Guardian journalist Owen Jones savaged the Telegraph’s defence editor after he went to a Saudi Arabia Embassy party at a London Museum. Con Coughlin has now deleted his Twitter account after Jones linked him to both Saudi and MI6.
Coughlin’s credibility was left in tatters after a Jones Twitter thread took aim at the journalist and his wife. The thread was instigated by Coughlin’s attendance at a party hosted by the Saudi government at the Natural History Museum, amidst allegations that Saudi agents had killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Following Khashoggi’s disappearance, Coughlin echoed the line of the Saudi government, tweeting: “Was Jamal Khasogghi a liberal or a Muslim Brotherhood lackey who reviled the West?” and linking to his article on the matter.
The writer also took exception with Coughlin’s reporting on Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.
Jones didn’t only look at Coughlin’s recent work and connections, he also went back into the veteran’s career to expose numerous instances where Coughlin was reportedly fed lines by MI6, writing: “One false story fed to him by MI6 about Saif Gaddafi led to the Sunday Telegraph apologising for libel.”
The Guardian writer then exposed Coughlin for his work in the build up to the Iraq War, posting that he was involved in the pushing of ‘evidence’ of a link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, that “Pulizter-winning journalist Ron Suskind claims the Bush administration forged.”
Moving on to his spouse Katharine Bergen, Jones detailed how she “is a former journalist who wrote pro-Bahrain propaganda for publications ranging from The Daily Mail to Standpoint Magazine.”
The Twitter thread subsequently went viral, with thousands re-tweeting and liking Jones’ posts. He was hailed by many, although one former Guardian journalist said his words would be a lot more powerful if he looked at his own employers too. Owen Jones is not ‘criticising’ the corporate media – he is showing a connection between a supposed journalist and the brutal Saudi dictatorship as well as being a parrot for CIA and MI6 war propaganda.
It is unclear as to Coughlin’s response to the attack, other than to delete his Twitter account. The editor did, however, have a story published on Sunday, titled: “Are you smart enough to pass the GCHQ entrance exam? Test your intelligence with these extracts from the world’s toughest puzzle book.”
A man in New York developed an extremely rare and fatal brain disorder after he ate squirrel brains, according to a new report of the man’s case.
In 2015, the 61-year-old man was brought to a hospital in Rochester, New York, after experiencing a decline in his thinking abilities and losing touch with reality, the report said. The man had also lost the ability to walk on his own.
An MRI of the man’s head revealed a striking finding: The brain scan looked similar to those seen in people with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a fatal brain condition caused by infectious proteins called prions. Only a few hundred cases of vCJD have ever been reported, and most were tied to consumption of contaminated beef in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s. (In cows, vCJD is commonly called “mad cow disease.”)
But in this case, the man had another dietary habit that could have raised his risk for vCJD: His family said he liked to hunt, and it was reported that he had eaten squirrel brains, said Dr. Tara Chen, a medical resident at Rochester Regional Health and lead author of the report. It’s unclear if the man consumed the entire squirrel brain or just squirrel meat that was contaminated with parts of squirrel brain, Chen said. [27 Oddest Medical Cases]
Chen didn’t treat the patient, but she uncovered the case while writing a report on suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cases seen at her hospital in the last five years.
The report was presented on Oct. 4 at IDWeek, a meeting of several organizations focused on infectious diseases.
A rare brain disorder
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects only about 1 in a million people each year worldwide, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It’s a “debilitating disease” that progresses quickly and usually results in death within one year of diagnosis, Chen told Live Science. There is no treatment or cure.
The disease results from prion proteins that fold abnormally, leading to lesions in the brain.
There are three forms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD): one that is inherited, one that comes from exposure to infected tissue from the brain or nervous system (this form includes vCJD), and one type that is “sporadic” and does not appear to have a genetic or environmental cause.
The sporadic type is the most common, responsible for 85 percent of cases, according to the NIH.
Because CJD is so rare, doctors at Rochester Regional Health were surprised when four suspected cases of the disease occurred at the hospital within a six-month period, from November of 2017 to April of 2018. That number is higher than expected based on the population of the Rochester area, which has about 1 million people, said study co-author Dr. John Hanna, also a medical resident at Rochester Regional Health.
