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Conrad Black: Trump is nailing it (but the mainstream media would never tell you that) – National Post

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It is an astounding feature of the contemporary international political scene that almost no coverage of American affairs, including in most of the President Donald Trump-hating American media, reports or comments in a way that is even slightly relevant to the unfolding facts in that country. Unlike all other important countries except Britain and Canada, the United Stares has had the same political institutions for over 150 years. For over a century it has operated on a scale that the world had never imagined to be possible. It is a fantastic success, but it is not at all the shining “city on a hill” derived from the Sermon on the Mount and much bandied about by President Ronald Reagan. It is not at all like Canada and Britain only more populous, and its culture and institutions are only superficially similar.

It is a democratic meritocracy, but a tough country of profound inequalities, great garishness, extensive corruption by British and Canadian standards, a dysfunctional and profoundly unjust justice system and an inordinate amount of it is slums, strip malls and potholed roads. Its strength and its weakness is that it is a jungle — this produces immense productivity, competitiveness, fermentation, ingenuity, creativity and high achievement in almost every field, but it also grinds millions of people to powder needlessly. It is in this context that the current American political drama must be seen. The British and Canadian media are even more hopeless than usual reporting about America, as I have remarked before. The Financial Times this week, with almost impenetrable obtuseness, declared that the Justice Department’s withdrawal of charges against Gen. Michael Flynn is the “politicization of justice.” Last Saturday in the Globe and Mail, my accomplished and politically centre-left friend of over 50 years, historian Margaret MacMillan, lamented in an opinion piece about the coronavirus that President Trump is too incompetent to deal with any crisis, a widely held but uninformed opinion. On Thursday in the same paper, John Ibbitson quoted Canadian academics who claimed that Trump has “given up,” and that “irrational” people had taken over the Republican party in a “fearful, angry, insular, nativist … coup.” This is just drivel.

In the American jungle, justice has always been politicized, going back to President Thomas Jefferson’s spurious charge of treason against Aaron Burr, his former vice-president, in 1807. The magnificent National Gallery was created and endowed by former treasury secretary Andrew Mellon as part of an arrangement by which Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew questionably motivated charges of tax evasion against Mellon. The America of Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell exists, but it doesn’t represent much of America. In 2016, the “OBushinton” post-Reagan coalition of the relatively think-alike bipartisan establishment was represented by the Bushes, as president and vice-president, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for nine straight terms (in the previous nine terms there had been eight unrelated presidents). Trump, having made billions of dollars in a very tough industry, having come back from technical insolvency, having become and remained a great television star for 14 years in a format he devised and having been one of America’s great sports and entertainment impresarios, and after changing parties seven times in 13 years, became the only person never to have held any public office or military command to be elected president of the U.S.


Michael Flynn reacts at a campaign event for then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2016.

Mike Segar/Reuters

He ran against the entire political class that, he said, had flat-lined the economy, mired America in unsuccessful Middle Eastern wars, generated a humanitarian disaster and the worst worldwide economic crisis since the Great Depression, tolerated trade agreements in which Mexico attracted factories from the U.S. to just inside the border, which then exported unemployment back to the U.S. and retained the profits in Mexico, while that country facilitated the illegal entry of up to a million low-skilled workers a year into the U.S. The previous presidents had been swindled by Iran and North Korea and China and it was the conventional wisdom that China was about to surpass the U.S. as a world power. Within three years, Trump addressed all these problems — 80 per cent of illegal immigration had been ended, as were oil imports and unemployment, and the lowest 20 per cent of income-earners were gaining income more quickly than the top 20 per cent, a start at tackling the disparity of income problem. No one was speaking of imminent Chinese supremacy any more.

When the coronavirus pandemic descended, Trump’s enemies accused him of racism and xenophobia when he presciently stopped direct flights from China on Jan. 31, and he took an emergency health system that only tested for viruses by appointment in hospitals with results evaluated in Atlanta, invoked the national emergencies and war production acts to produce an instant testing device that now tests 300,000 people per day, vastly increased the production of ventilators and other necessities and got the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create the largest hospital in the country in the Javits Center in New York in 10 days. He imposed a shutdown that “flattened the curve” of the virus and produced a $6-trillion assistance and liquidity package in one week (the European Union after two months adopted a complex $500-billion measure that hasn’t been distributed yet). Now that we know that approximately 80 per cent of the COVID-19 fatalities are in the eldest 20 per cent of the population, where one person in 1,200 has died from it but just one in 15,000 Americans below the age of 60, he is leaving it to the governors and municipal officials to reopen the country at the rate they judge appropriate, while redoubling protection of the vulnerable. Trump has again completely outmanoeuvred the Democrats, who have a completely unfeasible candidate bumbling out gaffes and nonsense from his basement and calling for an extended lockdown, financed by shovelling $1 trillion of borrowed money out to the Democratic bosses every two weeks. Trump’s performance has been more than adequate, despite some of his stylistic infelicities.

But the real message, which, incredibly, the soft-left, softly anti-American and mindlessly Trump-hating media of the world has missed or ignored is the emergence, as long predicted (including by me), of the greatest constitutional scandal in American history. Gen. Flynn committed no offence and only pled guilty to a process crime because prosecutors had threatened to charge his son and he had run out of money and had to sell the family home. Prosecutors in the cesspool of American criminal justice win 98 per cent of their cases, 95 per cent of those without trial because of their ability to abuse the plea bargain system and intimidate defendants.


