Category Archives: politics

Russiagate – Some insights into its origins and results

Chris Hedges interviews Aaron Mate, one of the few independent reporters who was never taken in by the Russiagate hysteria and doggedly followed the evidence. Now vindicated by the Mueller investigation, which found no evidence of collusion, Aaron Mate analyses the origins of the Russiagate conspiracy theory and the way corporate media, and much of the alternative media, handled it. He argues that Russiagate turned out, in the end, to be a great gift to Trump and will help him with the 2020 presidential elections.

I believe this is an important interview which should help clarify many for the problems people have had with US politics over the last few years.

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Russiagate: Lessons for the media. But will they listen?

How is this anything but a form of racism? Racism is never acceptable – and this coming from within the US intelligence community.

Frankly, I don’t think the corporate media will listen. Or draw conclusions from the main finding of the Mueller report. At the moment they seem too busy shifting goalposts and denying they ever promoted a collusion narrative.

This week we have the extraordinary spectacle of Paul Thomas, A NZ Listener journalist, cherry-picking his own articles to deny he ever promoted the collusion myth (See “The Cult of Trump,” NZ Listener, April 13-19, 2019). This “journalist” – and the Listener – pushed weekly articles promoting the myth to the extent of regularly including photographs of Russian President Putin in his articles about Trump. He let his naive partisan anti-Trump rhetoric get away so badly he even wrote an article linking the Christchurch Mosque shootings to Trump (seeFollow the leader, NZ Listener).  At a time when the rest of the nation was grieving.

It seems to me a whole raft of “journalists” abandoned the ethical basis of their profession and simply promoted an “official” narrative handed to them from above. I cannot respect such people.

In contrast, there were evidence-based independent and alternative journalists who got it right. These journalists were ignored, and worse – vilified, by corporate media. We should draw some lessons from their experience.

Fortunately an article in Fair – Tips for a Post-Mueller Media from Nine Russiagate Skeptics – gives a much-needed start to the needed examination. Generally described as “Russiagate skeptics” (not all independent journalist or alternative media followed the evidence) nine of these journalist offer advice to the media.

I will summarise their advice in a single sentence for each journalist but urge readers to read their full comments in the linked article. Their explanations are valuable

1. Encourage debate and dissent, not conspiracy theories and clicks.

—Aaron Maté, journalist, The Nation


2. Stop playing into Trump’s hands and stop smearing reporters.

Matt Taibbi, journalist, Rolling Stone


3. Stop spreading Russophobic paranoia.

Yasha Levine, journalist, S.H.A.M.E. Project


4. Talk to people with an actual understanding of history and Russia, not fake experts and uninformed  pundits.

Carl Beijer, writer


5. Don’t manipulate the truth to justify war.

Rania Khalek, journalist, host of In the Now


6. Be skeptical toward government officials and other authorities.

Branko Marcetic, journalist, Jacobin


7. Focus on the many actual crimes.


Esha Krishnaswamy, lawyer, host of historic.lypodcast


8. Pay attention to whom Trump is actually colluding with.

Kyle Kulinski, host of the Kyle Kulinski Show


9. Stop fear-mongering and engaging in “acceptable” bigotry.

Jimmy Dore, comedian, host of the Jimmy Dore Show


These people need to be listened to.

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Aftermath of the Mueller report – the media starts looking at itself

Once again I am seeing vindication, a bit unexpected I must say because it involves the media analysing its own faults.

The Al Jazeera media programme, The Listening Post, today covered a few home truths about the media behaviour over the Russiagate conspiracy theory. What heartens me is that for the first time I get to see some of the independent journalists I have followed over the last two and a half years. Journalists like Aaron Maté who followed the evidence (in this case the lack of evidence), resisted the pressure to stick with the official narrative – and got attacked for it. Treatment of independent journalists by corporate media over this issue has been disgusting.

For the first time, I get to see a balanced (“balanced” in the sense the views of three Russiagate sceptics and two promoters are covered).

I don’t for one minute think this is anything more than an isolated case of responsible media coverage of the corporate media behaviour and, frankly, hysteria. It is nothing more than a start. A lot more must be done.

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Mueller report to be released mid April – but it will be redacted

I am being urged by some commenters not to feel vindicated yet about the results of the US Special counsel investigation into charges of collusion between the Trump team and the Russian Federation (see Getting out alive – why we should always demand evidence). Perhaps not surprising as there is a small chant going around – “wait till you see the full report.” Although I notice no one was chanting that when the corporate media was going wild with their own conspiracy theories at multiple times over the last two and half years (see Collapse of the “Russiagate ” myth exposes how corporate media has failed).

