Chinese Journalist Sentenced To 4 Years Over “Subversive” Retweets

A Chinese court in Nanjing has sentenced a dissident “citizen journalist” to four years imprisonment for retweeting 25 social media posts that contained “subversive” content, Radio Free Asia reported.

The reporter, Sun Lin, who uses the pen name Jie Mu, was found guilty of “incitement to subvert state power” by the Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court following a trial in February. He was sentenced in absentia this week with only his lawyer in attendance (Sun, his attorney said, was being held in detention but was able to communicate with the jury via video link).

Sun’s lawyer said the sentence wasn’t a surprise given the fact that his client was tried as a re-offender. Sun had previously served a four year sentence between 2007 and 2011 for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” after documenting alleged abuses of power in his local party government. The dissident, his lawyer said, has been financially dependent on relatives for years since he has been unable to find work due to his police record.

Chinatwo

Sun Lin

The case against Sun rested on 25 social media posts and videos that he shared on social media, as well as his decision to shout “down with the Communist Party” during an official party meeting in his neighborhood.

“We don’t believe that this amounts to incitement to subversion,” Sun’s lawyer said.

The convicted journalist was initially jailed two years ago as he tried to film the opening of a trial of a Nanjing-based human rights activist named Wang Jian. Wang said he believes Sun is innocent.

“I think he’s innocent,” Wang said. “Detaining and sentencing him is outright political persecution, under international law and under the Chinese constitution.”

China has imprisoned more journalists and bloggers than any other country, with 60 behind bars currently in cases that human-rights groups claim amount to political persecution. Authorities often use charges of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” as a pretext to crack down on peaceful dissent.

The Mock Democracy

Authored by Rainer Mausfeld, translated by Terje Maloy via Off-Guardian.org,

The citizens are disenfranchised and conditioned to be politically apathetic consumers. In recent decades, democracy has been replaced by the illusion of democracy. New forms of organization of power and psychological methods for manipulation of our consciousness protect the powerful against the risks of democratic empowerment and strengthen their position.

Democracy and freedom. Two words that are charged with unheard-of social promises and that can release tremendous energies of change to achieve them. Today, hardly more than a shadow remains of the hopes originally associated with them. What happened? Never before have two words, to which such passionate hopes were attached, been emptied of their original meaning in such a socially far-reaching way. They have been falsified, abused, and turned against those whose thoughts and actions are inspired by them.

Democracy today really means an elected oligarchy of economic and political elites, in which central areas of society, especially the economy, are fundamentally removed from any democratic control and accountability; at the same time, large parts of the social organization of our own life lie outside the democratic sphere.

And freedom today means above all the freedom of the economically powerful.

With this Orwellian reinterpretation, these two words now have a special place in the endless dictionary of falsified words throughout history. With the poisoning of these two words, our hopes for a more humane society and a containment of violent ways of solving things are confused, clouded, broken and almost wiped out from the collective memory. The loss of the civilizing dreams associated with these two concepts makes it hard for us today to politically articulate an attractive, decent alternative to the prevailing power relations, or even worse, think of any at all.

Democracy, which was originally associated with great hopes for political self-determination and a safeguarding of internal and external peace, is left only as a formal shell in the real structure of society. Democracy has been reduced to a staged spectacle of periodical elections, where the population can choose from a given «elite spectrum». Real democracy has been replaced by the illusion of democracy; free public debate has been replaced by opinion- and outrage-management. The guiding principle of the responsible citizen has been replaced by the neoliberal ideal of the politically apathetic consumer.

Of the hopes associated with the concepts of democracy and freedom, only the empty words of a false promise have been retained by the powerful; with these words it is possible to effectively manipulate the consciousness of the subjugated majority.

International law has also today largely developed into an instrument of undisguised power politics. The self-declared ‘Western community of values’ has openly reverted to its almost religious belief in the effectiveness of violence, the wholesomeness of bombs and destruction, drone killings and torture, support for terrorist groups, economic strangulation, and other forms of violence that serve their purposes. This is a political fetishization of violence, whose effects can be seen all over the globe.

