Sunday, June 30, 2019

In UK 27,000 people die each winter due to fuel poverty and cold homes-UK Fuel Poverty Monitor

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UK Fuel Poverty Monitor 2017-2018," fuelpovertyni.org 

p. 3:The table below shows the number of excess winter deaths in the UK from 2011 until the latest available data for last winter [2017-18]. Five-year totals and averages are shown encompassing the latest five years for which data is available.4″
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“The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor is the annual
investigative report on fuel Poverty in the UK and
within each of the four nations, published by National
Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland
(EAS). Whilst the overlap between fuel poverty,
cold-related illness and premature mortality are not
entirely symmetrical, the Monitor has investigated
the key policies and practices that affect these
overlapping issues for many years and has made
country-specific and national recommendations.

Cold homes cause unnecessary death and suffering, 
and it is not acceptable that thousands of people die as a
result of living in a home which is cold in one of the  
richest countries in the world.”… 

page 5: “Between 28th February and 3rd March 2018 
the UK suffered some of the most severe winter weather
seen since 2010. Referred to in the media as “the
Beast from the East”, the freezing conditions saw
the Met Office issue two red warnings for snow

and multiple amber warnings for snow and ice across
large swathes of the country. There was severe
travel disruption, with some cars stranded overnight
on major routes. 
Schools were closed across the country, and thousands of homes suffered power cuts

Some rural communities were entirely cut off, and had to receive supplies by helicopter. Wind chill factors dropped as low as -10 °C, and some areas saw 50cm or more of snow. Daytime temperatures dropped as low as -4°C. Across the UK, February and March 2018 saw 101 Cold Weather Payment triggers (£25 automatically paid to eligible households when the average temperature has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, 0°C or below for seven consecutive days).

Many vulnerable households, however, were left stranded without access to support, adding to the already significant annual burden of excess winter mortality and morbidity across the population…. 

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, determined that February 2018 was the “most pressurised month the NHS has seen in its nearly 70-year history”9. Corridors were left crowded with people waiting for eight hours or more just to be seen and senior medical staff were seen to be in tears.10 

The effects of the cold snap this winter were felt well into March 2018, placing further strains upon the health service. 
In England alone, between 1st January and 31st March 2018, an additional 15,544 deaths occurred. This is 12% higher than the five year average (2013-2017). Most individual days in this period saw more deaths than the corresponding day in any of the previous five years11, 12. Deaths began to climb well above the five-year average during the cold spell and remained high for almost two weeks after (as seen in Fig 1 below). This reinforces current evidence that it can take several days after a cold spell for death rates to return to average levels.”…
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Added: 

11/22/2012, “Cold homes costing NHS £1.36 billion,” ageuk.org

"Cold homes are costing the NHS in England £1.36 billion every year in hospital and primary care." 

“Thousands of older people continue to die prematurely from cold-related illnesses because their homes are too cold.  Each year there are around 27,000 excess winter deaths,(3) most of them among older people and caused by respiratory problems, strokes and heart-attacks due to cold temperatures.”… 

[“3 The average figure for the past 10 years for England and Wales is 26,700. This figure is calculated by comparing deaths during the winter months (December to March) with deaths occurring at other times of the year. NEW figures for winter 2011-12 are due to be published by the Office of National Statistics on Thursday 29 November 2012.”] 

(continuing): “Even in relatively mild winters, there are around 8,000 extra deaths for every one degree drop in average temperature(8)….People living in the coldest homes are three times as likely to die from a cold-related illness compared to those in warmer homes (9). The prevalence of poorly insulated homes (10) coupled with sharp increases in energy prices over recent years has exacerbated the UK’s growing fuel poverty problem, forcing many older people to cut back on their heating in a bid to control costs. 

The new report argues that this scandal can be halted: other much colder countries such as Finland have significantly lower death rates than the UK largely due to better insulated homes and greater awareness of the importance of keeping warm…. 

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK said: ‘It’s an absolute scandal that tens of thousands of older people will become ill or die this winter because they are unable to keep warm. Not only is this resulting in an incalculable human cost but the NHS is spending more than a billion pounds on treating the casualties of cold every year. 

‘At the root of the problem are badly insulated homes, which together with cripplingly high energy prices, are leaving millions of older people having to choose between staying warm and energy bills they can afford. We are calling on all local authorities to recognise the issue as a major health priority and make sure they are doing everything within their power to keep older people warm.'”…








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Google’s censorship powers can change voting and elections. Its “quarantine” blacklist is the most powerful of Google’s 9 different blacklists and is widely used by browsers-“The New Censorship,” US News, Robert Epstein, June 22, 2016

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6/22/2016, The New Censorship, US News, Robert Epstein, contributor

“How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites? 

