Just some of our favorite memes this week:
Brexit, it’s everywhere; Brexit means Brexit, Hard Brexit, Soft Brexit, Red White and Blue Brexit. On January 17th Theresa May acknowledged that leaving the EU would involve, as she called it, “trade-offs”, and indicated some of the choices she would make. She will pursue a Hard Brexit and her Gov’t will be taking the United Kingdom out of the Single Market and the European Courts (remember her history as Home Secretary?).
So Hard Brexit it is (or as it has been re-branded, Clean Brexit).
But should we be worried about a Hard Brexit?
No-one has much of a clue what the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU might look like. For a UK negotiation to be successful, it needs willing and constructive co-operation on both sides. But, as we have seen from the rhetoric coming out from other EU leaders; Boris Johnson and May seemingly intent on upsetting and insulting the EU, this does not seem likely. The primary intention of the EU in the negotiation process is unlikely to be benign for the UK, as it will seek to make sure that the UK does not get a better deal outside the EU than as a full member, in order to deter other states from exiting. The EU will accept the short term negative impact of decreased trade with Britain in exchange for the long term benefit of continuing to exist as the EU. Another factor that clouds the negotiations are two critical elections, one in France (where the far right Front National are making gains) and in Germany. Both Merkel and Hollande have consistently offered a hardline toward the UK over Brexit.
But one thing is certain, it will affect Sterling. As everyone who has been following the Brexit debacle knows, immediately upon the announcement of the referendum result last June, Sterling nose-dived.
And has since barely recovered.
And Sterling continued to take hits EVERY TIME May or the Brexiteers hinted at a Hard Brexit.
Opinion is divided amongst economists as to whether Sterling will experience another Flash Crash on the triggering of Article 50. Some believe that the Pound will fall further until it reaches parity with the Dollar, whilst others believe that Sterling is now undervalued and will recover (but not to pre-referendum levels). It should be noted that, after May confirmed the type of Brexit the UK would undertake, Sterling improved (aided mainly by inflation and the weak Dollar).
TIMELINE OF STERLING POST BREXIT
1. June 24: Sterling collapses more than 12 per cent to a 30-year low after Leave win confirmed.
2. August 4: Bank of England launches QE programme to prop up the economy and cuts the interest rate further.
3. October 6: “Flash crash” — pound collapses to $1.14 in the space of a few minutes.
4. November 3: High Court’s Article 50 ruling against government boosts the pound.
5. January 9: Pound fluctuates again as May confirms Hard Brexit.
British citizens have not yet felt the full impact of a devalued currency – unlike British pensioners living in other EU countries like France and Spain that felt it in their pockets the very next day after the referendum. But this is set to change.
The first inflation statistics after the ref result, from the Office for National Statistics back in September showed the annual inflation rate rising from 0.6% to 1%, its highest for almost two years. The ONS said, at that time, that the cost of living had yet to be much affected by the drop in the value of the pound seen since the EU referendum, but the Bank of England, the International Monetary Fund and City economists believe that inflation will rise above the government’s 2% target in early 2017 and will reach at least 3% by the end of the year.
And experts are expecting more depressing news in January 2017:
“Inflation is expected to have finally reached the Reserve Bank’s 1% to 3% target band when official figures are released on Thursday.” More
The fact that inflation, so far, has not risen to the same levels as the devaluation of Sterling (inflation always follows a currency devaluation) can be attributed to a number of reasons. Businesses always try to keep short-term currency fluctuations away from the consumer, by buying in bulk, at a fixed exchange rate etc. But these measures are running out, hence the expected inflation rise. Other factors involved was the price war between the major supermarkets and the same with petrol station forecourts, but again these are coming to an end (The price of Crude has already increased, and we buy Crude in Dollars and this will, as always conflate the inflation).
Obviously, any inflation will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. And this in a country that has seen the worse fall in living standards in more than a century.
Typical working households were £345 a year worse off than before the economic crisis, according to the ONS in 2016 – the same as the previous year. Middle-income working-age households saw their incomes grow by just 1% last year. Pensioner households were £656 better off after a 3.1% rise in median incomes, from £21,114 to £21,770. More
Also, more than 2.3 million families are living in fuel poverty in England – the equivalent of 10% of households, according to government statistics. And again this situation will only get worse when the inflation really starts to kick in. And all this comes at a cost to Government finances.