This high number of suspected CJD cases prompted Chen, Hanna and colleagues to conduct a review of suspected CJD cases occurring at their hospital from 2013 to 2018. (Five cases were identified, but two of those five ultimately tested negative for CJD.)
That’s when the doctors came across the case tied to squirrel brains. Tests indicated that this was a “probable” case of vCJD because of the MRI finding and a test that showed specific proteins in the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid, which often indicate the disease.
However, CJD can be confirmed only with a test of brain tissue on autopsy at death. Although the patient passed away after his diagnosis, Chen and colleagues are working to obtain access to his medical records to see if CJD was confirmed at autopsy. If so, such a confirmation would be highly unusual; only four confirmed cases of vCJD have ever been reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The review of the five cases revealed a concerning finding: Diagnosis of the condition was often delayed; in one case, about two weeks passed before doctors suspected that a patient had CJD. In that case, the patient, a 65-year-old woman, had undergone plasmapheresis, a blood-filtering procedure, and a gynecological surgery before her diagnosis.
Quick diagnosis of CJD is important, because infectious prions could contaminate equipment used on patients with the disease, and this might transmit the condition to others if the equipment is not properly cleaned.
Diagnosis may be delayed, in part, because CJD is rare and is not “on the tip of the physician’s mind” when assessing a patient, Hanna told Live Science. In addition, once doctors suspect CJD and order a cerebrospinal fluid test, it typically takes around two weeks to get the test results.
The report highlights the need for doctors to keep CJD diagnosis in mind and for hospitals to have “policies for infection control when it comes to CJD,” Hanna said.
(Police tried to clear protesters who are against allowing women into the site )
Clashes erupted on Wednesday as Hindu hardliners prevented women visiting one of India’s most sacred temples, with baton-waving police charging stone-throwing protesters.
Ugly scenes erupted as mobs surrounded and attacked the cars of female journalists. Other reporters including a female AFP journalist were intimidated.
The situation remained tense after nightfall, with police reinforcing the 500 officers already present ahead of likely another dramatic day on Thursday on the road to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.
Last month India’s Supreme Court overturned a ban on females of menstruating age — judged between 10 and 50 years — entering and praying at the hilltop temple in the southern state of Kerala.
This enraged traditionalists, including supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with thousands protesting in the days before the scheduled opening on Wednesday afternoon.
Kerala’s state government insisted it would enforce the court ruling and ensure free access to the remote complex, reached by an uphill trek that takes several hours.
At Nilackal, a base camp below the temple, police cleared protesters early Wednesday morning and arrested seven people who were stopping vehicles.
“Stern action will be taken against anyone who prevents devotees from going to Sabarimala,” Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Tuesday.
– Turned back –
But later police struggled to control the situation, fighting running battles that left five devotees and 15 policemen injured, according to EP Jayarajan, a minister in the Kerala government.
News channels CNN News 18 and Republic TV both showed footage of their reporters’ cars being vandalised. Online publication The News Minute said its reporter was kicked in the spine.
One 45-year old woman identified as Madhavi who wanted to enter the temple abandoned her attempt after activists prevented her climbing the hill, the Press Trust of India reported.
Even though police gave the woman and her family protection and allowed them to move further, they gave up as irate activists surrounded them, PTI reported.
Biju S. Pillai, a local man in his 30s, was one of those opposed to the court ruling, telling AFP that he returned from working in Dubai to “protect the sanctity of the temple”.
“No one should be able to change the way this temple has functioned for centuries,” he said. “If any change is made they will have to kill us and go over our bodies.”
“I am here to protest the Supreme Court decision,” said engineer Anisha S., 23, one of a group chanting religious slogans. “We want to save our traditions. Ayyappa needs to be respected.”
Jayarajan blamed the violence on “goons” from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a hardline Hindu group seen as close to Modi’s BJP, which is an opposition party in Kerala.
P.S. Sreedharan Pillai, head of the Kerala BJP, pointed the finger at the state government and a bungled police operation.
“The overwhelming majority of women oppose the Supreme Court ruling,” he told AFP.