“Google, Inc., isn’t just the world’s biggest purveyor of information; it is also the world’s biggest censor.  
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The company maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our livesgenerally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently been accused of banning postings on specific topics, and a recent report suggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion – even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block.
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When Google’s employees or algorithms decide to block our access to information about a news item, political candidate or business, opinions and votes can shift, reputations can be ruined and businesses can crash and burn. Because online censorship is entirely unregulated at the moment,victims have little or no recourse when they have been harmed. Eventually, authorities will almost certainly have to step in, just as they did when credit bureaus were regulated in 1970. The alternative would be to allow a large corporation to wield an especially destructive kind of power that should be exercised with great restraint and should belong only to the public: the power to shame or exclude.
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If Google were just another mom-and-pop shop with a sign saying “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” that would be one thing. But as the golden gateway to all knowledge, Google has rapidly become an essential in people’s lives – nearly as essential as air or water. We don’t let public utilities make arbitrary and secretive decisions about denying people services; we shouldn’t let Google do so either. Let’s start with the most trivial blacklist and work our way up. I’ll save the biggest and baddest – one the public knows virtually nothing about but that gives Google an almost obscene amount of power over our economic well-being-until last.
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1. The autocomplete blacklist. This is a list of words and phrases that are excluded from the autocomplete feature in Google’s search bar. The search bar instantly suggests multiple search options when you type words such as “democracy” or “watermelon,” but it freezes when you type profanities, and, at times, it has frozen when people typed words like “torrent,” “bisexual” and “penis.” At this writing, it’s freezing when I type “clitoris.” The autocomplete blacklist can also be used to protect or discredit political candidatesAs recently reported, at the moment autocomplete shows you “Ted” (for former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz) when you type “lying,” but it will not show you “Hillary” when you type “crooked” – not even, on my computer, anyway, when you type “crooked hill.” (The nicknames for Clinton and Cruz coined by Donald Trump, of course.) If you add the “a,” so you’ve got “crooked hilla,” you get the very odd suggestion “crooked Hillary Bernie.” When you type “crooked” on Bing, “crooked Hillary” pops up instantly. Google’s list of forbidden terms varies by region and individual, so “clitoris” might work for you. (Can you resist checking?) 

2. The Google Maps blacklist. This list is a little more creepy, and if you are concerned about your privacy, it might be a good list to be on. The cameras of Google Earth and Google Maps have photographed your home for all to see. If you don’t like that, “just move,” Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt said. Google also maintains a list of properties it either blacks out or blurs out in its images. Some are probably military installations, some the residences of wealthy people, and some – well, who knows? Martian pre-invasion enclaves? Google doesn’t say. 

3. The You Tube blacklist. YouTube, which is owned by Google, allows users to flag inappropriate videos, at which point Google censors weigh in and sometimes remove them, but not, according to a recent report by Gizmodo, with any great consistency – except perhaps when it comes to politics. Consistent with the company’s strong and open support for liberal political candidates, Google employees seem far more apt to ban politically conservative videos than liberal ones. In December 2015, singer Susan Bartholomew sued YouTube for removing her openly pro-life music video, but I can find no instances of pro-choice music being removed. YouTube also sometimes acquiesces to the censorship demands of foreign governments. Most recently, in return for overturning a three-year ban on YouTube in Pakistan, it agreed to allow Pakistan’s government to determine which videos it can and cannot post.

4. The Google account blacklist. A couple of years ago, Google consolidated a number of its products – Gmail, Google Docs, Google+, YouTube, Google Wallet and others – so you can access all of them through your one Google account. If you somehow violate Google’s vague and intimidating terms of service agreement, you will join the ever-growing list of people who are shut out of their accounts, which means you’ll lose access to all of these interconnected products. Because virtually no one has ever read this lengthy, legalistic agreement, however, people are shocked when they’re shut out, in part because Google reserves the right to“stop providing Services to you … at any time.” And because Google, one of the largest and richest companies in the world, has no customer service department, getting reinstated can be difficult. (Given, however, that all of these services gather personal information about you to sell to advertisers, losing one’s Google account has been judged by some to be a blessing in disguise.) 

