The Week that Spain Lost Catalonia

The detention of 15 high-ranking officials and the suspension of the Catalan government, last week by the Spanish government, in order to halt the referendum on independence set for tomorrow appears to have united separatists, federalists, and a significant number of unionists in defense of the vote.

“I have always been opposed to this referendum, because I am a federalist. However, the latest Spanish aggressions against Catalonia in order to humiliate our people is intolerable. That’s the main reason why I have decided to vote, and I will vote “YES” because I do not want to belong to a dictatorship like Turkey any longer. I think that the creation of a new state would give us the chance to build a more fair country and society” said David, a Barcelona citizen.

My family and I have always voted for unionist parties. We like Spain and most of our friends are from Madrid. Nevertheless, the Spanish repression of the Catalans this week is unacceptable. The government has violated the international law and has restricted the freedom of expression in Catalonia. They have raided printing shops, newspapers offices, and forbidden Catalan editors from advertising the referendum. Last week, they suspended our government and detained a number of our democratically elected representatives. Until this week, I was not going to vote in the referendum because I have always been a unionist, but Spain does not give me any other option. I will go to vote “YES” because this is no longer a referendum on independence, it is all about “Democracy” VS “Dictatorship,” said Marta, a Barcelona businesswoman.

The Catalan government has had serious problems in mobilizing the “unionists” for this referendum until the past week. Most of them thought that they could defeat the Catalan President by promoting a boycott of the vote. However, the latest Spanish aggressions against Catalan institutions have changed the situation, and it appears now that the vast majority of unionists are willing to support the referendum, in order to preserve democracy. This could result in a historic turnout that cannot be ignored by the international community.

The constant attacks against Catalonia by the Spanish government have also united separatists, federalists, and several unionist political parties, which are now calling on the people for mass participation in the referendum. Additionally, they are planning a social/labor indefinite general strike starting on October 3rd, in order to collapse the Spanish economy, if Spain does not recognize the results of the vote.

Although the Catalan government has always been committed to carrying out the referendum, there has always been serious doubts about the validation of the results. However, it seems that the latest anti-democratic actions against Catalonia by Spain have already guaranteed the international recognition of the results, whatever they may be.

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Spain Assaults the Catalan Government

Spanish militarized police assaulted Catalan government offices and arrested 15 officials on Wednesday in order to stop the October 1st banned referendum. The Catalan president said that this action meant the suspension of Catalonia’s government and the implementation of a state of emergency across the country.

Tens of thousands of protesters crowded outside the Catalan government offices in downtown Barcelona’s tourist district, waving Catalan flags and chanting “Occupying forces out” and “Where is Europe?”.

The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia’s government and has established emergency rule,” said President Carles Puigdemont. “We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state,” he said, calling on the Catalans to vote in the referendum to preserve democracy.

Spanish militarized police detained Catalonia’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove and 14 high-ranking local officials. The raid targeted numerous regional government departments.

Police confirmed that they were carrying out raids to dismantle the organization of the October 1st referendum.

Despite Spanish police provocations to cause riots, mass protests across Catalonia remained peaceful. Protesters bore banners reading “Democracy” and “Vote to be free”.

The FC Barcelona soccer club said in a statement: “FC Barcelona, in remaining faithful to its historic commitment to the defense of the nation, to democracy, to freedom of speech, and to self-determination, condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights.”

Police efforts to stop the referendum have intensified in recent days as the Catalan government reaffirms its commitment to hold the referendum by any means. A few days ago, President Puigdemont said that he and his administration members were willing to go to prison if necessary. He added that he is not afraid of defending people’s rights.

Over the last few weeks, the Spanish police have raided printer’s shops, newspaper offices private post-delivery companies looking for the necessary material to hold the referendum, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.

 

Poor Media Coverage of the Barcelona Terror Attack

On Thursday, CNN, Fox News, ABC News, BBC, CBS, The Guardian, and Telecinco’ coverage of the terror attack in Barcelona, in which fourteen people died and a hundred were injured after a van plowed into crowds of tourists in Las Ramblas, appeared to be inaccurate and harmful to the victims.

CBS News, CNN, and FOX News were the first to broadcast videos of the victims bleeding to death, causing trauma for families who discovered through TV that their loved ones had died. These networks also spread falsehoods such as that there was a hostage situation in a restaurant and that numerous fugitive terrorists were carrying long-range weapons through Barcelona’s streets, which caused terror and endangered the ongoing police operation.

Sadly, the same media had already misreported previous terror attacks such as the latest in London and Manchester. This time, however, thousands of people complained about what they saw as a ratings grab. However, the aforementioned media justified their misreporting, suggesting that in the aftermath of a terror attack it is normal that witnesses give them false information because they are confused.

