New York City residents have been subject to a bizarre six-week psychological terror campaign in the form of professional-grade fireworks going off all night, every night, often beginning before sunset and lasting through 4am. The frequency and intensity of these explosions is unlike anything the city has seen in decades - if ever - yet the media has largely refused to discuss the issue, except to downplay and normalize the endless pyrotechnics. But the nightly fireworks shows are only the precursor to what we believe will be a rash of devastating arson attacks, targeting urban and suburban neighborhoods alike - and not just in New York, if the reports coming in from other cities are any indication.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is clearly not taking the problem seriously. While he recently empaneled a “fireworks task force” to belatedly address the problem, he said just days later that cracking down on rogue pyrotechnics is “not a good use of police’s time and energy” - as if the issue began and ended with a few kids playing with M-80s on a rooftop. This is not what we're dealing with here.
The explosions began around Memorial Day - more than a month before the 4th of July - and haven’t stopped since, dwarfing the usual amateur neighborhood fireworks displays in size, frequency, and volume. While fireworks are illegal in New York, it's not unusual to witness locals setting them off on summer nights around the 4th, and if the nightly displays were like those of previous years, they would not be an issue. However, this year's fireworks are often loud enough to be mistaken for bombs, and complaints to the city’s 311 and 911 hotlines quickly outstripped those of previous years: 11,000 as of this past Saturday, compared to just 54 for the same period in 2019.
Accompanying this mysterious bombardment has been a coordinated media gaslighting campaign, with the likes of the New York Times and Buzzfeed News framing the aural assault as “just locals letting off steam” or the result of a big sale at fireworks outlets. These narrative-managers told chronically sleep-deprived New Yorkers that a solid month of nightly 12-hour fireworks shows migrating across the borough and often starting when it was still light outside was completely normal. Beneath the surface was a sneering derision: only a midwestern transplant, a racist, or a gentrifying “Karen” would complain, reporters invariably based outside the five boroughs - their Manhattan offices shuttered because of the coronavirus - snickered.
Other stories claimed it was Black Lives Matter supporters setting off the fireworks in solidarity - a claim thoroughly debunked by a black Brooklynite calling himself Son of Baldwin in a social media thread that went viral last week. Explaining that minority New Yorkers had no reason to terrorize their own communities, he suggested the nonstop noise was a psychological operation aimed at destabilizing these neighborhoods. That reasonable analysis triggered an outbreak of media hysteria, with the New York Times calling the poster out by name as a “conspiracy theorist” after one of its own reporters retweeted the thread, blissfully unaware her employer was part of the coverup. The reporter was savaged by a group of known disinformation peddlers with such ferocity that she briefly deleted her Twitter account. That crew similarly pounced on any prominent New Yorker touting the evidence of their own senses in a surreal epidemic of "Who are you going to believe - us or your lying ears?"
Despite being smeared as liars, complainers and loonies in the media, New Yorkers could not ignore the sonic booms exploding outside their windows daily. Residents who called the city to complain during the first few weeks of the neverending fireworks show got a surreal runaround: those dialing the non-emergency 311 hotline were told to hang up and call 911, and those dialing 911 were told that unless they had an exact address they had to dial 311. Calls to the NYPD public information office regarding the city’s actual fireworks policy were met with stonewalling, feigned ignorance, or confusion: no one seemed to know (or be willing to share) what the official policy for fireworks was.
And now the Fourth of July looms just days away. The city claims to be planning five smaller fireworks displays, one for each borough, times not announced beforehand, supposedly to promote social distancing. The fireworks task force is scheduled to disband the night before Independence Day, as if the trafficking of illegal fireworks will stop in its tracks once the holiday is past. While there have been a handful of arrests, there are too many oddities - firemen at a Crown Heights firehouse caught setting off fountain fireworks late at night, furtive men strolling through Williamsburg lighting off rockets near trashcans without so much as waiting to see whether they went off, shocking videos of kids shooting fireworks at one another while police look on nonchalantly, sociopaths tossing fireworks onto sleeping homeless men, and strangers from out of town showing up in the middle of the night with trunks full of explosives, ready to replenish ongoing illegal neighborhood fireworks shows at unbeatable prices.
WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?
As many on social media have pointed out, the average New Yorker does not have the money to pay for a month’s worth of all-night fireworks. Certainly, New Yorkers economically devastated by Covid-19, unable to even pay rent let alone flee the city for the Hamptons or Florida like many of the city's wealthier inhabitants, cannot afford a month of professional-grade fireworks, which are difficult to obtain even in states where fireworks are legal. Nor were there existing channels in place in the past capable of transporting the high volume of fireworks into the city from states where they are sold openly - moving such a high volume of explosives across state lines without attracting police notice would be all but impossible without some level of institutional collaboration, whether state, federal, intelligence, foreign, or a combination.
Those searching for the culprit will not find one sole reason for the fireworks operation - the surest route to plausible deniability is having multiple answers to the question “who benefits.” If multiple powerful entities have motive and opportunity, it’s all but impossible to convict them in a court of law based on circumstantial evidence alone. But this is not our intention - we merely wish to spoil their plans and prevent the city (and other parts of the US) from going up in flames. If we can convict the entities responsible in the court of public opinion, that’s a bonus, but we are primarily trying to save the city we call home.
Police benefit when New Yorkers fear rising crime rates. Not only do they feel needed and appreciated when 911 calls go up, but a high volume of emergency calls makes it less likely city government will cave to Black Lives Matters’ demands and defund the NYPD. Firemen benefit when small fires can be put out with minimal damage to property and no loss of life. They come off as heroes arriving on the scene in the nick of time and (if they’re lucky) being photographed carrying the family cat out of a burning tenement. At least two rooftop fires reportedly started by fireworks were quickly extinguished on Avenue C in Alphabet City in the space of the same week that saw a three-story building burn down in Yonkers, supposedly because of fireworks and “poor housekeeping,” leaving six families homeless. Both the NYPD and FDNY are participants in the mayor’s fireworks task force, and busting a handful of swarthy young men with cars full of high-end fireworks justifies the broken-windows policing falling out of favor elsewhere in the country. By the same token, when a firework lands in a child’s bedroom and burns him, the entire community will reliably demand more police presence and/or firefighters. For these reasons, some have speculated city law enforcement is behind the fireworks operation.
For weeks, social media has bristled with tales of strange white men driving into minority neighborhoods in SUVs packed with professional-grade fireworks, which they hand out to local kids for pennies on the dollar (or simply hand out to kids). Slate confirmed this with a bizarre article that sought to paint the sudden appearance of an out-of-towner with a trunk full of professional-grade explosives, offering them to strangers on a darkened Brooklyn street for a pittance, as just another summer night in the city, just the locals "having fun." Certainly the clips of kids chasing one another, firing off rockets like paintball guns as if they have an unlimited supply, indicate they did not have to pay much (if anything) for them. It should be a simple matter for NYPD to trace the license plates of these vehicles, especially if they are indeed from “out of town."
Other rumors state that the professional-grade explosives typically set off at stadiums, fairs, and other large public events canceled because of the coronavirus have been sold off in bulk - to Antifa, according to those on the right, or to police plotting to dump them in black neighborhoods, according to the left. Parallels have been drawn to the pallets of bricks stacked in riot-friendly locations during the early George Floyd protests. Variations of an alleged Antifa plot are circulating claiming the goal of the fireworks is to desensitize people to the sound of gunfire and explosions and measure police response times, then use the fireworks as cover for full-on arson attacks and raids on suburban homes, as well as a mass flag-burning at Gettysburg. Antifa members setting up for a protest in Bushwick, Brooklyn told us they had “something big" planned for July 4, though they seemed both genuinely ignorant as to what it was and utterly confident they would be told when the date arrived - hinting at a rigid cell-like military infrastructure nothing like the loose association with which we are told Antifa operates.
However, this latter plot appears to be a psy-op within a psy-op. Antifa does not have the muscle or political influence to pull off such an operation alone - not without the kind of support that a state intelligence apparatus can provide. While Antifa’s affiliation with Israel is out in the open in Germany, the US incarnation of the group soft-pedals its links with Tel Aviv, presumably because it’s hard to feign solidarity with oppressed peoples worldwide when one is publicly allied with an apartheid state. In the event of mass arson attacks, the agents setting the fires will appear to be part of Antifa and Black Lives Matter (also an Israeli front notorious for coopting grassroots black activist movements) even as Israel gives the orders.
The Department of Homeland Security will be dispatching extra units to Seattle, Portland, and Washington DC for July 4th to protect monuments and federal property, but while these Rapid Deployment Teams trained in crowd and riot control are ideal for subduing violent mobs, limiting the rollout to these three cities (and their remit to protecting federal sites) leaves the real targets of the Independence Day operation wide open. Additional teams will supposedly be on standby, but potentially hours away from the sites of unrest. We need not remind you how much damage can be done in a few hours by determined chaos agents. For the sake of millions of New Yorkers, please do not overlook what these people are plotting.
TERRORISM OR INSURANCE JOB?
The goal of the Independence Day operation is much more than merely sowing terror and chaos: there’s a lot of money to be made in torching entire neighborhoods, especially for landlords and city governments who’ve purchased the proper insurance policies. In the same way that “Lucky” Larry Silverstein collected $4.5 billion off a paltry $124 million down payment on the World Trade Center complex he leased for 99 years just a few months before three of its buildings collapsed completely during the 9/11 terror attacks - saving him the trouble and expense of the asbestos remediation they desperately needed - New York City is full of buildings whose owners might like to see them leveled, buildings which do not conform to the Green New Deal and Agenda 2030 regulations and which will thus require extensive, expensive retrofitting - or total destruction.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo inked a deal for a “smart cities” partnership between New York and the Israel Innovation Authority last year, essentially designating five New York cities (yet to be named) as experimental playgrounds for Israeli intelligence and high technology. New York City would seem to be at the top of the list: the governor also partnered with Israel in 2018 on an initiative called CyberNYC aimed at turning the city into a hub for 10,000 new Israeli cybersecurity jobs, pouring tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into what is essentially a jobs-creation program for the Israeli high tech sector - not New York City. Adding insult to injury, after the coronavirus pandemic gutted the city’s economy, Cuomo brought in former Google executive Eric Schmidt to “reimagine” New York's infrastructure, healthcare, and economy; Schmidt, not-so-coincidentally, is a major investor in Team8, the Israeli start-up incubator at the core of the CyberNYC initiative.