And Brexit is happening at a time when the working poor and people on benefits are having to resort to using Food Banks at record levels.
One of the cruelest ironies with Brexit is that the 2 demographics that voted for it in the highest numbers, the elderly and the poorly educated, are most likely to suffer the most from it.
It is pretty much a certainty that the Pound will take another hit on the triggering of Article 50. The one thing that is certain from any type of Brexit is that inflation will increase, on a Hard Brexit even more so than a Soft. And if we have to resort to World Trade Organisation rules, that will mean tariffs, and again that will conflate an already bad situation for millions in the UK.
So far, since the referendum result, the UK economy has defied expectations and remained relatively strong – much to the delight of Brexiteers and the believers of the ‘Project Fear’ rhetoric from the Leave camp.
Indeed, official figures have shown the economy was outstripped only by the US among the large economies last year after growth in the third quarter was upgraded to 0.6%. Another surprising result was that consumer spending actually increased after the referendum result.
But behind these figures lies a disturbing reality. Even though UK incomes have been stagnant, consumer credit grew at an annual rate of 10.8 per cent in November, according to Bank of England figures, the highest growth rate since 2005. In short, this consumer boom has been built on an unsustainable level of credit.
Twice before, and both times under Tory governments we have seen this – the Barber Boom of the early 1970s and the Lawson Boom of the late 1980s and BOTH times the economy became overstimulated, creating a bubble which then burst. And both times led to economic chaos. Although there are signs that this consumer boom is already slowing, sales in December 2016 were actually down from the previous year as the inflation starts to hit people’s pockets. This may prevent a credit bubble burst, but as the UK’s economic growth has been led by spending, it will impact growth further.
Another reason put forward for the higher than expected growth after the ref has been that the collapse in the value of Sterling has helped exports. This is true, exports have increased…except the Trade Deficit has not reduced, in fact it actually increased.
The gap between the UK’s imports and exports hit £4.7bn in August, up from £2.2bn in July, the ONS reported in its second monthly trade bulletin since the Brexit vote. The deficit with the EU grew by more than £1bn to £8.4bn. UK manufacturers have reported a rise in both domestic and overseas demand, but imports are now more expensive as sterling depreciates more. The ONS stated there was “only limited evidence so far” that the fall in the pound’s value had led to a “marked increase in UK exports”.
One of the reasons for the poor export increase is due to the fact that the UK’s economy is not diverse enough. The UK does sell more services abroad than are imported – but this is not enough to counter the bigger deficit in the value of the goods sold abroad, compared with the value of the goods imported.
Oh dear, not looking good is it?
There have already been job losses associated with Brexit. Hewden: The machinery rental business went into administration blaming the Brexit vote for poor trading. Rivington Biscuits, the maker of Pink Panther wafers, has gone into administration, blaming the fall in the value of the pound following the Brexit vote. And more, with more businesses expected to fail over the coming months and years.
By far the two industries most at risk from Brexit are the Financial/Banking industries and the UK Car Manufacturing industries. Indeed, Ford have already threatened that they may have to close plants in the UK. And Nissan, after stating that they will build the Qashqai model at their Sunderland plant even with the ref result have now decided, during the 2017 Davos meeting that they will have to reconsider the plants viability after a Hard Brexit. The cold irony of this is that both these companies are located in towns (Sunderland, Dagenham, Bridgend) that actually voted to Leave. The car industries face a double whammy from a Hard Brexit, one with the Tariffs on completed vehicles, and another to the supply chain for the parts needed to actually make the cars. The numbers employed in these industries are in the thousands.
The UK financial industries are also set to cause unemployment. During the Davos meeting in January 2017 the UBS Chairman Axel Weber said that about 1,000 of the Swiss bank’s 5,000 employees in London could be affected by Brexit, while HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said his bank will relocate staff responsible for generating around a fifth of its UK-based trading revenue to Paris. Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper also reported that Goldman Sachs is considering halving its London workforce to 3,000 and moving key operations to New York and continental Europe, particularly Frankfurt, where it could move up to 1,000 staff. More. This will be a massive hit, not only to the thousands employed by the banks, but also to the UK’s Tax receipts, 12% of the total comes from the City.
