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Censorship And The Digital Public Square

Censorship And The Digital Public Square

Authored by Adeline Von Drehle via RealClear Wire,

“We don’t want no censorship, we don’t…



Censorship And The Digital Public Square

Authored by Adeline Von Drehle via RealClear Wire,

We don’t want no censorship, we don’t need no censorship!” Kevin Nathaniel’s voice boomed from the podium in front of the Supreme Court as he, frontman of the Spirit Drummers, led the crowd in a series of sing-songy, reggae-inspired chants. His audience was small but excitable. Some wore Kennedy ’24 beanies and “Ivermectin saves lives” T-shirts. Others showed off signs reading “Fauci is the tyrant the founding fathers warned us about,” and “Freedom of speech includes views you don’t like,” and “Media literacy = censorship,” as they bopped along to the bongo drums.

Inside, the Supreme Court was gearing up to hear the oral arguments of Murthy v. Missouri, in which Missouri and Louisiana, as well as several individuals, claim that federal officials violated the First Amendment in their efforts to combat misinformation on social media. The parties contend that the Biden administration effectively coerced platforms into silencing the voices of American citizens, particularly those on the right who posted about the COVID-19 lab leak theory, pandemic lockdowns, vaccine side effects, election fraud, and the Hunter Biden laptop story. The plaintiffs have called it a “sprawling Censorship Enterprise.”

People live with different facts than their neighbors. One reason for this is social media algorithms, which use engagement features such as “like” buttons to feed users more of the content they seem to be interested in. Such a system can result in one person’s feed looking completely alien to another person. That we live in parallel universes is not news, but the dilemma it poses raises crucial questions about the responsibility of social media companies to track what is on their platforms and whether the government even has the right – or the responsibility – to counter what it deems misinformation, and when a line has been crossed into unconstitutional censorship.

Plaintiffs in Murthy v. Missouri claim the line was crossed, and then crossed a few hundred more times. The suit names federal officials including President Joe Biden, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Anthony Fauci, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and others – as well as federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the lawsuit ostensibly sets out to detail the many ways the federal government violated Americans’ First Amendment rights, it also spent a great deal of its time explaining why the information the mainstream has labeled “misinformation” is actually the truth.

The Missouri and Louisiana attorneys general cite studies, journal articles, and news stories to bolster their assertions about mail-in voter fraud and about the inefficacy of masking, quarantining, and COVID-19 vaccines. “Yesterday’s ‘misinformation’ often becomes today’s viable theory and tomorrow’s established fact,” they wrote in their legal brief.

The plaintiffs go on to the meat of their complaint, which is about 50 pages of what they hope will be viewed as convincing evidence of a well-oiled censorship machine.

In one example, they present transcripts of Jen Psaki linking encouragement for social media companies to “stop amplifying untrustworthy content … especially related to COVID-19, vaccinations, and elections” with comments about anti-trust regulation and privacy protections, insinuating that the federal government would impose undesirable regulations on social media companies if they do not increase censorship of right-wing messaging.

The suit also states that Dr. Fauci “coordinated with social-media firms to police and suppress speech regarding COVID-19 on social media,” particularly about the lab-leak theory – which contends that COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, China – because Fauci himself signed off on funding the gain-of-function research that may have created the virus. Instead, Fauci and other officials at the National Institutes of Health pushed the narrative that COVID was a zoonotic virus that jumped to humans in a Wuhan seafood market.

Whether these examples and many others constitute threats or nefarious coercion is what the high court is now weighing. A federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction that prevents much of the federal government from collaborating with various groups about what should and should not be allowed on social media. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals kept it in place, saying the evidence showed the existence of “a coordinated campaign” of unprecedented “magnitude orchestrated by federal officials that jeopardized a fundamental aspect of American life.”

The injunction rang alarm bells as it specifically banned communication between the federal government and the Election Integrity Partnership, which was instrumental in debunking false claims about the 2020 election. The Supreme Court stayed the injunction, suggesting it was less convinced than the lower courts by initial evidence.

