Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Amnesty International leaves Alexei Navalny to rot

 Alexei Navalny is the long-time leader of Russian opposition. Because the Russian dictator Putin tolerates no opposition, there has been a long record of various attacks against Navalny, his famiy members (e.g. his brother has served a prison sentence), and his supporters. Last year, Mr. Navalny narrowly survived a poisoning attempt, and was treated in Germany for months. The doctor who gave him first aid in the city of Omsk and most likely saved his life has meanwhile died, the death attributed to a heart attack. Alexei Navalny eventually returned to Russia, was immediately arrested, and has already been convicted to 3.5 years in prison on made-up charges.

Amnesty International initially gave Mr. Navalny a "prisoner of conscience" status, but has now revoked it because of unspecified "comments he made in the past" that "reach the threshold of advocacy of hatred". These comments have not been specified, but are supposedly from speeches against immigration, especially illegal immigration, held more than a decade ago.

Alexander Golovach, a supporter of Navalny who had been declared prisoner of conscience in 2018, has now renounced this status to protest.

Details e.g. here.

Update: I have just shared this news with my husband, who follows closely the situation in Russia (I have no nerve for this). His comment: "I can tell you that Putin is great. His tentacles are everywhere, see how far they reach!"

Update 2: Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of Britain's Foreign Affairs Select Committee, made a spot-on comment: “If Amnesty will only call out the persecution of saints, they’re siding with tyrants. The prisons will be full and they will stay silent as ordinary, flawed human beings are persecuted for crimes of conscience.” Read the whole report by Robert Oliphant at the Telegraph.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Bad omen for the new US presidency

 The text below is copied from Hernando Sun.

Fact Check: 2020 Lie of the Year

Rocco Maglio,01/08/2021


...When the New York Post broke the story of the Hunter Biden laptop and emails which implied influence-peddling on the part of Joe Biden while Vice President,  a letter was circulated that was signed by more than 50 former senior intelligence officials. The letter was signed by Jim Clapper, Former Director of National Intelligence, three Former Directors of the CIA (Mike Hayden, Leon Panetta, John Brennan), Michael Morell, Former Acting Director of the CIA, and many former leaders of intelligence agencies. This letter was reported by Politico journalist Natasha Bertrand to state that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a Russian disinformation operation. Disinformation means the information was false.

After the election former CIA senior operations officer, Marc Polymeropoulos told the National Review that he and former acting CIA director Michael Morell (name has been floated as a possible Biden CIA director pick) basically wrote the letter. "Polymeropoulos stressed, however, that the letter was not intended to question whether the Hunter Biden materials were authentic, but rather to raise the possibility that the Russians were trying to interfere in the presidential election by helping in some way to bring the information to the attention of the press."

“We talk about how this is a Russian information operation, it’s not disinformation,” he stated. “And that’s an important nuance to me as a former intelligence officer. It might not be for the rest of the public, or for people on the right, or the left, or wherever, who would criticize the letter, but it is an important nuance. Because we did not say it was Russian disinformation, we said it was a Russian information operation.”

The letter by the former intelligence leaders does not explicitly state that the Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation, but it talks about the Hunter Biden story being a Russian information campaign and then goes into depth about Russian disinformation. The letter was crafted in such a way to imply that the Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation and therefore these intelligence leaders were saying the story was false.  

The legacy media and big tech repeatedly claimed that the letter stated that the Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian disinformation. There is no reporting of the authors of the letters or any of the signatories ever attempting to correct the reporting by pointing out that they were only claiming that it was a Russian information operation. None of the "journalists" reporting on the story contacted any of the 50+ named intelligence leaders to clear up the confusion...  

The claim that intelligence leaders claimed that this was Russian disinformation had a real effect. Twitter locked the New York Post (5th largest newspaper in America) out of their Twitter account for 16 days because they refused to delete their article spreading "Russian Disinformation."  Many of the social media platforms censored the story or inhibited their users' ability to spread the story. The network news refused to cover the story because it was Russian disinformation. The blackout was so complete that polling has shown that many Biden voters were unaware of the whole story or aspects of the story including the FBI investigation.

The reason that the emails and laptop could not be disavowed or called disinformation is that Hunter Biden himself dropped off the laptop and did not return to pick it up, so it became the property of the computer shop. The owner gave the laptop to the FBI but made an image of the disk. He then provided a copy of the disk to the Trump campaign. The emails on the laptop were from Gmail so they contained a digital signature verifying their contents had not changed and that they had been sent through Gmail to the recipients.  

This letter by these intelligence officials was used by the media as justification for not covering the story since it was Russian disinformation. The letter was reported many times as claiming Russian disinformation and no one ever corrected that mischaracterization.

The claim that this was a Russian information operation is interesting since it implies that the President of the United States and his allies do not have the ability to spread a story about potential corruption by his opponent Joe Biden in the US.  The story of this corruption by one of two major candidates for presidents could only be publicized with the help of Russians.