Three MILLION jobs in Britain depend on trade with the EU, with many economists reckoning that the true figure is actually higher. Obviously not all the the jobs will be lost, trade will continue after Brexit, But more job losses are inevitable, more so on a Hard Brexit.
Brexit And Rights
One of the reasons Theresa May has used for her stance on a Hard Brexit is for the UK to leave the jurisdiction of the EU Courts. For many years the UK tabloids have been filled with lurid stories of foreign criminals being allowed to remain in the UK due to ECHR judgements. Take this screaming headline from the Sun for example:
“Britain has lost more than 200 cases in the European Court of Human Rights, at
a cost of £4.4million to taxpayers. Strasbourg judges have ruled in favour of — and awarded compensation to — murderers, terrorists, paedophiles and rapists.”
But these stories, gleefully leaped upon by the gutter press are the minority, the EU Courts have actually protected UK citizens on many. many occasions. When we leave the EU Courts, no UK citizen will have recourse there. Here are 11 times the ECHR changed the UK for the better. And most recently, May’s flagship ‘Snoopers Charter’ legislation was deemed illegal due to EU Human Rights legislation.
And it is not only legal rights that have been protected, embedded in EU Legislation are rights that govern employment, health and safety, privacy, the list goes on and on. We risk losing all these protections on a Hard Brexit. Especially as the current UK chancellor of the Exchequer has threatened to turn the UK into a low rights tax haven on a Hard Brexit.
Should we be worried about a Hard Brexit? Damn right we should be worried, the potential (inevitable) economic chaos will only serve to make the majority poorer. Job losses are a given, our Public Services are under threat, our Rights are threatened, our standing in the world threatened, our security threatened. Putin is lurking in the shadows, rubbing his hands in glee at Brexit. President Trump’s rhetoric is becoming more and more isolationist. The EU is hardening its stance toward the UK. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the potential dangers of a Hard Brexit, and no one actually knows what will happen when Article 50 is triggered in March. It is certain that the current Govt have no mandate for a Hard Brexit, no mandate to put the UK at such a great risk. The referendum was advisory only and if the polls are to be believed, a great many Brexit voters now regret their vote. The referendum was Cameron’s attempt at finally ending the internecine Conservative Party civil war over the EU – it blew up in his face badly. The Leave campaign was defined by its lies and reliance on people’s emotions rather than the facts, people were sold a lie.
And remember the rise in Hate Crimes after the referendum? Imagine what could happen on a Hard Brexit and everyone suffers for it.
When Brexit does not deliver what so many Brexiteers think it will deliver, who will they turn against next?
I will try to keep this post short-ish and to the point. It probably the most important post I will ever write so I hope you will indulge me.
I’m 53 years of age, from the East End, grew up with everyone around me still living WWII from living among rubble (yep it was still around in the 60s), to UXBs still being found, to older people talking constantly about the blitz and Moseley. At around 8 years of age I was sitting with my Grandfather watching All Our Yesterdays and he started to cry. He said to me ‘this is where hate leads, it must never happen again and its up to your generation to make sure it never happens again’ I took that seriously, and I often wondered what I would have done had I lived in Germany faced with the rise of the Nazis, and even at that age concluded that I would have been a part of the quiet under the radar resistance. I thought later that was a romantic childhood musing and nothing more.
In the 1970s Idi Amin expelled the Asian people from his country and they came here. People were picketing Heathrow airport with signs telling the Asian refugees to go home, telling them they were not wanted. This was a time when white women who dared to walk along hand in hand with a man of a different culture/colour/religion were openly spat at, called a ‘whore’, told things like ‘your fanny must be fucking rotting’ and all done in front of children. The national front were a rabble running around causing chaos. People thought it funny to leave gollies on the desks of black or mixed race people at work, and if they didn’t laugh they were told they had a chip on their shoulder. Most did not complain and rarely were they stuck up for. Asian people had to endure being called ‘Gungadin’ or ‘wallah’ or other such names overhung from a perception of a Raj and ‘bud bud’ noises were quite normal to hear being thrown toward them. People from Chinese Asia were supposed to laugh at and join in the fun when fully grown adults slanted their own eyes to them and chanted such hilarious quips as ‘I’m a ching chong chinaman, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhshole’
In the late 80s/early 90s after the Berlin wall fell I began to notice news reports of neo nazis from those countries which has once been taken over by the nazis and then taken behind the iron curtain. It seemed that the nazi ideology, defeated in the minds of some, had been merely in some suspended animation. Again, I was taken back to my grandfather’s words and my romantic musings about being a resistance hero. We had Margaret Thatcher who shifted politics to the right. We had the unions stomping everywhere shifting opinion away from the left. I began talking to people about this rise and subtle political shift and was always met either with sniggers, or advice to ‘get a grip, life’s too short, stop living in the past’. I more or less had a decade where I forgot all about this, where thankfully laws began to tackle the kind of abuses people who were not WASP males had to endure. We had TV programmes like Roots, films like Ghandi, the apartheid regime in SA and support growing for Nelson Mandela all together showing the kind of abuses those we had been happy to taunt had had to suffer. Attititudes began to shift. Children were born into a country where they were more likely to call out and tackle racism and openly reject it.