– ‘Impure’ –
Women are permitted to enter most Hindu temples but female devotees are still barred from entry by some.
Two years ago, activists successfully campaigned to end a ban on women entering the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra state.
Women were also permitted to enter Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah mausoleum, a Muslim place of worship, after the Supreme Court scrapped a ban in 2016.
The entry of women at Sabarimala was long taboo but was formalised by the Kerala High Court in 1991, a ruling overturned by India’s Supreme Court last month.
The restriction reflected an old but still prevalent belief among many that menstruating women are impure, and the fact that the deity Ayyappa was reputed to have been celibate.
The Sabarimala chief priest, Kandararu Maheshwararu Tantri, 25, warned this week that “anger could easily escalate into violence if a few egotistical women try to enter” the temple.
While most indie media was focused on debating the way people talk about Kanye West and the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an unprecedented escalation in internet censorship took place which threatens everything we all care about. It received frighteningly little attention.
After a massive purge of hundreds of politically oriented pages and personal accounts for “inauthentic behavior”, Facebook rightly received a fair amount of criticism for the nebulous and hotly disputed basis for that action. What received relatively little attention was the far more ominous step which was taken next: within hours of being purged from Facebook, multiple anti-establishment alternative media sites had their accounts completely removed from Twitter as well.
As of this writing I am aware of three large alternative media outlets which were expelled from both platforms at almost the same time: Anti-Media, the Free Thought Project, and Police the Police, all of whom had millions of followers on Facebook. Both the Editor-in-Chief of Anti-Media and its Chief Creative Officer were also banned by Twitter, and are being kept from having any new accounts on that site as well.
“I unfortunately always felt the day would come when alternative media would be scrubbed from major social media sites,” Anti-Media’s Chief Creative Officer S.M. Gibson said in a statement to me. “Because of that I prepared by having backup accounts years ago. The fact that those accounts, as well as 3 accounts from individuals associated with Anti-Media were banned without warning and without any reason offered by either platform makes me believe this purge was certainly orchestrated by someone. Who that is I have no idea, but this attack on information was much more concise and methodical in silencing truth than most realize or is being reported.”
It is now clear that there is either (A) some degree of communication/coordination between Twitter and Facebook about their respective censorship practices, or (B) information being given to both Twitter and Facebook by another party regarding targets for censorship. Either way, it means that there is now some some mechanism in place linking the censorship of dissident voices across multiple platforms. We are beginning to see smaller anti-establishment alternative media outlets cut off from their audiences by the same sort of coordinated cross-platform silencing we first witnessed with Alex Jones in August.
This is about as acute a threat to our ability to network and share information with each other as anything you could possibly imagine. If new media outlets are beginning to silence dissident voices together in unison, that means we can see entire alternative media outlets not just partially silenced but thoroughly silenced, their ability to grow their audiences and get information out to heavily populated parts of the internet completely crippled.
This is huge, this is dangerous, and this is being under-reported. When I was removed from Twitter in August for “abusing” John McCain, there was a large and outraged uproar on Twitter, and my account was quickly restored with an apology. And I’m really grateful for that, but the phenomenon of multiple high-profile alternative media outlets suddenly being silenced in unison by the two biggest social media platforms should be generating more outrage than some ornery Australian blogger losing her Twitter account, not less. This should be the top story in alternative media, because it affects us all.
Any time you try to talk about how internet censorship threatens our ability to get the jackboot of oligarchy off our necks you’ll always get some guy in your face who’s read one Ayn Rand book and thinks he knows everything, saying things like “Facebook is a private company! It can do whatever it wants!” Is it now? Has not Facebook been inviting US government-funded groups to help regulate its operations, vowing on the Senate floor to do more to facilitate the interests of the US government, deleting accounts at the direction of the US and Israeli governments, and handing the guidance of its censorship behavior over to the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the US government, the EU, NATO and Gulf states? How “private” is that? Facebook is a deeply government-entrenched corporation, and Facebook censorship is just what government censorship looks like in a corporatist system of government.
