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US actions against Russian diplomatic and consular property are illegal–here’s why

US actions against consular and diplomatic property in the United States violate the letter and spirit of the Vienna Conventions. The Vienna Conventions are clearly codified, internationally recognised laws which the UN has sanctioned to prevent the unwarranted molestation of diplomatic and consular property and the individuals working therein.

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The United States has once again seized diplomatic and consular properties belonging to the Russia Federation and is in the process of conducting raid style searches of the properties which are set to formally begin on the 4th of September.

These actions which first took place in the final full month of Barack Obama’s Presidency and are now taking place at additional Russian diplomatic and consular facilities in the United States under Donald Trump’s Presidency, violate clearly codified international laws which are contained in documents known as the Vienna Conventions.

The following are the provisions of the Vienna Conventions that are presently being violated by the United States.

From the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

Article 22

1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents
of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of
the head of the mission.

2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take all
appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any
intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.

3. The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other
property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be
immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

From the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

Article 31

Inviolability of the consular premises

1.Consular premises shall be inviolable to the extent provided in this article.

2.The authorities of the receiving State shall not enter that part of the consular premises which is
used exclusively for the purpose of the work of the consular post except with the consent of the head of the consular post or of his designee or of the head of the diplomatic mission of the sending State. The consent of the head of the consular post may, however, be assumed in case of fire or other disaster requiring prompt protective action.

3.Subject to the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article, the receiving State is under a special
duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the consular premises against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the consular post or impairment of its dignity.

4.The consular premises, their furnishings, the property of the consular post and its means of
transport shall be immune from any form of requisition for purposes of national defence or public utility.

If expropriation is necessary for such purposes, all possible steps shall be taken to avoid impeding the performance of consular functions, and prompt, adequate and effective compensation shall be paid to the sending State.

In summary, these statues of international law codified by the United Nations in 1961 (Diplomatic) and 1963 (Consular) mean that irrespective of the condition of relations between the sending state (in this case Russia) and the receiving state (in this case the US), the diplomatic and consular properties in question must remain free from any kind of molestation including searches, raids, property seizures and the infringement of normal and dignified working practices.

Each of these items of law has been clearly violated by the United States. The US has prohibited diplomatic and consular workers from pursuing their work under normal circumstances. The US molested the peace and freedom of such workers and their families on a personal level and the US is in the process of preparing raid the diplomatic and consular properties which the law states are clearly inviolable.

Even in times of conflict that run much deeper than the current political disputes between Washington and Moscow, the Vienna Conventions have a precedent of being adhered to.

In 1984, an individual inside the Libyan Embassy in London shot and killed a UK police officer. The shots were fired from inside the embassy onto the street below.

Although many  called for the suspect to be brought to trail in an English court, the UK government at the time, a government that had generally poor relations Libya in any case, observed the Vienna Conventions and allowed the embassy workers to return to Libya safely after being named persona-non-grata, something which is sanctioned by the Vienna Conventions.

The US itself raised a claim in the International Court of Justice against the Islamic Republic of Iran over an incident involving the taking of US hostages at the US Embassy in Tehran in 1980.

In 2005, during the second term of George W. Bush, the United States withdrew from an optional provision of the Vienna Conventions allowing for disputes arising between states on matters involving diplomatic and consular facilities and individuals to be dealt with by the International Court of Justice.

This means that if Russia wanted to take legal action against the US for violating its protections under the Vienna Conventions, Russia would have to file the complaint in a US court which is subject to accusations of bias vis-a-vis an international court dealing with a dispute between sovereign states.

The aggregate effect of this means that the US is breaking international law with impunity while giving the victim of this anti-diplomatic aggression few realistic options to deal with the issue, other than to attempt some sort of equivalent retaliation.

Instead of scrutinising the United States for a flagrant violation of international law, the mainstream media is instead pontificating on why smoke is coming out of the chimney at the soon to be closed Russian Consulate in San Francisco, even though such a matter has no real legal implications. Until the premises is involuntarily vacated, the Russian consular staff have the right to use their facilities as they fit.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova issued the following statement to the conspiracy theorists who have taken an interest in the smoke,

“Now in San Francisco, another circus begins – a new round of baiting called ‘What are you doing there?’.

After giving 2 days for the emergency conservation of the building and deciding to conduct a search in the premises, which had for many years had diplomatic immunity, a search involving FBI employees, the “host party” in the afternoon of September 1 “accidentally noticed” smoke above the building. The truth is that they also did not happen to notice that the was coming from a  pipe.

Immediately there were prepared photo reports about the “emergency situation”, and, as the top of sadism, fire protection was called. Just in case. Suddenly, Russians need help: they still had a couple of hours left to clear the premises.

And then the questions of American journalists poured down about what kind of trickle of smoke rose over the Russian consulate general.

I answer: measures are being taken to preserve the building. In this regard, the windows can be closed, the curtains can be lowered, the light may turn off, water may come down, the doors may be locked, garbage can be disposed of, heating devices must be switched off, life support systems switched on, and much more.