For a while things seemed to be going forward. And then in the noughties UKIP began to grow. Farage took over. At first he was not known, only appearing now and again in small news items. There was no defining period when he was suddenly propelled forward in the media. It seemed like a gradual transition, a drip drip drip, a subtle rise. Jean-Marie Le Penn in France became a ‘thing’ in our media, dismissed as a buffoon. And suddenly, around 6/7 years ago Farage and his message of anti immigration and anti immigrants was everywhere. The country laughed at him as they did Le Penn. But they were not talking to us, they were directing their very simple message to those WASP males who felt their rights to laugh at, abuse and generally lord it over anyone who was not like them had been ripped from them unfairly, this is the ‘common sense’ they speak of. The words ‘political correctness’ began to be used as a weapon, a term which denoted a stripping away of some perceived moral rights to speak and laugh as they wished. While we were laughing at Farage those people were taking him and Le Penn seriously, they were listening. They began to feel emboldened. Again I started to talk to people and try to stop them laughing at UKIP and Farage, even those who would instinctively agree with my liberal stance laughed at me and told me it wasn’t going to happen. When the by election came in Clacton (I know the area well) I was met with ridicule when I said the predictions of 62% for Carswell was right. When he won I was told it was a one off, a cut off Hamlet which didn’t represent the rest of the country. Again my mind went back to my Grandfather’s words. I knew we would Brexit. I heard the mutterings of those people Farage had been seducing and cultivating for several decades rising, those same people who had abused white women in the street, picketed Heathrow, the ‘Enoch was Right’ brigade.
And here we are. I am still being told to ‘get a grip’. I am being told now that it is my fault that the far right across Europe is on the edge of taking over Europe again. It is my fault because I denied those people the right to abuse me, as a woman, my friends and neighbours who are not WASP, I am told now that I am a neo nazi because I am a liberal I am therefore a socialist and Hitler was a national ‘socialist’ and therefore on the liberal left of the political spectrum. I am now the enemy. We are now at a watershed. We sit on the edge. Now is the time my romantic childhood musings of being a part of a resistance against extremism have become a reality. We all have to make a choice now. We all have to decide whether to fight the monster of the far right neo nazis who not only have teeth and a voice, but have legs and agency. The neo nazis are organized, they are united (Farage wasnt joking when he said after his resignation that he was going to spend time in Europe encouraging other countries to leave, what he meant was he is going to unite other neo nazi groups). Now we have Trump. The puppetmaster of the far right. An unstable narcissist who is breathing life into the never defeated but sleeping nazis worldwide. Farage is with him now, in the bossom of right wing US media. The Lord Haw Haw of modern times. I know what I am going to do. All I ask now is that everyone here ask themselves what they are going to do. There are 2 choices. 1. Give in and appease 2. Resist.
Author Anonymous: EDIT: I AM NOT GINA MILLER, I CANNOT AFFORD 24/7 PERSONAL PROTECTION FOR MYSELF AND MY CHILDREN. I AM HAPPY FOR PEOPLE TO SHARE MY WORDS, AS LONG AS MY NAME IS TAKEN OUT AND I CAN REMAIN ANONYMOUS.
Reposted from Remain Visual
Richard Spencer, Alt Right supremo and generally hideous Nazi was, as practically everyone must have seen by now, hilariously given the smack he has long deserved.