Former U.S. president Barack Obama

Christof STACHE/AFP

Flynn is a sideshow. The real story emerged last week. It seems clear that all the Obama officials who endlessly announced their reasoned belief in the Trump-Russia collusion narrative knew it to be false, that the Mueller investigation was set up to investigate Trump-Russia charges after the FBI and intelligence agencies had concluded that there was nothing to it — Mueller’s task was to find something to besmirch the president by extorting inculpatory perjury from people they attacked, including Flynn. The former FBI director and other senior officials signed bogus applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants on the Trump campaign and transition team on the basis of the Steele dossier, which they knew to be malicious fiction commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Senior Obama intelligence officials passed the fraudulent Steele material to the media as the product of an authentic counter-intelligence investigation rather than the spurious oppo smear job that it was. This was the only attempted coup d’etat in American history, and Obama and Joe Biden went through the entire operation on Jan. 5, 2017, 15 days before Trump’s inauguration. The American media are part of the political class that Trump promised to clean up, which is why their opposition to him is so frenzied. There are growing calls for the ringleaders of this attempted putsch to be indicted.

Like all jungles, the U.S. is run by 30-foot constricting snakes and 700-pound cats, and one group of jungle beasts is being defeated and overthrown by another. It is great drama, for those who have the intelligence to perceive it, instead of clucking over lapses of etiquette in the White House.

National Post

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Tyler Babiy fosters connections and community through social media – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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Depending on your outlook, connecting through social media can be as interactive or isolated as each user prefers.

For Tyler Babiy, that choice is easy. Interacting with local creators and other like-minded people is the focus of his business, Social Made Local.

It originally started out as a T-shirt brand — an offshoot of his other business, T Squared Social. Since then, it has also fostered a community of like-minded, local creatives looking to connect, collaborate and share their creativity.

“With this T-shirt company I could just try to instil a sense of social responsibility in terms of taking ownership of the things you create,” Babiy says.

“It’s really cool to offer (creators) a space to have a voice and be heard — but to also plant that seed of consciousness in people that the things that we do on social media are not private and they can deeply affect the people around us in ways we don’t even know … so it’s just planting that idea that you’re not just throwing things into the wind.”

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Facebook places state media labels on Russian, Chinese broadcasters – Reuters Canada

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc will start labeling Russian, Chinese and other state-controlled media organizations, and later this summer will block any ads from such outlets that target U.S. users, it said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The world’s biggest social network will apply the label to Russia’s Sputnik, Iran’s Press TV and China’s Xinhua News, according to a partial list Facebook provided. The company will apply the label to about 200 pages at the outset.

Facebook will not label any U.S.-based news organizations, as it determined that even U.S. government-run outlets have editorial independence, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in an interview.

Facebook, which has acknowledged its failure to stop Russian use of its platforms to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has since stepped up its defenses and imposed greater transparency requirements for pages and ads on its platforms.

The company announced plans last year to create a state media label, but is introducing the tool amid a deep crisis over its hands-off treatment of misleading and racially charged posts by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The new measure comes just months ahead of the November U.S. presidential election.

Under the measure, Facebook will not use the label for media outlets affiliated with individual political figures or parties, which Gleicher said could push “boundaries that are very, very slippery.”

“What we want to do here is start with the most critical case,” he said.

Facebook is not the first company to take such action.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, in 2018 started identifying video channels that predominantly carry news items and are funded by governments. But critics charge YouTube has failed to label some state news outlets, allowing them to earn ad revenue from videos with misinformation and propaganda.

In a blog post, Facebook said its label will appear on pages globally, as well as on News Feed posts within the United States.

Facebook also said it will ban U.S.-targeted ads from state-controlled entities “out of an abundance of caution” ahead of the November presidential election. Elsewhere, the ads will receive a label.

Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Facebook starts labeling ‘state-controlled media’ pages – The Verge

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Facebook has begun labeling media outlets that are “wholly or partially under the editorial control of their government,” following an announcement of the policy in 2019. It will start labeling ads from these outlets later this year, as well as banning state-controlled media from advertising inside the US.

The company is labeling these pages because “they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.”

Facebook labels “state-controlled media” outlets based on a variety of factors, including information about their ownership and funding, the level of transparency around their sources, and the existence of accountability systems like a corrections policy. Outlets can appeal with evidence that they operate independently, including laws that protect editorial freedom and a credible assessment from an outside source. Otherwise, Facebook will add a notice to the outlets’ pages worldwide, and labels will appear on News Feed posts in the US.

You can already see labels on the pages and posts of some outlets that have been blamed for spreading propaganda in the US, including Sputnik and RT. They’re both now defined as state-controlled media, along with other outlets like China Daily. Facebook isn’t the first to do something like this; YouTube experimented with labeling state-funded news channels in 2018, although enforcement has been inconsistent.

Facebook says state-controlled outlets “rarely” advertise in the US. But it’s blocking those ads “out of an abundance of caution to provide an extra layer of protection against various types of foreign influence in the public debate ahead of the November 2020 election in the US.” This supplements Facebook’s existing removal of “inauthentic” pages that spread propaganda or disinformation.

This labeling feature is part of a larger effort to protect the 2020 election’s integrity. However, Facebook has still faced criticism for choosing not to fact-check politicians — including President Donald Trump — on its platform.

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