring such ordeals.

Furthermore, India arrogantly chastised the OBOR over potential debt burdens, citing the mantra of “Chinese debt slavery” in Sri Lanka; however, two discrepancies emerge.

Firstly, Sri Lanka still attended the May OBOR summit, along with Nepal and Pakistan. Additionally, China’s “debt burden” hasn’t deterred others from submitting their applications to join the bank.

The bank, which began with 57 ratifiers, has increased its membership to 77 countries, spanning from Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and East Asia’s most powerful and influential economies.

“More and more countries are signing up to be members of AIIB because they see how internationalism can promote development in Asia, with far reaching benefits for the global economy.” AIIB President Jin Liqun highlighted.

Modi even received the AIIB’s first loan approval to begin the Andhra Pradesh – 24×7 Power for All project, was launched in 2014 to provide electricity to all participatory states on the subcontinent. This was, of course, done with Chinese approval and co-financed by the World Bank.

“I am delighted that AIIB is working closely with India, who is our second largest shareholder, in energy and other infrastructure sectors, and we expect the [project] to be the first of many projects AIIB invests in India,” President Jin expressed.

The project was approved on 2 May, 2017 by the AIIB Board of Governors— two weeks before India’s diplomatic gaffe.

Thankfully, India still has six proposed projects waiting in the approval queue, ranging from the Madhya Pradesh Rural Connectivity Project, Mumbai Metro Line 4 and India Infrastructure Fund, which will become subject to the very people Modi has snubbed.

Consequently, China can simply summon all shareholders to vote on downgrading India’s 8.36 bln USD in contributions and 8% voting power, and recapitalise with several countries—Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and later Turkey—all whom are infinitely more conducive, necessary, and enthusiastic to complete the Silk Road pathway into Europe, rendering India obsolete.

Re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, eager to initiate the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline, extended his hand in friendship to his regional ally.

“We hope that the Pakistani side would also more seriously pursue the necessary measures to complete the project,” Rouhani asserted in a Geo TV article.

[Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq] assured Rouhani that Pakistan would never take any step that could go against the interests of the brotherly country of Iran,” it continued.

By entrusting Iran and Pakistan, the AIIB gains more pragmatic members who can secure future investments for all shareholders.

Furthermore, these shareholders could also cite Article 31 of the AIIB Banking Charter, which reiterates the organisation’s international character:

The Bank, its President, officers and staff shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member, nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member concerned. Only economic considerations shall be relevant to their decisions. Such considerations shall be weighed impartially in order to achieve and carry out the purpose and functions of the Bank.

As Modi’s political affairs jeopardise the ‘international character’ of the Bank, President Jin and AIIB shareholders can vote to limit or exclude India from future projects—including pending ones.

Outlined in the AIIB 2017 Business Plan and Budget Summary, one institutional goal—Continuing Institution Building—was noted as follows:

[In] its second year of operation, the Bank will continue to refine, deepen and enhance its institutional and policy frameworks and ensure their effective implementation […] A key priority will be preparing a mechanism for independent investigation of complaints regarding AIIB non-compliance with its policies [and] institutional arrangements to give effect to the newly enhanced Policy on Prohibited Practices (PPP), helping to keep its operations corruption free.

Finally, assuming that India follows through with its promise to develop itself outside the context of the OBOR initiative, it would need to overcome critical shortcomings to do so.

Manoj Joshi of the New Delhi Observer Research Foundation explains why:

New Delhi has two problems — first, India’s own hopeless internal infrastructure [and second] it lacks the structure of capable state-owned enterprises which can execute projects in quick time. The 19.2-km Kamchiq tunnel in Uzbekistan built by the China Railway Tunnel Group was completed in 2016 in exactly three years, the 756-km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway in five years by the China Railway Group […] random examples of the accomplishments of Chinese companies.

India’s chauvinist aspirations in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Gilgit-Baltistan, have no place in the AIIB and will endanger its future operations and Modi’s refusal to accept the CPEC corridor will turn his country into a regional pariah as Pakistan paves the way to the Middle East.

Modi will suffer a vague geopolitical mire that nationalist sentiments cannot remedy. As the world around India builds with China, 1.4 billion Indian onlookers will face an uncertain future.

India cannot hide behind its 7.1% GDP growth with a falling business efficacy rating. By sabotaging its future in the OBOR, Modi’s demands for China’s pound of flesh will come at a terrible cost.

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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.

The Duran

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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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