The best bit….
Spencer, the man behind the re-branding of fascism as ‘alt-right’ and White Supremacy as “identitarian,” Spencer was fashsplaining the significance of Pepe the Frog, fascist mascot, to the far-right, their anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-feminist meme of choice, when he was deliciously cold cocked by a passer by.
Twitter did not disappoint with its reaction.
Some were not happy, but others soon joined the debate.
And people say Americans do not understand irony…
Richard Spencer is a ‘normal; Trump supporter?
Fighting fascism has a long tradition, and one we should never forget. Because, anyone with even the smallest knowledge of history knows, just where unopposed far right nationalism can lead.
It will be interesting to watch where all this leads.
And if anyone wants to argue why we believe Spencer was due a slap, this is why.
In a speech worthy of the best TV evangelist or indeed street preacher proclaiming hell fire and damnation and the reckoning, Paul Golding steps onto his video pulpit to issue forth a rallying cry, a cry to punish all who oppose him. They (lefties, non BF Christians, Muslims and Immigrants ) shall all get what’s coming, for daring to oppose him, they will suffer his and his minions wrath.
Edited version of his epic rant:
All joking aside, surely this is incitement to violence? Or even terrorism?
Whether or not Tommy Mair, the far right terrorist who murdered Jo Cox MP had actual links to Britain First or not remains unknown. But Golding must realise, or even hope, that this is what his latest video diatribe could lead to. At the time of writing this, the video has been viewed and shared over 2000 times on Facebook.
Maybe, just maybe, if enough people report the video (which can be found on their Facebook page and Youtube channel), the authorities may do something.
The contact for the Home Office to report Paul Golding for incitement to violence/terrorism can be found here.
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street
Telephone: 020 7035 4848
The far right-wing blog ‘The Right Stuff’ creator has quit over the revelation that his wife is Jewish it was reported in the Jerusalem Post.
‘Mike Enoch’, was doxxed (the leaking of personal details online) as a certain Mike Peinovich, a website developer from New York. Peinovich was also co-host on the infamous Neo-Nazi podcast “The Daily Shoah” on which he regularly talked about killing Jews, deporting Muslims, people of African descent and other Neo-Nazi rhetoric.
Enoch (name invented in homage to Enoch Powell), has long been considered one of the three most influential figures in the “alt-right” (fascist) movement along with Daily Stormer creator Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer – he of the infamous Nazi salute celebration of Trumps election win.
Peinovich’s personal details were released were earlier in the week by rival website 8chan, briefly working alongside antifascist activists
‘Enoch’ admitted that the information released about him was correct in a message in left on a private forum on the website The Right Stuff (released by the Salon).
“As I am sure you all know, I was doxxed and an ill advised attempt to fool the media about my identity led me to not talk to you people and to try to simply ride it out by being silent. This was irresponsible and a disservice to all of you. Yes my wife is who they say she is, I won’t even bother denying it, I won’t bother making excuses. If this makes you want to leave the movement, or to have nothing to do with TRS, then I understand. Don’t lie for me. Don’t try to defend me to those attacking me. Don’t jeopardize your own reputation by defending things that you don’t think you can. I could try to explain my whole life for the last ten years to you but what difference at this point would it make. Life isn’t perfect.”
He later resigned in disgrace from both the podcast and The Right Stuff.
Facebook, still the platform of choice for most people, with billions of users. As everyone knows, it can be, and is a cess pit of racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamaphobia, Anti-Semitism and pretty much any kind of hate you can think of.
Many different groups which have historically faced discrimination in society, including, but not exclusively, the, Black, Jewish, Muslim, and LGBT communities. These communities face attack everyday by controversial and harmful content, including hate speech, on social media, Facebook being the prime example. Just go to practically any thread and you will witness hate of some sort.
Facebook, Twitter, Google, have come under increasing pressure from Governments globally to do something about this situation.
“Facebook Inc. said Monday that it would work with the German Justice Ministry to fight xenophobic and racist messages on the social network’s platform, bending to government pressure to clamp down on hate messages against migrants online.”
“German officials are hoping to stem a growing tide of racism and hate speech directed against the migrants online. On Friday, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that social media sites such as Facebook bear some of the responsibility for the spread of racist and xenophobic posts. “When people stir up sedition on social networks using their real name, it’s not only the state that has to act, but also Facebook as a company should do something against these slogans,” Ms. Merkel said in an interview“.
