Harken, The Covidean Creed…

Harken, The Covidean Creed…

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/28/2020 – 03:30

Authored by Ian Jenkins via Off-Guardian.org,

Harken, The Covidean Creed… as agreed at The Unholy Conclave at Davos…

We believe in one Virus, the SARS-COV-2, the Almighty, destroyer of heaven and earth, that is all there is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Malady, Covid-19, the only son of SARS-COV-2, eternally begotten of the Virus, God from God, Darkness from Darkness, true God from true God, begotten, not made (probably) of one Being with the Virus.

For diseases are they none but the One True Virus and Death comes not without Its presence. Thou shalt have no diseases before the One True Virus. They that die outside the Virus shall not have their passing told unto the people on a quotidian basis in hushed tones, but shall be quietly recorded in obscure tables when the time comes.

Through the Virus all things were unmade.
For us men (and women and all points in between) and for our damnation
It came down from heaven (or maybe from China or Maryland):

By the power of the Holy WHO
It became incarnate from the swirling microbes (or maybe bat soup through immaculate Zoonosis), and was made Pandemic.

For Its sake we were crucified under ongoing Lockdown;
It suffered not death, like unto most it afflicteth, and is never buried in the news.
Though by the evidence that appeareth on those who do pass away or wax sick, it hath waned to almost nought.

On the second wave It rose again
And though few did perish many were tested and lo! Many were deemed infected (probably) and ‘cases’ were they named, though sickness showed they none,
in accordance with the Great Plan;

It ascended into the collective consciousness
and is seated on the right and left hand of all (lest with sanitiser they do anoint themselves five score times hourly)

It will come again in glory, as many times as necessary to convince the living and the dead, and his mask’d kingdom will have no end, it seemeth.

We believe in the Unholy pathogen, the Lord Rona, the taker of life (for they that are vulnerable), though he passeth the children by,
who proceeds from the laboratory and the test.
With the quest for a Vaccine, the donning of the Holy Mask and with sequestration of the faithful he is worshipped and glorified and Its name kept alive in the minds of all.

It hath spoken through ‘The Science’ and thereafter through the Media, through Potentates and Rulers and through the scriptures of the WEF and of the foundations and think-tanks that do proclaim Its Gospel.

Woe to they who do speak out against the words of the Powers of Covid or their servants, for they shall be anathema and their names removed from the Book of Face and platform shall they have none. One shall they be made with they that aver the Earth to be flat and Conspiracy Theorists shall they be named.

We believe in one unholy Catastrophic and Technocratic Global Church.
We acknowledge one Great Reset for the salvation of all.

We look in vain for the resurrection of Reason, Proportionality and Democracy,
and towards the life of the New World to come.


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Author: Tyler Durden

US Angrily Threatens To Close US Embassy In Baghdad After Near Daily Attacks

US Angrily Threatens To Close US Embassy In Baghdad After Near Daily Attacks

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/28/2020 – 02:45

Following near daily attacks centered in and around Baghdad’s Green Zone where the sprawling US embassy is located as well as other multiple American and other international institutions, Washington has put the Iraqi government on notice over the breakdown in security, saying it could shutter the US embassy altogether

The State Department is livid after repeat rocket and mortar attacks on the embassy, and has blamed a failure of Iraq’s security forces and of Iraq’s leaders to respond appropriately, also amid the intensified proxy war with Iran:

In a new escalation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iraqi President Barham Saleh last week to deliver an ultimatum, Iraqi and foreign officials told AFP.

Unless Iraq’s government puts an end to the rockets raining down on US military and diplomatic sites, Washington would shutter its embassy and recall its troops, the sources said.

Protests near the US Embassy in 2019, via AP.

We doubt the majority of Iraqis will miss the American presence, given in recent years anti-American demonstrations have grown, demanding the end of US troop presence. 

One unnamed Iraqi official said of this latest controversy: “The Americans aren’t just angry. They’re really, really, really angry,” according to AFP, while another noted, “The honeymoon is over.”

The State Department has specifically faulted Baghdad’s inability to reign in its own unruly Shia militias which the US says serve as a proxy arm of Tehran.

“Iran-backed groups launching rockets at our embassy are a danger not only to us, but to the Government of Iraq,” a US official said to AFP.

US defense systems protecting the embassy have been increasingly active over the past two months:

In mid-September, during a 48-hour period there were no less than four attacks on Western targets in Baghdad, including two direct attacks on the US embassy compound.

Currently a Trump initiated US troops draw down is underway, taking America’s presence down to about 3,000 nationwide, or about one-third of prior levels. However, there are still hundreds of diplomatic personnel operating out of the Green Zone, not to mention many thousands of US private contractors throughout the country.

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Author: Tyler Durden

France: More Terrorism, More Silence

France: More Terrorism, More Silence

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/28/2020 – 02:00

Authored by Giulio Meotti via The Gatestone Institute,

On September 25, in Paris, two people were stabbed and seriously wounded outside the former offices of Charlie Hebdo, where 12 of the satirical magazine’s editors and cartoonists were murdered by extremist Muslims in 2015. The suspect, in police custody, is being investigated for terrorism.

The accused murderers in the 2015 attacks are currently on trial in Paris.

Shortly before the knifing attack, on September 22, Charlie Hebdo‘s director of human resources, Marika Bret, did not come home. In fact, she no longer has a home. She was evicted after serious and concrete death threats from extremist Muslims. She decided to make her “exfiltration” public for French intelligence to alert the public to the threat of extremism in France.

“I have lived under police protection for almost five years”, she told the weekly Le Point.

“My security agents received specific and detailed threats. I had ten minutes to pack and leave the house. Ten minutes to give up a part of one’s life is a bit short and it was very violent. I will not go home. I am losing my home to outbursts of hatred, the hatred that always begins with the threat of instilling fear. We know how it can end”.

Bret also claimed that the French Left abandoned the “battle for secularism“.

From the start of the trial of the men accused of committing the murders at Charlie Hebdo in 2015 — and especially since the renewed publication of Mohammed cartoons — Charlie Hebdo has received threats of all kinds — including from al Qaeda. Security today at the satirical magazine is massive. “The address of our headquarters is secret, there are security gates everywhere, armored doors and windows, armed security agents, we can hardly get anyone in”, Bret said.

Today, there are 85 policemen protecting Charlie‘s journalists.

Bret has become another example of the clandestine nature of freedom of expression in France, the country of Voltaire. The first was Robert Redeker, a professor of philosophy. On September 17, 2006, he arose early to write an article for Le Figaro on Europe’s grappling with Islam. Three days later, he was in a safe house and on the run.

Last January, Mila O., a 16-year-old French girl, made insulting comments about Islam during a livestream on Instagram.

“During her livestream, a Muslim boy asked her out in the comments, but she turned him down because she is gay. He responded by accusing her of racism and calling her a ‘dirty lesbian’. In an angry follow-up video, streamed immediately after she was insulted, Mila responded by saying that she ‘hates religion'”.

Mila continued, saying among other things:

“Are you familiar with freedom of expression? I didn’t hesitate to say what I thought. I hate religion. The Koran is a religion of hatred; there is only hatred in it. That’s what I think. I say what I think… Islam is sh*t… I’m not a racist at all. One cannot simply be racist against a religion… I say what I want, I say what I think. Your religion is sh*t. I’d stick a finger up your god’s a**h*le…”

After her school’s address was posted on social media, she was forced to leave and transfer to a different school, this time kept secret.

The journalist Éric Zemmour was attacked several times outside his house; the French-Moroccan journalist Zineb el Rhazoui also found the address of her home published on social media.

Meanwhile, to his credit, French President Emmanuel Macron has been defending Charlie Hebdo‘s right to freedom of expression. Blasphemy, he said, “is no crime.”