Building a smart city requires completely redesigning the existing urban landscape, however. Schmidt was invited to try his hand at New York not long after Google’s smart-city subsidiary Sidewalk Labs was kicked out of Toronto thanks to spirited resistance from the locals. But while Toronto's Quayside neighborhood - a disused industrial waterfront area - was previously set to become North America’s first smart city, New York has vanishingly few vacant land parcels available to be developed into the kind of dystopian future landscapes seen in the failed Toronto prototype. Sidewalk specializes in “reimagining cities from the internet up” - what areas of New York will be cleared out so that Schmidt and Israeli intelligence can build their Metropolis? The last time anyone attempted a major redevelopment project in New York that required the relocation of large numbers of people, neighborhood activists derailed it - Robert Moses’ Westway highway was never built. Schmidt and the Israeli smart city developers have no doubt learned from Moses’ mistakes; New York’s “smart city” will likely rise from the still-warm ashes of an existing neighborhood. Fireworks provide the perfect cover for modernization-by-arson; no buyouts, no paying for the relocation of hundreds of sullen tenants, and no risk of a modern Jane Jacobs derailing the whole plan.
Similarly, Mayor Bill de Blasio last year passed a “Green New Deal” for New York City requiring buildings over 25,000 square feet to slash emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels or face steep penalties. It’s only the latest of several “green” regulatory packages passed by the mayor, rules which, like the nationwide Green New Deal, have less to do with saving the planet than with tightening control of resource usage, expanding the surveillance state, and modifying behavior. Even the vast majority of residential buildings and co-ops will face penalties if they don’t change their behavior by 2030, a recent survey found, and penalties increase with building size. The mayor specifically took aim at so-called “classic glass and steel skyscrapers,” calling them “incredibly inefficient” in a 2019 interview. Much of the city’s skyscraper stock consists of these once-cutting-edge structures, mostly containing office space - which has fallen into disuse as the pandemic forces most of the city’s workforce to telecommute. Between the trend shift, the glut of supply and the evaporation of demand, building owners would seem to be stuck with a lot of worthless office space on their hands. Sure, they could use this vacant period to retrofit their buildings cheaply and quickly - shutting off sprinkler systems for repair is a lot less complicated in unoccupied buildings than in active office hubs. And if those sprinklers were never to be turned back on, and if an errant firework should find its way into an open air duct, well… Despite the PR boilerplate from the mayor’s office, bringing a glass-and-steel office tower or a 1940s brick housing project up to Agenda 2030 code is neither easy nor cheap.
The ruling class has used such tactics for centuries to clean their cities of "undesirables" - disasters, no matter how unnatural, provide ideal cover for wiping out troublesome old housing stock and its inhabitants. Hurricane Katrina justified tearing down public housing projects New Orleans had wanted to get rid of for years, sending even high-rise projects utterly undamaged by the storm to the wrecking ball. The 1666 Great Fire of London torched 80 percent of that city, leaving the City of London - the legally-separate entity where historic banking houses have made their home - untouched but largely finishing the depopulation job the 1665 Great Plague had begun (and paving the way for lucrative rebuilding commissions). London's Lord Mayor, a de Blasio of his time, was woken up with news of the fire, only to famously dismiss it with "a woman might piss it out!" and return to bed, unwilling to intervene in the cull. It's hard to ignore the Great Fire/Plague parallels, given the intensity with which Covid-19 savaged New York, deliberately introduced into nursing homes and elder care facilities by order of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
While some real estate owners could no doubt afford to retrofit their holdings to the increasingly stringent "green" specifications, the coronavirus pandemic has cratered the real estate market for office buildings and high-rises in general and the owners of skyscrapers are staring at a lot of red ink. Buying a good fire insurance package and torching, say, a decaying public housing project or a moribund midtown office building is looking mighty attractive to the kind of unscrupulous landlords who regularly used arson as a weapon to drive out problem tenants in gentrifying neighborhoods in the 1980s. The primary reinsurer for skyscrapers in New York City was Allianz as recently as 2014, a German firm whose CEO resigned as part of a mysterious wave of thousands of such resignations around December/January - right before the pandemic tanked the world economy. Allianz will likely be left holding the bag if the city burns, and should be made aware of this fact. Investigators should look at recent purchases of fire insurance, especially multiple policies.
The pandemic largely emptied out upper Manhattan as the wealthy fled to summer homes in the Hamptons, Florida, and other more secure redoubts. The apartments they left behind have values so inflated it would be all but impossible for the owners to turn a profit by reselling them. Accordingly, these too may be burned in order to cash in on insurance policies and free up land for more "smart city" experimentation. Meanwhile, Agenda 2030 programs demand a total overhaul of suburban living as well - and just as the devastating California wildfires of years past cleared out entire communities standing in the way of a massive transit corridor project, fire may be used to "re-zone" suburbia. Do not think that you are safe because you do not live in the city.
Utah authorities reported that fireworks triggered a massive blaze on Sunday night near Traverse Mountain, forcing the evacuation of over 30 homes in the Lehi area and torching some 300 acres before it was brought under control. The inferno was accompanied by a power outage that plunged 7,500 customers into darkness. Fireworks are illegal in Utah, and a suspect was caught in connection with the blaze, but removing one individual from an international network does nothing to affect its plans. The Utah fire was very likely a "dry run" of sorts for Saturday, when these people plan to unleash hell on earth into peaceful urban and suburban neighborhoods. Power outages are almost guaranteed - indeed, many areas of suburban Long Island have suffered power outages during recent storms. The operatives will set traps for first responders, preventing the Fire Department from reaching fires and calling in nonexistent fires to spread resources as thinly as possible. There will likely be ambushes on law enforcement. Many of these people have undergone paramilitary (if not military) training, and letting one's guard down in expectation of the typical doughy Antifa "anarchists" could be fatal.
Please spread this information as widely as possible. We do not have much time. New Yorkers - and your own communities - are counting on you.Add a comment
Independence Day is coming up - do you know where YOUR Freedom™ is? Presumably it was spooked by a month of solid fireworks and ran into traffic, where it was hit by a self-driving car. I'm just imagining a church basement full of alcoholic bald eagles smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and talking about how great it used to be back in the day when they didn't have these damn zionist shills using their image to sell war crimes, torture, and civil asset forfeiture. When birds of prey have second thoughts about the ideals they're being used to represent, it might be time to reevaluate the direction of the country - but that time came and went a long time ago.
June 22: Quick everyone, look at China! Let them eat yellowcake; pander wars heat up
June 23: The slushies have eyes; unfunny comedians circle the drain; de Blasio goes boom; hedgehog pricked
June 24: Please sir may I have some more war crimes/blackmail; Covidiots unite; kill your idols; why we can't have nice things
June 25: Dear whitey, your pandering fools no one; your echo chamber is ready, sir
June 26: Cops embrace small-screen stardom; Gigglin' Gates hates consent; the science of stupid; governing is for losersAdd a comment
The music industry thinks you’re dumb, and they think your kids are even dumber. They believe they can not only foist Danny Hernandez - a.k.a. Tekashi 6ix9ine - on the country in the guise of a chart-topping rapper, but use this cartoon character - all bright colors, shiny jewelry, and eternally trolling smirk - to behaviorally engineer a generation of snitches. Tekashi's early release from prison after serving even less than the two year sentence he received (of a potential life sentence with a mandatory minimum of 47 years) in return for ratting out the gang he used as a stepping stone to fame - plus other gangs and rival artists - should have ended with his exile to the dustbin of history. Trends in rap music may come and go, but nobody likes a snitch. Instead, we're told, he's one of the most popular artists out there.
The reader might be wondering why I’m writing about a barely-literate “rapper” whose song titles aren’t even real words - or why they’re reading about him in the guise of political commentary. But Tekashi’s significance far outweighs the staying power of his irritating “music,” and if you don’t know who he is, your children probably do. Ignore this creep at your peril. Tekashi is the vessel for an insidious strain of social programming aimed at convincing American kids - especially ethnic minorities - to turn their parents, friends, and other loved ones in to Big Brother. For legions of disaffected, alienated kids coming of age in a culture that is both morally and fiscally bankrupt, Tekashi is making it cool to be a snitch.
The US is eyeballs-deep in an identity crisis, with a national character once marked by independence having given way to one based on backstabbing obsequiousness - a craven rat-race to see who can follow the rules better than the next person. Tekashi 6ix9ine - whose rainbow-colored hair is only matched in garishness only by his massive diamond-studded cartoon pendants - is the pop culture avatar of Snitch Nation.
When the Brooklyn-born rapper managed to weasel his way out of prison a few months early by convincing the judge he was scared stiff of contracting the coronavirus, those who follow hip-hop drama expected him to fade into the shadows, having well and truly disgraced himself by ratting out nearly a dozen members of the Nine Trey Bloods gang whose “street cred” he’d exploited to become a massive star in the authenticity-hungry world of “Soundcloud rap."