Hardly more than a historical memory is left of the great hopes originally associated with democracy and international law, namely, the hopes that civilization could contain power and violence. The populace is all the more being forcefully convinced of the political rhetoric of democracy and international law, with which the economically or militarily strong seek to win the consent or tolerance of the populace for their actual practice of a violent realpolitik. In today’s realpolitik, the right of the strongest has again long been accepted.

Two hundred years after the Enlightenment, which we praise so much our political rhetoric, we live in a time of radical counter-enlightenment. At the same time, when it serves their power interests, the powerful like to refer to the Enlightenment in order to affirm their claimed civilizational superiority over those they consider to be their enemies.

An elitist democracy is a contradiction in terms. While there are formal democratic elements in an elitist democracy, they are structurally kept to a minimum. Despite this minimalistic democracy, from the point of view of the actual economic and political centers of power, democratic elements are not necessarily as risk-free as they would like.

So in order for the present power elite to secure their status, they are dependent on securing themselves against democratic aspirations.

The weak point is now the public debate space, which – especially in the periodic elections – could potentially become a risk against stability. How can this be controlled in an elitist democracy? How can the risk that democracy potentially poses be kept as low as possible? If the remaining democratic residual elements were removed, it would no longer be possible to maintain the democratic rhetoric useful for preventing revolution; for public debate and periodic elections are indispensable even for the mere illusion of democracy. So if the real centers of power want to keep these formalities, they need appropriate ways to build stability that can make democracy risk-free for them.

Over the past few decades, the powerful have made great efforts to develop new ways of securing such stability, in order to protect the democratic residual elements remaining in elitist democracy from the risks posed by democratic empowerment.

These include, in particular, novel structural forms of organizing power, as well as psychological methods for manipulating our consciousness. Of course, the roots of these developments go much further back, but these developments have accelerated rapidly and become institutionally solidified in recent decades. The social transformation process associated with these things is similar to the effects of a «revolution from above», i.e. a revolution that represents a project of the economic elites and serves to expand and consolidate their interests. The transformation process that accompanies this revolution essentially rests on two pillars.

The first pillar of this transformation process is that the organizational forms of power are designed more abstractly and with a purposeful diffusion of social responsibility, so that the unease, indignation or anger of those ruled can find no concrete, i.e. politically effective, targets. Thus a will for change in the population can no longer find expression among the actual decision-makers.

This process of transformation consists of a creeping – and for the populace as invisible as possible – creation of suitable institutional and constitutional structures. With these structures, power relations can be stabilized and the redistribution processes permanently removed from democratic access, and thereby be made largely irreversible. For this, the democratic structures historically won after hard struggles must be eliminated or eroded, so that their effectiveness is neutralized.

In addition, domestic and international law must be ‘developed’ in such a way that the centers of economic and political power can legally enforce their interests authoritatively in the legal framework thus created. In particular, a legal framework must be created to enable the transformation of economic power into political power, and to provide a legal framework for the desired or already established upwards redistributive mechanisms, so that the minimum remaining democratic possibilities cannot undo them.

The organized crime of the propertied class is not only legalized by such lawmaking, but also protected for the future and sealed against possible democratic interventions.

The second pillar is the development of sophisticated and highly effective techniques that can in a targeted way manipulate the consciousness of the ruled. Ideally, those who are ruled should not even know that there are centers of power behind the political surface, presented by the media, of seemingly democratically controlled power. The most important goal is to neutralize any social will to change in the population or divert their attention to politically insignificant goals.

To achieve this in the most robust and consistent way possible, manipulation techniques aim for much more than just political opinions. They aim at a purposeful shaping of all aspects that affect our political, social and cultural life as well as our individual ways of life. They aim, as it were, at the creation of a «new human being» whose social life is absorbed in the role of the politically apathetic consumer.

In this sense, they are totalitarian, so that the great democracy theorist Sheldon Wolin rightly speaks of an «inverted totalitarianism», a new form of totalitarianism, which is not perceived by the population as totalitarianism. The techniques for this have been and are being developed for about a hundred years, at great expense and with substantial involvement from the social sciences, whose importance in society is closely linked to the provision of methods of social control.