One private individual suing alongside the states is Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, who was fired from his job at a University of California school for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine. Author of “The New Abnormal: The Rise of the Biomedical Security State,” Kheriaty describes government censorship as a “leviathan,” a Hobbesian term to describe an entity with utter control over its subjects.

“It’s an interconnected network of public and supposedly private entities that is basically working 24/7 to flag and pressure the social media companies into doing its bidding with censorship,” said Kheriaty. “If these social media companies are not complying, the government can turn the screws and turn up the temperature and basically force them into compliance.”

Some conspiracy theories turn out to be true. But this would be a big one.

It is undeniable that conservative and right-wing voices were censored on social media, mostly beginning in and around March 2020, just as the plaintiffs argue in their suit. Platforms such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube all made concerted efforts to either outright remove dissenting posts about the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 presidential election, or at least to diminish the reach of such posts.

Litigating whether such measures are unconstitutional raises a host of questions, starting with whether platforms such as X or Facebook are solely private sector companies or whether in a highly digital age they have become the de facto public square where censorship is more proscribed. This is not merely an academic concern. The First Amendment protects, in the Supreme Court’s words, a “robust sphere of individual liberty” that allows private actors to make their own decisions about what speech they wish to associate with. Social media companies have been considered private actors under the law and are permitted to moderate user speech and content as they see fit under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

But with social media platforms acting as the present-day town square, it’s no surprise that so many Americans think it unjust that they could be censored for their views. “Modern society is so thoroughly dependent upon social media for communication, news, commerce, education, and entertainment that any restriction of access to it can easily feel like a matter of constitutional significance,” writes legal scholar Mary Anne Franks.

The Murthy v. Missouri suit argues that Section 230 “directly contributed to the rise of a small number of extremely powerful social-media platforms, who have now turned into a ‘censorship cartel.’” In this part of the suit, the case transforms itself into an argument for the overturning of Section 230, which multiple states are considering.

The lawsuit cites numerous examples of censorship that occurred before the Biden administration took office, and claims it was indeed threats from the Biden campaign which coerced social media companies to overly censor. It will be difficult to prove abridgment of free speech on these points, as only a government – not a campaign – is legally bound by the First Amendment.

The plaintiffs cite, “perhaps most notoriously,” the example of the Hunter Biden laptop story. The New York Post ran a story on Oct. 14, 2020, about the computer of then-presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son and the proof it held of corrupt business dealings, but the Post’s Twitter account was blocked until after the election. In fact, no one could share the story (even via Twitter direct message) because, as the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board put it, “nearly all of the media at the time ignored the story or ‘fact-checked’ as false.” The plaintiffs argue the story was censored because social media companies were “parroting the Biden campaign’s false line,” and so treated the story as “disinformation.”

Similar arguments are made about censorship of speech that raised concerns about the security of voting by mail – that the Biden campaign coerced social media companies into censoring such speech because it did not align with their personal interests. Such posts about election fraud spiraled into a narrative that the election was stolen and contributed to the violent Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In 1783, George Washington warned that if ‘the Freedom of Speech may be taken away,’ then ‘dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.’ Citing this quote, the plaintiffs in Murthy v. Missouri began their quest to unveil the censorship leviathan.

Whether the courts find their evidence compelling enough to reapply the injunction on much of the federal government is the question of the case. The plaintiffs argue that the government has no role at all, insisting that labeling “disfavored speech ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’ does not strip it of First Amendment protection. Some false statements are inevitable if there is to be an open and vigorous expression of views.”

Kheriaty echoed the sentiment. “The constitution is very clear that the government’s role is not to distinguish between true and false information or true and false speech,” he said. “The government’s only role is to distinguish between legal and illegal speech.”

Danger is invited in when people are not exposed to a multitude of viewpoints, they say. Perhaps we are all victims of the certain censorship that comes from our personalized social media feeds, in which we are fed only information we want to hear. Each side thinks the other is brainwashed. This has led to real-world harm, and surely will again in the future. Whose job is it to save us from ourselves?