Instead, he set an Instagram Live record last month, netting over 2 million viewers on his first post-prison stream, attracting a slate of the biggest names in hip-hop - people who supposedly (and who he admits should) hate his informant guts. And for the crowning moment of his unlikely comeback - advertised on a multi-story digital billboard in a pandemic-emptied Times Square - he followed it up by releasing a song called “Gooba” that racked up a record-breaking 43 million views in its first 24 hours, somehow soaring to number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The troll was on a roll.
A snitch by any other name…
Making snitching cool is no small task. Americans were once filled with an instinctive disgust for tattle-tales that began in youth. But in more recent decades, as helicopter parents and the schools they police have become obsessed with “bullying,” tattling has slowly been reinvented as, if not a virtue, at least not a crime meriting pariah status. Children are expected to run home to their parents at the slightest adversity, even adult children; the phenomenon of parents applying for jobs for their adult kids is now so common in some industries that companies like Google, LinkedIn and Amazon actually host events for parents of potential employees, a tacit acknowledgment that these parents - not their millennial children - are the ones deciding on the position. The “call-out culture” of online ‘social justice warriors’ actually incentivizes tattling on those guilty of politically incorrect “wrongthink,” so long as the person being tattled on can be framed as privileged.
The coronavirus pandemic saw the rise of a new breed of snitch that clogged specially-designated tattle-tale lines with complaints about their neighbors and even strangers failing to abide by the ever-changing and often arbitrary rules imposed by local governments, supposedly to control the spread of the virus. With tens of millions of Americans suddenly out of work and being presented with a lucrative job opportunity in “contact tracing,” the idea of being a professional snitch was no longer restricted to jailhouse rats like Tekashi. And the post-pandemic race war has renewed enthusiasm for “canceling” wrongthinkers, even if their transgressions happened over 7 years ago - getting a celebrity or brand unpersoned is a feather in the cap for social media users animated not by curiosity or imagination but by spite. Snitching is suddenly everywhere, and it’s not just tolerated - it’s praised.
Contact tracers must take a six-hour free online course, but other than that the profession - presented in a plethora of puff pieces as a “life-saving” role accompanied by fabulous pay and excellent job security - has no barrier to entry. During that course, the student is subtly brainwashed to believe they are heroes who can save their community from a killer plague if they just put aside their concerns about other people’s privacy and remember that their primary loyalty is to the state, not their friends and family. That last part is important - the instructor in Johns Hopkins’ contact tracing course specifically warns the student that even if they know Person A has tested positive for Covid-19 and their mother has an appointment for dinner with Person A, they are forbidden to warn their mother to cancel the dinner - even if she’s old and sick and getting infected could kill her.
The ideal contact-tracer, then, is an already-alienated soul with no close family or friends for whom snitching - especially the kind of snitching that deprives others of their close relationships through the cruelty of quarantine (otherwise known as solitary confinement, a punishment banned as inhumane in many countries’ prisons) - supplies much-needed gratification. Who is more alienated than Generation Z, the young adults who’ve grown up untroubled by the notion of privacy, a smartphone in their hand since they were old enough to hold it, the “digital natives” for whom the socially-distant world of Covid-19 quarantine is not abnormal at all because they already conducted their social and romantic lives online? An entire generation of kids who’ve been taught to carry a chip on their shoulder, resenting the people one rung above them on the ladder while lacking the understanding that there’s an entire class of people at the top of that same ladder ensuring success and security remain out of their reach are the ideal contact-tracers, in the community but not of it.
Tekashi’s comeback livestream is instructive in figuring out how the narrative managers are attempting to reprogram the youth. In a rambling, borderline-incoherent broadcast, the newly-free reprobate flaunts his pricey watches, thrusts his diamond-encrusted shark into the camera while bragging about how much it cost, and dances around to the tune of “Bad Boys” - the theme song from the (now ironically cancelled) ‘Cops’ TV show - with a pair of handcuffs dangling from one wrist, jockeying for space among the watches. The not-so-subtle message is the unlocked handcuffs are as much of a status symbol as the Rolexes.
And what his first post-prison “hit” lacks in lyrical virtuosity (chorus: “are you dumb, stupid, or dumb?” All of the above, thanks!), its video makes up in Pavlovian conditioning. Rather than try to downplay his newfound reputation as a “rat,” he revels in it, even pulling up a pant leg at one point to reveal his ankle monitor (coming soon to a lockdown defier near you) with the same pride as he flaunts his shark piece. In a gesture designed to enrage, he briefly superimposes a cartoon mouse head on his own as he flails around in front of a rainbow-colored horde of ample-assed “video vixens” (one of whom is apparently his girlfriend, who we’re told stuck by him faithfully while he was locked up). The moral of the story: snitch and all this can be yours. Put aside those pesky ethics. There’s no downside to stepping on people on your way to the top.
Indeed, Tekashi’s post-prison trolling has hit its targets with such flawless accuracy that it’s clear someone else is stage-managing his “outrageous” behavior. On the heels of that record-breaking Instagram stream, he jumped into a public feud with Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, whose insipid lockdown-fetish anthem “Stuck With U” was then at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100, claiming the pair and their manager had bought their way to the top of the chart. While reassuring Grande that his accusations were in no way meant to detract from her success, Tekashi expertly tugged at fans’ heartstrings by explaining that unlike privileged white child-star Grande, he’d grown up in the ‘hood with a mother who was forced to collect cans to survive. And at the height of the George Floyd protests against racism and police brutality, with riots roiling dozens of American cities, he announced a Nicki Minaj collaboration with proceeds to be donated to The Bail Project, which funds bail assistance for low-income people. The title? “Trollz,” of course.
The perfect (empty) vessel
Turning Generation Z into Generation Snitch won’t be difficult. Since 2015, the Department of Homeland Security has been partnering with schools and even universities on the Project Safe Campus program, which pays students $100 to snitch on their classmates in the name of keeping the hallways safe (and lavishes $3,000 on the school for every "actionable tip" received by police - can you say "extra credit project"?). With the economy in ruins and a politically-hopeless landscape offering young people little chance of productive engagement, all they need is an attractive role model to emulate. And what’s Tekashi - a rags-to-riches story spliced with a flashy redemption narrative - but a role model? A cartoon character literally represented by another cartoon character, dripping with the money and clout that are the only things American society truly values in 2020, the rapper is a seductive construct to any alienated young adult. What person given the shaft by society hasn’t dreamed of flouting social norms and not only getting away with it, but getting paid handsomely for it?
Sweetening the deal is the aspirational character arc. After all, the young rapper has been declared officially forgiven - hip-hop icon Akon, the first ‘big name’ to publicly defend Tekashi’s snitching back in April by highlighting up the performer’s youth and inexperience and suggesting the gang members Tekashi got locked up had “used” the rapper to make millions, announced his own collaboration with the rainbow-haired troll last week. The redemption deal was sealed with a remake of Akon’s first-ever single, auspiciously titled “Locked Up 2.” Nicki Minaj cemented that narrative the day before their own collaboration dropped, pointing out that Tekashi was a rapper, not a “street n*gga” and reminding the audience that if some deep-pocketed “rat” came along with a record deal for them, they’d take that rat’s money.
Turning the rat into the wronged one takes cast-iron chutzpah, but the narrative seems to be holding. Tekashi has held fast to his self-victimization, faux-apologizing for his snitching (“I’m sorry if you were offended…”) without sparing a word for the families of the men who will likely spend the rest of their lives in prison on racketeering charges because of him. Even Tekashi’s 2015 criminal conviction for using a child in a sexual performance - a presumed deal-killer in the #MeToo era that somehow never did more than raise a few eyebrows, netting a probation sentence despite his pleading guilty to three felonies - has remained obediently dormant, and photo-documented allegations of extensive domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend Sara Molina, the mother of his child, haven’t hurt his popularity. While Minaj and Akon have been dragged by fans for collaborating with a “rat,” the industry press have closed ranks around them, and all complaints are relegated to social media and comments sections. Ratting has been ordained part of the New Normal.
It’s worth asking how an “artist” whose fame grew out of starting “beefs,” looking weird, and hanging out with a real-life gang has led such a charmed life. As the star witness against that gang, his career was assumed to be over in October - before he reportedly signed a $10 million record deal. And Tekashi knew he’d be more popular than ever upon his release, claiming his critics were secretly jealous and that everyone else would soon forget his transgressions. While it’s unlikely he fully grasps the purpose for which he is being used, he clearly understands he’s not being forced to play by the rules everyone else obeys - and he can’t seem to resist rubbing it in everyone else’s face.
A cocky, untouchable star who beats women is fundamentally unlikable, so Tekashi has been consistently portrayed as the underdog. Those scripting the drama that is his public life carefully select as enemies fellow musicians who are either more established, white, or both. The artists selected for his comeback collaborations have been older, established black musicians with large and loyal fan-bases, suitable to play the mentor role (Akon) or a quasi-maternal role (the 37-year-old Minaj doubles as a ‘MILF’ figure). Thus he remains the newcomer, even though he’s been on the “scene” for years - a lengthy career in the flash-in-the-pan world of Soundcloud Rap in which stars debut, blow up, OD, get locked up, and/or die often within a single year. Tekashi is Mexican, not black, but the gang that adopted him was black and he’s light-skinned enough to “pass” for white. As a result, disadvantaged, disaffected youth of all races and ethnicities can potentially identify with him. The over-the-top performative nature of his public persona leaves plenty of room for his audience to sketch out the “real” Daniel Hernandez in their own image.
Uncle Sam Wants You…
Contact-tracing programs and the “community policing” initiatives the ruling class hopes to roll out on their backs require collaborators in the target populations. This is not negotiable, as public health NGOs who have tried to conduct contact tracing in African villages during past ebola epidemics learned the hard way. NGO workers who showed up in a village asking questions were generally attacked and chased out; contact-tracers recruited from among the villagers were trusted and cooperated with. With trust in US authorities at rock-bottom levels especially among marginalized communities - for good reason, given the country’s horrific history of experimenting on these populations without consent - the ruling class needs snitches, and it needs them to join up voluntarily. A coerced snitch might work for law enforcement, but it doesn’t work here - the rat’s whole world must center on the cheese.