“The law is clear: we have the right to blaspheme, to criticize, to caricature religions. The republican order is not a moral order… what is outlawed is to incite hatred and attack dignity.”

A 2007 legal case ruled that “In France it is possible to insult a religion, its figures and its symbols … however, insulting those who follow a religion is outlawed.”

The courageous words of the French authorities, however, seem harmless, pale and dull, compared to the strength of extremist violence and intimidation.

Islamic fundamentalism has already managed to displace not only thousands of persecuted Christians — such as Asia Bibi, forced to flee for her life from Pakistan to Canada after she was acquitted of committing blasphemy. This brand of extremism has also managed to transform many European citizens into prisoners, people hiding in their own countries, sentenced to death and forced to live in houses unknown even to their friends and families. And we got used to it!

On the day of Iran’s death sentence against Salman Rushdie for his novel, The Satanic Verses, he and his wife, Marianne Wiggins, were taken from their home in North London by the British secret service, to the first of more than fifty “safe houses” in which the writer lived for the next ten years.

The Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders — whose name, as the next to be murdered, was found on a sheet of paper knifed into the murdered filmmaker, Theo van Gogh — has been living in safe houses since 2004. “I am in jail,” he says, “and they are walking around free.”

Ten years ago, a Seattle Weekly reporter, Molly Norris, in solidarity with the endangered makers of the television cartoon “South Park,” also drew a caricature of Mohammed. The last newspaper article that talked about her stated:

“You may have noticed that the Molly Norris strip is not included in this week’s issue. That’s because there is no more Molly… on the advice of FBI security specialists, she will be moving and changing her name…”

The Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, which first printed cartoons of Mohammed in 2005, gave up. The paper declined to republish the caricatures of the Prophet of Islam when Charlie Hebdo printed them again on its front page. The editor who published the cartoons at Jyllands Posten, Flemming Rose, is still escorted by bodyguards. “I really admire Charlie‘s courage,” he said.

“Heroes who have not succumbed to threats or violence. Unfortunately, they received limited support. No publication in France or Europe behaves like Charlie. That is why I believe that in Europe there is an unwritten law against blasphemy. I am not criticizing the journalists and editors who make this choice. We cannot blame people who, unlike Charlie, do not put their lives in danger. But let us not be fooled: this lack of courage to follow in Charlie‘s footsteps comes at a price, we are losing freedom of speech and an insidious form of self-censorship is gaining ground”.

In recent days, the new editor of Jyllands Posten, Jacob Nybroe, repeated:

“We will not publish them anymore. I confirmed this editorial line when I arrived and received a lot of applause. I may look like a coward, but we cannot do it”.

The names of Danish cartoonists appeared on the same “hit list” that Al Qaeda published with the name of Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in chief, Stéphane Charbonnier, murdered in the 2015 massacre. The Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is alive only because during a terror assault on his home, he hid.

Today Jyllands Posten‘s headquarters has bulletproof windows, metal bars and slabs, barbed wire and video cameras. It sits opposite the port of Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, and is under surveillance day and night. Each automatic door, each elevator, requires a badge and a code. You enter it as if it were a bank vault. One door opens and after it closes, the next door opens. The journalists who work there enter one at a time. “To put it simply, freedom of speech is in bad shape around the world. Including in Denmark, France and throughout the West,” Rose said, “These are troubled times; people prefer order and security to freedom.”

If all of us do not defend our freedoms, soon we will not have them anymore.

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Author: Tyler Durden

From Pistol-Dollar To Petro-Dollar To Pharma-Dollar…

From Pistol-Dollar To Petro-Dollar To Pharma-Dollar…

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/28/2020 – 00:00

Authored by Dr. T.P.Wilkinson via GlobalResearch.ca,

In 1973, the world economy was brought almost to a halt by a supposed shortage of oil. The ostensible trigger for this alleged shortage was the so-called Yom Kippur War in which the armed forces of the Anglo-American Empire’s settler-colonial offshore enterprise in Palestine, also known as the State of Israel, repelled the forces of Egypt and Syria, which had moved to reoccupy the territory stolen from them by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. One response to the Anglo-American Empire’s support of its client state against those states Israel wished to conquer was an oil embargo proclaimed by OPEC, with the largest producer– the autocratic Anglo-American protectorate Saudi Arabia at the lead.

Portrayed in the mainstream Western media as a sign of Arab economic strength – also as anti-Semitism in some quarters – the embargo led to massive economic disruption in all the countries that had to import oil, mainly Europe and its former colonies.

This embargo created the impression of a global oil shortage—which although there was none, could not be overcome without violating the power of the oil cartel. While the OPEC embargo formally restricted the sale of crude oil to Israel’s sponsors, there was no real oil shortage since oil supplies to Europe and the US have always been in the hands of the majors (now super-majors), then known as the “seven sisters”. OPEC’s announcement of an embargo at the well had no impact on the enormous upstream reserves held by the mainly American majors. However it did provide the pretext for massive price increases at the pump– presented as shortage-induced.

Unnoticed except in the aftermath and ignored generally in popular debate or historical literature was the far more insidious deal made secretly while everyone from Bonn to Boston and Lyon to Los Angeles was queuing for petrol or the dole.

In 1971 Richard Nixon had announced that the US dollar would no longer be redeemable for gold – at any price. This decision had been largely induced by the enormous debt incurred funding the US war against Vietnam. In the course of this fateful decision, secret negotiations were undertaken with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which led to an agreement that Saudi Arabia and OPEC would not sell oil in any currency except US dollars.

The oil crisis pushed the price of oil to such heights that many countries in Europe and especially the newly independent countries, soon exhausted their foreign exchange reserves and were compelled to borrow US dollars to pay for oil imports. The result was a boom for the US regime, e.g. oil and banking – not its ordinary citizens – as the demand for US currency led to an inflow of foreign exchange and an overall improvement in its current accounts. Meanwhile the US Treasury could literally print dollars to buy oil– when the time was right.

Even today this story is told in a way to cast aspersions on the Arab states– although all the major oil-producing Arab states involved were and are entirely dependent upon the Anglo-American Empire and its military force for their very survival. It is a false parable used to exaggerate the innocence or helplessness of the settler-colonial state “surrounded” by “ragheads” instead of “redskins” who have all the oil, while poor Israel only has atomic bombs and the biggest foreign aid subsidy per capita of any country the US funds.

Why do I take the trouble here to recount history, which is or ought to be well known– at least to the historically literate?

It is worth recalling here that the Seven Sisters, as they were then called, are actually fewer now due to mergers. The upstream oil industry is still dominated by the Standard Oil companies (yes, Rockefeller, i.e. ExxonMobil) and their allies as well as the Rothschild-Nobel companies. Together they assure that oil prices and distribution are closely controlled– if not absolutely– and that the commerce in oil is billed in the leading currency of the Empire, the US dollar.

The Anglo-American Empire, amazingly similar in composition to the dream of Cecil Rhodes and his personal banker Lord Rothschild, relies not only on oil and the financial transactions connected with it.

There are two other major businesses that support the value of lead currencies, like the USD, GBP or even the EUR. They are war– and hence both legal and illegal arms sales– and drugs, both licit and illicit. All three “markets” are entirely controlled by cartels and state regulation. Moreover they provide windfall profits because they are all addictive and toxic. That means the traders get money and the buyers get garbage.

Stemming from the 19th century Opium Wars, Great Britain became the biggest dope pusher in the world. The opium trade made the British East India Company shareholders and those who traded with and for it wealthy beyond compare. While the US American schoolchild may learn about the Boston Tea Party, in which a few ruffians dumped British East India Tea into the harbour as a protest against taxation like the Townshend Acts[6], they won’t learn that proud New England families not only funded the Ivy League colleges with slave trading but with the income from opium business.