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/22/2024 - 04:15

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SNB Ends the Rate-Cut Drought

This makes it the first developed nation to cut interest rates after the COVID-19 pandemic, the fall of Credit Suisse, the onset of the war in Ukraine,…



This makes it the first developed nation to cut interest rates after the COVID-19 pandemic, the fall of Credit Suisse, the onset of the war in Ukraine, and persistent inflation pressures.

Switzerland’s central bank explained its decision by stating that local inflation will probably remain below 2% for the foreseeable future. Despite this announcement and a drop in inflation, economists believe that the Bank of England (BOE) will not alter its current interest rates.

Norges Bank, the Norwegian central bank, and the US Federal Reserve kept their countries’ respective interest rates unchanged. The latter is, however, expecting three rate cuts in 2024.

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CNBC said that a Reuters poll predicted that the SNB would keep rates at 1.75%. According to this report, Swiss inflation fell to 1.2%, which is below the 2% benchmark, signalling an economy ready for rate cuts.

The SNB expects further annual inflation decreases and predicts average inflation of 1.4% for 2024, 1.2% for 2025, and 1.1% for 2026 should the policy rate remain steady at 1.5% for the entire period.

CNBC cited analysts from Capital Economics, who commented:

We think inflation will come in even lower than the new SNB forecasts imply and remain around the current level of 1.2% before falling to below 1.0% next year. Accordingly, we forecast the SNB to cut rates at the September and December meetings taking the policy rate to 1%, where we think it will remain throughout 2025 and 2026.



The post SNB Ends the Rate-Cut Drought appeared first on LeapRate.

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CCP-Linked Virologist Fired After Transferring Ebola From Winnipeg To Wuhan Resurfaces In China – And Is Collaborating With Military Scientists

CCP-Linked Virologist Fired After Transferring Ebola From Winnipeg To Wuhan Resurfaces In China – And Is Collaborating With Military Scientists



CCP-Linked Virologist Fired After Transferring Ebola From Winnipeg To Wuhan Resurfaces In China - And Is Collaborating With Military Scientists

A virologist who had a "clandestine relationship" with Chinese agents and was subsequently fired by the Trudeau government has popped back up in China - where she's conducting research with Chinese military scientists and other virology researchers, including at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where she's allegedly studying antibodies for coronavirus, as well as the deadly Ebola and Niaph viruses, the Globe and Mail reports.

Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were fired from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada and stripped of their security clearances in July of 2019.

Declassified documents tabled in the House of Commons on Feb. 28 show the couple had provided confidential scientific information to China and posed a credible security threat to the country, according to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The Globe found that Dr. Qiu’s name appears on four Chinese patent filings since 2020, two with the Wuhan Institute of Virology whose work on bat coronaviruses has placed it at the centre of concerns that it played a role in the spread of COVID-19 – and two with the University of Science and Technology of China, or USTC. The patents relate to antibodies against Nipah virus and work related to nanobodies, including against coronaviruses. -Globe and Mail

Canadian authorities began questioning the pair's loyalty, as well as the potential for coercion or exploitation by a foreign entity, according to more than 600 pages of documents reported by The Counter Signal.

Highlights (via

  • Qiu and Cheng were escorted out of Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory in July 2019 and subsequently fired in January 2021.
  • The pair transferred deadly Ebola and Henipah viruses to China's Wuhan Institute of Virology in March 2019.
  • The Canadian Security Intelligence Service assessed that Qiu repeatedly lied about the extent of her work with institutions of the Chinese government and refused to admit involvement in various Chinese programs, even when evidence was presented to her.
  • [D]espite being given every opportunity in her interviews to describe her association with Chinese entities, "Ms. Qiu continued to make blanket denials, feign ignorance or tell outright lies."
  • A November 2020 Public Health Agency of Canada report on Qiu says investigators "weighed the adverse information and are in agreement with the CSIS assessment."
  • A Public Health Agency report on Cheng's activities says he allowed restricted visitors to work in laboratories unescorted and on at least two occasions did not prevent the unauthorized removal of laboratory materials.
  • Cheng was not forthcoming about his activities and collaborations with people from government agencies "of another country, namely members of the People's Republic of China."