Revolutionary movements throughout history have understood the utility of using the youth as their enforcers. Their minds are more malleable, they’re more idealistic, more trusting, and less sure of their own identities. These same characteristics make the youth appealing to the ruling class interests seeking to recruit soldiers for its own “revolution” - which is not a revolution at all but an insurrection designed to destroy communities from within by turning their members against one another. As the American system, hollowed out by decades of Wall Street plunder, begins to crumble before Generation Z’s eyes, mass media has prepared them for the realization that they have little to look forward to besides shiny objects and big-booty bitches. Tekashi is proof that one can snitch and still have all the goodies - indeed, that one MUST snitch in order to get the goodies. In a nation of snitches, honesty is a handicap, so why not betray your neighbors, your parents, your friends, before they betray you?
A nation of rats stabbing each other in the back is ideal for the order-out-of-chaos philosophy that drives the ruling class, but truly dividing and conquering Snitch Nation requires elevating some snitches above others. Not all snitching is acceptable in this brave new world, and the terms of what is acceptable shift periodically, keeping everyone off-balance and constantly in fear that last week’s noble call-out will render them persona non grata this week. The narrative managers have successfully racialized the practice of tattling, holding up the archetype of the “Karen” - a middle-aged white woman with a layered bob haircut demanding to speak to the manager - for hate and ridicule. In practice, however, the Karen is in the eye of the beholder: is a working-class white woman who “calls out” a fellow working-class white woman for a Halloween costume she wore 10 years ago, now seen as culturally appropriative, an advocate for the oppressed or an exemplar of privilege trying to impose today’s norms on yesterday? What about a wealthy black man who calls out the same working-class white woman for that costume? A previous generation might have written off the entire discussion as puke-worthy PC navel gazing, but in 2020 we’re expected to subject the interaction to a detailed intersectional analysis and care deeply about the result - while the ruling class continues to rob us blind and spend our tax dollars bombing Yemeni kids. Somehow, the “white privilege” that allows Uncle Sam to blanket the Middle East with wholesome ‘murican bombs never enters the conversation.
In this New Normal, an act of snitching is exempted from Karenhood if it can be framed as “punching up.” Amy Cooper, the “Central Park Karen” who called the police on a black birdwatcher who tried to feed her dog a treat in order to convince her to leash the creature (which was off its leash in a wildlife preservation area of Central Park), was universally reviled for feigning peril to a 911 operator, putting the birdwatcher’s life in danger by inviting the intervention of the trigger-happy NYPD (“an African-American man is threatening my and my dog’s life!”). But the internet vigilantes who hammered her employer, Franklin Templeton Investments, to the point that they first suspended and then fired her were celebrated. One can argue that Amy Cooper deserved to lose her job and briefly become the face of systemic racism in the US for making that phone call. But one must also admit that it’s a slippery slope from exposing Karens to ratting out lockdown-breakers, quarantine-violators, and other victimless “criminals” - and that the narrative managers are training internet rage-mobs to react to both with the same vociferousness. One need only recall how the media establishment ran lengthy stories early in the Covid-19 pandemic talking up “quarantine-shaming,” affirming it as a noble pursuit - three months later, Americans are shrieking at their unmasked fellows, chasing them out of supermarkets like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
But will it work?
For all the public-relations muscle behind the Tekashi 6ix9ine “project,” the response has been mixed. The Trollz video had 158,000 “thumbs down” 24 hours after it went live, compared to 2.2 million “thumbs up.” The record-breaking Instagram Live stream likely included as many haters and curious rubberneckers as fans, and YouTube has been known to memory hole “dislikes” and goose view counts on material that supports the desired narrative. Even non-profit No Kid Hungry rejected a $200,000 donation the colorful troll dangled in front of them in May, releasing a statement that explained that “as a child-focused campaign, it is our policy to decline funding from donors whose activities do not align with our mission and values.” Ouch.
But one must not underestimate the power of repetition. His songs get extensive radio play, and the hip-hop press can’t stop talking about him. Already the hate being thrown his way when it first emerged he was cooperating to lock away his one-time gang colleagues has quieted down. At the same time, the economic climate in the US continues to deteriorate, making contact tracing - one of the few growth industries left in America, and one whose starting pay ($65,000 in New York!) is nothing to sneeze at - more and more attractive. Young adults, seeing no future in the career they may once have wanted to pursue, may become professional snitches out of need; others will see the job as a way to exact revenge on those they feel have wronged them.
As protests against police violence continue across the nation, ill-defined “community policing” initiatives are increasingly presented as solutions. Community policing doesn’t have to be exploitative, and certainly the violent and militarized model of policing the US has today must be changed, but as long as the same political class remains in power and there’s no accountability to be had for the “bad apples,” the “new boss” will be no less oppressive than the “old boss.” Individuals from poor and minority neighborhoods will be paid to inform on their neighbors, and surveillance technology will be rolled out that makes existing practices seem positively antiquated, enabled by the 5G networks whose installation was fast-tracked while everyone was distracted with the pandemic. The future will be a grim place indeed unless we push back against efforts to normalize snitching. Efforts to abolish the police must not end with everyday people taking their place.Add a comment
Fear and uncertainty have dominated the media coverage of the Covid-19 epidemic. The novel coronavirus is depicted not as a pedestrian pathogen certain to be beaten into submission by the miracles of modern science any day now, but as an invisible evil lurking everywhere, formidable enough to inspire a respectful terror even in the leading lights of the medical establishment. And in case Americans had any doubt about how they were supposed to regard this new viral threat, the establishment talking heads many rely upon for the self-assured delivery of their news have swapped their usual swagger for apprehension. Amid this ‘confidence vacuum,’ the popular response to the pandemic has taken on a religious cast. Protective measures like masks have taken on a talismanic quality, hand-washing has been elevated to a ritual performance, and a cult built on naming and shaming ‘heretics’ has seized the minds of many - while their rights are quietly stripped away and a paternalistic police state substituted in their place.
Unable to see the microscopic “enemy” they are told threatens the lives of them and their family and deprived of a scientifically proven cure, individuals seeking deliverance from Covid-19 are left with only their faith that the protective measures prescribed by health experts –our scientific priest class– can keep it at bay. If it ended there, the Corona Cult would merely be a curiosity - humans have turned to religion in troubled times since before written history began. But its dark side has already reared its ugly head - those who buck the new orthodoxy are already being blamed for the plague.
We've been here before. In the Middle Ages, pious peasants were kept in line by priests who told them God was watching their every move. When a plague appeared, it was interpreted as divine punishment, the wrath of God visited upon a sinful population. Those who wished to stand out as especially devout whipped themselves in public, or wore painful garments called “hair shirts” - in both cases with the aim of ‘mortifying the flesh,’ literally ‘putting to death’ their sinful natures.
It’s no coincidence that self-flagellation reached its height of popularity during the Black Plague. It was assumed by its practitioners that if they underwent penance by inflicting pain on themselves, they would be spared the God-given pain of the plague. Those who publicly refused to participate in the religious rituals of the day were called out as infidels, heretics, witches or other servants of the devil. They might be chased out of town; many were tortured and even killed, often in shockingly gruesome ways, as the centuries progressed and the Inquisition rose to power. The pious were regularly told their misfortunes were due to the presence of a satanic influence among them, with complex problems declared to be solved by simply casting out the offending presence.
While western society may tell itself it has left those Dark Ages far behind, the lure of simplistic explanations and the desire to find fulfillment in shared suffering - inflicted or endured - are as potent as ever.
Mask of the red death
Face masks have become both the visual symbol of the Covid-19 epidemic and the dominant religious fetish for the Cult of Corona. While cities from New York to Laredo, Texas have adopted regulations mandating them in public places and chain stores like Costco have barred unmasked customers from their premises, it’s hard not to notice those individuals so devoted to the mask-wearing ritual that they sport the face-coverings in their own cars (with the windows rolled up) and when running down epidemic-emptied streets. Poor messaging is partly to blame - the Centers for Disease Control has repeatedly changed its narrative on who should wear masks, from “sick people” to “only healthcare workers” to “everyone.” However, the Cult of Corona’s devotion to the mask extends far beyond following the recommendations of a mere public health agency.
The mask has taken on a supernatural significance that far outweighs its utility in disease protection. Even the N-95 masks health authorities have recommended to protect society from virus-positive individuals have been found largely ineffective in protecting the uninfected from carriers in their surroundings, and the flimsy surgical masks that have become ubiquitous for sale on American street corners are next to worthless in stopping virus transmission. Indeed, some doctors have warned that wearing a mask is counterproductive due to the false sense of security it creates, while others suggest it's actually dangerous due to the risk of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and hypercapnia (excess carbon dioxide). Yet it’s impossible to walk into a supermarket in many cities without something covering the mouth - even as one’s eyes remain unprotected and ready to receive whatever viral particles are lingering in the air. Mask requirements thus have nothing to do with health and everything to do with religious faith. They provide a way for the faithful to telegraph their virtue at a distance and recognize one another instantly, while flagging the non-compliant as infidels to be avoided.
In the same way that garlic and a cross were supposed to ward off vampires in times past, the face mask is supposed to fend off the “invisible enemy” lurking everywhere at once. One might feel a little silly driving around with a mask on (or stringing a clove of garlic above one’s window), but better safe than sorry - and if you haven’t been infected, or had any vampires show up at your bedside, who’s to say it isn’t working?