It is essential to recall that every crime is simply the unauthorised version of an activity otherwise deemed legal. The difference between marriage with dowry and prostitution is simply the statute book. The difference between war and murder is the sovereign authorisation. Seagram (Bronfman) produced whiskey in Canada that was legal and sold it more profitably in the US during Prohibition where it was illegal. The leading pharmaceutical companies are the brothers of the heroine, cocaine and synthetics pushers. And between all these folks who are all just merchants, there is the State– the armed bureaucracy that regulates these businesses in accordance with the most powerful to permit each side of these businesses to extract the maximum profit– yes, from us.

That said, as I have written in previous articles, the question of history arises not from the need to find the “true past” but to answer questions in the present. It is the most urgent present question with which I have been preoccupied for the past six months. Why in a global system dominated by the religious ideology of Business and the absolute priority of “the economy” have we seen the leading authorities, autocratic and bureaucratic, suspend the “economy” and disregard Business because of a new, improved version of the seasonal influenza? There are rational and irrational explanations. That is because power may be understood rationally but those who hold and exercise it are often– if not always clinically insane (it is just because they own the clinics and the doctors that no one can utter this diagnosis!).

Again I want to remind the impatient reader– who implicitly strains my patience by not reading or remembering anything longer than the last Facebook or Instagram post– that all meaningful organisational decisions are made in secret by those who have the most power in the organisation– whether it is the classroom in which you send your child to be bullied (or bully) or the workplace you freely attend to earn money to pay the bank for the privilege of living in whatever house they let you buy. If you work in a big enough company or institution your boss and the bank know what your credit future will be like before you do. But never mind this bit of mundane reality. The point is simply nothing of any importance is ever decided in public where you have anything to say about it.

Having gotten that embarrassing sentimentality out of the way, let us consider what has happened since March 2020.

The Pandemic

Following events in China, the OPEC of the pharmaceutical cartel, aka the World Health Organisation (in an earlier article I also wrote that “witch-hunting” is also part of their job), performed some international bureaucratic gymnastics – like several years ago with the so-called “swine flu” – to declare a high grade pandemic phase alert (see table).

This decision was presented as some kind of service to public health — this euphemism is deliberately conflated with concern for the wellbeing of ordinary humans, but is nothing of the sort. To make this quite clear: most genuine public health issues arise from poor nutrition, vile working conditions, polluted air, water and food, and poverty. None of these “pathogens” is part of the WHO brief. The World Health Organisation was established solely to market Western medical products worldwide and at the most profitable rates possible. This means among other things by arranging that poor countries devote precious foreign exchange for the purchase of bulk pharmaceuticals of dubious value under the pretext of being able to treat their indigent populations for illnesses that are almost entirely due to poor nutrition, vile working conditions, polluted air, water and food and poverty. Long before the Bush-Clinton clique promoted “humanitarian interventionism”, the WHO was poisoning the poor for humanitarian purposes (also known as eugenics).

N.B. anyone who has not grasped the consequences of the US regime’s ownership of the UN and its agencies should read the story of the UN in Korea and in the Congo for a start.

But I am digressing if only slightly. OPEC has never included all the oil producing countries and it was only effective as a cartel because it had the deep if covert collaboration of the Anglo-American oil majors. Without the pumps– wholly controlled upstream by either Rockefeller or Rothschild/ Nobel– Saudi oil would have been worthless. While we all imagine that oil is what drives our cars and heats our homes that is in fact a relatively minor and expendable part of the oil economy. Upstream the truly lucrative oil flows into petrochemicals, e.g. plastics, fertilizers, and– guess what, pharmaceuticals! Indeed the oil business, which started with “snake oil”, has never left it. Petroleum, that stuff that sticks to duck feathers and suffocates fish is the same gooey slime that forms the basis of much of the medicine you take. Think about it a minute: Monsanto (now part of IG Farben legacy, Bayer AG) started as a poison producer when the US Army panicked about a potential natural sugar shortage during the Great War and gave John Francis Queeny the inspiration to sell the US Government coal tar as a sweetener. Some readers may recall when saccharine was finally prohibited. However it had been identified as a carcinogen already in the 1920s!

Pharmaceuticals– until the dawn of genetic manipulation, a largely petrochemical or opiate driven product stream– is an integral part of the triad that drives modern capitalism: drugs, oil and guns. The oil industry is tightly held; mainly by two dynastic groups. And surprise, surprise the drug industry is too– the successors to the Anglo-American opium trade dominate the licit pharmaceuticals side and the illicit opium-based and cocaine drug trade. Since these businesses cannot be regulated in boardrooms alone, more than occasional persuasion is needed. So guns are just as important. But the gun trade is a topic for another day.

So what happened in March, really? My previous observations and summaries have not yet been rebutted. Nonetheless I do believe that beyond the obvious manifestations of the West’s confrontation with China, aside from the hyper-policing regime that is being created, there is a useful analogy which is perhaps more powerful than the US regime’s destruction of the New York World Trade Center buildings. That act of armed propaganda by other government agencies was certainly powerful in expanding the police and military power of the degenerate US Empire. However, like the US war against Vietnam it has been extremely expensive. All the president’s accountants and all the president’s lawyers have not been able to put Humpty Dumpty (at least not his bank account) together again.

So like those who tried to command Richard Nixon– and finally deposed him– the ruling class of the Anglo-American Empire is determined to eliminate another “Nixon” outsider (although Nixon always thought he really “belonged”) and restore order. Nixon, like the reigning POTUS, enjoyed wide popular support. However he had lost the support of the Establishment (which has come to be called the “Deep State” so as to imply that there is no Establishment or to lend its overt members legitimacy while denying the means by which it actually exercises power). Nixon actually saved the Establishment but it did not want to be saved by an outsider. It did not want to anyone outside its own exclusive circle. So a pretext was found– and he was dismissed. He knew that the alternative was a “Kennedy solution”.

The present POTUS has been trying to save the US regime from the antagonism of those it has abused both domestically and foreign. He has tried to harness the latent populism– what too many people confuse with “Left”– and channel it back into that revival tent in a way no Oreo Obama could have done– despite his Kennedy plagiarism.

But that is all really a sideshow for the financial disaster that the Reagan-Bush-Clinton dynasty (and its obscene scions in Britain and Germany) left the dying Anglo-American Empire. Nixon presided over the clever back channel negotiations to open China, bring Pepsi to the Soviet Union and save the USD by linking it to oil. Everything indicates that Trump has no clue of any of this– and no one is going to tell him either.

But the USD domination is under attack from all sides, by the weak and the strong. The Empire has been losing its wars but paying its bankers trillions and trillions for that privilege – beyond the capacity of anything the Empire can produce. Without a reinforced US dollar no one in the Empire can imagine the future.

So hark, the sneeze heard around the world.

The WHO assumed the role OPEC played in 1973. It declared a global pandemic under the most spurious conditions with the full knowledge that this would not only permit a shutdown of the economy (for political and economic benefits I have detailed elsewhere) but to create something only logical– the PharmadollarTo keep it poetic, we now have the three P’s of global monetary domination: pistol dollar, followed by the petrodollar and now the pharma-dollar.

An emerging and potentially infinite demand for pharmaceuticals – legal or illegal – safe or unsafe – will offer the Western pharmaceutical cartels untold and unlimited profits and because these are all countries working in the USD / EUR markets, together with the WHO will be guaranteed potentially unlimited profit streams. So from the first circle of hell we descend into the second circle. Can we get any closer to damnation?

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Author: Tyler Durden

Video Shows ‘Black Mirror’-Like Robot Dog Patrolling “Da Street!!!” 