It is unbearably embarrassing to monitor the actions of the US authorities and the entire information campaign. Later everything will be like it always happens in the USA: there will be those who stood behind all this Russophobic hysteria, another mistake will be recognized, perhaps we will hear miserable apologies. But all this will be, as always, later. And now, at this very minute, instead of the celebrations on the occasion of September 1 and the labor routine for issuing passports and visas, the employees of the Consulate General professionally oriented towards the development of bilateral relations are engaged in the conservation of the building…

The wider truth of the matter is that the only thing up in flames is the American government’s respect for international law.

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K WalkerBased ✓ᴺᵃᵗᶦᵒᶰᵃˡᶦˢᵗgbardizbanianJonFranz Kafka Recent comment authors
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Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“United States violate the letter and spirit of the Vienna Conventions”

Show me ONE international law signed and ratified by the United States, that they respect. ONE.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

It seems to me that the US government has chosen to cease observing the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. That means, of course, that other nations no longer need to observe the Convention’s rules with regard to US government representatives and property.

Unless the US government chooses to explain to the international community why the Convention should apply to all other nations, but not to the USA.

Muriel Kuri
Guest
Muriel Kuri

We are acting totally against the law. This is despicable.

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

The United States proves that it is a Rogue State once again

The United States signs international Treaties and tears them up in public before telling the world that it believes in the Rule of Law….

The United States has gone barabarian….

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

The united states has never been anything else but barbarian and savage, from Day One, I’m afraid. It’s just that, for a while, it did a superb job of pulling the wool over the eyes of millions, and convincing them that it was a beacon of light on a hill.
Turns out the light was from the Bonfire of the Vanities.

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

And it continues to pull wool over their eyes. What I fail to understand how so many people continue in awe of the US…unless they are totally ignorant of what the US has been pulling.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The Scum of the Earth is in awe of the Untied Snakes.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

It never stopped of being a rogue state, since its creation.
It is absolutely crazy to see the number of wars started by US in merely 240 years of existence.

“The United States has gone barabarian….”
Or better said in Oscar Wilde aphorism, “America is the only country , which jumped from barbarism to decadence, without civilization in between”.

seby
Guest
seby

Excuse me if I cannot take seriously someone protesting against rogue states who ignore international law and have what looks very much like a zionist symbol as their avatar.

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

Hasbara Tactics.

Trauma2000
Guest
Trauma2000

Got to agree with you there Seby.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

They say it was Clemenceau or someone like that. Not Wilde. I always hoped that it was De Tocqueville.

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

Never mind Who, it is about what is being said, Franz and I know that you know.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The devil is in the details. Facts matter.

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

Nice observation by Wilde – I hadn’t caught up with that one, thanks Daisy. As Sigmund Freud said “America is a mistake. A big big mistake”.

Seán Murphy
Guest
Seán Murphy

The USA “has gone barbarian”? It always was.

Trauma2000
Guest
Trauma2000

Yes… You are correct.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Run by Democrats/Communists for the past 60 years

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

Key provisions of Vienna Convention, regulating diplomatic exchanges between sovereign countries:
Article 31. The host nation may not enter the consular premises, and must protect the premises from intrusion or damage.
Article 35. Freedom of communication between the consul and their home country must be preserved. A consular bag must never be opened. A consular courier must never be detained.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

“It is unbearably embarrassing to monitor the actions of the US authorities”

It is also mind boggling to know which international laws the US refused to ratify. Among them: Convention on Cluster Munitions, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Protocol to the Convention against Torture, Mine Ban Treaty …

louis robert
Guest
louis robert

Illegal?

Thanks for the detailed demonstration… but, but, but… the Empire has been constantly acting illegally and with impunity for decades upon decades. Illegality is the Empire’s very modus operandi! It respects absolutely nobody and absolutely nothing.

All that matters, really, is therefore how to prevent said Empire from making such a criminal, public nuisance of itself worldwide any longer. In a nutshell, the world must stop and neutralize that Empire asap.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Quarantine the USA.

louis robert
Guest
louis robert

You may be too lenient, Franz.

In this case, the disease being not merely a relatively minor contagious one, quarantine may not be quite in order. The disease in question is a major one of the mind, of the soul. Only confinement to one of the most renowned world mental institutions specialized in locking up and treating long, long term, the most violent compulsive criminals would seem to be appropriate, I’m afraid.

Trauma2000
Guest
Trauma2000

Boycott Brand America. Boycott them; one person, one company, on institution at a time: Boycott them all.

Sanctions begin with the individual; by the individual, against the individual. Boycott everything. Food, products, media, Hollywood, electronics, tourism: Choose something OTHER than ‘made in America.’

There is an ENTIRE PLANET of people who would like to do business with you, want to be friends and will treat you with the respect you deserve. Just Boycott Brand America.