In 2015, Facebook introduced a new feature to its messaging service, Gifs. These are supplied by third party site Giphly.
But does Facebook police the gifs that the service offers to users? Go to Facebook Messenger, find the Gif option and type in racist. This is what you will find:
Okay, that’s not too bad, a good way to pull up a racist message on Facebook.
Yup, nothing to see here…
Okay, that’s crossing a line, but if it’s the only one, these things happen.
Oh, racial stereotypes…
Oh dear, another one…
Oh, Muslims now.
To be fair, these are not that bad, but they are the top gifs that come up on messenger. Facebook itself is not to blame for them but the host site itself. Is it just banter? A bit of a laugh? Only the recipients of the messages can answer that. And thankfully, for now, it is confined to personal messages.
Article suggested by HULK
After the breaking of the #Watersportsgate scandal by Buzzfeed, The Tangerine Toddler, Umpa Lumpa Elect, Donald J Trump has given his first press conference. Where more denials as to his actual involvement with Russia were aired.
The Trumper has been tweeting away madly for most of the day, a full on frenzy of denials.
That moment the President Elect sided with Russia over his own Intelligence Agencies
We decided to dig a little deeper.
First there was this:
Fair enough, except the source Donald used was from an actual fake news site called Lifezette. The owner of said website, Laura Ingraham, being a close Trump ally and in consideration for the plumb job of Trump’s White House press secretary.
Here’s the Intercept on LifeZette in Nov:
So the Trumper used a fake news site to debunk what he calls fake news, and a site owned by a very close ally.
This does seem to be true, as it may well have been another Chen. BUT, during Trumps press conference, the Donald denied ever knowing or having met a certain Carter Page. Except this is not actually true, as the Guardian noted.
Which is odd, why the denial now?
Then there are his denials of ANY business dealings with Russia whatsoever.
He was stating this at the time when the allegations of Russian hacking to aid his campaign was the main headline news.
“Trump said any inference that a connection exists between the two is absurd and the stuff of conspiracy. “I have ZERO investments in Russia,” he tweeted after the Democratic National Committee was apparently hacked by Russia and the emails released by Wiki Leaks on the eve of the DNC convention to nominate Clinton as its 2016 presidential candidate.” Read More.
“The reason they blame Russia is they are trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know about Russia, but not about the inner workings. I have no business there and no loans from Russia. I have a great balance sheet.” — Donald Trump
But there is mounting evidence that Trump actually does have business dealings with Russia. The Washington Post reported that at a real estate conference in New York in 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,”
In fact, 3 of Donald’s advisors all have financial and business ties to Russian financiers:
Are there anymore links to Trump and Russia?
Well, there is his lawyer, Sherri Dillon, who talked through most of the conference.
Sheri Dillon is a partner at the global law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, headquarters in Philadelphia, however Sheeri, works in Washington, D.C.
In May 2016, this law firm was named Russia Law Firm of the Year, and just happens to have an office in Moscow.
Although if you try and load that page now you get this:
But working for Trump must be like inviting your very own DDOS
Dillon works primarily with wealthy individuals, extremely wealthy individuals on controversial tax matters, according to her profile at Morgan Lewis. Also she is an expert in IRS audits. coincidentally Trump states that he the IRS audit he is currently under going as a reason he cannot release his tax returns.
So another link to Russia then…
At least Trump has now admitted, during the conference, that it was Russia that hacked the USA during the election.
Which is a major U-turn, considering his vehement denials.
And even some of Trumps own cabinet choices have had to admit that it was Russia that was behind the hacking.
It is a “fair assumption” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind US election hacks, secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson has said.
The former CEO of Exxon Mobil told his Senate confirmation hearing the intelligence report on Russian tampering “clearly is troubling”.
His comments came after Senator Marco Rubio pressed Mr Tillerson to admit Mr Putin’s role in the cyber-breach.
Mr Tillerson’s reported good ties with Mr Putin have alarmed some in the US. Source BBC
Oh another Trump pick with ties to Putin.
So far Trumps denial of the the scandal, when checked, seem not hold much water. He does have links to Russia, his advisors have links to Russia, he cites a fake news source owned by a close ally, who has links to Russia, as proof that the claims are false.