Following their firings, Qiu returned to China despite it being under a pandemic travel lockdown until January, 2023.

"It’s very likely that she received quite preferential treatment in China on the basis that she’s proven herself. She’s done a very good job for the government of China," said Brendan Walker-Munro, senior research fellow at Australia’s University of Queensland Law School. "She’s promoted their interests abroad. She’s returned information that is credibly useful to China and to its ongoing research."

More via the Globe and Mail;

Documents reviewed by The Globe show that Dr. Qiu is most closely aligned with the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei. In March, 2023, a document posted by a Chinese pharmaceutical company listed Dr. Qiu as second amongst “major completion personnel” on a project awarded by the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association for study related to an anti-Ebola virus therapeutic antibody. Most of the other completion personnel were associated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

USTC was founded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and initially established to build up Chinese scientific expertise useful to the military, which at the time was pursuing technology to build satellites, intercontinental ballistic missiles and atomic bombs. The university has continued to maintain close military ties.

The document says Dr. Qiu works for USTC. Jin Tengchuan, the principal investigator at the Laboratory of Structural Immunology at USTC, lists her as a co-inventor on a patent. Mr. Jin did not respond to requests for comment.

A person who answered the phone at USTC told The Globe, “I don’t have any information about this teacher.”

In 2012, USTC signed a strategic co-operation agreement with the Army Engineering University of the People’s Liberation Army, designed to strengthen research on cutting-edge technology useful for communications, weaponry and other national-defence priorities.

Dr. Qiu is also listed as a 2019 doctoral supervisor for students studying virology at Hebei Medical University.

Well, that makes me wonder what circumstances she was under when she emigrated to Canada. Why did she come?” asked Earl Brown, a professor emeritus of biochemistry, microbiology and immunology at the University of Ottawa’s faculty of medicine who has worked extensively in China in the past. “People leave for more freedom from China, or to make more money. But China keeps tabs on most people so I am not sure if she came over to infiltrate or whether she came and the infiltration happened later through contact with China.”

It may be impossible to answer that question. Three former colleagues at the National Microbiolgy Lab have indicated that Dr. Qiu and her husband were diligent and pleasant to deal with, but largely kept to themselves outside of work. They say Dr. Qiu was a brilliant scientist with a strong work ethic, although her English was weak. The Globe is not identifying the three who did not want to be named.

Dr. Qiu is a medical doctor from Tianjin, China, who came to Canada for graduate studies in 1996. She started at the University of Manitoba, but began working at the national lab as a research scientist in 2006, working her way up to become head of the vaccine development and antiviral therapies section in the National Microbiology Laboratory’s special pathogens program.

She was also part of the team that helped develop ZMapp, a treatment for the deadly Ebola virus, which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

“My sense is this was part of a larger strategy by China to get access to our innovation system,” said Filippa Lentzos, an associate professor of science and international security at King’s College London. “It was a way for them to to find out what was going on in Canada’s premier lab.”

Initially trained as a medical doctor, Dr. Qiu graduated in 1985 from Hebei University in the coastal city of Tianjin, which lies southeast of Beijing. Dr. Qiu went on to obtain her master of science degree in immunology at Tianjin Medical University in 1990.

Her career at Canada’s top infectious disease lab in Winnipeg began in 2003, only four years after Ottawa opened this biosafety level 4 facility at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health.

Over time, she built up a reputation for academic collaboration, particularly with China. It was welcomed by management who felt her work was helping build a name internationally for the National Microbiology Lab.

By the time Canadian officials intervened in 2018 and began investigating, documents show, Dr. Qiu was running 44 separate projects at the Winnipeg lab, an uncommonly large workload.