All of this despite the fact that the Catalonian government had enabled numerous communication lines with the press from where it was giving regular updates about the ongoing investigation and the police operation in order to prevent the media misreporting. The government asserted that the only reliable information was what they were providing through the aforementioned channels.

It is also important to highlight that part of the media did a great job by verifying all the information before broadcasting it. The lack of seriousness of some ‘prestigious’ media has as its ultimate goal to grow their audiences regardless of the veracity and the possible negative consequences that their actions may have in the aftermath of a terror attack.

This sort of coverage has raised many questions about the implementation of new restraints on the media; for example, to pixel the faces of victims of terrorism in the aftermath of terror attacks in order to respect their families and prevent these episodes from happening again.

Indeed, if implemented a new regulation should always respect the freedom of the press in all cases. This would only be to protect the victims of terrorism and their families because they deserve to be the first to know how their loved ones are without watching their mutilated bodies on TV.

 

Can Marine Le Pen Still Win the French Presidential Election?

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are competing furiously to become the next French president in the run-off election on May 7. When both candidates won the first round of the election a week and a half ago, most experts contended that Macron would win the run-off vote with ease. However, during the last week, Le Pen has proved herself to be more intelligent than her rival, and it now appears that she has greatly increased her chances of becoming the next French president.

A few days ago, Marine Le Pen launched a national campaign to clean up her xenophobic image in order to convince the French people that she represents them. To that end, she stepped down as a National Front leader to appear more moderate. This action has already attracted thousands of Fillon’s supporters who will now vote for her in the run-off vote on May 7.

Aware that this gesture was not enough, on Wednesday, May 26, Marine Le Pen began to disguise her political ideas by presenting herself as the working class candidate who, if elected, would eventually fight against the European establishment. To this end, Marine Le Pen visited striking workers in Amiens while her rival, Macron, was meeting union bosses some miles away.

During her visit, Le Pen dealt the first blow by being welcomed and cheered by the vast majority of the workers. Her 15 minute visit was enough for her to be portrayed by the media as the workers’ defender. On the other hand, Macron was unwelcomed, booed and portrayed as the establishment candidate when he tried to visit those same workers. When these facts were spread by the media the next day, millions of French citizens began to believe that perhaps Le Pen represents them.

Le Pen’s latest blow came recently when she adopted Mélenchon’s rhetoric in one of her speeches to convince leftist voters to vote for her. She contended that she shares their desire to fight against the European oligarchy. Although it is hard to measure the real impact of Le Pen’s words, Mélenchon’s party, La France insoumise, recently decided to advocate for cast a blank vote or abstain in the runoff on May 7, which benefits Le Pen.

Despite her many small victories little more than a week, Le Pen was involved in a scandal on May 1 when she plagiarized an entire speech by Fillon when she spoke at a Labor Day rally. For an instant, it appeared that this fact would ruin her candidacy. However, her rapid response, suggesting that she did it on purpose to attract Fillon’s voters, has given her even more popularity.

On Wednesday, during the presidential debate, Le Pen was able to bring the debate onto her swampy home field. Although Macron appeared to be more prepared than her to become president, he was not able to avoid going negative against Le Pen. And Le Pen is the best at that.

What many said, that Le Pen would not have any chance of winning the run-off vote, appears to be obsolete. According to several polls conducted before the TV debate on Wednesday, Marine Le Pen will obtain the 41% of the final vote. Considering that a few months ago the media contended that she would not get more than 18%, she still has a real chance of becoming the next French president.

As seen during the last week, it appears that, in the end, Marine Le Pen has been able to disguise herself as the candidate of the working and middle class who will fight against the French establishment. However, the main problem is that Le Pen is simply hiding her real intentions from the public in order to become president. But what would really happen if she did so?

If Le Pen became president, she would soon return to her political roots by trying to install what she has always advocated for: a fascist dictatorship where immigration and whoever who does not support her ideas will be oppressed and repressed on a daily basis. To that end, she will try to implement several measures, like holding a referendum on membership in the European Union or reinstating the death penalty in France (hopefully, she will never use the guillotine to behead prisoners as happens in Saudi Arabia).

For those who still think that Marine Le Pen is like Donald Trump, they are completely wrong. Although it is true that there are some similarities between them, Le Pen has been participating in politics since her youth. In addition, she inherited the National Front (her current political party) from her father. These facts make her more dangerous than Trump and also indicate that she is determined to govern by decree and, if necessary, by violating French and international law.