A central element of these techniques for manipulating the consciousness of the population is the creation of appropriate ideologies that are largely invisible to the population as ideologies and thus provide a barely questionable framework that gives meaning to all the individual’s social experiences.

The core of these ideologies, culminating in neo-liberal ideology in recent decades, is the ideology of an expertocratic «capitalist elite democracy», in which competent and well-committed elites should direct the fate of society in the most efficient manner possible.

Both developments serve to make power unidentifiable and therefore invisible, in order to undermine our natural mental defense mechanisms against being ruled by others. Both are characteristic of the modern forms of contemporary capitalist elite democracies.

We can only develop promising strategies of resistance to the current order based on power and violence if we sufficiently understand these new organizational forms of power. The same applies to the manipulation techniques, through which specific properties of our mind can be exploited for political purposes.

You Can Now Own Putin’s Limo

After investing some $190 million in development via a public-private partnership project dubbed “Kortezh”, the Russian state has revealed that a new presidential limousine designed specifically for Russian President Vladimir Putin will soon enter mass production at a factory in the eastern region of Tatarstan, as the government hopes sales of the bulletproof limo will help offset some of that investment.

Limo

LimoTwo

According to RT, the first mass market iterations of the Aurus will roll off the production line in 2020. The cars will be built at a factory owned by Russian carmaker Sollers, which is located in the special economic zone of Alabuga, Tatarstan Republic, according to the Trade Minister Denis Manturov.

Three

The factory should be able to handle producing about 5,000 of the vehicles per year. The Aurus, as the limo is called, is currently being produced by the state-run Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute, which has an annual output of about 250 cars – far below the level needed to meet demand, according to the Russian state. The Aurus is presently being produced in a limo and a sedan model, with an off-road vehicle set to enter production some time in 2021-2022.

Four

The project that led to the car’s development was initially intended to bolster Russia’s domestic auto industry by ensuring that more cars were produced in Russia using domestic parts. But it ran massively over budget during the five years it took to develop the car.

Five

Putin debuted the car to the world when he rode in it during his summit with President Trump in Helsinki:

The car made its debut as a mass-market vehicle at the Manila International Auto Show earlier this year:

Maybe if sales are robust, the Aurus could inspire copycats: For example, maybe the Vatican would consider a mass-market version of the Pope Mobile.

If You Were Chief Of CIA Consciousness Ops

Authored by Jon Rappoport,

There is an obsession to say that everything is made out of something.

Who knows where it started? With the Egyptian pyramid builders? The Sumerians?

In the modern era, the fervor has reached a high point.

Physicists, biologists, and chemists are relentless in their pursuit of consciousness as a function of the brain. It has to be the brain. All those synapses and neurons and chemicals…and underneath them, the atoms and the sub-atomic particles…somehow these tiny particles conspire to produce consciousness and awareness.

Yet these same scientists deny that a sub-atomic particle carries any trace of awareness. The particles flow. They obey laws. That’s all.

So the experts are painted into a corner. They then speculate: “Well, you see, the increased ability to process information, the complexity of structure—naturally, this implies consciousness.”

No it doesn’t.

A Ferrari is complex. So is the Empire State Building. So is the IBM’s best computer. And? Where is the consciousness?

You, sitting there right now, reading these words—you understand the words; you KNOW you’re reading them; you’re not just processing information. YOU ARE CONSCIOUS.

If a physicist wants to say that you, knowing you’re reading, are just a phenomenon of atoms in motion, let him try, let him explain. Let him do more than bloviate.

Imagine you were the chief of a CIA section called Consciousness Covert Ops. What would you try to do, given that your motive, as always, is control?

You would try to convince the population that consciousness isn’t free and wide-ranging and powerful and independent. You would try to narrow the popular belief about consciousness.

What better way than to focus on the brain as the seat of all awareness?

“The brain functions according to laws. We’re discovering more and more about those laws. We can determine when the brain is malfunctioning. We’re learning how to correct those malfunctions.

Indeed.

You’re spinning narrative about the brain as if it were a car that has to visit the shop. That’s what you want. You want to make people believe their brains need fixes, because, after all, you come out of the long tradition of CIA MKULTRA mind control.