Speaking of the Atlantic Council, it recently published a very interesting 21-page document about a US military conference detailing, in present tense, how Silicon Valley tech giants are being used to nullify the threat that the new media landscape poses to the US power establishment.
Enter the social media companies. The best mechanism for suppressing oppositional viewpoints and promoting pro-government narratives is the private sector, in particular “technology giants, including Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter,” which can “determine what people see and do not see.”
Watts adds, “Fortunately, shifts in the policies of social media platforms such as Facebook have had significant impact on the type and quality of the content that is broadcast.”
The private sector, therefore, must do the dirty work of the government, because government propaganda is viewed with suspicion by the population. “Business and the private sector may not naturally understand the role they play in combating disinformation, but theirs is one of the most important…. In the West at least, they have been thrust into a central role due to the general public’s increased trust in them as institutions.”
The best way to deal with a manipulative sociopath is to point and make a lot of noise every time they do something weird and creepy. The more you let them abuse you in private, the more they can rope you in and get you playing along with their sick agendas. If you notice them doing something weird, the best way to nullify all the tools in their wicked little toolbox is to point and yell “Hey! What are you doing?? Why are you doing that? That’s weird!” Get people looking, because such beasts can’t advance their manipulations with a lot of critical eyes on them.
Propaganda and censorship operates very much the same way. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the Streisand effect, I encourage you to begin to acquaint yourself with it. Named for an incident in which Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress online photographs of her Malibu residence and thereby inadvertently drew far more attention to them, the Streisand effect describes the way attempts to hide and censor information can be used to draw more attention to it if the coverup attracts the interest of the public eye. Every censor needs to prevent this from happening in order to do their job effectively; if it looks like removing something from public view would draw more attention to it, then they cannot practice censorship in that case.
So let’s Streisand this thing up, hey? Let’s make a big angry noise about this new cross-platform escalation in internet censorship, and let’s make a big angry noise any time anyone makes a move to silence dissident political speech in the new media environment. Manipulators can only function in darkness, so let’s never give them any. Anything they try, we need to make a ton of noise about it. That by itself would be throwing an enormous stumbling block in their path while we find new ways to clear a path for more and more networking and information sharing. These bastards have controlled the narrative for too long.
Another month, another win among university researchers for UAW
October 12, 201812:53 PM CDT By Mark Gruenberg
UAW Local 5810
BERKELEY, Calif. —Another month, another win for the Auto Workers among university researchers, TAs and RAs at a leading university – or in this case, a leading university system.
This one came at the start of October when a majority of the University of California system’s 5,000 academic researchers turned in signed union election authorization cards to the state Public Employment Relations Board.
Under California labor law, which governs state universities, all 5,000 researchers are now represented by Academic Researchers United/UAW Local 5810. That paves the way for bargaining to begin soon, the local added.
The California card-check win is part of labor’s larger organizing drive among teaching assistants, research assistants, academic researchers and adjunct professors nationwide. All are often underpaid, overworked, lack tenure and exploited by university administrations. Other unions who have racked up such wins include The News Guild and the Steelworkers.
“Academic Researchers (ARs) conduct cutting-edge research ranging from new cures for cancer to clean energy to new models of the universe and beyond. ARs also write grants, mentor students and colleagues, and maintain highly technical equipment, all of which are key to UC’s almost $6 billion in annual research revenue,” Local 5810 explained.
But while some ARs have spent decades at their universities and brought in millions in research grants, their working conditions are another matter. The work is “incredible,” but “a lack of job security and opportunities for advancement, low compensation, and hostile work environments” makes it “unsustainable,” said acute leukemia researcher Theo Tarver.
“The university must foster a stable work environment for ARs, a task UC administration has failed to perform. Creating this environment will benefit both ARs and the UC system,” he added.
Trump has threatened ‘severe punishment’ for alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Let’s hope he means it
by Michael Horton
If the reports of Jamal Khashoggi’s abduction, murder, and dismemberment at the hands of a Saudi kill team dispatched to Istanbul prove correct, his death might achieve what years of abuses by a despotic government have failed to: a meaningful rebuke by the U.S. and its Western allies.