A bevy of rituals has sprung up among Corona Cultists, from the benign if eccentric (swabbing all exposed surfaces with Lysol wipes) to the sinister (reporting neighbors for perceived violations). Even the simplest, most scientifically-sound measures like hand-washing have taken on a ritualistic cast, as the virus-fearing infuse them with a terrified zeal. How else to explain the popularity of the dozens of “hand-washing apps” available for smartphones but that the shock of the epidemic has caused us to question that which we once took for granted? Just as peasants of a previous era might have been spooked into regular church attendance by the specter of the Black Death, their descendants pore over videos of hand-washing on YouTube, determined to live a “cleaner” life.
But another holdover from the Dark Ages has risen its ugly head. While our ancestors might have turned in their oddball neighbor as a “witch,” claiming to have seen the merry old spinster cavorting with Satan under the full moon, modern-day snitches are picking up their smartphones and dialing specially-designated lines to report violations of social distancing orders. These services are disturbingly popular - New Zealand’s snitch site crashed repeatedly within its first week in late March as over 4,000 people scrambled to turn in their neighbors for violating that nation’s harsh lockdown regulations, which separated people into “bubbles” based on their living arrangements and forbid them from interacting with those outside their “bubble.”
Snitches come in several stripes. There have always been busybodies who call the police when their neighbor’s music is too loud rather than knocking on their door and politely asking to turn it down. But in the Cult of Corona, these miscreants are joined by those driven half-crazy with fear, convinced that the act of turning in rule breakers will somehow protect them from contracting the virus. They’d never say such a preposterous thing out loud, of course - if asked, they merely claim to be concerned for the community, or worried their victim’s irresponsible behavior is spreading Covid-19 willy-nilly, perhaps even stating that their decision to turn their neighbor in was “for their own good.” Just as the Inquisitor’s concern for those they tortured on the rack was supposedly for their victim’s “immortal soul,” so does the modern snitch rationalize their betrayal of their neighbors by reasoning that the virus police are concerned only for the health of the heretics they rat out - while secretly breathing a sigh of relief that they aren’t the ones being tortured (or placed on a ventilator), this time. Following orders becomes a source of comfort for the snitch deprived of life's normal pleasures by the lockdown - providing an avenue for transformation from victim to hero.
Fueling this schadenfreudisch frenzy are media headlines celebrating the karmic punishment of lockdown violators. Whether it’s spring-breakers testing positive for Covid-19 after throwing caution to the wind and partying down on the beach or social-media showoffs boasting about refusing to social-distance, the public smiting of heretics has been a popular topic among Corona Cultists isolated in their homes. John McDaniel, an Ohio man who criticized his governor for shutting down the state, reportedly died in April of coronavirus only for social media mobs to dance on his grave and use his death to attack other “doubters” (including Donald Trump, whose insufficient reverence at the altar of the virus continues to set zealots frothing with rage). CNN’s Jake Tapper claimed that “practically every day” he read about a corona doubter succumbing to the virus, blaming conservative media and politicians for their deaths - heresy, apparently, is as contagious as the virus. The New York Post, which ran a moralizing story free of any identifying details about a nameless Kingston, New York barber who’d caught the virus after supposedly flouting lockdown for several weeks to cut hair, also rushed to connect a spike in coronavirus cases in Kentucky with an anti-lockdown protest a few days earlier - even though the virus’ lengthy latency period (and the fact that a significant chunk of the new cases were in nursing homes) made it next to impossible the two events were linked. And Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, one of the most fanatical government figures in the US' corona cult, implied in a press conference that protests were more likely to contribute to the spread of the virus than other forms of “congregating.”
UK PM Boris Johnson was perhaps the most public example of the “divine punishment” phenomenon - his conversion to the Corona Cult (after a few days of timidly suggesting herd immunity might be a better path to public health) came too late to keep him out of intensive care at the hands of the NHS his party has so ruthlessly sought to privatize. When actress Miriam Margolyes declared following his recovery that she had wanted to see BoJo dead, some in the media appeared to agree with her - while making a point of casting such agreement as gleefully subversive. Not only do Corona Cultists find a commonality in rooting for the virus against the dissidents who challenge their worldview, but their own adherence to an exhaustingly cognitively-dissonant dogma is affirmed as the correct path by the heretics' misfortune. Enforced austerity tends to be unpopular with its victims, but when that privation is reframed as a noble sacrifice made by all [except the wealthy] for the common good, it becomes easier to bear the suffering - and much more difficult to tolerate those who refuse to go along.
The real danger comes when zealots feel compelled to “help” the virus smite the heretics (sure, I could wait for God to punish this evildoer in the afterlife, but why not take some of that work off His hands?). The Daily Mail cheered on an elderly woman who threatened to “kick the ass” of a stranger for merely calling the pandemic a “hoax.” An elderly patient died in a Brooklyn hospital after another patient knocked her to the ground, cracking her head open - supposedly because she "didn't stay more than six feet away." The violence need not be physical - a British woman told SkyNews she was “named and shamed” by neighbors on Facebook when she accidentally slept through her town’s weekly “clap for the NHS” ritual, in which participants lean out their windows and applaud at a fixed time every week in a choreographed celebration of the healthcare workers they believe protect them from the virus. Even viral videos of police abuses, which have been a dime a dozen during lockdowns that embolden the worst elements on the force, have been deluged with comments in support of the cops, charging the unarmed man/woman/child being arrested or brutalized “deserved it” because they were out without a mask/protesting/not standing 6 feet away from the nearest human. Never mind that the cops in the videos are almost never masked themselves, or that it’s impossible to maintain six feet of distance while making an arrest - certainly never mind the Kafkaesque paradox of arresting someone for not social-distancing, only to throw them in a jail cell with several other humans per square foot - these poor souls have sinned, and they must be punished. Don’t agree? You might end up in there with them.
Gotta have faith
For those whose faith is flagging after two months of lockdowns sapping both their bank accounts and health, polls are being churned out confirming upwards of 80% of Americans and nearly 9 out of 10 Britons support continuing the lockdowns, which combined with social media's growing censorship of anti-lockdown speech gives the false impression of a universal public consensus that government policies are both popular and lifesaving. Fanatical religious adherence is required to enforce belief in such absurdity, given the appalling track records of the High Priests of Lockdown. Imperial College corona czar Neil Ferguson was caught gallivanting with his mistress in defiance of his own policies after two months lecturing Brits about the importance of staying home, but his wildly irresponsible disease model - produced using a defective computer program that was more glitch than code - lives on, haunting the minds of lockdown-lovers who screech BoJo is letting Brits leave home too soon. Indeed, based on his resumé, Ferguson never should have been allowed near public policy. His terrible miscalculations regarding foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 led to the unnecessary destruction of over 6.5 million livestock, decimating the nation’s farming industry, while a similar but fortunately unheeded prediction in 2002 that mad cow disease would kill as many as 150,000 Britons was shown up by the reality of 178 killed. As the years went on, his apocalyptic visions only intensified - in 2005, he declared bird flu would kill some 200 million people worldwide - when reality saw some 455 people, total, killed over the past 15 years according to the WHO. His hysterical 2009 prediction that 65,000 Brits would die of swine flu encouraged the government to embrace GlaxoSmithKline’s unsafe Pandemrix vaccine, which caused permanent brain damage in thousands of people (mostly children, plus a good deal of NHS workers conned into taking the jab with false claims of its safety and effectiveness) - quite a bit more than the 283 killed by the actual swine flu.
Not that the UK is alone in embracing faith-based “science” as health policy. Trump even appointed the man who led GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine division during the Pandemrix debacle to lead “Operation Warp Speed,” his unhinged program to develop a vaccine by the end of 2020 (a process that normally takes five years being crammed into eight months). Like Ferguson, Anthony Fauci - the face of the US’ pandemic response - has decades of epidemic failures under his belt at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Starting with the thousands of otherwise-healthy HIV positive people who died in the 1980s thanks to Fauci’s shameless advocacy for AZT, which refashioned the toxic drug (too poisonous for terminal cancer patients) into a miracle pill for AIDS, and passing through at least one episode of perjury that saw him deny the existence of encephalitis as a possible side effect of the MMR vaccine (before remembering he was under oath and acknowledging it was “rare”), Fauci has displayed such breathtaking avarice and incompetence at the helm of the NIAID that the US life expectancy has actually declined noticeably under his watch for the first time in history. Yet like the followers of an end-times cult leader who remain loyal even as the appointed date for the end of the world comes and goes, devotees of these public health priests have not dared to learn their lesson. Instead, they ramp up their predictions of doom for heretical countries like Sweden and Belarus that have refused to fall in line with the universal lockdown doctrine.
One level above the public health priesthood is Microsoft billionaire and Pandemic Pope Bill Gates, whose lack of medical credentials or even a college diploma have not stopped the world from hailing him as a prophet based on his “prediction” of a pandemic in 2015 - and his claim to have both the answers and the ability to pay for them. Gates’ deep pockets - he’s the number-one funder of the WHO, ever since Trump pulled US support - have given him the power to almost singlehandedly direct global health policy, steering it into a pharmaceutical iceberg even as real doctors protest his many conflicts of interest. Since diving into the money-pit of “philanthropy,” Gates has more than doubled his fortune; his foundation is heavily invested in the drug companies that make the vaccines that other groups he funds purchase for poor countries. He’s also very, very generous with the media, buying the silence of establishment outlets around the world - big names like the Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Financial Times, and National Public Radio - so their journalists don’t recoil when he can barely keep from gibbering and squealing while discussing the economic hurt his lockdown policies are inflicting on hapless populations - or research the trail of suffering his foundation has left through the Global South.