It looks like the report will be released in mid-April. The US Attorney General makes clear there will be redactions – probably no surprise to the sensible person. But I can see the conspiracy theorists beam in on these to keep their collusion narrative alive. However, I can’t see that particular conspiracy theory will get a lot of traction as it is simply turning the outlandish into a complete farce.

Here is the letter which describes what sort of redactions we can expect:

Interestingly the President will not exercise veto power and the report will not be submitted to him for “privilege review.”

I guess it was too much to hope for though. There will be redaction of sections which “the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods.” Given the role of at least part of the intelligence community in fostering the Russiagate hysteria, I would have thought it was essential to investigate its behaviour.

As I said, too much to hope for.

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Collapse of the “Russiagate ” myth exposes how corporate media has failed

We have had to put up with this emotional rubbish from corporate media for two and a half years. Evidence-less conclusions presented as fact and huge pressure to adopt the narrative they posh. The video may have selected from US TV sources – but it has been wider than that – stretching to all media forms and to other countries.

And some people have criticised me for feeling vindicated because when I pointed out the Emporer had no clothes I was right (see Getting out alive – why we should always demand evidence)!

As for the plea that I wait for the publication of the full Mueller report – isn’t that disingenuous when those making the plea did not wait? They simply succumbed to pressure to adopt the narrative offered and gave in to group thinking? I can’t help raising the question to those making these pleas –  “what will be the deflective argument used when the full report is published?”

No, we have had to put up with this BS for two and half years and corporate media did not wait for evidence during all that time – worse they distorted and misrepresented any evidence to fit it to their own partisan narrative. They used vague references to “anonymous sources” to justify their bias – that must be one of the oldest trick in the propaganda manual.

The few independent journalists who resisted this pressure to conform were vilified. Accused of being supporters of Trump, “Putin’s useful idiots,” etc. They were smeared. Described as conspiracy theorists – by the very media and their stenographers pushing the most ridiculous conspiracy theory of all, the installation of a Manchurian candidate in the White House.

Those independent journalist are feeling vindicated – and they are rubbing it in. I cannot blame them.

Sure, I am always open to new evidence and I am sure the Mueller report will contain a lot of that. But the main message pushed by corporate media over the last two and half years has been destroyed. The report itself says:

“[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

The corporate media and the stenographers it employees should take a long hard look at itself. Some (anly a few) of them have – even acknowledging the practice of justifying claims by reference to anonymous sources should stop. But I am not holding my breath.

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Getting out alive – why we should always demand evidence

It will never happen. The corporate media will never apologise for the false narrative they have promoted.

Today I am feeling vindicated. And that vindication comes from a very strange source – the US attorney general, William P. Barr. Or, more specifically, his letter to the US Senate released to the public today.

His letter reports the principal conclusions of Special Counsel, Robert S. Mueller on what has been dubbed “Russiagate.” That conclusion shows that the narrative we have been fed by the corporate or mainstream media over the last two years has been false. It has been fake news.

Barr points out that the primary consideration of the Mueller investigation was “whether any Americans – including individuals associated with the Trump campaign joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the elections, which would be a federal crime.”  He couldn’t be clearer in his conclusions:

“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

He quote’s Mueller’s report:

“[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Barr repeats this conclusion several times in his letter – it is not a slip of the tongue.

Smearing “Russiagate” sceptics as Trump supporters part of the big lie

My feeling of vindication has nothing to do with Trump – I do not support that buffoon and have made that clear many times. I feel vindicated because I saw absolutely no evidence for the narrative promoted by the corporate media and an alliance of US politicians and elements of the intelligence community. (If I had seen real evidence I would have supported the claims). No evidence at all.

But I felt like the small child pointing out the Emperor had no clothes. Simply standing up for the obvious need for evidence led to accusations of being a Trump supporter (even a “neo-Nazi” or a “White Supremacist)” and one of Putin’s “useful idiots.”

But now we know who the “useful idiots” were.

A dangerous narrative

Some commenters might say “so what. No one was harmed and truth will out in the end.” But I always saw this as an extremely serious matter. As Caitlin Johnstone says in her excellent article Russiagate Skeptics Rightly Boast About Being Proven 100% Correct:”

“Russiagate was a pernicious lie advanced by secretive government agencies who’ve been plotting to shove Russia off the world stage since the fall of the Soviet Union, by the Democrats who’ve had a vested interest in avoiding accountability for their failures and malfeasance in the 2016 election, and by the mass media who’ve been reaping extreme profits by peddling the clickbait sensationalist conspiracy theory that the Kremlin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government.”