5. The Google News blacklist. If a librarian were caught trashing all the liberal newspapers before people could read them, he or she might get in a heap o’ trouble. What happens when most of the librarians in the world have been replaced by a single company? Google is now the largest news aggregator in the world, tracking tens of thousands of news sources in more than thirty languages and recently adding thousands of small, local news sources to its inventory. It also selectively bans news sources as it pleases. In 2006, Google was accused of excluding conservative news sources that generated stories critical of Islam, and the company has also been accused of banning individual columnists and competing companies from its news feed. In December 2014, facing a new law in Spain that would have charged Google for scraping content from Spanish news sources (which, after all, have to pay to prepare their news), Google suddenly withdrew its news service from Spain, which led to an immediate drop in traffic to Spanish new stories. That drop in traffic is the problem: When a large aggregator bans you from its service, fewer people find your news stories, which means opinions will shift away from those you support. Selective blacklisting of news sources is a powerful way of promoting a political, religious or moral agenda, with no one the wiser. 
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6. The Google AdWords blacklist. Now things get creepier. More than 70 percent of Google’s $80 billion in annual revenue comes from its AdWords advertising service, which it implemented in 2000 by infringing on a similar system already patented by Overture Services. The way it works is simple: Businesses worldwide bid on the right to use certain keywords in short text ads that link to their websites (those text ads are the AdWords); when people click on the links, those businesses pay Google. These ads appear on Google.com and other Google websites and are also interwoven into the content of more than a million non-Google websites – Google’s “Display Network.” The problem here is that if a Google executive decides your business or industry doesn’t meet its moral standards, it bans you from AdWords; these days, with Google’s reach so large, that can quickly put you out of business. In 2011, Google blacklisted an Irish political group that defended sex workers but which did not provide them; after a protest, the company eventually backed down.
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In May 2016, Google blacklisted an entire industry – companies providing high-interest “payday” loans. As always, the company billedthis dramatic move as an exercise in social responsibility, failing to note that it is a major investor in LendUp.com, which is in the same industry; if Google fails to blacklist LendUp (it’s too early to tell), the industry ban might turn out to have been more of an anticompetitive move than one of conscience. That kind of hypocrisy has turned up before in AdWords activities. Whereas Googletakes a moral stand, for example, in banning ads from companies promising quick weight loss, in 2011, Google forfeited a whopping $500 million to the U.S. Justice Department for having knowingly allowed Canadian drug companies to sell drugs illegally in the U.S. for years through the AdWords system, and several state attorneys general believe that Google has continued to engage in similar practices since 2011; investigations are ongoing. 
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7. The Google AdSense blacklist. If your website has been approved by AdWords, you are eligible to sign up for Google AdSense, a system in which Google places ads for various products and services on your website. When people click on those ads, Google pays you. If you are good at driving traffic to your website, you can make millions of dollars a year running AdSense ads – all without having any products or services of your own. Meanwhile, Google makes a net profit by charging the companies behind the ads for bringing them customers; this accounts for about 18 percent of Google’s income. Here, too, there is scandal: In April 2014, in two posts on PasteBin.com, someone claiming to be a former Google employee working in their AdSense department alleged the department engaged in a regular practice of dumping AdSense customers just before Google was scheduled to pay them. To this day, no one knows whether the person behind the posts was legit, but one thing is clear: Since that time, real lawsuits filed by real companies have, according to WebProNews, been “piling up” against Google, alleging the companies were unaccountably dumped at the last minute by AdSense just before large payments were due, in some cases payments as high as $500,000.
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8. The search engine blacklist. Google’s ubiquitous search engine has indeed become the gateway to virtually all information, handling 90 percent of search in most countries. It dominates search because its index is so large: Google indexes more than 45 billion web pages; its next-biggest competitor, Microsoft’s Bing, indexes a mere 14 billion, which helps to explain the poor quality of Bing’s search results.
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Google’s dominance in search is why businesses large and small live in constantfear of Google,” as Mathias Dopfner, CEO of Axel Springer, the largest publishing conglomerate in Europe, put it in an open letter to Eric Schmidt in 2014. According to Dopfner, when Google made one of its frequent adjustments to its search algorithm, one of his company’s subsidiaries dropped dramatically in the search rankings and lost 70 percent of its traffic within a few days. Even worse than the vagaries of the adjustments, however, are the dire consequences that follow when Google employees somehow conclude you have violated their “guidelines”: You either get banished to the rarely visited Netherlands of search pages beyond the first page (90 percent of all clicks go to links on that first page) or completely removed from the index. In 2011, Google took a “manual action” of a “corrective” nature against retailer J.C. Penney – punishment for Penney’s alleged use of a legal SEO technique called “link building” that many companies employ to try to boost their rankings in Google’s search results. Penney was demoted 60 positions or more in the rankings. 
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Search ranking manipulations of this sort don’t just ruin businesses; they also affect people’s opinions, attitudes, beliefs and behavior, as my research on the Search Engine Manipulation Effect has demonstrated. Fortunately, definitive information about Google’s punishment programs is likely to turn up over the next year or two thanks to legal challenges the company is facing. In 2014, a Florida company called e-Ventures Worldwide filed a lawsuit against Google for “completely removing almost every website” associated with the company from its search rankings. When the company’s lawyers tried to get internal documents relevant to Google’s actions though typical litigation discovery procedures, Google refused to comply. In July 2015, a judge ruled that Google had to honor e-Ventures’ discovery requests, and that case is now moving forward. More significantly, in April 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the attorney general of Mississippi – supported in his efforts by the attorneys general of 40 other states – has the right to proceed with broad discovery requests in his own investigations into Google’s secretive and often arbitrary practices. This brings me, at last, to the biggest and potentially most dangerous of Google’s blacklists – which Google’s calls its “quarantine” list.