Video Shows ‘Black Mirror’-Like Robot Dog Patrolling “Da Street!!!” 

Tyler Durden

Sun, 09/27/2020 – 23:30

A couple of Canadians were living in Charlie Brooker’s dystopian science fiction television series called Black Mirror on Thursday (Sept. 24) when a Boston Dynamics robot ‘dog’ came walking down the street. 

The whole encounter was caught on video by Canadian Twitter user @bIoodtear. The 18-second video was straight from the Black Mirror episode titled “Metalhead,” where a four-legged robotic dog started killing people. However, there was no gore in this encounter; the Boston Dynamics’ robot was walking down the sidewalk, turned, and looked at the camera, then went on its way.

Here’s the video: 

A techno dystopian world is closer than you think – just wait until governments deploy fleets of these robots to surveil people.

Oh wait, it has already happened: “‘Skynet’-Like Robot Dog Patrols Singapore’s Parks To Ensure Humans Are Social Distancing” 

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Author: Tyler Durden

The Most & Least Expensive US Cities For Cannabis Amid COVID-19

The Most & Least Expensive US Cities For Cannabis Amid COVID-19

Tyler Durden

Sun, 09/27/2020 – 23:00

Via Priceonomics.com,

With the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdown, 2020 was the year that many Americas discovered delivery services for their essentials. E-commerce, grocery delivery, and food delivery have all seen ​unprecedented growth ​in usage this year.

For cannabis consumers, delivery has long been a popular service, but coronavirus has made this method more important than ever. In an era where cannabis distribution has been ​deemed an “essential service” by most local governments, marijuana sales have skyrocketed.

At Wikileaf, we help consumers track the prices of cannabis through delivery services and dispensaries across America. Using our data, we thought we’d analyze which cities had the highest priced cannabis sold through their delivery services and how that compared to dispensary prices.

Among the cities we track, we found that San Francisco, CA had the most expensive cannabis in the nation at $47.37 per eighth of an ounce. In contrast, Salem, OR had the least expensive cannabis at $28.24 per eighth.

In some cities you pay a premium for the convenience of cannabis delivery compared to picking it up yourself at the dispensary. At other cities, however, dispensary costs are significantly higher than delivery, perhaps accounting for the real estate and staffing costs associated with running a physical location.

Before diving into the results, let’s spend a moment reviewing the dataset and methodology. For this analysis, we looked at the average price of an eighth of an ounce of cannabis during August 2020 in 13 large cities in the United States where we track prices. Average prices are segmented by delivery versus dispensary.

The chart below shows the average price of an eighth of an ounce of cannabis in each of the thirteen cities we examined, sorted from most to least expensive:

Source: Wikileaf

San Francisco, a city that often ranks at the top of various “most expensive lists” has the most expensive cannabis delivery prices of any city we track. An eight of an ounce of cannabis delivered in San Francisco is almost $20 more expensive than in Salem, OR the least expensive city in our rankings. The second most expensive city in the rankings is Ann Arbor, Michigan a college town that is home to the University of Michigan. Rounding out the top three is Las Vegas, the destination catering to famously price-insensitive tourists.

Two of the least expensive cities for cannabis delivery are located in Oregon. Consumers in both Portland and Salem benefit from the ​large supply of cannabis growers ​in the state which keeps prices down.

Next, let’s look at the price of an eighth of an ounce of cannabis at dispensaries. The chart below shows the same sample of cities ranked from most to least expensive brick and mortar prices:

Source: Wikileaf

The three most expensive cities for buying cannabis in dispensaries are also the same ones that are most expensive for delivery, just in slightly different order. Ann Arbor, Michigan is the most expensive place to purchase cannabis at a dispensary, followed by Las Vegas and San Francisco.

All three of the least expensive cities for purchasing cannabis are located in Oregon. The state’s high supply of marijuana growers contributes to affordable prices for both dispensary and delivery consumers. The level of supply and low prices can make it ​challenging to run a cannabis business ​in the state, but benefits consumers.

Lastly, let’s look at whether there is any “delivery premium” for having cannabis delivered to you rather than going to the dispensary on your own. The following chart shows a comparison of dispensary versus deliver prices, sorted by cities that have the highest delivery premium.

Source: Wikileaf

By a significant margin, consumers in Phoenix, Arizona pay the highest premium for delivery. An eighth of an ounce of cannabis costs $9.22 more via delivery than at a dispensary in Phoenix, more than two dollars higher than Oakland, CA, the city with the second highest delivery premium. Detroit and Los Angeles standout as cities where it’s significantly cheaper to purchase cannabis via delivery than at a dispensary. For most cities, the price of cannabis is comparable between dispensaries and deliveries.

During the pandemic, delivery services have become essential and cannabis delivery is no different. In this article, we’ve shown that San Francisco, Ann Arbor, and Las Vegas have the most expensive cannabis delivery in the cities we track. However, these cities also tend to have high prices for cannabis in general, including at dispensaries.

For others, going to the dispensary and marveling at the selection may be the preferred method of purchase. In some cities like Phoenix and Oakland, you can save quite a bit of money by shopping on your own at dispensaries rather than opting for deliveries. However, for most cities, the prices of delivery and dispensaries are comparable and consumers can opt for whichever option they prefer.

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Author: Tyler Durden

Colorado Encourages Dead People, Non-Citizens To Vote

Colorado Encourages Dead People, Non-Citizens To Vote

Tyler Durden

Sun, 09/27/2020 – 22:30

The Colorado Secretary of State is under fire after mailing postcards to dead people and non-citizens, urging them to go online and register to vote.

According to CBS4, at least a dozen people are confirmed as receiving the postcards who shouldn’t have – while the number of unconfirmed erroneous mailings is of course unknown.

“Which sounds really nice except my mother has been dead four years and she hasn’t lived, voted, owned property, worked, or done anything other than visit Colorado since 1967,” said resident Karen Anderson – who opened her mail about a week ago and found one of the postcards addressed to her mother.

Anderson wonders “how many went out that nobody called in about,” noting that the State of Colorado even issued her mother’s death certificate.

CBS4 has learned of about a dozen people who received the postcards who shouldn’t have. They went to a deceased woman in Las Animas County, six migrant workers in Otero County, a Canadian in Douglas County, a man from Lebanon in Jefferson County, and a British citizen in Arapahoe County.

Colorado Director of the Secretary of State’s elections division, Judd Choate, said the state goes to ‘great lengths’ to ensure the accuracy of the state’s voter rolls, however there are always mistakes. 

“Colorado does virtually every single possible thing it can do reasonably to clean its voter rolls,” he said, adding that the list they use for the postcards is compiled by the National Electronic Registration Information System – which uses data from the DMV, national and state death records, voter rolls in other states, and change of address forms. He says his office then performs a second vetting.

“Yes, it’s true that occasionally it will go to a person that it shouldn’t go to, someone who’s already registered or somebody that’s below the age of 18, but the vast, vast majority go to the people who are eligible and then many of them follow-up and become registered voters and they get their ballot in the mail and can vote in our election,” said Choate – who added that postcards were mailed to around 750,000 people, of which he expects maybe 10% to register.

“You hear about them trying to register dead people but I never really thought I’d see it,” said Anderson.

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Author: Tyler Durden

Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged By Western Govt Contractors & Media

Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged By Western Govt Contractors & Media

Tyler Durden

Sun, 09/27/2020 – 22:00

Authored by Ben Norton via TheGrayZone.com,

Western government-funded intelligence cutouts trained Syrian opposition leaders, planted stories in media outlets from BBC to Al Jazeera, and ran a cadre of journalists. A trove of leaked documents exposes the propaganda network.

Leaked documents show how UK government contractors developed an advanced infrastructure of propaganda to stimulate support in the West for Syria’s political and armed opposition.