Her work with former colleague and microbiologist Gary Kobinger vaulted Dr. Qiu into the international spotlight. The pair developed a treatment for Ebola, one that in its first human application led to the full recovery of 27 patients with the infection during a 2014 outbreak in Liberia.

Mr. Kobinger’s career continued to soar and he is now director of the Galveston National Laboratory, a renowned biosafety level 4 facility in Texas. In 2022, he told The Globe that it was “heartbreaking” to see what had happened to his colleague. He declined to speak for this article.

“She had lost a lot of weight with all the stress. She was so convinced that this was all a misunderstanding … and she would go back to her job,” he said in 2022. “ Her career has been destroyed with all this. She was one of the top female Canadian scientists of virology and Canada has lost that.”

Over a period of 13 months, though, the Chinese-Canadian microbiologist and her biologist husband’s lives were turned upside down.

She went from being feted at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall with a Governor-General’s Award in May, 2018, to being locked out of the Winnipeg lab in July, 2019 – the high-security facility where she had made her name as a scientist in Canada. By January, 2021, she and Mr. Cheng were fired.

Last month, after being pressed into explaining what happened, the Canadian government finally disclosed the reasons for this extraordinary dismissal: CSIS found the pair had lied about and hid their co-operation with China from Ottawa.

A big question remains following their departure: Why would Dr. Qiu risk her career, including the stature associated with developing an Ebola treatment, for China?

Read the rest here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/21/2024 - 18:40

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You can now enter this country without a passport

Singapore has been on a larger push to speed up the flow of tourists with digital immigration clearance.



In the fall of 2023, the city-state of Singapore announced that it was working on end-to-end biometrics that would allow travelers passing through its Changi Airport to check into flights, drop off bags and even leave and exit the country without a passport.

The latter is the most technologically advanced step of them all because not all countries issue passports with the same biometrics while immigration laws leave fewer room for mistakes about who enters the country.

Related: A country just went visa-free for visitors with any passport

That said, Singapore is one step closer to instituting passport-free travel by testing it at its land border with Malaysia. The two countries have two border checkpoints, Woodlands and Tuas, and as of March 20 those entering in Singapore by car are able to show a QR code that they generate through the government’s MyICA app instead of the passport.

A photograph captures Singapore's Tuas land border with Malaysia.

Here is who is now able to enter Singapore passport-free

The latter will be available to citizens of Singapore, permanent residents and tourists who have already entered the country once with their current passport. The government app pulls data from one's passport and shows the border officer the conditions of one's entry clearance already recorded in the system.

More Travel:

While not truly passport-free since tourists still need to link a valid passport to an online system, the move is the first step in Singapore's larger push to get rid of physical passports.

"The QR code initiative allows travellers to enjoy a faster and more convenient experience, with estimated time savings of around 20 seconds for cars with four travellers, to approximately one minute for cars with 10 travellers," Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority wrote in a press release announcing the new feature. "Overall waiting time can be reduced by more than 30% if most car travellers use QR code for clearance."

More countries are looking at passport-free travel but it will take years to implement

The land crossings between Singapore and Malaysia can get very busy — government numbers show that a new post-pandemic record of 495,000 people crossed Woodlands and Tuas on the weekend of March 8 (the day before Singapore's holiday weekend.)

Even once Singapore implements fully digital clearance at all of its crossings, the change will in no way affect immigration rules since it's only a way of transferring the status afforded by one's nationality into a digital system (those who need a visa to enter Singapore will still need to apply for one at a consulate before the trip.) More countries are in the process of moving toward similar systems but due to the varying availability of necessary technology and the types of passports issued by different countries, the prospect of agent-free crossings is still many years away.

In the U.S., Chicago's O'Hare International Airport was chosen to take part in a pilot program in which low-risk travelers with TSA PreCheck can check into their flight and pass security on domestic flights without showing ID. The UK has also been testing similar digital crossings for British and EU citizens but no similar push for international travelers is currently being planned in the U.S.

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