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9. The quarantine list. To get a sense of the scale of this list, I find it helpful to think about an old movie – the classic 1951 film “The Day the Earth Stood Still, which starred a huge metal robot named Gort. He had laser-weapon eyes, zapped terrified humans into oblivion and had the power to destroy the world. Klaatu, Gort’s alien master, was trying to deliver an important message to earthlings, but they kept shooting him before he could. Finally, to get the world’s attention, Klaatu demonstrated the enormous power of the alien races he represented by shutting down – at noon New York time – all of the electricity on earth for exactly 30 minutes. The earth stood still. Substitute “ogle” for “rt,” and you get Google,” which is every bit as powerful as Gort but with a much better public relations department – so good, in fact, that you are probably unaware that on Jan. 31, 2009, Google blocked access to virtually the entire internet. And, as if not to be outdone by a 1951 science fiction move, it did so for 40 minutes.
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Impossible, you say. Why would do-no-evil Google do such an apocalyptic thing, and, for that matter, how, technically, could a single company block access to more than 100 million websites?
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The answer has to do with the dark and murky world of website blacklists – ever-changing lists of websites that contain malicious software that might infect or damage people’s computers. There are many such lists – even tools, such as blacklistalert.org, that scan multiple blacklists to see if your IP address is on any of them. Some lists are kind of mickey-mouse – repositories where people submit the names or IP addresses of suspect sites. Others, usually maintained by security companies that help protect other companies, are more high-tech, relying on “crawlers” – computer programs that continuously comb the internet.
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But the best and longest list of suspect websites is Google’s, launched in May 2007Because Google is crawling the web more extensively than anyone else, it is also in the best position to find malicious websites. In 2012, Google acknowledged that each and every day it adds about 9,500 new websites to its quarantine list and displays malware warnings on the answers it gives to between 12 and 14 million search queries. It won’t reveal the exact number of websites on the list, but it is certainly in the millions on any given day. 
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In 2011, Google blocked an entire subdomain, co.cc, which alone contained 11 million websites, justifying its action by claiming that most of the websites in that domain appeared to be “spammy.” According to Matt Cutts, still the leader of Google’s web spam team, the company “reserves the right” to take such action when it deems it necessary. (The right? Who gave Google that right?)
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And that’s nothing: According to The Guardian, on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009, at 2:40 pm GMT, Google blocked the entire internet for those impressive 40 minutes, supposedly, said the company, because of “human error” by its employees. It would have been 6:40 am in Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered. Was this time chosen because it is one of the few hours of the week when all of the world’s stock markets are closed? Could this have been another of the many pranks for which Google employees are so famous? In 2008, Google invited the public to submit applications to join the “first permanent human colony on Mars.” Sorry, Marsophiles; it was just a prank.
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When Google’s search engine shows you a search result for a site it has quarantined, you see warnings such as, “The site ahead contains malware” or “This site may harm your computer” on the search result. That’s useful information if that website actually contains malware, either because the website was set up by bad guys or because a legitimate site was infected with malware by hackers.
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But Google’s crawlers often make mistakes, blacklisting websites that have merely been “hijacked,” which means the website itself isn’t dangerous but merely that accessing it through the search engine will forward you to a malicious site. My own website,http://drrobertepstein.com, was hijacked in this way in early 2012. Accessing the website directly wasn’t dangerous,but trying to access it through the Google search engine forwarded users to a malicious website in Nigeria. When this happens, Google not only warns you about the infected website on its search engine (which makes sense), it also blocks you from accessing the website directly through multiple browsers – even non-Google browsers. (Hmm. Now that’s odd. I’ll get back to that point shortly.)
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The mistakes are just one problem. The bigger problem is that even though it takes only a fraction of a second for a crawler to list you, after your site has been cleaned up Google’s crawlers sometimes take days or even weeks to delist you – long enough to threaten the existence of some businesses. This is quite bizarre considering how rapidly automated online systems operate these days. Within seconds after you pay for a plane ticket online, your seat is booked, your credit card is charged, your receipt is displayed and a confirmation email shows up in your inbox – a complex series of events involving multiple computers controlled by at least three or four separate companies. But when you inform Google’s automated blacklist system that your website is now clean, you are simply advised to check back occasionally to see if any action has been taken. To get delisted after your website has been repaired, you either have to struggle with the company’s online Webmaster tools, which are far from friendly, or you have to hire a security expert to do so – typically for a fee ranging between $1,000 and $10,000. No expert, however, can speed up the mysterious delisting process; the best he or she can do is set it in motion. 