Virtually every aspect of the Syrian opposition was cultivated and marketed by Western government-backed public relations firms, from their political narratives to their branding, from what they said to where they said it.

The leaked files reveal how Western intelligence cutouts played the media like a fiddle, carefully crafting English- and Arabic-language media coverage of the war on Syria to churn out a constant stream of pro-opposition coverage.

US and European contractors trained and advised Syrian opposition leaders at all levels, from young media activists to the heads of the parallel government-in-exile. These firms also organized interviews for Syrian opposition leaders on mainstream outlets such as BBC and the UK’s Channel 4.

More than half of the stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained in a joint US-UK government program called Basma, which produced hundreds of Syrian opposition media activists.

Western government PR firms not only influenced the way the media covered Syria, but as the leaked documents reveal, they produced their own propagandistic pseudo-news for broadcast on major TV networks in the Middle East, including BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Orient TV.

These UK-funded firms functioned as full-time PR flacks for the extremist-dominated Syrian armed opposition. One contractor, called InCoStrat, said it was in constant contact with a network of more than 1,600 international journalists and “influencers,” and used them to push pro-opposition talking points.

Another Western government contractor, ARK, crafted a strategy to “re-brand” Syria’s Salafi-jihadist armed opposition by “softening its image.” ARK boasted that it provided opposition propaganda that “aired almost every day on” major Arabic-language TV networks.

Virtually every major Western corporate media outlet was influenced by the UK government-funded disinformation campaign exposed in the trove of leaked documents, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, CNN to The Guardian, the BBC to Buzzfeed.

The files confirm reporting by journalists including The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal on the role of ARK, the US-UK government contractor, in popularizing the White Helmets in Western media. ARK ran the social media accounts of the White Helmets, and helped turn the Western-funded group into a key propaganda weapon of the Syrian opposition.

The leaked documents consist mainly of material produced under the auspices of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All of the firms named in the files were contracted by the British government, but many also were running “multi-donor projects” that received funding from the governments of the United States and other Western European countries.

In addition to demonstrating the role these Western intelligence cutouts played in shaping media coverage, the documents shine light on the British government program to train and arm rebel groups in Syria.

Other materials show how London and Western governments worked together to build a new police force in opposition-controlled areas.

Many of these Western-backed opposition groups in Syria were extremist Salafi-jihadists. Some of the UK government contractors whose activities are exposed in these leaked documents were in effect supporting Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and its fanatical offshoots.

The documents were obtained by a group calling itself Anonymous, and were published under a series of files entitled, “Op. HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] Trojan Horse: From Integrity Initiative To Covert Ops Around The Globe. Part 1: Taming Syria.” The unidentified leakers said they aim to “expose criminal activity of the UK’s FCO and secret services,” stating, “We declare war on the British neocolonialism!”

The Grayzone was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents. However, the contents tracked closely with reporting on Western destabilization and propaganda operations in Syria by this outlet and many others.

UK Foreign Office and military wage media war on Syria

A leaked UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office report from 2014 reveals a joint operation with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development to support “strategic communications, research, monitoring and evaluation and operational support to Syrian opposition entities.”

The UK FOC stated clearly that this campaign consisted of “creating network linkages between political movements and media outlets,” by the “building of local independent media platforms.”

The British government planned “Mentoring, training and coaching for enhanced delivery of media services, including digital and social media.”

Its goal was “to provide PR and media handling trainers, as well as technical staff, such as cameramen, webmasters and interpreters,” along with the “production of speeches, press releases and other media communications.”

An additional 2017 government document explains clearly how Britain funded the “selection, training, support and communications mentoring of Syrian activists who share the UK’s vision for a future Syria… and who will abide by a set of values that are consistent with UK policy.”

This initiative entailed British government funding “to support Syrian grassroots media activism within both the civilian and armed opposition spheres,” and was targeted at Syrians living in both “extremist and moderate” opposition-held territory.

In other words, the UK Foreign Office and military crafted plans to wage a comprehensive media war on Syria. To establish an infrastructure capable of managing the propaganda blitz, Britain paid a series of government contractors, including ARK, The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), Innovative Communication & Strategies (InCoStrat), and Albany.

The work of these firms overlapped, and some collaborated in their projects to cultivate the Syrian opposition.

Western government contractor ARK plays the media like the fiddle

One of the main British government contractors behind the Syria regime-change scheme was called ARK (Analysis Research Knowledge).

ARK FZC is based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. It brands itself as a humanitarian NGO, claiming it “was created in order to assist the most vulnerable,” by establishing a “social enterprise,  empowering local communities through the provision of agile and sustainable interventions to create greater stability, opportunity and hope for the future.”

In reality ARK is an intelligence cutout that functions as an arm of Western interventionism.

In a leaked document it filed with the British government, ARK said its “focus since 2012 has been delivering highly effective, politically-and conflict-sensitive Syria programming for the governments of the United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Canada, Japan and the European Union.”

ARK boasted of overseeing $66 million worth of contracts to support pro-opposition efforts in Syria.

On its website, ARK lists all of these governments as clients, as well as the United Nations.

In its Syria operations, ARK worked together with another UK contractor called The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), which is directed by Richard Barrett, a former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6.

ARK apparently had operatives on the ground inside Syria at the beginning of the regime-change attempt in 2011, reporting to the UK FCO that “ARK staff are in regular contact with activists and civil society actors whom they initially met during the outbreak of protests in spring 2011.”

The UK contractor boasted an “extensive network of civil society and community actors that ARK has helped through a dedicated capacity building centre ARK established in Gaziantep,” a city in southern Turkey that has been a base of intelligence operations against the Syrian government.

ARK played a central role in developing the foundations of the Syrian political opposition’s narrative. In one leaked document, the firm took credit for the “development of a core Syrian opposition narrative,” which was apparently crafted during a series of workshops with opposition leaders sponsored by the US and UK governments.

ARK trained all levels of the Syrian opposition in communications, from “citizen journalism workshops with Syrian media activists, to working with senior members of the National Coalition to develop a core communications narrative.”

The firm even oversaw the PR strategy for the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the leadership of the official armed wing of Syria’s opposition, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). ARK created a complex PR campaign to “provide a ‘re-branding’ of the SMC in order to distinguish itself from extremist armed opposition groups and to establish the image of a functioning, inclusive, disciplined and professional military body.”

ARK admitted that it sought to whitewash Syria’s armed opposition, which had been largely dominated by Salafi-jihadists, by “Softening the FSA Image.”

ARK took the lead in developing a massive network of opposition media activists in Syria, and openly took credit for inspiring protests inside the country.

In its training centers in Syria and southern Turkey, the Western government contractor reported, “More than 150 activists have been trained and equipped by ARK on topics from the basics of camera handling, lighting, and sound to producing reports, journalistic safety, online security, and ethical reporting.”

The firm flooded Syria with opposition propaganda. In just six months, ARK reported that 668,600 of its print products were distributed inside Syria, including “posters, flyers, informative booklets, activity books and other campaign-related materials.”

In one document spelling out the UK contractors’ communications operations in Syria, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN boasted of overseeing the following media assets inside the country: 97 video stringers, 23 writers, 49 distributors, 23 photographers, 19 in-country trainers, eight training centers, three media offices, and 32 research officers.

ARK emphasized that it had “well-established contacts” with some of the top media outlets in the world, naming Reuters, the New York Times, CNN, the BBC, The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, Al Jazeera, Sky News Arabic, Orient TV, and Al Arabiya.

The UK contractor added, “ARK has provided regular branded and unbranded content to key pan-Arab and Syria-focused satellite TV channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, Orient TV, Aleppo Today, Souria al-Ghadd, and Souria al-Sha’ab since 2012.”