That lie was extremely dangerous because it increased international tension, brought relations between the two major nuclear countries to the worst state since the cold war, prevented any  progress on nuclear arms control (in fact promoted retreat from arms control), inhibited the fight against terrorism and the solution of regional problems, and enhanced the possibility that regional conflicts could erupt into a full scale nuclear world war.

But the damage was also to our own society. Again, Caitlin Johnstone says it so well:

“These lies have created a highly toxic environment by leeching poison into the natural discourse and halting the progression of our species. Most people who got swept up in the Russiagate fervor were manipulated by their disgust for Trump and their desire to get him out, no matter if it was true or not.”

Demand evidence and question more

Since the US presidential election, I have been amazed at the people who should know better, people I had respected, who have brought this Russiagate narrative – simply and only because of their hatred for Trump. These people turned on anyone questioning the narrative simply because of their own confirmation bias, ignoring the evidence or lack of it.

This experience has taught me something. I should not translate respect for a source based on their evidence-based conclusions in one area to the conclusions in other areas. Every individual or source has feet of clay – we should hold the credibility of evidence well above the status and promoted credibility of sources – especially those of the corporate media.

Caitlin Johnstone again:

“I think the great lesson here is that you can’t out-manipulate the grand manipulators. You have to stick to the truth even when it appears to go against your own self interests because your ego has levers and it can be used to puppet you. If you always value the highest interest over your self interest then you can’t be played. Demand evidence and keep demanding it until you get it. If you do, change your mind, if you don’t, stick to your guns. That’s the only way we’ll get out of here alive.”

There will be no apology

Some elements in the media did sort of apologise when the US presidential election did not go the way they told us it would. They sort of indicated they had learned their lesson and would do better next time.

What a load of rubbish. They immediately fell back into the same old bad habits. The corporate media had got it wrong again and it is the sensible consumer of media output who learned the lesson. The sensible person now uses multiple sources and treats them all critically and intelligently, refusing to accept evidence-free narratives. In this case, it has been elements of the alternative media who got it right – and understandably they are now crowing about it. Caitlin Johnstone supports this crowing:

” It is good that these alternative media figures are puffing their chests and shouting their I-told-you-sos, because you can be absolutely certain that the people who’ve been advancing the Russiagate narrative will never go out of their way to acknowledge the undeniable fact that they have been proven wrong while there were voices standing to their left getting it right. The mainstream narrative will do its very best to pace mainstream attention away from the inconvenient fact that there was abundant evidence contradicting a narrative which monopolized public energy for more than two years while manufacturing support for dangerous cold war escalations and sucking all oxygen out of the room for discussion of progressive reforms, so it is absolutely necessary for those voices who have been vindicated to make noise about it themselves.”

That screeching sound you hear comes from corporate media and the stenographers they employ reacting to the Mueller report by shifting the goal posts in a desperate attempt to avoid public recognition of their culpability in promoting the fake narrative, and to keep that narrative alive in different forms.

I will leave the last word to comedian Jimmy Dore – experience shows he is worth listening to:

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Terrorism in Christchurch – some thoughts

A peaceful, tranquil place to sit and contemplate in the Hagley Park/Botanical Gardens area of Christchurch. It is obscene that this terrorist act occurred only a short distance away from here.

Like most New Zealanders I am badly shocked by the brutal act of terror and mass shootings in Christchurch today (March 15). As our Prime Minster Jacinda Adern said, this is not us.

I feel particularly emotional as only a few days ago I spent a very pleasurable morning walking in Hagley Park and the Botanical Gardens just a short distance from the Mosque where most of the deaths occurred. The tranquillity and peacefulness of the area impressed me. A place for rest and quiet contemplation – and then this happens.

Remembering that tranquillity with my photo above underlines to me the obscenity of this act of terror. This should not have happened in New Zealand, let alone in such a lovely city and peaceful area.

Problems with censorship

The censorship around this incident concerns me a little. I support any attempt to suppress the terrorist’s live video of the shooting. It, apparently, is just too much like a video game and could appeal to people who might be influenced into copycat acts.