When the brain comes into the shop, you can try to reprogram it. You can experiment. You can apply the latest technology. You can attempt to insert controls. You can place monitors in the brain, in order to observe it in real time.

At a more basic, yes, philosophic level, you want to eliminate any sort of movement claiming that consciousness is separate from the brain. You want to snuff that idea out. It’s counter-productive, to say the least. It could give rise to a renaissance of an old outmoded notion called: freedom.

What could be more free, more independent, more unique, more creative than individual consciousness that has a non-material basis?

You want to do everything you can to equate consciousness with the brain and, thus, the modern idea of the computer. Yes, the computer. Perfect.

“Consciousness is a computer operating at a very high level.”

“All computers can be improved.”

“All computers can malfunction. They can be repaired.”

And then, the ultimate coup:

“Consciousness? A very old idea that, in light of the progress of technology, has no merit. It’s really information processing. The brain handles that. The brain is a computer. We’re learning how to build a better brain…”

You’re shifting the focus of the old 1950s MKULTRA program, which mainly involved drugs and hypnosis, to a new arena. You’re coming at the territory inside the skull from a number of angles. You’re the next generation of Brave New World.

And right across town, the Pentagon and its research branch, DARPA, is deeply involved in a number of allied research projects. For example, the cortical modem, a little piece of equipment that costs about $10.

The gist? Insert proteins into neurons, and then beam photons into those proteins, thus creating image displays that bypass the normal channels of perception.

Virtual reality with no headset. The project is still in its early stages, but the direction is clear: give the “user” an image display beyond his ability to choose.

It’s touted as an overlay. The person, walking down the street, can still see the street, but he can also see what you give him, what you insert into his visual cortex. Of course, as the technology advances, you could take things further: block out physical reality and immerse the person in the virtual.

DARPA’s enthusiasm about this project, as usual, exceeds its current grasp, but its determination to succeed is quite genuine. And the money is there.

Think about this. Which way is a bright college student going to go? He can study ancient philosophy, in the least popular department on campus. He can read the Vedanta, and plow through its explications of consciousness. Or he can study biology and physics, and then try to land an entry job with the Pentagon, where he can fiddle with the human brain for fun and profit. This student has been thoroughly immersed in computers since he could crawl. He understands what they do and how they work. He’s been taught, over and over, that the human brain (consciousness) is a computer. So what path will he take?

Over and above everything I’m pointing out in this article, there is a human capacity called imagination. It’s the wild card in the deck. It’s the greatest wild card ever known. It is, in fact, the cutting edge of consciousness. It invents new realities. It releases gigantic amounts of buried energy. And it’s entirely an individual proposition.

I built my second collection, Exit From The Matrix, on that basis: the liberation and expansion of imagination. Not just in theory, but in practice. There are dozens of imagination techniques to work with.

Brain=computer=consciousness is the greatest covert op on the planet. It’s supported with major money and labs and journals and armies of psychiatrists and neurological professionals and physicists and the military.

And the op is completely false, because, again, the very scientists who push it are saying the brain is composed of sub-atomic particles THAT CONTAIN ZERO CONSCIOUSNESS.

Think about that.

They’re saying consciousness arises out of particles that have no consciousness.

Step Aside Russia: Beijing “Prepares To Meddle” In US Elections

With the decades-old practice of state-sponsored election meddling thrust into the spotlight after the 2016 US election, a growing number of people inside and outside of Taiwan have been warning that China is using increasingly sophisticated methods to attempt to destroy democracy on the island ahead of the January 2020 elections, according to the Nikkei Asian Review

In late november, Taiwanese local elections were cast into disarray amid accusations by government officials that online disinformation originating from Beijing had undermined voters’ confidence in President Tsai Ingwen along with the Democratic Progressive Party she belongs to. Following the loss of crucial mayoral elections to the China-friendly Kuomintang in November, Tsai stepped down as party chairwoman.

And after using Taiwan as propaganda guinea pigs, China may set its sights on US politics according to Yi-Suo Tzeng, acting director of the Cyber Warfare and Information Security division at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research. 