In fact, politicians from both parties have implausibly lauded Saudi Arabia as one of Washington’s most important allies. However, the Trump administration appeared to have taken this obsequious approach to the House of Saud to a new level. He and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have lavished praise on Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, often referred to as MbS. In his speech to the United Nations in September, Trump singled out the Saudi king and crown prince citing their “bold new reforms.” The president has hardly been alone. For much of the last three years, the crown prince has been able to count on a devoted fan club that includes prominent columnists, philanthropists, and titans of industry.
By contrast, Khashoggi, a onetime insider who advised ranking princes of the House of Saud, is a prominent and well-informed critic of MbS and his policies. Khashoggi has rubuked the Saudi-led war in Yemen and its push to launch an unprovoked invasion of Qatar. However, despite his criticism, Khashoggi remained a stalwart Saudi nationalist whose columns for The Washington Post often emphasized his interest in saving Saudi Arabia from itself or rather from its capricious young leader.
Turkish authorities have presented some evidence that the suspected 15 member kill team may have included men who are part of MbS’s close protection squad. There are also reports that U.S. intelligence services intercepted communications that indicate the “young reformer” approved plans to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. While this may all come as something of a surprise to the members of the bin Salman fan club, it shouldn’t.
This is the same man who rounded up several hundred Saudi businessmen, princes of the House of Saud, and members of the Saudi Armed forces and confined them to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh where they were held until they agreed to sign confessions and most importantly hand over billions of dollars in assets. The crackdown was praised by the Trump administration. At least one of those detained, Major General Ali al-Qahtani, appears to have been tortured to death.
MbS is also the architect of Saudi Arabia’s brutal and futile war in Yemen. The war was meant to mark bin Salman’s international and national debut. Now in its fourth year, the war in Yemen costs Saudi Arabia billions of dollars a month and has shown the world that its military—even with the most advanced weaponry and U.S. assistance—is incapable of even defending the country’s own borders from lightly armed Houthi rebels and allied militias.
The Saudi air force, with U.S. assistance in the form aerial refueling, has targeted civilian infrastructure, farmland, factories, and, most recently, a bus load of Yemeni children. After the bus bombing, which killed 40 young boys, MbS was reported to have said in a meeting with military brass, “we want to leave a big impact on the consciousness of Yemeni generations. We want their children, women, and even their men to shiver whenever the name of Saudi Arabia is mentioned.”
MbS didn’t have to worry about criticism from the U.S. much less a review of American assistance to the Saudi military. Following a pattern of permissiveness, the Trump administration turned a blind eye to Saudi abuses in Yemen and encouraged the Saudis to—yet again—investigate themselves. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on to certify to Congress that Saudi Arabia and its partner in the war in Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, were taking all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties. Bipartisan measures to end U.S. assistance there have so far failed to get full approval in Congress, though a new resolution by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-PA) was introduced in September.
Congress has started to act where Khashoggi is concerned, too. Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have sent a letter to the White House triggering an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible murder under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Senator Rand Paul, a longstanding and consistent critic of the House of Saud, is introducing a measure to cut all funding, training, and advising to the Saudi military. In a tweet, Senator Paul said, “the Saudis will keep killing civilians and journalists as long as we keep arming and assisting them. The President should immediately halt arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia.”
Until this weekend, President Trump’s was taking heat for suggesting his primary concern was keeping U.S. arms sales to the Kingdom intact. In an interview with Fox News Night on October 10, when asked about possibly blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi, the president responded, “I think that would be hurting us.” However, as Bruce Riedel points out in a recent article, the arms sales that Trump lauds are “fake news,” because the war in Yemen is draining the Saudi coffers, and they have stopped buying.
If the president does not follow through on his threats (if an when it turns out Saudi Arabia is connected to the journalist’s disappearance and/or death) it will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. credibility and most critically further imperil dissidents and journalists around the world.
So far, savaging Yemen, a country of 26 million, a deplorable human rights record at home, and ties to radical Islamists have done nothing to dampen the Trump administration’s and previous administrations’ enthusiasm for the House of Saud. One can only hope that what looks to be the brutal pre-meditated murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, might finally provoke something other than praise for Saudi Arabia and its de-facto ruler.