But the terrorist’s Manifesto has now also been removed from social media – and that worries me. I had a brief read before it was removed and got the impression the writer was influenced by the British Fascist Oswald Mosley and the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik who murdered 77 people in a 2011 car bomb explosion in Oslo and a shooting spree at a Workers’ Youth League summer camp on the nearby  Utøya Island.

Pages from the Manifesto of the Christchurch terrorist

My impression is that Christchurch mass shootings were not acts of home-grown terrorism – just that the terrorists chose New Zealand because it was an unlikely place for this. They wanted to show that this could happen even here. No one is safe.

Unfortunately, by censoring the manifesto the field is left wide open for erroneous speculation and politically motivated pointing of fingers. Already I have seen one overseas report describing New Zealand First as a local neo-fascist group presumably with members like this terrorist. A Twitter account well-known for promoting Russophobia retweeted descriptions of the Cyrillic writing on the shooter’s ammunition clips – presumably to raise the Russia bogeyman. And several posts on social media have been quick to blame this act of terror on Donald Trump and the supposed increased confidence of white supremacists by Trump’s election.

Such speculation and opportunist partisan use of the horrible event is not helpful. It diverts attention away from the specific causes and makes it harder to find solutions. Those censoring this manifesto may be driven by the desire not to allow this terrorist to communicate his beliefs. But, in denying us the ability to identify those beliefs, censorship is only encouraging erroneous conclusions which lead to other groups and people receiving unwarranted blame. Perhaps I am biased, but if this act of terrorism was not home-grown then let’s ensure that people understand that.

I believe that knowledge of the beliefs of the Norwegian terrorist Breivik was essential to his prosecution and imprisonment. The manifesto of the terrorist responsible for what happened in Christchurch today will be essential to his prosecution and I believe that the manifesto should be exposed for what it is. Censorship does not help that.

 

“Disinformation” and the mainstream media

In the political realm, all sides are guilty of promoting disinformation. It really is a “reader beware” situation in that the intelligent consumer of news should assess information critically and sensibly. Not trusting in news reports simply because they come from “their side.”
So, while I have been critical of “our” mainstream media, in this respect, I must acknowledge there are rare examples where it will allow the truth to break through. Ironically, I see the video above from the New York Times as the exception proving the rule.
The video shows burning of “aid” trucks on the Venezuelan-Columbian border – widely reported by “our” media and politicians as an act of infamy by the Venezuelan side. Readers of alternative media know better having already seen videos showing use of Molotov cocktails by anti-Venezuelan protesters. But now, the New York Times, shows “our” mainstream media and politicians were wrong. And this disinformation, together with its multiplication by prominent USA politicians, had serious consequences. Not only in spreading more anti-Venezuelan propaganda, but in the US imposing even more sanctions on that suffering country.

Media manipulation – the tail wags the dog

The Integrity Initiative logo. Don’t be fooled by the words”democracy”: and “disinformation” – they often come out of the mouths of scoundrels these days.

Recent exposure of a shady organisation, the Integrity Initiative, has exposed how media, “think tanks” and politicians are mobilised in campaigns to manipulate public opinion and achieve political objectives. leaked documents show how this is funded by states (in this case the UK) as well as private interests.

Set up in 2015 by The Institute for Statecraft, the Integrity Initiative Describes itself as:

“a network of people and organizations from across Europe dedicated to revealing and combating propaganda and disinformation.”

And it describes its purpose as:

“To counter Russian disinformation and malign influence, and associated weapons of “Hybrid warfare”, in Europe and North America by: expanding the knowledge base; harnessing existing expertise, and; establishing a network of networks of experts, opinion formers and policy makers, to educate national audiences in the threat and to help build national capacities to counter it.”

Don’t be fooled by the term “Russian disinformation.” This really means any information the NATO states want to keep hidden or information with a different spin to that preferred by the NATO establishment.

The documents show the mechanism the Integrity Initiative uses to influence public and political opinions. This uses “clusters” of journalists, politicians, the staff of “think tanks” and state bodies like the Ministry of Defence. And no doubt intelligence agents will be in there somewhere.

They say:

“Members of Integrity Initiative clusters actively engage with policy-makers, and the wider public in their own countries to show them the damage which can be done to their societies by disinformation.”

The most public part of this “engagement” will be media campaigns.

An example of how these “clusters” work

Leaked documents from this groups give an example of one of their successful campaigns – the reversal of the planned appointment of Pedro Baños as Director of National Security in Spain.