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So far, all I’ve told you is that Google’s crawlers scan the internet, sometimes find what appear to be suspect websites and put those websites on a quarantine list. That information is then conveyed to users through the search engine. So far so good, except of course for the mistakes and the delisting problem; one might even say that Google is performing a public service, which is how some people who are familiar with the quarantine list defend it. But I also mentioned that Google somehow blocks people from accessing websites directly through multiple browsers. How on earth could it do that? How could Google block you when you are trying to access a website using Safari, an Apple product, or Firefox, a browser maintained by Mozilla, the self-proclaimed “nonprofit defender of the free and open internet”?
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The key here is browsers. No browser maker wants to send you to a malicious website, and because Google has the best blacklist, major browsers such as Safari and Firefox – and Chrome, of course, Google’s own browser, as well as browsers that load through Android, Google’s mobile operating system – check Google’s quarantine list before they send you to a website. (In November 2014, Mozilla announced it will no longer list Google as its default search engine, but it also disclosed that it will continue to rely on Google’s quarantine list to screen users’ search requests.)
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If the site has been quarantined by Google, you see one of those big, scary images that say things like “Get me out of here!” or “Reported attack site!” At this point, given the default security settings on most browsers, most people will find it impossible to visit the site – but who would want to? If the site is not on Google’s quarantine list, you are sent on your way.
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OK, that explains how Google blocks you even when you’re using a non-Google browser, but why do they block you? In other words, how does blocking you feed the ravenous advertising machine – the sine qua non of Google’s existence?
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Have you figured it out yet? The scam is as simple as it is brilliant: 
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When a browser queries Google’s quarantine list, it has just shared information with Google. With Chrome and Android, you are always giving up information to Google, but you are also doing so even if you are using non-Google browsers. That is where the money is – more information about search activity kindly provided by competing browser companies. How much information is shared will depend on the particular deal the browser company has with Google. In a maximum information deal, Google will learn the identity of the user; in a minimum information deal, Google will still learn which websites people want to visit – valuable data when one is in the business of ranking websites. Google can also charge fees for access to its quarantine list, of course, but that’s not where the real gold is.
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Chrome, Android, Firefox and Safari currently carry about 92 percent of all browser traffic in the U.S. – 74 percent worldwide – and these numbers are increasing. As of this writing, that means Google is regularly collecting information through its quarantine list from more than 2.5 billion people. Given the recent pact between Microsoft and Google, in coming months we might learn that Microsoft – both to save money and to improve its services – has also started using Google’s quarantine list in place of its own much smaller list; this would further increase the volume of information Google is receiving.
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To put this another way, Google has grown, and is still growing, on the backs of some of its competitors, with end users oblivious to Google’s antics – as usual. It is yet another example of what I have called Google’s Dance” – the remarkable way in which Google puts a false and friendly public face on activities that serve only one purpose for the company: increasing profit. On the surface, Google’s quarantine list is yet another way Google helps us, free of charge, breeze through our day safe and well-informed. Beneath the surface, that list is yet another way Google accumulates more information about us to sell to advertisers.
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You may disagree, but in my view Google’s blacklisting practices put the company into the role of thuggish internet cop – a role that was never authorized by any government, nonprofit organization or industry association. It is as if the biggest bully in town suddenly put on a badge and started patrolling, shuttering businesses as it pleased, while also secretly peeping into windows, taking photos and selling them to the highest bidder.
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Consider: Heading into the holiday season in late 2013, an online handbag business suffered a 50 percent drop in business because of blacklisting. In 2009, it took an eco-friendly pest control company 60 days to leap the hurdles required to remove Google’s warnings, long enough to nearly go broke. And sometimes the blacklisting process appears to be personal: In May 2013, the highly opinionated PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak wondered When Did Google Become the Internet Police? after both his website and podcast site were blacklisted. He also ran into the delisting problem: “It’s funny,” he wrote, “how the site can be blacklisted in a millisecond by an analysis but I have to wait forever to get cleared by the same analysis doing the same scan. Why is that?” 
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Could Google really be arrogant enough to mess with a prominent journalist? According to CNN, in 2005 Google “blacklisted all CNET reporters for a year after the popular technology news website published personal information about one of Google’s founders” – Eric Schmidt – “in a story about growing privacy concerns.” The company declined to comment on CNN’s story.
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Google’s mysterious and self-serving practice of blacklisting is one of many reasons Google should be regulated, just as phone companies and credit bureaus are. The E.U.’s recent antitrust actions against Google, the recently leaked FTC staff report about Google’s biased search rankings, President Obama’s call for regulating internet service providers – all have merit, but they overlook another danger. No one company, which is accountable to its shareholders but not to the general public, should have the power to instantly put another company out of business or block access to any website in the world. How frequently Google acts irresponsibly is beside the point; it has the ability to do so, which means that in a matter of seconds any of Google’s 37,000 employees with the right passwords or skills could laser a business or political candidate into oblivion or even freeze much of the world’s economy.
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Some degree of censorship and blacklisting is probably necessary; I am not disputing that. But the suppression of information on the internet needs to be managed by, or at least subject to the regulations of, responsible public officials, with every aspect of their operations transparent to all.” image above from US News