On May 7, around 47 million French citizens will determine the political future of France and the EU. Many of them are not even aware of the importance of their vote. But hopefully, in the end, all of them will make the right decision in order to avoid past mistakes that once spread fascism across all of Europe. The truth is that Le Pen is a fascist imperialist who wants to implement similar ideas to those governments who adopted fascist ideas during WWII.

If you are a French citizen, you should remember that after the election you will not be able to change the situation with ease. So if you do not want Le Pen to bring chaos to France, you should act before it is too late The destiny of France and the world are now in your hands!

 

Republicans and Democrats: The Hypocritical Team

Since its beginnings, Wikileaks has aroused both hatred and veneration among its followers and detractors as much as any other worldwide organization. However, what is most striking is that a large number of these people, including Donald Trump and the U.S. Democratic Party, have changed their opinions about Wikileaks several times over the last few years, revealing a high degree of hypocrisy.

In 2010, after Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos provided by Chelsea Manning, President Trump said:

“WikiLeaks is disgraceful, there should be like the death penalty or something.”

At the time of the above statement, Trump was often criticizing Wikileaks and its staffers. However, during the last Presidential campaign, Trump changed his mind, and started to praise Wikileaks’ work while encouraging the group to continue disclosing secrets related to John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. He also suggested that Wikileaks was the most reliable media organization in the world.

On Tuesday, Wikileaks disclosed the largest leak of classified CIA documents to date, exposing that the CIA had been hacking electronic devices for surveillance in mass, even abroad  (including the techniques used to break said electronic devices).

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said:

“While I don’t want to get into confirming or denying this particular thing, I think it is interesting that — how different subjects are approached. People immediately began rushing to question this, and expressed that there should be a lot more coverage going on.This alleged leak should concern every single American in terms of the impact it has on our national security.”

“It’s interesting how there’s sort of a double standard with when the leaks occur, how much outrage there is,” Spicer observed, referring to internal leaks which have plagued the Trump campaign in the media.

“The idea that we are having these ongoing disclosures of national security and classified information should be something that everybody is outraged over in this country,” he added.

About the specific WikiLeaks accusations, he said: “You know all of these occurred under the last administration. That is important. All of these alleged issues.”

“There’s a big difference between disclosing John Podesta’s Gmail accounts, about a back and forth and his undermining of Hillary Clinton, and his thoughts of her on a personal nature and the leaking of classified information.”

Spicer also suggested that the U.S. will prosecute all those who are behind the latest disclosures, including any Wikileaks staffers. He added that Trump’s concerns likely stem from the threats that the information could pose to national security.

Spicer’s statements revealed that President Trump has changed his opinion about Wikileaks again, demonstrating that the President only considers his personal interest. When Wikileaks was revealing secrets favorable to his campaign, it was the best journalistic organization ever, but when it does the same to governmental institutions during his term, the group suddenly turns into a criminal organization.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Democratic Party and its supporters have gone through the same mental gymnastics. During Manning’s disclosures, most liberals and Democrats officials supported Wikileaks amidst Manning’s leaks, because they saw the organization as one exposing the truth of government corruption. However, during the last presidential campaign, most of the Democrats decided to change their opinion about Wikileaks and its founder, alleging that they were colluding with Russia to help Trump win the election.

As if that were not enough, after the last Wikileaks disclosure, a large number of Democrats (including those who suggested that Wikileaks was colluding with Russia) have changed their minds again and now think that Wikileaks is a reliable and honorable organization.

These extreme changes expose how a large number of people easily change their minds in relation to their own interests. Most of them lack critical thinking and are susceptible to being manipulated by both political parties and the media, though the end is the same: none of them are able to stand by either their convictions or their words.

The truth is that Wikileaks has published several countries’ governmental secrets for a decade. During all this time, it has never changed its editorial staff (most of the editors have been working at the organization for years), and it operates in the same exact way.

Wikileaks has allowed people from all over the world to know about governmental corruption, and that the CIA has conducted surveillance programs to spy on everyone all the worldwide. Thanks to that, people now have the opportunity to act in order to protect their privacy against these governmental threats. 

Wikileaks is not the real problem in our society; governments and politicians who manipulate their citizens on a regular basis are. In addition, the American political system is completely obsolete and should change to make it harder for politicians to adopt megalomaniac behaviors. The system should allow organizations such as Wikileaks to freely operate because it just exposes the truth about governmental corruption. Those who are not corrupt do not have to fear anything from Wikileaks.

The lack of critical thinking in a global society is troubling since it makes it harder for people to know what is real or not. Instead, it pushes them to blindly believe what their governments say to them. For that reason, we can observe sudden changes in people’s minds in short periods of time. In order to prevent this, the education system should change by teaching students how to think critically.