First – this from the Wikipedia entry for Pedro Baños (machine translation from Spanish):

“[He] started working as an analyst at the General Secretariat of the Army Staff in 1999 and in 2001, for three years, he was Head of Counterintelligence and Security of the European Army in Strasbourg . 3 From 2004 to 2010 he served as Professor of Strategy and International Relations at the Higher School of the Armed Forces. From 2010 to 2012 he was assigned to the Strategic Affairs and Security Division of the General Secretariat for Defense Policy, as head of the Geopolitical Analysis Area, and in 2012 he moved to stand-by working later as an analyst and autonomous lecturer.

He has worked at the European Parliament’s headquarters in Brussels as a military adviser and has participated in three missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina ( UNPROFOR , SFOR and EUFOR ).

In 2017 he published the book Así se domina el mundo. Unveiling the keys to world power , a dissemination work on geopolitics, denouncing the “hypocrisy” of international politics in which it considers that “there are no good or bad” and that each country “seeks its interests”. 4

On June 7, 2018 it was announced that it would assume the National Security Directorate of Spain with responsibility for the secrecy of the Government’s communications, the coordination of the National Security, Maritime Security and Cybersecurity councils, as well as the management of migratory crises and energetics 6 days later he transpired that finally the President of Government Pedro Sanchez opted by the General Miguel Angel Ballesteros for the position.”

The news report Sanchez dismisses Pedro Baños as director of National Security and finally opts for General Ballesterosdescribes the event in the last sentence above.

Apparently, the decision reversal arose from a “barren polemic for his media profile and his opinions on international politics.” This polemic accused him of “having sympathy for the Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

See the problem? Because Pedro Baños recognised that in international relations “each country seeks its interests” he gets labeled as a supporter of Vladimir Putin and hence guilty of promoting Russian Disinformation.”

This documents from the Integrity Initiative reveals how this “barren polemic” was carried out:

Funding for the Integrity Initiative campaigns

This outfit claims private funding for the early years but is now funded by the UK government to the tune of over 2 million pounds per year. This is acknowledged by the outfit itself – a bit hard to deny as the leaked documents come largely from their funding applications.

The network revealed by cluster members

The leaked documents contain information for cluster groups in a number of European countries. I will just list one example here – the members of the UK cluster in its subgroups. The cluster is led by Keith Sargent – a member of The Institute for Statecraft according to his email address. (The leaked documents contain email address but I have not included them in the post as I hesitate to show personal information. However, readers can access the leaked document with these addresses here –392195849-UK-Cluster).

Office Core Team

This contains 15 staff and 3 fellows so gives some idea of the financial backing and size of the UK cluster.

I have provided names for members of the other clusters as readers will no doubt recognise some of these people.

UK General – Inner Core – Russia

William Browder
Mungo Melvin
Ben Nimmo
Ed Lucas
Anne Applebaum
Charles Dick
Euan Grant
Bobo Lo
John Lough
Vadim Kleiner
Drew Foxall
Vladimir Ashurkov
James Nixey
Craig Oliphant
James Sherr
Keir Giles
Kadri Liik
Igor Sutyagin
Andrew Wood
Peter Pomerantsev
Ian Bond
Nina Jancowicz

How many names do you recognise? William Bowder is a very active campaigner for Russian sanctions and promoter of the Magnitsky Act. Anne Applebaum can be relied on for frequent and rather naive anti-Russian media articles and books. Ben Nimmo works for the Atlantic Council in its Digital Forensic Research Lab and is well know for outing real live humans as automatic “Russian Bots.” The Digital Forensic Research Lab is contracted to work with Facebook to censor accounts and “fake news.”

UK General – Inner Core – Military & Defence

John Ardis
Rob Dover
Robert Hall
Dr David Ryall
Neil Logan Brown
Ahmed Dassu
Anonymous
Duncan Allen
Catherine Crozier
David Fields
Alex Finnen
Giles Harris
Charlie Hornick
Paul Kitching
Alan Parfitt
Andy Pryce
Arron Rahaman
Rob Sandford
Richard Slack
Nick Smith
Joanna Szostek
Nick Washer
Joe Green
Adrian Bradshaw
Jeremy Blackham
Andrew

The email addresses show a number of members of the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence in this sub-cluster.