Yet even the most enthusiastic cheerleaders of the pharmaceutical-industrial complex - vaccine advocates like Peter Hotez, the bowtie-sporting tropical disease specialist who was ubiquitous on TV during the 2018 “measles epidemic” attacking so-called “anti-vaxxers” - have expressed alarm at the decision to scrap the animal-testing phase for the Covid-19 vaccine that is supposed to save the world, noting that “there is a risk of immune enhancement” with vaccines for any coronavirus. During animal trials for an aborted SARS vaccine, mice who got the shot developed a severe version of the virus when exposed to it after they were inoculated, while ferrets similarly challenged post-vaccination with the virus suffered “enhanced liver damage.” Perhaps trying to get around these roadblocks, Moderna, the drugmaker currently leading the vaccine pack, is banking on a totally new kind of vaccine, one which, rather than lob a softball at the immune system in the form of a dead or weakened form of the virus, will attempt to reprogram our genetic material to create the pieces of the virus, so that the immune system can learn to fight them off. That’s how Gates himself describes this “promising” method, at least. Did we mention Moderna has never brought a vaccine to market before? What’s the matter - where’s your faith?
We may not be turning our eyes heavenward and praying for deliverance, but the leaders of the western world have declared society cannot fully return to normal until a magical perfect vaccine arrives from on high, an absurd one-stop solution that carries echoes of the “duck and cover”-type prescriptions for surviving a nuclear blast, drilled into people’s heads during the Cold War. The effect of instilling a powerful capacity for cognitive dissonance - teaching children to hide under their desks even as they were taught the laws of physics, i.e. an understanding that their desks couldn’t protect them - turned Americans into gold medalists in cognitive dissonance. Were it an Olympic sport, no one would even come close.
Omnipotence & Omniscience in the 21st century
The contact-tracing platforms - both digital and human-based - being rolled out around the world have their philosophical roots in religious rites of confession, cross-bred with the police-state logic of the National Security Agency (“if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear”) and coupled with the religious notion of an all-seeing, all-knowing deity. All deviation from lockdown dogma is logged and reported, including consorting with known heretics, and this Panopticon - attacked when it debuted in China as totalitarian police-state control - is now being embraced in western media as the work of benevolent governments concerned with citizen welfare. While this transformation was laid out chillingly in ‘Lock Step,’ a hypothetical future outlined in 2010 in the Rockefeller Foundation and Global Business Network’s “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development,” any discussion of predictive programming is off-limits. Indeed, Corona Cultists are encouraged to cut off their “conspiracy theorist” relatives, because, in the words of Canadian broadcaster CBC, “conspiracies can be just as infectious, just as dangerous as a virus - so you have to guard against them.” Parents in Wales are being warned that conspiracy theorists are a greater threat than pedophiles on the internet. Compounding the seriousness of wrongthink, the WHO has popularized the term “infodemic” - implying ideas are as dangerous to one’s health as pathogens - and recommended a “vaccine for misinformation.”
Soon, the Corona Cultist will no longer have to self-report their symptoms on a Facebook survey or confess their sins to a contact-tracer. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed clothing with embedded sensors to monitor the wearer’s vital signs. Enabled by the 5G networks being fast-tracked while any potential opposition is locked down, these sensors will communicate in real time with surveillance smart grids, pinpointing the offender and alerting others to give them a wide berth, refuse to serve them, and eventually have them "neutralized." Their bank account may be frozen until they return home, or even debited a certain fine based on the degree of disobedience ("that’ll be 20 Hail Bills…or $20 per minute outside the home, your choice"). Eventually, these sensors will be implanted inside the body - in what sounds like the plot of a science fiction dystopia, Microsoft secured a patent in March for a system that mines cryptocurrency based on physiological signals, theoretically permitting the corporation to ‘reward’ users based on desirable responses to certain stimuli. While the example they gave was banal - a reward for watching an advertisement - it’s no great leap to imagine equivalent punishments for those who respond with disgust to the ruling class’ propaganda. The all-knowing, all-seeing God micromanaging His followers, a religious trope that has been used to keep large populations in line for millennia, has finally been realized in the form of the Covid-19 police state. Big Brother wields technology as both carrot - gently shepherding His flock toward transhumanist perfection by offering a facsimile of freedom in return for downloading an app, accepting a “quantum dot tattoo,” or showing a “certificate of immunity” on demand - and stick, digitally and literally imprisoning those who deviate from His shining future.
A breathtakingly wealthy coalition of billionaires and their pet statesmen have seized their own slice of the divine by appointing themselves Big Brother’s agents on earth. From the messianic glow of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen as she solicits money from cash-strapped European nations, to the aforementioned sweater-vested Gates channelling Nostradamus with predictions of "Pandemic Two," to second-generation New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (whose PR people have laid it on thick with hashtags like #Cuomosexual and #CuomoForPresident even as his state leads the world in infections and deaths and his policies of mandating nursing homes accept Covid-19-positive patients literally "kill Grandma") epitomizing "New York Tough" by acting out #resistance to Trump even as his brother was supposedly laid low by the virus, there's no end of ruling-class Heroes™ basking in the admiration of the Corona Cultists, who offer up their (and everyone else's) rights on a silver platter, never to be seen again.
Can constant surveillance stop the virus? No more than one-way sidewalks, bleaching the beach, or ratting out your neighbor does. There’s nothing wrong with clinging to ritual in a time of uncertainty - certainly hand-washing doesn’t have a downside, presuming one stops short of wearing the skin off one’s hands. But when that ritual harms others, it must be questioned. Covid-19 zealots would argue that they have science on their side, but the science is far from settled on the effectiveness of social distancing and sweeping economic shutdowns.
Pseudoscience on a rampage
As social media censors tighten the screws on what information is permitted to enter the public sphere, it becomes increasingly difficult to pretend the Cult of Corona is based on science. Actual science relies upon constant inquiry, testing, and hypothesizing, and even those claims generally attested to by its practitioners are considered “theories” as opposed to unchangeable truths. Science-as-religion, on the other hand, denounces those who put forth dissenting theories as heretics, using slurs like “quack,” “charlatan,” and “anti-vaxxer” to marginalize, for example, medical practitioners who heal people without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. The social media platforms’ decision to unilaterally deplatform content that contradicts the WHO’s narrative is anti-scientific in the extreme, sacrificing the spirit of inquiry for the strictures of groupthink. It’s rendered even more Kafkaesque due to continuing shifts in the WHO’s own narrative, which has changed as more is learned about the virus (as scientific understanding tends to do).
The idea that YouTube’s content moderators know better than a medical doctor how to treat Covid-19 would have been considered laughable just six months ago, yet Google’s video platform has repeatedly removed videos of licensed, practicing clinicians discussing their experiences. A pair of “rogue” doctors in Bakersfield, California who held a lengthy press conference laying out their findings and questioning the wisdom of prolonged lockdowns - broadcast on a local network TV station - went viral, only for YouTube to remove nearly every copy while pundits denounced the pair as “coronavirus truthers.” Their video did not attempt to project their own experiences onto the world - indeed, where they did cite statistics outside of Bakersfield, they used “official” statistics from health authorities, in Sweden and elsewhere, to support their claim that the fatality rate was being significantly overestimated because most cases were asymptomatic. Their video was literally broadcast on “mainstream media,” an “authoritative source” in the eyes of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. But its incompatibility with prevailing coronavirus dogma meant it had to be destroyed.
The orthodox narrative also jettisons long-accepted science about immunity. Vitamin D - obtained from sunlight absorbed through the skin - has been proven in study after study to be integral to a healthy immune system, and several recent studies have demonstrated its importance in surviving Covid-19 infection. Likewise, loneliness has been linked to diminished immune function and poor health in general, especially in elderly people (i.e. those most susceptible to Covid-19), and even those who are quite content with being alone are experiencing diminished immune stimulation due to not interacting with other people. The link between isolation and ill health is so strong that even the media establishment has quietly acknowledged it, and solitary confinement is considered cruel and unusual punishment in many countries. No less than the World Economic Forum, co-organizer of the notorious Event 201 simulation that served as a dress rehearsal for Covid-19 itself, has called the stay-at-home orders that have confined more than half the world’s population to their homes “the world’s biggest psychological experiment.” The ruling-class conclave warned “we will pay the price” in a secondary mental-illness epidemic, one which its members - heavily invested in the pharmaceutical companies that are among the biggest winners of the pandemic - are no doubt poised to cash in on with antidepressants, benzodiazepines and antipsychotics aplenty. Nevertheless, questioning the wisdom of prolonged isolation in the form of extended lockdowns is still seen as anathema.
To begin to free humanity from the influence of the Corona Cult, it’s important to understand how its programming took hold. Guilt - environmental guilt, racial guilt, class-based guilt - is the primary route of attack. The media establishment initially attempted to link the coronavirus outbreak to climate change, with even the Pope climbing on board the narrative, though no scientific basis exists to support it and it has since been somewhat de-emphasized. Heretics are repeatedly accused of prioritizing their own convenience over the health of society, especially its most vulnerable members - the elderly, the sick, even poor and non-white populations. Depending on the target audience, anti-lockdown heretics are said to be scientifically-illiterate "covidiots" or heartless monsters consigning the disadvantaged to die for capitalism. Guilt and shame are powerful conversion tools, and even those who remain unconverted are likely to hold their tongues in a sociological phenomenon known as the spiral of silence.
At the same time, humanity’s innate religious tendencies (present in even atheists - millennia of programming don’t vanish just because a person comes to the realization they live in a godless universe) - have been hijacked. It’s no coincidence that governments imposing lockdowns have singled out places of worship for particular animus - anyone attending religious services is presumably content enough with their god(s) that they’re unlikely to ditch their faith for a virus-venerating cult-come-lately. Constantly bombarded with messages of uncertainty and kept from communing with their usual faith, even people normally secure in their religion will reach for the stability the Corona Police State provides - authoritarianism’s flip side is paternalism, and comfort is found in the arms of Big Brother. Among the non-religious, liberal and libertarian populations alike are targeted with the weaponization of medical jargon - a simple “what’s the matter, you don’t believe in science?” sends weak-willed groupthinkers into shameful silence while their freedoms are methodically amputated.