What the real truth is, only time will tell.
Trump first joined Twitter back in 2009, and almost immediately people started to notice just how bizarre his Tweeting habits were. It was as if he had hooked up his internal monologue to his Twitter account and just let it loose. His Tweets range in content from the…
It was a pen, in case you were wondering
And self aggrandisement:
For several years, none of this really mattered. Back when he was just a C List celeb it was seen by most as a bit of a joke…but this man will soon be POTUS, Leader of the Free World. Surely, many followers thought, not even Trump would do something so ‘unpresidented’ as to continue with these tirades when he became President Elect?
Of course we all now know that post election it was business as usual for Trump on Twitter. But should we be worried about Trumps Tweets?
Even before winning the US election, Trump was already a powerful figure, whose Tweets could and have affected people’s lives. Take the case of Lauren Batchelder, whose crime was to have the audacity to accuse trump of not respecting women.
Then the backlash against Lauren Batchelder began. As the Washington Post noted:
“Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.
“I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” said Batchelder, now 19, who has never discussed her experience with a reporter until now. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”
Even a year later for Batchelder, “the abuse continues. Five days before the election, she received a Facebook message that read: “Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. I’d then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.””
Trump supporters on Twitter can be pretty terrifying: take, for example, these Tweets made during Meryl Streep’s marvelous take-down of Trump at the Golden Globe Awards:
What a nice man. Luckily for Streep she can afford protection. Others are not so lucky.
Today, Trump has more than 17 million followers on Twitter. The fact that even when just a candidate and TV personality, he deemed it acceptable to attack a young woman who criticised him is bad enough, but what effects are Trumps’s Tweets having in the wider real world, now that he has become the President Elect?
Trump watchers will probably remember that time he Tweeted about General Motors.
This single Tweet caused Shares in General Motors Co to fall 0.7%
Once again this had an immediate effect. Shares in Toyota fell about 0.4%. All this is shows a potential conflict of interest for businessman Trump. With one Tweet he can manipulate the markets, damage rivals and harm business reputations.
Then there is the delicate world International Relations, surely even the Umpa Lumpa Elect would not be so irresponsible to harm them with a Tweet?
Trump had already caused a diplomatic firestorm by breaking protocol with a telephone call to Taiwan’s leader. This actually led to China’s foreign ministry lodging a complaint with the United States. What is even more disturbing is that, according to people close to Trump, he had been planning to make the call all along, in full knowledge of the potential for a diplomatic backlash from China.
And then, weeks later, he turned to his favorite social media platform, again:
Original Tweet actually said “Unpresidented’ much to the hilarity of the Twitterverse
The Trump decided to Tweet this, even though the US military had already announced it had reached an understanding with China for the return of the underwater glider. But Trump had to make it seem that he had a hand in this with a follow up Tweet.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook confirmed that “through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States,” according to USA Today.
But the Chinese Defence Ministry lamented the “inappropriate” choice in the US to “dramatise the issue”. A situation worsened by the Tweets.
Then there are the barbs he keeps firing at Mexico about the ‘Wall’:
Tweets that have angered both the President and an Ex-President of Mexico.
This is pretty awful, undiplomatic stuff from a man who will soon become the most powerful in the world. But it becomes even more frightening when you consider, as with his call to Taiwan, that they may not be just random and ill-thought out, but deliberately planned to provoke a reaction. And, or course, it is just a coincidence that China and Mexico are two of the biggest exporters to the USA.
We mustn’t ignore his attacks upon any media that displeases the self-appointed God Emperor:
In today’s post truth world, where the truth is deemed fake news and fake news seen as the truth, these Tweets only serve to further muddy the waters. The influence that Trump has; the ability to shape the conscience of his followers; is truly frightening. Never forget that Control of the Media is one of the 14 Points of Fascism.
Should we be worried about Trumps Tweets? We would say a resounding yes. His influence on social media is astounding. The fact is, his Tweets have very real and lasting real world effects that will only become more enhanced when he finally is sworn in as the next President of the United States. He is surrounded by advisers, and yet still appears to post personally and without consideration. Is this how he will attempt to manage his Presidency?
Are Trumps Tweets really as random as they seem, or could they be coldly calculated to cause as much disruption and distraction as possible, all the while feeding Trumps immense ego?