“ARK products promoting HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) priorities by fostering attitudinal and behavioural change are broadcast almost every day on pan-Arab channels,” the firm bragged. “In 2014, 20 branded and un-branded Syria reports were produced on average by ARK each month and broadcast on major pan-Arab television channels such as Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, and Orient TV.”

“ARK has almost daily conversations with channels and weekly meetings to engage and understand editorial preferences,” the Western intelligence cutout said.

The firm also took credit for placing 10 articles per month in pan-Arab newspapers such as Al Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat.

US-UK program Basma cultivates Syrian media activists

The Syrian opposition media war was organized within the framework of a project called Basma. ARK worked with other Western government contractors through Basma in order to train Syrian opposition activists.

With funding from both the US and UK governments, Basma developed into an enormously influential platform. Its Arabic Facebook page had over 500,000 followers, and on YouTube it built up a large following as well.

Mainstream corporate media outlets misleadingly portrayed Basma as a “Syrian citizen journalism platform,” or a “civil society group working for a ‘liberatory, progressive transition to a new Syria.’” In reality it was a Western government astroturfing operation to cultivate opposition propagandists.

Nine of the 16 stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained through the US/UK government’s Basma initiative, ARK boasted in a leaked document.

In an earlier report for the UK FCO, filed just three years into its work, ARK claimed to have “trained over 1,400 beneficiaries representing over 210 beneficiary organisations in more than 130 workshops, and disbursed more than 53,000 individual pieces of equipment,” in a vast network that reached “into all of Syria’s 14 governorates,” which included both opposition- and government-held areas.

The Western contractor published a map highlighting its network of stringers and media activists and their relationships with the White Helmets as well as newly created police forces across opposition-controlled Syria.

In its trainings, ARK developed opposition spokespeople, taught them how to speak with the press, and then helped arrange interviews with mainstream Arabic- and English-language media outlets.

ARK described its strategy “to identify credible, moderate civilian governance spokespeople who will be promoted as go-to interlocutors for regional and international media. They will echo key messages linked to the coordinated local campaigns across all media, with consortium platforms able to cover this messaging as well and encourage other outlets to pick it up.”

In addition to working with the international press and cultivating opposition leaders, ARK helped develop a massive opposition media super-structure.

ARK said it was a “key implementer of a multi-donor effort to develop a network of FM radio stations and community magazines inside Syria since 2012.” The contractor worked with 14 FM stations and 11 magazines inside Syria, including both Arabic- and Kurdish-language radio.

To propagate opposition broadcasts across Syria, ARK designed what it called “Radio in a Box” (RIAB) kits in 2012. The firm took credit for providing equipment to 48 transmission sites.

ARK also circulated up to 30,000 magazines per month. It reported that “ARK-supported magazines were the three most popular in Aleppo City; the most popular magazine in Homs City; and the most popular magazine in Qamishli.”

A Syrian opposition propaganda outlet directly run by ARK, called Moubader, developed a huge following on social media, including more than 200,000 likes on Facebook. ARK printed 15,000 copies per month of a “high-quality hard copy” Moubader magazine and distributed it “across opposition-held areas of Syria.”

The British contractor TGSN, which worked alongside ARK, developed its own outlet called the “Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS),” a leaked document shows. This confirms a 2016 report in The Grayzone by contributor Rania Khalek, who obtained emails showing how the UK government-backed RFS media office offered to pay one journalist a staggering $17,000 per month to produce propaganda for Syrian rebels.

Another leaked record shows that in just one year, in 2018 – which was apparently the final year of ARK’s Syria program – the firm billed the UK government for a staggering 2.3 million British pounds.

This enormous ARK propaganda operation was directed by Firas Budeiri, who had previously served as the Syria director for the UK-based international NGO Save the Children.

40 percent of ARK’s Syria project team were Syrian citizens, and another 25 percent were Turkish. The firm said its Syria team staff had “extensive experience managing programmes and conducting research funded by many different governmental clients in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and other conflict-affected states.”

Western contractor ARK cultivates White Helmets “to keep Syria in the news”

The Western contractor ARK was a central force in launching the White Helmets operation.

The leaked documents show ARK ran the Twitter and Facebook pages of Syria Civil Defense, known more commonly as the White Helmets.

ARK took credit for developing “an internationally-focused communications campaign designed to raise global awareness of the (White Helmets) teams and their life saving work.”

ARK also facilitated communications between the White Helmets and The Syria Campaign, a PR firm run out of London and New York that helped popularize the White Helmets in the United States.

It was apparently “following subsequent discussions with ARK and the teams” that The Syria Campaign “selected civil defence to front its campaign to keep Syria in the news,” the firm wrote in a report for the UK Foreign Office.

“With ARK’s guidance, TSC (The Syria Campaign) also attended ARK’s civil defence training sessions to create media content for its #WhiteHelmets campaign which launched in August 2014 and has since gone viral,” the Western contractor added.

In 2014, ARK produced a long-form documentary on the White Helmets, titled “Digging for Life,” which was repeatedly broadcast on Orient TV.

While it was running the White Helmets’ social media accounts, ARK bragged that it was boosting followers and views on the Facebook page for Idlib City Council.

The Syrian city of Idlib was taken over by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which then went on to publicly execute women who were accused of adultery.

While effectively aiding these al-Qaeda-aligned extremist groups, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN also signed a document with the FCO hilariously pledging to follow “UK guidance on gender sensitivity” and “ensure gender is considered in all capacity building and campaign development.”

Setting the stage for lawfare on Syria

Another leaked document shows the Western government-backed firm ARK revealing that, back in 2011, it worked with another government contractor called Tsamota to help develop the Syrian Commission for Justice and Accountability (SCJA). In 2014, SCJA changed its name to the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA).

The Grayzone exposed CIJA as a Western government-funded regime-change organization whose investigators collaborated with al-Qaeda and its extremist allies in order to wage lawfare on the Syrian government.

ARK noted that the project initially worked “with seed funding from the UK Conflict Pool to support investigative and forensic training for Syrian war crimes investigators” and has since “grown to become a major component of Syria’s transitional justice architecture.”

Since the US, European Union, and their Middle East allies lost the military phase of their war on Syria, CIJA has taken the lead in trying to prolong the regime-change campaign through lawfare.

InCoStrat creates media network, helps them interview al-Qaeda

In the leaked documents, another UK government contractor called Innovative Communications Strategies (InCoStrat) boasted of building a massive “network of over 1600 journalists and key influencers with an interest in Syria.”

InCoStrat stressed that it was “managing and delivering a multi donor project in support of UK Foreign Policy objectives” in Syria, “specifically providing strategic communication support to the moderate armed opposition.”

Other funders of InCoStrat’s work with the opposition in Syria, the firm disclosed, included the US government, the United Arab Emirates, and anti-Assad Syrian businessmen.

InCoStrat served as a liaison between its government clients and the Syrian National Coalition, the Western-backed parallel government that the opposition tried to create. InCoStrat advised senior leaders of this Syrian shadow regime, and even ran the National Coalition’s own media office from Istanbul, Turkey.

The Western contractor took credit for organizing a 2014 BBC interview with Ahmad Jarba, the then-president of the opposition National Coalition.

The firm added that “journalists have often reached out to us in search of the appropriate people for their programmes.” As an example, InCoStrat said it helped plant its own Syrian opposition activists in BBC Arabic reports. The firm then added, “Once making the initial connections we encouraged the Syrians to maintain the relationships with the journalists in the BBC instead of using ourselves as the conduit.”

Like ARK, InCoStrat worked closely with the press. The firm said it had “extensive experience in engaging Arab and international news media,” adding that it worked directly with “heads of regional news in major satellite TV networks, press bureaus and print media.”