It is supremely ironic that in this Inquisition, the “real” church has been sidelined. Aside from the Pope, who has wholeheartedly embraced the New Normal, a group of Catholic leaders recently issued a statement calling out governments, the media, and public health experts, denouncing the Covid-19 narrative as cover for “infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world.” Cynical scholars of religious history might suggest they’re motivated by jealousy - “stop using dogma to control people, that’s our job!” - but their concerns are no less valid, and the feeling of envy cuts both ways. The single-minded determination of police to break up even those church services scrupulously observing social distancing with worshipers sitting isolated in their cars can only be explained by eschatological jealousy. To truly force the Cult of Corona down the throats of the people, the competition must be eliminated, whether it’s “traditional” religion or logic, reason and the (real) scientific method.
Deprogramming the world from the Cult of Corona cannot be done by force - its backers have too much power, including total control of both establishment and social media. It must be approached strategically. Just as traditional “deprogrammers” will isolate a cult member from the group, reasoning there’s a much better chance of re-awakening the original personality when the person is not experiencing the pressures of groupthink, deprogramming Corona Cultists is best done one-on-one, keeping in mind that cultists will ferociously defend their dogma with thought-stopping techniques which can be extremely irritating to outsiders trying to convey dissenting information. Former "Moonie" Steven Hassan's BITE model (above) describes how cults exert undue influence and is useful in approaching deprogramming.
The notion of deprogramming entire societies may seem daunting, but it is the only chance humanity has to retain some semblance of freedom and turn back from the dark path down which our species is heading. The ruling class is imposing a comprehensive, multilayered control grid that has been in the works for decades, and when it is complete, revolution will not be an option. Such a future must be avoided at all costs.Add a comment
[NOTE: this is the THIRD revision of an article originally published on February 5. The following version, published on Medium.com on March 14, was apparently so offensive to the supposedly pro-free-speech platform Medium that they saw fit to remove my whole account, without warning or explanation. Bold italic text was added today (April 13)]
Why was I kicked off the platform, you ask? I can't definitively say, but when I clicked on "help" looking for troubleshooting for account issues, this is what I saw. You can't make this up.
(March 14: Since the original publication, the WHO has declared coronavirus a pandemic, and many of the predicted events — entire countries all but locking down their populations, the National Guard being deployed in a New York suburb, and a more deadly form of the virus mysteriously surfacing in another country targeted by both US and Israeli military operations — have come to pass. Instead of stockpiling toilet paper, EDUCATE YOURSELVES. All information is backed up with links to sources, and updates have been added where needed in bold to bring the story up to date. I do not traffic in rumor or irresponsible speculation, and I advise you not to, either.)
By now, those following the novel coronavirus epidemic are familiar with Event 201, the pandemic simulation staged by Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, and other ruling-class heavy hitters in October 2019. The media establishment has already picked the story clean, set up and eviscerated a straw man (“No, Bill Gates didn’t cause the coronavirus epidemic, silly conspiracy theorists!”), and convinced the group itself to issue a statement denying their exercise was meant to predict the behavior of the actual virus to follow.
But few are aware that the epidemic playing out in China and two dozen other countries, including the US, is unfolding in line with a decade-old simulation titled “Lock Step” devised by the Rockefeller Foundation in conjunction with the Global Business Network. The scenario, one of four included in a publication called “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development” in 2010, describes a coronavirus-like pandemic that becomes the trigger for the imposition of police-state controls on movement, economy, and other areas of society.
The Lock Step scenario describes “a world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback.” In “2012” (i.e. two years after the report’s publication), an “extremely virulent and deadly” strain of influenza originating with wild geese brings the world to its knees, infecting 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million people in just seven months — “the majority of them healthy young adults.” It devastates global economies and ruptures international trade. But not everyone, the Rockefeller Foundation makes clear, is hit equally.
Countries of Africa, southeast Asia, and central America suffer the worst “in the absence of official containment protocols” — it wouldn’t be the Rockefeller Foundation if someone wasn’t licking their lips at the thought of a mass die-off in the Global South — but western “democracies” also pay the ultimate price. “The United States’ initial policy of ‘strongly discouraging’ citizens from flying proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the US but across borders,” the report warns. But remove such obstacles as ‘individual rights’ and you have a recipe for surviving, even thriving in the event of a pandemic, the Foundation gushes:
“A few countries did fare better — China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing-off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a swifter post-pandemic recovery.”
The message is clear — police state good, freedom bad. And other governments rapidly get the message, according to the simulation. First and third world nations alike follow suit by “flexing their authority” and imposing quarantines, body-temperature checks, and other “airtight rules and restrictions” — most of which, the report is careful to note, remain in place even as the pandemic recedes into the past. “In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems — from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty — leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.”
This global power-grab is facilitated by a frightened citizenry who “willingly gave up some of their sovereignty — and their privacy — to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability…tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight.” Everything from tighter biometric identification to stricter industrial regulation is welcomed with open arms. It takes over a decade for people to “grow weary” of the authoritarian controls imposed in the wake of the pandemic, and hints that even the civil unrest that ultimately manifests is focused on the developed world. After all, a popular uprising in the technocratic police state envisioned by the simulation would be all but impossible — as it will be in real life once 5G makes real-time total surveillance of all cities a reality.
Pin the blame on the dragon
It remains unclear what — or who — unleashed the novel coronavirus in Wuhan. The initial claim that it originated in bats from a “wet market,” in which live animals are sold and then butchered in front of the customer, couldn’t have been more perfect from a western point of view — wet markets are reviled in the West, where consumers prefer that the animal cruelty required to put meat on their tables happens behind closed doors. While wet markets would seem to improve food safety by making it impossible to sell “mystery,” mislabeled or expired meat, time and again they are fingered as disease vectors by the disapproving West, every time followed by calls to ban them entirely. However, the Huanan seafood market hadn’t sold bats for years, meaning — if the “wet market” hypothesis is to persist — an “intermediate host” species would be required to get the virus to humans. Snakes were nominated, even though scientists weren’t sure they could be infected by a coronavirus — it was more important that they eat bats and were sold at the market. Three weeks after the Huanan seafood market was shuttered and disinfected, a Lancet study put the last nail in the hypothesis’ coffin, revealing the first several coronavirus cases had no exposure to the market at all. Since the original publication of this article, several more studies have emerged proving the virus was already circulating in humans before it was unleashed in the market in Wuhan. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has not discouraged the media from continuing to blame it for the epidemic. Two months later, US officials including Senate warmonger-in-chief Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Russiagate cultist Michael McFaul, and Dr. Mengele wannabe Anthony Fauci continue to blame wet markets for the coronavirus outbreak. There remains not a shred of proof that this virus came from a wet market.
Beyond the disintegrating “official story,” rumormongers have pinned the blame on the Chinese government, suggesting that through malice or incompetence Beijing released a virus cooked up in a top-secret bioweapons program operating in the city’s high-security lab. The chief purveyor of this theory is Dany Shoham, an Israeli biosafety analyst and former IDF military intelligence officer, which should raise a forest of red flags in anyone familiar with Israel’s own experiments in gene-targeted biowarfare even before taking into account Shoham’s own history of fraudulently blaming Saddam Hussein’s Iraq for the 2001 anthrax attacks. Other outlets spreading this theory cite American biosafety consultant Tim Trevan, who opined in a 2017 Nature article — published before the Wuhan lab even opened! — that “diversity of viewpoint” and “openness of information” are both critical to the safe functioning of such a high-risk lab and alien to Chinese culture. The persistence of the “lab accident” theory of coronavirus’ creation thus owes more to cultural chauvinism and sinophobia than any fact-based clues.
While many alt-media outlets have fingered Event 201 as the replica “drill” that so often coincides with a false flag event, few are aware that on the day after that simulation, the 2019 Military World Games kicked off in Wuhan, bringing 300 US military personnel to the city. Matthias Chang, former advisor to the Malaysian PM, however, zeroed in on the games as the likely entry point for what he described as a biological war waged by the US against China. In an interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting last month, Chang placed coronavirus on a continuum of American bio-attacks he said included deliberate infection of Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea and Cubans with dengue fever, as well as creating the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone.
As of February 4, there were over 1,000 times more coronavirus cases in China than outside of it, and the foreign cases appeared to be ethnically Chinese where reported. This was not a coincidence — a recent scientific paper revealed the enzyme which serves as a receptor for novel coronavirus is produced by a certain type of lung cell found in “extremely large numbers” in Asian men compared to those of other ethnicities. Even more intriguingly, those lung cells are involved in the expression of “many other genes that positively regulating [sic] viral reproduction and transmission.” The paper’s authors stop short of suggesting the virus came out of a lab, instead drily observing that it seems to have “cleverly evolved to hijack this population of [lung] cells for its reproduction and transmission,” but one man’s clever viral evolution is another’s expert bioweapon development. Subsequently, multiple strains emerged, one notably targeting Iranians (and Italians). A study conducted by Taiwanese researchers in February traced the five strains of the virus then known to exist back to the US, suggesting the US alone could be the source of the coronavirus pandemic.
By April, the US had, judging by the statistics put forth by Johns Hopkins University, pulled far into the front in terms of diagnosed cases and casualties. However, doctors have come forward across the country concerned about a CDC directive telling them to classify all deaths of infected persons as "coronavirus deaths" - even in cases where, as in 99% of Italy's coronavirus deaths, serious comorbidities were present that were more likely to be responsible for the deaths. This happened in Germany as well, and the New York Times matter-of-factly reported that all respiratory deaths - the number-four cause of death in the US - were being classified as coronavirus in New York hospitals, throwing that city's disproportionately-high infection numbers into question.