This is how the individual Sanctions a Nation. Boycott Brand America.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal
Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will guard the guards themselves?) That the US Gestapo is 100% unreliable and an extension now of the proxy terrorists inflicted on the people of the multi-polar world is obvious. “What Goes Around Comes Around” as We the Pimple[sic] love to say. Relish the fact alone that Mueller of the FBI was the point man on the Cheney-Silverman/Silverstein WTC demolition. He is now in charge of the demolition of the Democracy in the United States – such as it was, like the WTC damaged beyond repair and full of asbestos. That Quarantine is now the… Read more »

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

“where will the people of the USA run to”

Only directly into the fire of the destruction from within of their country…their apathy and outright support towards their governments actions in breach of International Law and their support for its illegal wars of conquest “over there” for DECADES means they DO NOT DESERVE a place “to run to”

For those who are awake, aware and against their regimes actions….get out now if you can to a country willing to stand up to the hegemon and hope that your US passport will be accepted!

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

Houston, we have a problem! It is “America first”, so no way to go?
The American nationals should start to claim their name, properties and their land in their state where they were born, back. They are no property of the US INC. which is nearly bankrupt, so hurry up otherwise you all “have to” pay the debts of the federal government again! May be two hundred trillion Federal Reserve-paper dollars?
IMO, this Banksters trick is running since 1865.

TS
Guest
TS

Perhaps it is better to base the Consulate on the water, a cruise ship [http://www.ships4ever.com/]. NYC property value is still high.

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

Vienna Convention? Where is Vienna or what is it? As long as the US’ favoured ‘level playing field’ tilts towards the US. The more I read about the US, the sicker I feel to my stomach.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The captive people of the US should ask for a ‘no-fly zone’ to be policed by Russia and China so they might have a hope in hell of finally making the only regime change that matters.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

It is very simple. Nietzsche’s “People of consummate cant” have added Lavrov’s ‘agreement-incapability’ and handed it all over to Hussein’s and Ahmadinejad’s ‘Great Satan’.
If the AntiChrist has a locus, it is certainly on the axis between Tal Habib and Washington.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

This is Mueller’s doing. The noose tightening around his neck has forced him into rash acts.
He plans to plant evidence. As the point man for the WTC demolition he has some experience in this sort of thing.

ghartwell
Guest

Children need to be taught the common courtesy of please and thank you. They can be disciplined and trained to align with social expectations. But what happens to the world’s peaceful existence when a large strong nation does not follow established law in international relations? Chaos, instability and uncertainty result.

Trust of America again goes down. Russia, China and the peace – loving nations have this counterfoil to display their tolerance and adherence to law.

Putin’s legal training and absolute firm adherence to international law now looks even more attractive.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

VERY well said!

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

And of course his intelligence background and experience not to forget.
Which in these kind of situations is going into the direction of the survival for the world.

Russian Federation for the Nobel Peace Prize I’d say.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The US has now committed the one act which, by their own definition, makes them a rogue state desrving of sanctions and military retribution. Like the fetishized object of Anglo-Zionist hatred, Iran did almost half a century ago, The United States have seized an embassy.

Trauma2000
Guest
Trauma2000

Yes. They have “NOT YET” breached international law, but are about to do so.

Boycott Brand America. Boycott Brand America. What what you buy; and extract all your money, commerce and investments from the U.$. (For your own protection)

K Walker
Guest
K Walker

Sanction my country – the USA. The UN needs to set boundaries – better for the citizens here and better for the world.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal
Trauma2000
Guest
Trauma2000

It is sad, and unwarranted that someone as yourself may suffer as a result of something beyond your control; but unfortunately, America CLAIMS to be a democracy; and as such, the actions of the nation are a reflection on the individual.

Maybe it’s time for you to emigrate?

K Walker
Guest
K Walker

It claims is true but we are a Republic and allegedly governed by the rule of law.

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

UN? … Are you sure that you need the UN, K?

K Walker
Guest
K Walker

Who else would do it?

Feudal Peasant
Guest
Feudal Peasant

I venture to guess, all on behalf of Netanyahu who needs dirt in Putin

Shahna
Guest

“The wider truth of the matter is that the only thing up in flames is the American government’s respect for international law.”
——————

… and the wider world’s respect for the USA.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

BIG difference….Russia followed International Law!
comment image

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

The US is learning fast from Ukraine how to turn the whole world against you and distrust you.
What the Deep State with her secret service is doing here will come back to hunt them, without a doubt.

To break into international diplomatic codes in this way is a blamage, unforegivable. It looks like a desperate Deep State act which is gearing into under niveau “street fighting”.

ColinNZ
Guest
ColinNZ

US government still trying to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that their ‘leaders’ are playground bullies in a school for children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

johnplatinumgoss
Guest
johnplatinumgoss

I suspect any country that would bring down skyscrapers and murder its own citizens to go to war all over the Middle East (9/11) would have no compunction in violating the Vienna Convention. Don’t they make decent people sick?

gbardizbanian
Guest
gbardizbanian

By acting this way the US behaves like a rogue state which has no respect for international law.

Based ✓ᴺᵃᵗᶦᵒᶰᵃˡᶦˢᵗ
Guest
Based ✓ᴺᵃᵗᶦᵒᶰᵃˡᶦˢᵗ

USA has been spying on that consulate for decades. I used to live up there in the 70s-80s and every single day there were white vans, PGE trucks, UPS trucks, phone trucks parked across the street from the consulate all day long.

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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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