When people try to change the education system to develop critical thinking skills, both Republicans and Democrats will strongly oppose it to continue manipulating their citizens, which guarantees the continued  misconduct and political corruption in all layers of government.

Wikileaks Revelations Expose How the CIA Wants to Destroy Everyone’s Privacy

On Tuesday, Wikileaks published 8,761 documents revealing how the CIA hacks Samsung TVs, computers, phones and cars to spy on civilians all over the world. A CIA team created a new program capable of infecting the above-mentioned devices, turning them into microphones ready to collect information on their owners, even when the devices are apparently off.

Once the device is infected, the CIA can bypass the encryption on apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal by using phones programmed with Google’s Android and IOS platforms to collect audio and message traffic before encryption is applied. Further, infected devices to the controlling agent the user’s current(geographic) location, audio and text communications as well as discreetly operate the phone’s camera and microphone.”

According to Wikileaks, each technique the CIA has created ‘forms a “fingerprint” that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity’.

A troubling piece of information is that, According to Wikileaks, the aforementioned cyber weapons were compromised and the tools are likely to be in the hands of criminals and foreign intelligence agencies.

As if that weren’t enough, the release also suggests that the U.S. consulate in Germany is in fact a secret American base. Apparently, most of the workers at the Consulate are undercover hackers that regularly collect information on Europeans, Africans, and Middle EasternersIt suggests that there could be many other secret hacking bases in unsuspected places worldwide.

A curious discovery from the disclosure is that the CIA had hidden its operations trying to appear as if they were Russian hackers.Moreover, when it has often been suggested that the Russian government interfered in the last election to help Trump winthis suggests that CIA agents might have fabricated part of that story.

Experts who have started to analyze Wikileaks revelations said they appeared legitimate. They added that the release was the biggest in the CIA’s history.

Wikileaks has a long history of publishing authentic documents that have been leaked from government agencies, corporations, and powerful individuals.

When asked, a CIA spokesperson said:

“We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

Wikileaks announced that this is the first in a series of documents to be published which will cover the CIA’s full suite of hacking tools.

“We need to know if the CIA lost control of its hacking tools, who may have those tools, and how do we now protect the privacy of Americans… The potential privacy concerns are mind-boggling,” he said.

With this disclosure, Wikileaks has exposed how vulnerable we all are. Snowden’s disclosure exposed that the CIA had the capability to monitor and record conversations on the Internet and by phone. It also exposed the collaboration between the CIA and the biggest phone and computing companies by sharing data to spy on civilians. However, yesterday’s disclosure goes beyond this collaboration; the CIA can now spy on anyone through a broad spectrum of electronic devices. This disclosure indicates that, in the current technological era, there are few options to prevent such an espionage, removing any sort of privacy from people’s lives.

Privacy is important because it allows us to think as we please without any external manipulation. Without it, no one can develop critical thinking mind, which is central to becoming the owner of their life. People are all at risk of falling into a “vegetative state” in which people will passively accept everything told by their governments. One wants to believe that this phase is still far away, but if these surveillance methods are not phased out soon, we will reach a point of no return.

It is a fact that there is already a wide spectrum of journalists and citizens who are influenced by third parties. The way they investigate; act, or use the Internet is determined by the fear of being under surveillance. 

When critics thought that “1984” by George Orwell was just a fantasy novel, they were wrong. It is true that our society is not yet in the situation depicted therein, but no one can deny that there are many parallels and unless the CIA indefinitely suspends its surveillance programs, within a decade or two, everyone will be very tightly controlled by their government in all circumstances, even in those places without any electronic devices.

While we wait for the second part of the Wikileaks revelations, we should all think about what kind of world we want to build for future generations and start thinking about how to fight back to better protect their privacy.

The Low Standards of Some Traditional Media

IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and CNN have abandoned the high standards that they once had by fabricating news with the intent of misleading the public about the Russian hacking case. However, just a few months ago the same media groups supposedly, launched a campaign to eradicate false news being fabricated by the independent media, bloggers and social media. They alleged that the increase of false news was representing a threat to society.They called for citizens to engage in their campaign to protect their rights. that part of the traditional media maintains a double standard rhetoric. While engaging in campaigns to eradicate false news they adopt the same illegitimate positions by implementing a new editorial line presumably imposed by the government. Let’s scrutinise some cases of false news published by the traditional media:

THE GUARDIAN:

ON DECEMBER 23th, the Republicca (an Italian magazine), published an interview of Julian Assange conducted by Stefania Maurizi. An Italian journalist, who has worked with Julian Assange and his organisation “WikiLeaks” since 2009. 