Do Trumps Tweets show a deeper, psychological problem? Who knows? But we ARE worried.
Fake news, we have all read some online. Most is easy to spot, with wild exaggerations and conspiracies – obvious for being such. But what happens when an online news source is deemed by thousands to be more informative and honest than the Mainstream Media? When editors of said news site have links to the President Elect?
Obviously it is Breitbart we are talking about here; the fascists’ – sorry, that was not very politically correct – Alt Right, Nationalists (as Fascists like to call themselves these days) rag of choice.
Breitbart has aligned itself with the European populist right and American alt-right under the management of former executive chairman Steven K. Bannon (pictured above with Trump). The New York Times describes Breitbart News as an organization with “ideologically driven journalists”, that is a source of controversy “over material that has been called misogynist, xenophobic and racist”. Steven Bannon himself still faces accusations of racism, anti-semitism and having white supremacist leanings. Some are even going so far as to state that Bannon has become the ‘Voice of Racism‘ within Trump’s cabinet.
Another Breitbart editor with links to Donald Trump – Raheem Kassam (far right)
The fact that the soon-to-be POTUS Trump has invited Bannon and the ‘Alt Right’ into the Whitehouse, and indeed actually given them important positions, is cause for concern enough. But even more worrying is that many political commentators believe that Breitbart, which has actively sought support from white supremacists, actually helped with Donald Trump’s election victory. The media influencing elections is nothing new.
But the danger posed by Breitbart goes further than even the manipulation we have seen from Murdoch’s news empire.
Breitbart has a long history of producing material dedicated to hate speech. Obviously, Breitbart itself denies it is a fake news site, even though the online fact checking site Snopes has page after page debunking Breitbart articles. But, even when proven to be exaggerations or down right lies, most people who read the fabricated stories on social media actually believe them.
Take this shocking article for example:
Which was quickly picked up by other far right sites and pages and shared many thousands of times on social media.
This is pretty frightening stuff, a church in Germany set alight and the police attacked by over 1000 Muslims…except none of it is actually true.
The article was attributed to German news site Ruhr Nachrichten, which hit back on Wednesday, accusing Breitbart of “using our online reports for fake news, hate and propaganda.” As Ruhr Nachrichten pointed out, Breitbart attributed separate unconnected incidents to a larger, collective “mob”.
“There was in fact a total of around 1,000 people gathered to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Leeds Square, including “large and small groups” of young, foreign men as well as families with children, according to Ruhr Nachrichten. The original report by the local news site from that night describes how some individuals did start launching fireworks from within the crowd towards police, who told them to stop but were ignored. Broadcaster WDR reported that officers then issued orders for some people to leave and took some into custody. While Breitbart wrote that the “mob” set the roof of Germany’s oldest church on fire, Ruhr Nachrichten pointed out that this was also not accurate. St. Reinold is not Germany’s oldest church – that would be the Cathedral of Trier – and a small fire had started on some netting on scaffolding around the church, not the roof, due to one firework.” – Read More
Exaggerations and lies; the stock in-trade of demagogues and propagandists throughout history. Even though the true facts behind the article have surfaced, the damage has already been done. The majority of people who read it will not bother to fact check and a great many, even when shown the truth, will believe it to be Governments trying to cover up the truth: that the fake news is real and the real news is fake.
What can be done about the proliferation of fake news? Germany is proposing to fine social media companies if they do not remove fake news articles. Is censorship the way forward? Although ‘fake news’ is generally viewed as a problematic issue which needs to be dealt with, the more liberty-minded have cautioned vociferously that even light censorship of ideas will cascade into widespread editing of thought. But can fake news be allowed to continue to shape the public conscience? Anyone who spends even a small amount of time on social media will witness comment after comment by people who have obviously bought into the lies and spin of the far right. Whereas in the past people would struggle to find like minded individuals in which to share and validate their views, social media has made it simple for them to get together in groups and on pages. The far right are on the rise throughout the world: Trump in the USA; Orban in Hungary; LePenn in France; the AFD in Germany; Wilders in the Netherlands; Da’esh; Putin, the list goes on and on. Just how much of this rise can be attributed to fake news and its proliferation on social media is a debate for another day. But never forget this.