“Key members of InCoStrat have previously worked as Middle East correspondents for some of the world’s largest news agencies including Reuters,” the Western contractor added.

Also like ARK, InCoStrat established a vast media infrastructure. The firm set up Syrian opposition media offices in Dera’a, Syria; Istanbul and Reyhanli, Turkey; and Amman, Jordan.

InCoStrat worked with 130 stringers across Syria, and said it had more than 120 reporters working inside the country, along with “an additional five official spokesmen who appear several times a week on international and regional TV.”

InCoStrat also established eight FM radio stations and six community magazines across Syria.

The firm reported that it penetrated the armed opposition by developing “strong relationships with 54 brigade commanders in Syria’s southern front,” that involved “daily, direct engagement with the commanders and their officers inside Syria,” as well as defected officers Free Syrian Army (FSA) units in government-held Damascus.

In the leaked documents, InCoStrat boasted that its reporters organized interviews with many armed opposition militias, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

Don’t just plants media stories; “initiate an event” to create your own scandals

In its media war on Damascus, InCoStrat pursued a two-pronged campaign that consisted of the following: “a) Guerrilla Campaign. Use the media to create the event. b) Guerrilla Tactics. Initiate an event to create the media effect.”

The intelligence cutout therefore sought to use the media as a weapon to advance tangible political demands of the Syrian opposition.

In one case, InCoStrat took credit for a successful international campaign to force the Syrian government to lift its siege of the extremist-held opposition stronghold of Homs. The Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek reported on the crisis in Homs, which was besieged by Damascus after the far-right Sunni fundamentalists that controlled it began carrying out sectarian massacres against religious minorities and kidnapping Alawite civilians.

“We connected international journalists with Syrians living in besieged Homs,” InCoStrat explained. It organized an interview between Britain’s Channel 4 and a doctor in the city, which helped raise international attention, ultimately leading to an end to the siege.

In another instance, the UK contractor said it “produced postcards, posters and reports” comparing the secular government of Bashar al-Assad to the fundamentalist Salafi-jihadists in ISIS. Then it “provided a credible, Arabic-English speaking Syrian spokesperson to engage the media.”

The campaign was very successful, according to InCoStrat: Al-Jazeera America and The National published the firm’s propaganda posters. The British contractor also organized interviews on the topic with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Guardian, The Times, Buzzfeed, Al-Jazeera, Suriya Al-Sham, and Orient.

After regime change comes Nation Building Inc.

InCoStrat has apparently been involved in numerous Western-backed regime-change operations.

In one leaked document, the firm said it helped to train civil society organizations in marketing, media, and communications in Afghanistan, Honduras, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. It even trained a team of anti-Saddam Hussein journalists inside Basra, Iraq after the joint US-UK invasion.

In addition to contracting for the United Kingdom, InCoStrat disclosed that it has worked for the governments of the United States, Singapore, Latvia, Sweden, Denmark, and Libya.

After NATO destroyed the Libyan state in a regime-change war in 2011, InCoStrat was brought in in 2012 to conduct similar communications work for the Libyan National Transitional Council, the Western-backed opposition that sought to take power.

Coordinating with extremist militias, cooking news to “reinforce the core narrative”

The leaked documents shed further light on a UK government contractor called Albany.

Albany boasted that it “secured the participation of an extensive local network of over 55 stringers, reporters and videographers” to influence media narratives and advance UK foreign policy interests.

The firm helped create an influential Syrian opposition media outfit called Enab Baladi. Founded in 2011 in the anti-Assad hub of Daraya, at the beginning of the war, Enab Baladi was aggressively marketed in the Western press as a grassroots Syrian media operation.

In reality, Enab Baladi was the product of a British contractor that took responsibility for its evolution “from an amateur-run entity into one of the most prominent Syrian media organizations.”

Albany also coordinated communications between opposition media outlets and extremist Islamist opposition groups by hiring an “engagement leader (who) has deep credibility with key groups including (north) Failaq ash-Sham, Jabha Shammiyeh, Jaysh Idleb al Hur, Ahrar ash-Sham, (center) Jaysh al Islam, Failaq al Rahman, and (south) Jaysh Tahrir.” Many of these militias were linked to al-Qaeda and are now recognized by the US Department of State and European governments as official terrorist groups.

Unlike other Western government contractors active in Syria, which often tried to feign a semblance of balance, Albany made it clear that its media reporting was nothing more than propaganda.

The firm admitted that it trained Syrian media activists in a unique “newsroom process” that called to “curate” news by “collecting and organising stories and content that support and reinforce the core narrative.”

In 2014, Albany boasted of running the Syrian National Coalition’s communications team at the Geneva Peace talks.

Albany also warned that revelations of Western government funding for these opposition media organizations that were being portrayed as grassroots initiatives would discredit them.

When internal emails were leaked showing that the massive opposition media platform Basma Syria was funded by the United States and Britain, Albany wrote, “the Basma brand has been compromised following leaks about funding project aims.”

The leaks on social media “have damaged the credibility and trustworthiness of the existing branded platform,” Albany wrote. “Credibility and trust are the key currencies of the activities envisaged and for this reason we consider it essential to refresh the approach if the content to be disseminated is to have effect.” The Basma website was taken down soon after.

These files provide clear insight into how the Syrian opposition was cultivated by Western governments with imperial designs on Damascus, and was kept afloat with staggering sums of cash that flowed from the pockets of British taxpayers – often to the benefit of fanatical militiamen allied with Al Qaeda.

While Dutch prosecutors prepare war crimes charges against the Syrian government for fighting off the onslaught, the leaked files are a reminder of the leading role that Western states and their war-profiteering companies played in the carefully organized destruction of the country.

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Author: Tyler Durden

Texas Residents Warned Their Drinking Water May Contain A “Brain-Eating Microbe”

Texas Residents Warned Their Drinking Water May Contain A “Brain-Eating Microbe”

Tyler Durden

Sun, 09/27/2020 – 21:30

Today in “news you definitely don’t need to get in the middle of an already tumultuous 2020”, some Texas residents are being told not to drink their water due to it potentially being tainted with a “brain-eating microbe”.

An advisory was issued for Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenberg to not use water for anything other than flushing toilets, according to The Guardian.

This comes after the The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality warned of potential contamination of the water supply with Naegleria fowleri.

Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba that infects people when it enters the body through the nose. From there, it travels to the brain and can cause a “rare and debilitating disease” called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.

The infection is usually fatal and has been seen before in the past, notably in tap water in Southern Louisiana from 2011 to 2013. It was also found in an untreated geothermal well in Arizona in 2003. 

The advisory affects 120,000 people in addition to Dow Chemical workers in Freeport and Clemens and Wayne Scott state prisons. It will remain in effect until the Brazosport Water Authority, where the contamination is thought to be, is thoroughly flushed and tested. The BWA pulls its water from the Brazos river. 

In other news, who’s ready to get 2021 started as soon as humanly possible?

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Author: Tyler Durden

The Truth According To Social Justice – A Review Of “Cynical Theories”

The Truth According To Social Justice – A Review Of “Cynical Theories”

Tyler Durden

Sun, 09/27/2020 – 21:00

Authored by Jonathan Church via Quillette.com,

A review of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody, by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, Pitchstone Publishing (August 25th, 2020), 352 pages.

In November 1964, the American historian Richard Hofstadter published an essay in Harper’s Magazine about the paranoid style in American politics, arguing that “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds” ripe for “conspiratorial fantasy.” Arguably, many elites in contemporary mainstream American institutions appear to believe that anybody expressing concern about a so-called cancel culture has been in possession of such a paranoid mindset. Even when 150 artists and writers signed an open letter in none other than Harper’s Magazine, decrying “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity,” the response from many has been to mock these concerns and dismiss them as “paranoid,” or “privileged.”