After Assange’s interview was released, the Guardian published a misleading article written by Ben Jacobs. It made two false claims. The first appeared in the headline:

Julian Assange gives guarded praise of Trump and blasts Clinton in interview.”

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The second claim appears in the first paragraph:

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has offered guarded praise of Donald Trump.”

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Both claims are easily demonstrably false, by reading the original interview.

As a matter of fact, there is no trace of the claims written by Jacob in the original interview.It indicates that Jacob intentionally fabricated the facts of the article to gain some popularity and damage Assange’s reputation. As further evidence, once Stefania Maurizi, Gleen Greenwald, and other honest journalists pointed out the false article, the Guardian amended part of it.

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The Guardian Amendment:

  • This article was amended on 29 December 2016 to remove a sentence in which it was asserted that Assange “has long had a close relationship with the Putin regime”. A sentence was also amended which paraphrased the interview, suggesting Assange said “there was no need for Wikileaks to undertake a whistleblowing role in Russia because of the open and competitive debate he claimed exists there”. It has been amended to more directly describe the question Assange was responding to when he spoke of Russia’s “many vibrant publications”.

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ALTHOUGH the Guardian amended the article, the damage was already done. It had already been shared by thousands of people on the social media. The public does not generally read the same article more than once so a large number of people are still misled. By its part, the journalistic community has shown its concerns and has requested Jacob give more explanations about the motivations behind his actions. Unfortunately, Jacob has not given any explanation yet.

THE WASHINGTON POST:

ON DECEMBER 27th of last year, the Washington Post published an article alarming the population about that Russian hackers penetrated into the U.S. electricity grid through an utility in Vermont.

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it contained serious accusations from Vermont officials. The state’s Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, said:

“Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality of life, economy, health, and safety. This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling.”

The reaction of the media was dishonest and outrageous by spreading false information and falsely alarming the citizens.

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A few hours later, it was found that the article was false. Surprisingly, according to sources from Vermont’s utility, the Washington post did not even contact them to confirm whether the information was authentic or not.

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As the Guardian did with Assange’s article, when it was revealed that the article was false and after some journalists exposed it on the social media, the Whasighton Post amended part of the article.

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AS IN THE GUARDIAN’S CASE, the article was amended, but the damage was already done.The readers do not usually read the same article twice, and it had already been shared by thousands of people on the social media. The Washington Post still have an “excellent” reputation by the general public (who are not experts). This makes it difficult for some of to verify whether a story is fabricated or not. However, it is irrefutable that the article generated a high social alarm and hysteria. There is also clear evidence that it was deliberately fabricated to make think people that “Russia was attacking the U.S.”.

CNN:

ON JANUARY 4th, Phil Mudd, a counterterrorism analyst for the CNN, asserted during the New Day’s Show that Assange was a pedophile. The same day, WikiLeaks warned CNN that if it did not rectify the situation during the next 48 hours, Wikileaks would sue them.

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After three hours, CNN announced that it had deleted the link to the interview on its Twitter account, and attached a statement announcing that there is no evidence of the assertion earlier that day by Phil Mudd.

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Phil Mudd’s intentions were to mislead the public and make them think that Wikileaks is a suspicious journalistic organisation led by a pedophile. Once again, CNN rectified the error, but the damage was already done. CNN has millions of viewers on a regular basis, and most of them do not follow its Twitter account. It suggests that a great proportion of the public did not have the opportunity even to see the correction.

WHY IS IMPORTANT to point out the false news? The media has a highly hypnotic manipulative capacity to make people think that everything said by them is authentic. It has been used numerous times in other countries to influence elections, or instigate revolutions. So it is important to ensure that the citizens are well-informed about what is surrounding their lives on a regular basis, regardless of the subject. However, some governments are resisting it by dictating news to some traditional media outlets.

No one should blame journalists working for the traditional media unless they participate in the fabrication of news. But in case the current editorial line continues being dubious for some more time, they should consider whether or not to keep working there and accept its new editorial line. 

THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN false news and it will be impossible to entirely eradicate them. However, the implementation of some mechanisms that teach the citizens how to think critically may decrease, which is the real impact that false news have in society. It is also important to call the traditional media to return to its high standards that it once had. This would be the best way to almost eradicate false news and prevent unnecessary geopolitical conflicts that may soon turn into wars. Honest journalism is that which always pursues truth, regardless of the situation and the case. Hopefully, the media, which is fabricating news, will soon reconsider its positions. Until then, critical thinking will be the only effective weapon that society will have to resist false news.