Monday, May 21, 2018

Not a word from Yulia Skripal since her hospital release or from her father Sergei

(May  5) It is now about three weeks since Yulia Skripal was released from hospital and taken to a "safe place" after her being poisoned along with her father Sergei on March 4th in Salisbury. There has not been a word about either her or her father.

The two must have been both interviewed long ago by authorities about what happened. One would think that their testimony about the event was crucial. However, everything is being kept under wraps. If the two had implicated Russia there would not be this silence. The mainstream press seems quite uninterested in such questions as to the condition of the father now or where the daughter is and why neither has been interviewed. I discussed the issue in a Digital Journal article a week ago but since there is no information at all about them. There have been new developments that I will discuss in this article.
Czech lab synthesized tiny amounts of Novichok type agent
The Czech government
 said the agent was used to help train the army against chemical warfare. Russia had listed the Czech Republic as one among several countries that could have been the source of the agent used to poison the Skripals.
The Czech Defense Ministry admitted it had carried out a microsynthesis of several micrograms of potential chemical agents and that included Novichok and sarin gas. The ministry said that this did not represent production as understood under international law and could not have leaked.
The statement by Ahmet Uzumcu of the OPCW
Just to make sure no one might think that the Czech Republic could have been the source of the Novichok that poisoned the Skripals we have a statement by Ahmet Uzumcu, the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) who said that the amount of novichok used to poison the Skripals was significantly more than that needed for research purposes which indicated it was likely created for use as a weapon.
In an interview with the New York Times, Uzumcu said that he had been told that about 50-100 grams of the nerve agent was though thought to have been used in the Salisbury attack.
The OPCW repudiates Uzumcu' statement
Some chemical experts were surprised at the Director-General's statement and this apparently included some at the OPCW because the OPCW issued a statement in fact disowning the Uzumcu's statement.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 4 May 2018 — In response to questions from the media, the OPCW Spokesperson stated that the OPCW would not be able to estimate or determine the amount of the nerve agent that was used in Salisbury on 4 March 2018. The quantity should probably be characterised in milligrams. However, the analysis of samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions.
So why did Uzumcu make such a statement in the first place? Surely, it was useful as showing that the Czech Republic could not have been the source of the Novichok that poisoned the Skripals. No doubt someone pressured him to make the statement in order to bolster the official narrative.
The UK government also tried to pressure the lab at Porton Down to claim that the novichok came from Russia. A Digital Journal article back in April discussed this showing that Boris Johnson a UK cabinet minister actually claimed a scientist at Porton Down told him this.
When it comes to sustaining the official narrative we have lots of press but when it comes to revealing anything about the condition of the Skripals or what they know about what happened to them we get no information at all.
No new suspects in the case
When asked by a UK MP at a Commons defence committee hearing whether the authorities knew who was responsible for the Skripal poisoning, UK National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill said they did not yet know. However Sedwill expressed no doubt about Russia being responsible and is the biggest threat to the UK. Sedwill told the committee that Russia is an existential threat to the UK: "Russia is the primary strategic threat to the United Kingdom."
Is there a D-notice about reporting info on the Skripals?
A D-notice has undergone several changes but Wikipedia describes it as follows: "A DSMA-Notice (Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice)[1] — formerly a DA-Notice (Defence Advisory Notice), and before that called a Defence Notice (D-Notice) until 1993—is an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security. The system is still in use in the United Kingdom."
There may be no D-notice with respect to reporting on the Skripals but there might as well be. If Skripals supported the official narrative then this would have been reported. However, if the Skripals' would provide testimony that conflicted with the official narrative then this must be kept from the public in the interest of UK security. Not only the UK press seem to voluntarily accept that they should be silent about this but international mainstream media as well. Exceptions are Russian media such as RT and Craig Murray or Moon of Alabama but the latter two are marginal and no doubt to be characterized as dupes of a Russian misinformation campaign. When it comes to suppression of criticism of the official narrative, silence is golden.

Published previously in Digital Journal

Sunday, May 20, 2018

You Tube CEO claims it has 1.8 registered users watching videos each month

Susan Wojcicki the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of You Tube claimed that 1.8 billion registered users are watching You Tube videos each month and this does not even include those watching who have no account.

Wojcicki made the announcement at You Tube's Brandcast presentation. She announced some of You Tube's other successes as well.
Record setting views
Beyonce had a record 41 million livestream views at Coachella. A video of the event is appended.
Another music video "Despacito" had more than 5 billion views as of the end of April. Variety reports: "The official video of the catchy Spanish-language track, featuring Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee, on Wednesday surpassed 5 billion views on YouTube — becoming the first video in the platform’s history to hit that watermark." The video, in Spanish, is appended. The company claimed to have had 1.5 billion logged in viewers as of the middle of last year.
Wojcicki indirectly discusses problems with You Tube
There have been critics of You Tube allowing inappropriate kids videos on the platform as well as conspiracy theories.
Wojcicki said: “This is the impact of an open platform: it brings the world together in ways that were just not possible before. But we’ve also seen that with openness comes challenges, as some have tried to take advantage of our services. It is incredibly important to me and to everyone at YouTube that we grow responsibly.”
The inappropriate kids videos
Wojcicki mentioned that she is making changes for a You Tube Kids option and promised to hire 10,000 moderators. However, that still seems to be in progress. Wojcicki said: “There is not a playbook for how open platforms operate at our scale. But the way I think about it is that it’s critical that we’re on the right side of history.”
Conspiracy theories
You Tube is also home to wild conspiracy theories. A Verge article of February 21st this year notes that the number one trending video in the morning was based on a false conspiracy theory which suggested that a survivor of the Parkland high school shooting is an actor. After the video received more than 200,000 views the company finally removed the video.
In an interview with CNN, David Hogg the 17-year-old victim of the theories noted that he was simply a witness to the events, contrary to the allegations in the theories populating YouTube. "I'm not a crisis actor," Hogg told CNN's Anderson Cooper on AC360. "I'm someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that."

Previously published in Digital Journal

Not a word from Yulia Skripal since her hospital release or from her father Sergei

(May  5) It is now about three weeks since Yulia Skripal was released from hospital and taken to a "safe place" after her being p...