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Trump appears to have acceded to Pompeo’s wishes on alleged DNC “hacking” story which Pompeo opted not to expose as fake with intelligence data offered to him two yrs before Mueller Report. Memo to Pres. Trump from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity-Consortium News, McGovern

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"We refer to the extraordinary revelation in a recent Department of Justice court filing that former FBI Director James Comey never required a final forensic report from the DNC-hired cybersecurity company, CrowdStrike. Comey, of course, has admitted to the fact that, amid accusations from the late Sen. John McCain and others that the Russians had committed “an act of war,” the FBI did not follow best practices and insist on direct access to the DNC computers, preferring to rely on CrowdStrike reporting. What was not known until the DOJ revelation is that CrowdStrike never gave Comey a final report on its forensic findings regarding alleged “Russian hacking.”…The point here is that Pompeo could have exposed the lies about Russian hacking of the DNC, had he done what you asked him to do almost two years ago when he was director of the CIA.”

6/21/19, VIPS Memo to the President: Is Pompeo’s Iran Agenda the Same As Yours?” Consortium News, Ray McGovern 

“Updated: VIPS says its direct experience with Mike Pompeo leaves them with strong doubt regarding his trustworthiness on issues of consequence to the President and the nation.” 

“DATE: June 21, 2019 

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President. 

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) 

SUBJECT: Is Pompeo’s Iran Agenda the Same As Yours? 

After the close call yesterday when you called off the planned military strike on Iran, we remain concerned that you are about to be mousetrapped into war with Iran. You have said you do not want such a war (no sane person would), and our comments below are based on that premise. There are troubling signs that Secretary Pompeo is not likely to jettison his more warlike approach, More importantly, we know from personal experience with Pompeo’s dismissive attitude to instructions from you that his agenda can deviate from yours on issues of major consequence. 

Pompeo’s behavior betrays a strong desire to resort to  military action — perhaps even without your approval — to Iranian provocations (real or imagined), with no discernible strategic goal other than to advance the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He is a neophyte compared to his anti-Iran partner John Bolton, whose dilettante approach to interpreting intelligence, strong advocacy of the misbegotten war on Iraq (and continued pride in his role in promoting it), and fierce pursuit of his own aggressive agenda are a matter of a decades-long record. You may not be fully aware of our experience with Pompeo, who has now taken the lead on Iran.  

That experience leaves us with strong doubt regarding his trustworthiness on issues of consequence to you and the country, including the contentious issue of alleged Russian hacking into the DNC. The sketchy “evidence” behind that story has now crumbled, thanks to some unusual candor from the Department of Justice. We refer to the extraordinary revelation in a recent Department of Justice court filing that former FBI Director James Comey never required a final forensic report from the DNC-hired cybersecurity company, CrowdStrike. Comey, of course, has admitted to the fact that, amid accusations from the late Sen. John McCain and others that the Russians had committed “an act of war,” the FBI did not follow best practices and insist on direct access to the DNC computers, preferring to rely on CrowdStrike reporting. What was not known until the DOJ revelation is that CrowdStrike never gave Comey a final report on its forensic findings regarding alleged “Russian hacking.” Mainstream media have suppressed this story so far; we reported it several days ago. 

The point here is that Pompeo could have exposed the lies about Russian hacking of the DNC, had he done what you asked him to do almost two years ago when he was director of the CIA.

In our Memorandum to you of July 24, 2017 entitled “Was the ‘Russian Hack’ an Inside Job?,” we suggested: 

“You may wish to ask CIA Director Mike Pompeo what he knows about this. [“This” being the evidence-deprived allegation that “a shadowy entity with the moniker ‘Guccifer 2.0’ hacked the DNC on behalf of Russian intelligence and gave DNC emails to WikiLeaks.] Our own lengthy intelligence community experience suggests that it is possible that neither former CIA Director John Brennan, nor the cyber-warriors who worked for him, have been completely candid with their new director regarding how this all went down.” 

Three months later, Director Pompeo invited William Binney, one of VIPS’ two former NSA technical directors (and a co-author of our July 24, 2017 Memorandum), to CIA headquarters to discuss our findings. Pompeo began an hour-long meeting with Binney on October 24, 2017 by explaining the genesis of the unusual invitation: You are here because the President told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk to you.” 

But Did Pompeo Really Want to Know’? 

Apparently not. Binney, a widely respected, plain-spoken scientist with more than three decades of experience at NSA, began by telling Pompeo that his (CIA) people were lying to him about Russian hacking and that he (Binney) could prove it. As we explained in our most recent Memorandum to you, Pompeo reacted with disbelief and — now get this — tried to put the burden on Binney to pursue the matter with the FBI and NSA. 

As for Pompeo himself, there is no sign he followed up by pursuing Binney’s stark observation with anyone, including his own CIA cyber sleuths. Pompeo had been around intelligence long enough to realize the risks entailed in asking intrusive questions of intelligence officers—in this case, subordinates in the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which was created by CIA Director John Brennan in 2015. CIA malware and hacking tools are built by the Engineering Development Group, part of that relatively new Directorate. (It is a safe guess that offensive cybertool specialists from that Directorate were among those involved in the reported placing of “implants” or software code into the Russian grid, about which The New York Times claims you were not informed.)

If Pompeo failed to report back to you on the conversation you instructed him to have with Binney, you might ask him about it now (even though the flimsy evidence of Russia hacking the DNC has now evaporated, with Binney vindicated). There were two note-takers present at the October 24, 2017 meeting at CIA headquarters. There is also a good chance the session was also recorded. You might ask Pompeo about that. 

Whose Agenda?

The question is whose agenda Pompeo was pursuing — yours or his own. [Trump’s “own” as conveyed by his actions is that he doesn’t care either way.] Binney had the impression Pompeo was simply going through the motions — and disingenuously, at that. If he “really wanted to know about Russian hacking,” he would have acquainted himself with the conclusions that VIPS, with Binney in the lead, had reached in mid-2017, and which apparently caught your eye. 

Had he pursued the matter seriously with Binney, we might not have had to wait until the Justice Department itself put nails in the coffin of Russiagate, CrowdStrike, and Comey. 

In sum, Pompeo could have prevented two additional years of “everyone knows that the Russians hacked into the DNC.” Why did he not? [Because it didn't mean enough to Trump that the non-existent "hack" would become “true” via two more years of simply repeating the accusation. Nor did he care enough that the two more years would harm the country and cost taxpayers millions.] 