“As they accumulate knowledge and test their algorithms, I think within two years we will probably see China having the capability to use cybertools to intervene in the U.S. election,” Tzeng told the Review, though he characterized Beijing’s methods of exercising political influence in the US as “old school” but improving quickly. 

On Dec. 13, six sitting U.S. senators, including former Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, sent a letter to officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging a U.S. investigation of alleged Chinese attempts to influence Taiwan’s elections last month. They cited concerns for other democracies around the world.

In a report published before the local elections, Jessica Drun, a research analyst at SOS International in Washington, cataloged signs that China was becoming more adept at influencing Taiwanese social media. Drun’s findings included one instance of fake news connected to a Chinese IP address that may have prompted the suicide of a Taiwanese diplomat in Japan. She noted that the results of the hundreds of races decided in Taiwan would help China tweak its methods in the future.

Chinese disinformation campaigns against Taiwan could be used as a blueprint against other democracies, particularly in sowing greater discord between segments of the population,” Drun said. –Nikkei Asian Review

“While any attempt against the United States would likely require a greater degree of sophistication, China has demonstrated a familiarity with popular Western social media networks, as well as an awareness of existing vulnerabilities within these systems, as brought to light in the 2016 U.S. elections.”

What’s more, Taiwan’s Justice Ministry announced in October that it was probing 33 cases where Taiwanese candidate allegedly received funding from Beijing – a claim which China has vehemently denied. 

“We have never interfered with Taiwan’s elections,” said Ma Xiaougang, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, on October 31. 

That’s not true, according to the Nikkei, which notes that in 1996 Beijing made it clear that it it did not want the eventual winner of the island’s first presidential election – Lee Teng-hui, to win – going as far as launching missiles into Taiwanese waters to emphasize their wishes. 

And when the DPP won the presidency along with legislative control in 2016 – ending Kuomintang rule for the first time since it arrived after Japan’s 1945 surrender, several people have noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to meet with then-Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou just months before the election, was likely an attempt by Beijing to bolster the Kuomintang’s image with the public. 

In the run-up to Taiwan’s recent local elections Beijing used a combination of tactics to keep Tsai and the DPP on the defensive. These include vast amounts of disinformation created by Chinese content farms, disruption of online debates by Chinese hackers and trolls, hacking of DPP social media accounts and government websites, and inflation of the popularity of Kuomintang candidates across online, broadcast and print media, according to a recent article published by the University of Nottingham’s Taiwan Insight.

Some of China’s efforts to sway Taiwanese media are open, others take place behind the scenes. –Nikkei Asian Review

China weaving itself into US Media

The Asian Review notes that China has become quite adept at inserting its views into American media. 

Inserts from the state-owned China Daily are included in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. Politico has entered into a content sharing partnership with the South China Morning Post, whose editorial line has become increasingly Beijing-friendly. –Nikkei Asian Review

According to Chen Yonglin, a former Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia in 2005, compromising local media, along with current and former politicians, were a major part of Beijing’s strategy towards undermining democracies. 

To advance Beijing’s agenda, says Chen, “you don’t have to say the CCP is great, you just have to say the CCP is OK,” noting Taiwan’s former president Ma and former Vice President Lien Chan – both members of the Kuomintang, were useful tools in China’s propaganda efforts. In particular, Ma made headlines in Taiwan and China prior to the November election with his controversial “three noes” policy; no ruling out unification with China, no use of force against China and no support for Taiwan’s independence. 

China’s push to sway international opinion come under increasing scrutiny especially among the Five Eyes countries — Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. — these countries and others are seeking to learn from Taiwan, according to several Taiwanese officials. Over the past year, organizations and government departments held events in Taipei to discuss China’s assault on open societies, attracting journalists, analysts and officials from abroad.  –Nikkei Asian Review

While the impact of proven and suspected election meddling is difficult to gauge, the notion that “free and fair” elections have been compromised will continue to cast a cloud of doubt over global politics. We suspect that any outcomes that disagree with existing global paradigms will have been heavily “meddled in,” while victories by establishment candidates will magically be free from outside influence.