The former intelligence officers knew that by calling it a Russian information operation and then talking about Russian disinformation that the story would be reported as a Russian disinformation operation since that is the term that has been used to refer to the Clinton Emails. If the story was called Russian disinformation then it could be censored by the media and Big Tech since disinformation means it is false.

The leaders of the intelligence community misleading the corporate media and public to prevent the investigation of allegations of corruption against their preferred candidate is what happens in failed totalitarian states, not healthy democracies. The members of corporate media were not innocent bystanders as they did not want to report this story and used the letter as a means of ignoring the story. This was a disinformation campaign run against the American people by intelligence leaders who are going to be in power during the Biden administration. This is why the intelligence leaders misleading the public through our willing media that the Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation is our lie of the year.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Petition for release of young female Iranian prisoner of conscience


I have just signed a petition of Amnesty International for the release of 24-year-old Yasaman Aryani (shown in the photo). Like many other valiant Iranian women, Yasaman has been imprisoned for protesting against the laws mandating headscarves, and refusing to wear one. She was first arrested in August 2018, sentenced to one year, released in February 2019, then arrested again next month and sentenced to 16 years, together with her mother.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

University admission must be merit-based

 The US Department of Justice has found what has been common knowledge for decades, namely, that US universities discriminate against white and especially Asian-American candidate students, holding them to a higher standard. Because of the consistently higher academic achievements of these two groups, to prevent them from becoming over-represented in the student body, higher test scores are required from them than from students coming from groups with traditionally lower academic performance. To motivate the rejection of academically excellent Asian-American applicants, they are given lower scores in the "personality" assessment. To me, all this is textbook racism, yet it is defended as struggle against "systemic racism", whatever this is to mean.


I find this system mind-boggling. In my country, elite universities recruit their students by anonymous written examinations (high school grades are also taken into account, but are given less importance, because it is known that many bad schools grade their students generously). Gender quotas are used for all prestigeous study fields that would otherwise become feminized, but there are no racial or ethnic quotas. So we have proportionally fewer minority students, but the ones that make it into (and out of) the university are as good as those from the majority. My experience shows that this system works well. I'd recommend it to everyone (and I think it would be even better without the gender quotas). At least public universities, and also private ones if they use public funds, should not be allowed to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, personality traits, or any other non-academic criteria.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Ten years

Ten years ago, my brother died. I still miss him terribly. You cannot stop loving someone just because he has died. I still do not feel at home in the world devoid of him. Because it is a damaged version of what it had to be. My brother was of those people who make the world better. And there is still a void at the place of the life he had to live, the love he had to give in the years to come, and of all the nice things he would do.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019


One week after the official start of autumn, summer briefly returned. On the bright blue sky, the sun was warm like the smile of a loved one. I enjoyed the warmth and remembered a smile.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Dad of the year

Below are copied parts of a report in today's Yahoo!News.

"Baby's body recovered, three missing, after raft carrying migrants capsizes in Rio Grande

By Andrew Hay (Reuters) 

The body of a 10-month-old boy was recovered on Thursday and three other migrants, including two children, were still missing after their raft capsized as they crossed the Rio Grande in Texas, U.S. Border Patrol said.

The rubber raft flipped over on Wednesday night near Del Rio, Texas, and all nine of its occupants were swept away in the cold, fast-flowing water, according to the father of the dead child, U.S. Border Patrol said in a statement.

The father swam to safety. A Border Patrol agent jumped into the river and rescued his wife and 6-year-old son. The boy was given emergency care and then rushed to a hospital for advanced treatment. Another man and his son were found on the river bank.

The missing were believed to include the 7-year-old nephew of the dead child’s father, a girl and an adult male, according to the statement.

"What we’re dealing with now is senseless tragedy,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz said in a statement.

The baby’s body was found several miles downriver by a Border Patrol search and rescue team.

Drownings are common on the Rio Grande, which makes up part of the U.S.-Mexico border, as migrants try to cross on often overcrowded, makeshift rafts with no life jackets...

In the past seven months, Border Patrol has apprehended over 418,000 migrants on the southwest border, already surpassing the 2018 fiscal-year total. Most of those arrested were Central American families, many of them crossing the border in large groups that can number over 400 people.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded 283 deaths on the border in 2018, ranging from heat-related fatalities to drownings... Migrant advocates say the death toll is far greater as many bodies are never recovered from deserts and the Rio Grande."

Nothing good can come out of emigration culture, i.e. regarding emigration to a more prosperous country as the default path to success, and those who stay and work in their homeland as failures. It drives people to emigrate at any cost, legally or not, and ultimately leads to deaths. At least, once this man's loved ones were in the cold turbulent waters of Rio Grande as a result of his poor decisions, he could try to bring them out, instead of swimming to safety himself and leaving their rescue to the Border Patrol. Moral: do not concent to a perilous journey if the man leading you is a coward and a loser. Of course, dragging one's family through deserts and rivers to cross a border illegally and earn detention is the sort of idea that comes exactly to losers, so wives should just say "no".