Pompeo is said to be a bright fellow — Bolton, too–with impeccable academic  credentials. The history of the past six decades, though, shows that an Ivy League pedigree can spell disaster in affairs of state. Think, for example, of President Lyndon Johnson’s national security adviser, former Harvard Dean McGeorge Bundy, for example, who sold the Tonkin Gulf Resolution to Congress to authorize the Vietnam war based on what he knew was a lie. Millions dead. 

Bundy was to LBJ as John Bolton is to you, and it is a bit tiresome watching Bolton brandish his Yale senior ring at every podium. Think, too, of Princeton’s own Donald Rumsfeld concocting and pushing the fraud about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to “justify” war on Iraq, assuring us all the while that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Millions dead. 

Rumsfeld’s dictum is anathema to William Binney, who has shown uncommon patience answering a thousand evidence-free “What if’s” over the past three years. Binney’s shtick? The principles of physics, applied mathematics, and the scientific method. He is widely recognized for his uncanny ability to use these to excellent advantage in separating the chaff from wheat. No Ivy pedigree wanted or needed. 

Binney describes himself as a “country boy” from western Pennsylvania. He studied at Penn State and became a world renowned mathematician/cryptologist as well as a technical director at NSA. Binney’s accomplishments are featured in a documentary on YouTube, “A Good American.” You may wish to talk to him person-to-person. 

Cooked Intelligence 

Some of us served as long ago as the Vietnam War. We are painfully aware of how Gen. William Westmoreland and other top military officers lied about the “progress” the Army was making, and succeeded in forcing their superiors in Washington to suppress our conclusions as all-source analysts that the war was a fool’s errand and one we would inevitably lose. Millions dead. 

Four decades later, on February 5, 2003, six weeks before the attack on Iraq, we warned President Bush that there was no reliable intelligence to justify war on Iraq.  

Five years later [2008], the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, releasing the bipartisan conclusions of the committee’s investigation, said this:

“In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.  As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.” 

Intelligence on the Middle East has still been spotty — and sometimes “fixed” for political purposes. Four years ago, a U.S. congressional report said Central Command painted too rosy a picture of the fight against Islamic State in 2014 and 2015 compared with the reality on the ground and grimmer assessments by other analysts. 

Intelligence analysts at CENTCOM claimed their commanders imposed a “false narrative” on analysts, intentionally rewrote and suppressed intelligence products, and engaged in “delay tactics” to undermine intelligence provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency. In July 2015, fifty CENTCOM analysts signed a complaint to the Pentagon’s Inspector General that their intelligence reports were being manipulated by their superiors. The CENTCOM analysts were joined by intelligence analysts working for the Defense Intelligence Agency. 

We offer this as a caution. As difficult as this is for us to say, the intelligence you get from CENTCOM should not be accepted reflexively as gospel truth, especially in periods of high tension. The experience of the Tonkin Gulf alone should give us caution. Unclear and misinterpreted intelligence can be as much a problem as politicization in key conflict areas. 

Frequent problems with intelligence and Cheney-style hyperbole help explain why CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon in early 2007 blurted out that “an attack on Iran “ will not happen on my watch,as Bush kept sending additional carrier groups into the Persian Gulf. Hillary Mann, the administration’s former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs, warned at the time that some Bush advisers secretly wanted an excuse to attack Iran. “They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for,” she told Newsweek. Deja vu. A National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 concluded unanimously that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003 and had not resumed such work. 

We believe your final decision yesterday was the right one — given the so-called “fog of war” and against the background of a long list of intelligence mistakes, not to mention “cooking” shenanigans. We seldom quote media commentators, but we think Tucker Carlson had it right yesterday evening: “The very people — in some cases, literally the same people who lured us into the Iraq quagmire 16 years ago — are demanding a new war — this one with Iran. Carlson described you as “skeptical.” We believe ample skepticism is warranted. 

We are at your disposal, should you wish to discuss any of this with us."

For the Steering Groups of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:  

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical and Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.) 
Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer and former Division Director in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (ret.)
Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator
James George Jatras, former U.S. diplomat and former foreign policy adviser to Senate leadership (Associate VIPS)
Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)
John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003
Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, U.S. Army (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer and CIA presidential briefer (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and CIA political analyst (ret.)
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
Sarah Wilton, Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve (ret.) and Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)
Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War”

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Untouchable trio of US-NATO-media continue murderous global crime spree. In 5 yr investigation of Malaysian plane crash, no credible proof against Russia but “Washington” only blames Russia and not Neo-Nazi Ukraine regime it violently installed in 2014. Crime trio gives Saudis weapons to kill Yemen civilians, continues economic genocide against innocent Russians for unproven allegations-Strategic Culture Editorial

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The credible suspect party [in Malaysian crash] Kiev political and intelligence authorities – have been allowed to participate in and frame the JIT probe to inculpate Russia. The US, European Union and NATO back the Neo-Nazi dominated regime in Kiev, financially, and militarily, since it seized power in a violent coup d’├ętat back in 2014. That should be the real focus of scandal in the MH17 story. 