The backlash to the Harper’s Letter comes on the heels of John McWhorter’s thesis that anti-racism is a new religion, David French suggesting that a secular fundamentalist revival is occurring on the Left, and Andrew Sullivan asking whether “intersectionality [is] a religion?” In short, there is indeed something of a militant crusade that lies at the heart of what Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay call “Social Justice in Action,” the title of chapter nine in their sensational new book, Cynical Theories, which explains “How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody.”

While there are those who claim, not unreasonably, that cancel culture is “a catch-all for when people in power face consequences for their actions or receive any type of criticism,” Pluckrose and Lindsay write about a disabled grandfather and bag packer who was sacked by his employer for sharing an apparently Islamophobic Billy Connolly skit, an act, which they claim “follows from applications of postcolonial Theory” (in this case, the grandfather was eventually reinstated). They also write about the software engineer James Damore, who was fired by Google for writing an internal memo on diversity which cited scientific research about sex differences, arguing that this sacking “follows from the assumptions underlying queer Theory and intersectional feminism.” They write about how a British football commentator and comedian Danny Baker lost his job at the BBC “for not realizing that a photograph of a chimpanzee in a smart coat and bowler hat that he tweeted could be construed as racist,” which, they argue “follows from the way critical race Theory describes the world.”

The book explains a half-century arc of intellectual history culminating in our current state of histrionic overreach in the name of social justice. Cynical Theories superbly exposes a history of ideas which, in challenging unifying narratives and universal values, have come to threaten free speech, honest debate, and the valuing of reason itself.

The story begins in universities and culminates in the dogmas of Social Justice. However Pluckrose and Lindsay do not suggest that working towards a more just society is an unworthy cause. They argue instead that the crusade marching in the name of critical social justice is often not about social justice at all. It is about a nakedly illiberal set of cynical theories that find their origin in the ideas of postmodern intellectuals dating back to the late 1960s. These ideas have coalesced into a central thesis which posits that truth, knowledge, and morality are so wrapped up in discourses of power and privilege that they must be understood as socially constructed rather than as the fruits of objective inquiry. In the words of Robin DiAngelo, “there is no objective, neutral reality.”

If there is a mantra for postmodernism the denial of objective reality would be it. The ideas of myriad intellectuals such as Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and Jacques Derrida have branched off in many directions as postmodernism mutated from its playful—if nihilistic—state of radical skepticism in the 1960s to its militant, doctrinaire stage of “reified postmodernism” in the 2010s which possesses a “logical contradiction between [its] radical relativism and dogmatic absolutism.” (Full disclosure: I emailed back and forth with Pluckrose a couple of years ago on the subject of “reification,” a correspondence for which she has thanked me for in the acknowledgements of the book, however I was not involved in the book’s writing or editing).

From the opening pages, one gets the sense that Pluckrose and Lindsay have immersed themselves in every noteworthy work of postmodern scholarship available. They begin by identifying two postmodern principles and four postmodern themes.

  1. The postmodern knowledge principle refers to a “radical skepticism about whether objective knowledge or truth is obtainable and a commitment to cultural constructivism.”
  2. The postmodern political principle is the “belief that society is formed of systems of power and hierarchies, which decide what can be known and how.”

The four postmodern themes are:

(1) the blurring of conceptual boundaries such as that between health and sickness or truth and belief,

(2) the power of language to construct reality rather than to merely articulate the intent of an author or an objective reality that we can discover,

(3) cultural relativism, and

(4) the loss of the individual or a universal human nature in favor of compilations of socially constructed intersectional identities.

“Together,” they write, “these six major concepts… are the core principles of Theory, which have remained largely unchanged even as postmodernism and its applications have evolved from their deconstructive and hopeless beginnings to the strident, almost religious activism of today.”

The rest of the book is devoted to explaining how these two principles and four themes have worked their way through the academy and society as it has evolved from its “high deconstructive phase” in the 1960s to 1980s, to “applied postmodernism” in the 1980s to mid-2000s, and finally to “reified postmodernism” in the 2010s, “when scholars and activists combined the existing Theories and Studies into a simple, dogmatic methodology, best known simply as Social Justice scholarship.”

This summary necessarily oversimplifies a half-century of evolving ideas. Indeed, Pluckrose and Lindsay devote six of their 10 chapters to explaining how these ideas have morphed and mutated, beginning with postcolonial theory, and working their way into queer theory, several waves of feminism, gender studies, disability and fat studies, critical race theory, and intersectionality. They demonstrate an impressive erudition as they analyze postmodern texts to uncover the meaning of things like standpoint theory, epistemic violence, and positionality, and explain how social justice scholars resolve the contradiction between “radical relativism and dogmatic absolutism” by favoring “interpretations of marginalized people’s experience” which are “consistent with Theory” while explaining away all others as an internalization of dominant ideologies or cynical self-interest.

The original postmodern intellectuals rejected grand narratives in favor of a radical skepticism which rejected Christianity, Marxism, science, reason, and the pillars of liberal democracy. A half-century later, their ideas have transitioned to what Pluckrose and Lindsay describe as reified postmodernism (reification refers to the idea that an abstraction can be made into a real thing). In this phase, social justice activism treats Theory as reality, and thus as the one and only way to view and interpret reality.

And so what we are left with is “The Truth According to Social Justice.” Teaching, write Pluckrose and Lindsay, “is now supposed to be a political act, and only one type of politics is acceptable—identity politics, as defined by Social Justice and Theory.” In this third phase, postmodernism pushes into everything, applying its deconstructive methods everywhere in the task of creating social change. Not without noticing the inherent irony, they observe that “postmodernism has become a grand, sweeping explanation for society—a meta-narrative—of its own.” As such, it functions as a set of pre-existing theories into which activists shoehorn the situational intricacies of experience. This has led to the dogmatism we see in militant social justice activism, “a tradition of faith that is actively hostile to reason, falsification, disconfirmation, and disagreement of any kind.”

None of this is to say there are no merits to fields like critical race theory, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and other critical theories. Intersectionality is a useful concept that conveys the idea that identity is connected to social groups. As members of several social groups, we can find ourselves the victim of multiple forms of social oppression. Moreover, we must recognize, for example, that queer theory is right that “[w]e have changed the way we see sexuality quite profoundly,” while the “initial aims” of disability studies and activism “were to place less onus on disabled people to adapt themselves to society and more on society to accommodate them and their disabilities.”

As Theory developed, however, reasonable and humane concerns about oppression and marginalization mutated into an ideological virus spreading through scholarship and society, with scholars like Barbara Applebaum writing that “[r]esistance will not be allowed to derail the class discussions!” and “those who refuse to engage might mistakenly perceive this as a declaration that they will not be allowed to express their disagreement but that is only precisely because they are resisting engagement.” Or Alison Bailey writing “[c]ritical pedagogy regards the claims that students make in response to social-justice issues not as propositions to be assessed for their truth value, but as expressions of power that function to re-inscribe and perpetuate social inequalities.” The Truth According to Social Justice abandons the liberal commitment to reason, science, and debate as a failure to “decolonize” our minds from the influence of Enlightenment institutions erected to benefit straight, white men.

In sum, politics matters more than truth.

What Cynical Theories expresses is not a paranoid state of mind. It is a genuine concern about the threat that social justice activism, identity politics, and the legacy of postmodernism poses to Enlightenment liberalism and the belief that “disagreement and debate [are] means to getting at the truth.” The book explains how we have arrived at a state in which social justice scholarship treats the principles and themes of postmodernism as The Truth, where no dissent is tolerated, and anyone who disagrees must be cancelled.

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Author: Tyler Durden