UK General – Outer Core – Russia

Roderick Collins
Julian Moore
Alexander Hoare
Graham Geale
James Wilson
Sir Adam Thompson
Alastair Aitken
Chris Bell
Robin Ashcroft
Alistair Wood
Orsyia Lutsevych
Ben Bradshaw
Baiba Braze
Nick Childs
Alzbeta Chmelarova
Zach Harkenrider
David Nicholas
Maya Parmar
Ellie Scarnell
Asta Skaigiryte
Gintaras Stonys
Ian Williams
Carl Miller
Clement Daudy
Gabriel Daudy
Lucy Stafford
Diane Allen
Alexandros Papaioannou
Paddy Nicoll

This list contains several members of parliament and staff of government departments. Baiba Braze’s email address is for the UK embassy in Latvia.

UK General – Outer Core – Military & Defence

Patrick Mileham
Agnes Josa
Steve Jermy
Steve Tatham
Primavera Quantrill
Lorna Fitzsimons

Agnes Josa’s email address is for the Government of Catalonia.

UK Journalists

Deborah Haynes
David Aaronovitch
Dominic Kennedy
Natalie Nougayrede
Bruce Jones
Neil Buckley
Jonathan Marcus

These journalists work for The Times, The BBC and the Financial Times.

Conclusion

It is naive to think that the frequent political campaigns we see arise spontaneously. These leaked documents provide one illustration of how such campaigns can be launched and coordinated. How they are facilitated by links between think tanks, military, and state departments, politicians and journalists. It is logical that these networks will also contain intelligence agents.

Although this organisation and similar ones promote themselves as fighting “disinformation” readers would be naive to taker them at their word. They often promote disinformation or fake news themselves, or at least provide a spin on events and news promoting a state and ideologically approved narrative.

The mainstream media is clearly integrated into such networks – which should make readers think twice about the news this media presents. My advice is to always approach the media, all media, critically and intelligently. And to include alternative sources of information in one’s day-to-day reading.

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And you thought Russiagate could not get sillier.

It’s true – clouds do have silver linings. If it weren’t for the mindless hysteria of the Russiagate mythology promoted in the USA and UK I would never have heard about this delightful children’s animated video series – Masha and the Bear.

This isn’t the first silver lining I have come across. The mainstream media have now and then offered up lists of automated “Russian bots,” “Russian trolls,  social media accounts promoting “Russian propaganda,” and alternative media sources the mainstream media want us to steer clear of. These lists have given me, and others, media sources and social media accounts which often give information and news of a far higher quality than that promoted by the mainstream media.

In one of these lusts I even came across an amazing Ukrainian pianist, Valentina Lisitsa, who was described as an automated “Russian bot” by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. (The Digital Forensic Research Lab is currently helping Facebook remove “fake” and “inauthentic” accounts – so no wonder there are problems.)

Valentina Lisitsa plays a Rachmaninoff Prelude. She had been identified as n automated “Russian bot” by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

But now the mainstream media has brought Masha and the Bear to my attention (see UK Times: Children’s show is propaganda for Putin, say critics and The Daily Mail: Is Masha and the Bear a Putin stooge? Critics claim cartoon with 4.18m subscribers is made by Kremlin to subvert children). Apparently the child video series is simply another of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plots to spread discord in the West! Specifically by subverting our children! And not just our children – also our adults, according to The Times:

“A spoiled girl and a bear, which certainly symbolizes Russia, penetrate into the immature children’s mind and influence it, while adults obviously fall under the influence of ‘Russian propaganda channels’,”

The authors of these articles found quotable sources in countries bordering the Russian Federation to “prove” their point. They even found an intelligence expert from The University of Buckingham, Professor Anthony Glees, to give “expert” academic backing to their story.

Russia has a deserved reputation for high-quality animations so it is not surprising this series is very popular. It has received more than 30 billion views on YouTube (see How a goofy Russian cartoon bear is conquering the world‘MASHA AND THE BEAR’ TAKES ON THE WORLD and  ‘MASHA AND THE BEAR’ RISES TO THE TOP)

Judging from comments on these articles claiming the child videos are “Putinesque,” readers are laughing. Many comments are from parents whose children regularly watch and love Masha and the Bear.  One commenter attempted to start a rumour that Masha was sighted in Salisbury earlier this year. Another wondered if his son would develop the habit of riding bare-chested on his teddy bear.

Problem is that one should really be concerned when supposedly “reputable” news media publish this sort of rubbish. Perhaps even more concerned that a reputable academic, expert on intelligence and security matters and advisor to governments is promoting this sort of hysteria.

Oh well. At least I have discovered Masha and the Bear and I am looking forward to using these videos in my future babysitting tasks.

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