6/28/19, West’s Moral Bankruptcy Exposed,” Strategic Culture Editorial 

“The moral bankruptcy of Western powers was exposed – inadvertently – with the recent publication of three separate news reports. Taken together the reports out last week illustrate the rank hypocrisy of Western governments. 

Also, the way that the reports were prioritized or left disconnected demonstrates how the Western mainstream media serves as a dutiful propaganda service for state and corporate power. 

First there was the Dutch-led inquiry into downing of the Malaysian MH17 airliner, which put the finger of blame on Russia for the disaster in 2014 when all 298 people onboard were killed. 

That nearly five-year investigation has never provided any credible proof of Russian culpability, yet the Dutch-led investigators known as the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) continually level allegations that Russia supplied an anti-aircraft missile to Ukrainian rebels who purportedly blasted the Boeing 777 out of the sky. 

Despite its evident failures of due process, nonetheless Western governments and media have lent the JIT allegations (slanders) undue credibility. The US, Britain and other NATO members last week called on Russia to comply with the JIT “investigation”, smearing Moscow as guilty of causing the MH17 deaths. 

However, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad denounced the report as “ridiculous hearsay” aimed at “scapegoating Russia”. Tellingly, his comments were not widely reported in Western media. 

For its part, Russia has vehemently rejected allegations of involvement in the MH17 disaster, as have pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels. Russia’s repeated offers of contributing information to the probe have been rebuffed by the Dutch-led JIT. By contrast, Russia’s own investigation has uncovered credible radar and forensic evidence that an anti-aircraft missile fired at the passenger jet actually came from military forces under the Kiev regime’s command. Russia’s evidence has been steadfastly ignored by Western media reports. 

The credible suspect party Kiev political and intelligence authorities – have been allowed to participate in and frame the JIT probe to inculpate Russia. The US, European Union and NATO back the Neo-Nazi dominated regime in Kiev, financially, and militarily, since it seized power in a violent coup d’├ętat back in 2014. That should be the real focus of scandal in the MH17 story. On the back of the MH17 imbroglio, as well as other slanders, Western governments have continued to impose economic sanctions on Russia. These sanctions have cost the Russian economy an estimated $50 billion. On top of that, Western states and their media portray Russia and President Putin as a rogue regime and pariah. 

Now contrast the undue priority given to the above dubious JIT claims with two other reports also out last week. 

One was on the horrific death toll among civilians in Yemen inflicted by the Western-backed Saudi-led war on that country. It is estimated that over 90,000 people have been killed in violence over the past four years, with most of the civilian victims caused by indiscriminate Saudi air strikes. 

It is an indisputable fact that the US, Britain, France, Germany and other NATO powers have been arming the Saudi regime with warplanes, helicopters, missiles and logistics to carry out this slaughter of Yemeni civilians. 

The Western states are complicit in war crimes. 

President Trump continues to defy US lawmakers by ordering multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the carnage. The British government and wannabe prime minister Boris Johnson claims that its weapons exports are not involved in killing Yemeni civilians, in blatant denial of the facts. 

A British court last week ruled that UK weapons exports were in breach of its own supposed ethical codes protecting civilian lives in conflicts. The British government is set to appeal the court ruling and will likely ignore it anyway given the systematic relationship of Britain arming Saudi Arabiathe UK’s biggest weapons export market – year after year. 

Western media last week, as usual, gave only minimal reporting on the shocking human suffering in Yemen. The whole barbarity and Western governments’ culpability is largely hushed-up and omitted by the media. 

The third report we refer to was on the conclusions of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur investigating the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. His tortured body is believed to have been cut up and dumped by his killers. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard made a damning assessment that the Saudi state was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. And she called on Western states to impose sanctions on the Saudi monarchy. 

Despite mounting evidence of Saudi regime guilt in the journalist’s murder and in the deaths of tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians, Western governments have not imposed any sanctions against Riyadh. Indeed, they continue to ply this regime with billions-of-dollars-worth of killing machines. 

Admittedly, Western media did give some coverage to the UN report on the Khashoggi murder. But in proportion to the gravity of the crime, the response of media as well as of Western governments is woefully lacking. 

Western media do not put the last two mentioned reports in the context of Western state relations with Saudi Arabia. The oversight is for a good reason. Because to delve into the issues would expose criminal complicity. 

Meanwhile, the US and its NATO allies impose sanctions on Russia based on unsubstantiated allegations about MH17, Ukraine, Crimea, election meddling, the Skripal spy poisoning affair, among other fabrications. Those sanctions – based on flimsy innuendo – are leading to ever-worsening relations with Russia and international tensions between nuclear powers. Western media do not expose the insanity, they foment it. 

Such media are unwilling and incapable of pointing out this gross double standard. They propagate the double standard. 

The moral bankruptcy of Western governments must be covered up by a servile media. Because the state, corporate power and media are all complicit. Truth, justice and democracy, which they pontificate about, have nothing to do with the functioning of Western capitalist power; they’re mere illusions to distract from systematic criminality. Last week was an object lesson for those willing to see it.”


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