"Fear is a great way to control people," Minnesota state senator and physician Scott Jensen told local media, attempting to explain why the CDC would provide such unprecedented and troubling guidance.
American researchers have been surreptitiously collecting Chinese DNA for decades. A notorious Harvard School of Public Health program in the mid-1990s drafted village medics to administer “free physicals” to locals “with asthmatic symptoms.” These “checkups” were conducted as part of a genetic project that also involved the US National Institutes of Health and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, supposedly aimed at “identify[ing] and characteriz[ing] genes that play a role in causing asthma and other allergic disorders.” It later emerged that the researchers had secured the required consent forms from neither the local experimental ethics board nor the test subjects themselves. A government inquiry was commandeered by an insider and squelched. Over 200,000 DNA samples were thus collected and spirited out of the country.
US military literature has been lusting after genetically-targeted weapons for at least 50 years. The infamous Project for a New American Century, whose members have been steering the US ship of state into a series of icebergs since the George W. Bush administration, described gene-specific bioweapons as a “politically-useful tool,” part and parcel of the “new dimensions of combat” in which the future’s wars would unfold. In 1998, the year after PNAC’s formation, reports Israel was working on just such a weapon to target Arabs while leaving Jews untouched flooded the media — part PR campaign, part warning. And it is DARPA and other divisions of the US military, not the Chinese, that has been intensively studying bat-borne coronaviruses for years, even as their own high-security biowarfare labs are being shut down for shoddy safety procedures.
Meanwhile, the likelihood of the Chinese government unleashing a genetically-targeted virus on its own population is vanishingly low. Unlike popular attitudes of “white guilt” in the West born of a hangover from colonialism, the Chinese do not traffic in racial self-loathing — indeed, outsiders have accused the Chinese of an unspoken, unshakeable belief in their own racial superiority, and regardless of whether that belief is problematic, it is unlikely to lead to intentional self-genocide. Even if a behavior-correcting false flag was sought by Beijing in Hong Kong, where US-backed pro-“democracy” protests had raged destructively for months, such an event would not have been unleashed hundreds of miles away in Wuhan.
Never let a good crisis go to waste?
The real-life coronavirus is much less virulent than the pandemic described in Lock Step, with an official death toll of “just” 427 and a global infection toll of “only” 20,629 as of February 4, and the dead were mostly over 60 with preexisting medical issues. By March 13, the number of infections had climbed to 140,000 worldwide and 5,000 people were said to have died of the virus; a second, deadlier strain appeared to have taken root in Iran and Italy, making estimates of overall fatality rate difficult. However, while seniors and the infirm face high risk, adults in good health have a high rate of survival, and children remain all but unaffected, a highly unusual characteristic for any viral outbreak. By early April, the number of infections had cracked 1.8 million, but the death toll was hopelessly muddled thanks to the statistical shenanigans described above. Some 119,483 people thought to be infected with the coronavirus had died by April 13, but a more exact figure cannot be determined - whether those people died OF the coronavirus, or whether they had it to begin with (recall that the CDC called for people believed to be infected to be written off as coronavirus deaths, no questions asked). Economies worldwide are in free-fall just like the simulation predicted, and sweeping quarantines have come down from Italy to New York, echoing the harsh measures adopted in China, which — just as the Rockefeller Foundation said it would be — has been widely praised for its decisive response. The economic panic is fueled by scare-stories percolating in establishment media and alt-media alike (the name of an actual article in ZeroHedge by a Rabobank analyst: “What if we are on the brink of an exponential increase in coronavirus cases?”) while videos of dubious origin appearing to show horrific scenes from within China keep the virus viral on social media. Adding to the fear is coronavirus’ lengthy incubation period, up to two weeks in which a carrier could be blithely spreading it to everyone they meet, creating a constant threat of a “boom” in cases just around the corner. Now that the virus is in the US, which lacks a universal public healthcare system, there is feverish speculation about widespread infection; Trump declared a public health emergency on March 13, unlocking $50 billion in “disaster response” funding. New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a fascist-in-waiting who has given near-daily press conferences touting his take-no-prisoners approach to the epidemic, sent in the National Guard to maintain quarantine in New Rochelle with just over 100 cases present in the suburb in March, while municipalities nationwide have banned large gatherings, shuttered schools, and seen grocery store shelves denuded of staples from toilet paper to rice. Those troops have since been joined on the West Coast by tanks moving out of San Diego and an announcement that Texas' National Guard will be going "door to door" to make sure everyone who's supposed to be quarantined is behaving themselves.
China’s economy, of course, was initially hit the worst, and the epidemic’s timing could not have been more disastrous from Beijing’s point of view, coming on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday. At this time, some 400 million Chinese travel around the country to see family, mostly in the high-speed bullet trains that have their hub in — you guessed it — Wuhan. With much of this travel having occurred before the city was quarantined, cases are likely in their incubation phase all over the country, making the numbers of early February look like a rounding error.
Correspondingly, the situation couldn’t have been better for the American ruling class, at first: a pandemic that targets Asians striking China just when it’s most vulnerable is a powerful blow to the rising superpower. And in case anyone still believes the circumstances of the virus’ ascendance are merely an extended string of coincidences, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross took that plausible deniability and stomped on it in January, unable to stop himself from gushing that coronavirus would “help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America” in an interview with Fox News. Prefacing his victory lap by saying he didn’t “want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease,” he pointed out that businesses will be forced to take China’s inexplicable susceptibility to deadly viruses into account when reviewing their supply chains. Unmentioned, but adding to the perfect economic storm, was Trump’s signature on the USMCA trade agreement, supposed to bring in an extra 1.2 percentage points in GDP growth.
“On top of all the other things, you had SARS, you had the African Swine virus there, now you have this,” Ross said, hammering home the point by linking coronavirus to other suspect plagues. Just as many scientists concluded SARS was a manmade bioweapon, many — scientists and statesmen as well as alternative media — have raised the alarm about coronavirus. Good luck finding any of their statements on Google, however. Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have been hard at work removing coronavirus “rumors,” and Google has memory-holed hundreds of search results regarding Chinese accusations of biowarfare. Even on platforms that don’t censor on government orders, the baseless claims from Shoham and other disinfo artists about Chinese biowarfare have muscled any comments from Chinese officials out of the way. Even the Malaysian politician’s comments are obscured behind a Farsi language barrier — his original comments inexplicably missing from English-language media and reprinted only by Iran’s IRIB News Agency (this author can no longer even find the tweet that alerted her to those comments, but would like to thank that person). An Iraqi doctor, Omar al-Hadidi, failed to cross the English language barrier with his no less explosive claim that the US had booby-trapped red baseball caps with a special moisture-activated plastic capable of transmitting the coronavirus, then handed them out to Kurdish youth from the US embassy in Erbil in order to spread the virus in northern Iraq. Claiming his colleagues had been bribed or threatened into silence, al-Hadidi posted a video in which he appeared to test hats he claimed were given to himself and five other Covid-19 patients, showing lab-grown viral material present on each of the caps, which came sealed with the signature of US ambassador Matthew Toler.
By early March, however, too many accusations had built up for Americans to ignore, and they had begun spilling over into English-language media. Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Hossein Salami both accused the US of deploying Covid-19 in a “biological attack” against Tehran. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian echoed Chang’s suggestion that the US had brought the coronavirus to Wuhan under cover of the Military Games, tweeting a video of the CDC director admitting some US deaths had been erroneously attributed to the flu that were later shown to be caused by Covid-19.
While Lijian’s superiors did not explicitly condone his freewheeling tweets, nor did they disavow the claim; fellow spokesman Geng Shuang merely explained that different opinions existed as to the virus’ origins among the international community. Given the enormity and implications of accusing the US of deliberately poisoning the Chinese people with a killer contagion — a claim which would clearly call for a retaliatory strike on Beijing’s part, for the sake of honor if nothing else — the words of the two Chinese spokesmen may be the closest China’s government will come to naming the culprit.
More recent research appears to point to Fort Detrick, Maryland as the likely source of the outbreak. Fort Detrick was shut down in August for failing to uphold safety standards, including those involving wastewater decontamination and periodic recertification of workers, a month after the CDC served it with a cease-and-desist order. A more detailed report revealed even more troubling violations at the lab. Even so, it was returned to functionality in November and reopened fully in April, supposedly - and it's hard to believe that Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland/Tel Aviv) said this with a straight face - "to tackle Covid-19 and other threats to our nation." Meanwhile, the "mysterious respiratory illness" that surfaced in mid-2019, linked at the time to vaping and striking many young and otherwise-healthy people, shares many symptoms with what is now called Covid-19, and other cases could easily have been written off as pneumonia or flu.
Coronavirus is not the doomsday epidemic it is being portrayed as by irresponsible media actors, who have been flogging the story non-stop since the virus made its public debut in Wuhan. But as the Lock Step scenario makes clear, one does not need massive die-off or victims exploding in geysers of blood in the streets to achieve desired social goals. It’s possible the novel coronavirus epidemic is a “dry run,” a test of both China’s readiness to handle an outbreak and of the international community’s reaction to such a plague. It’s even possible, though unlikely, that the epidemic was a mistake — that the virus escaped from a lab, likely American, by accident. The epidemic has wiped out the Trump administration’s much-touted stock market gains completely, and the president has responded to the catastrophe by proposing a series of increasingly unhinged economic band-aids for Wall Street’s sucking chest wound while all but telling the plague-panicked American people to keep a stiff upper lip and they’ll be fine. And while the president restraining himself from Chicken Littling his way to a perfect police state should be applauded, that void is quickly being filled by state governments, from Cuomo sending the National Guard to occupy New Rochelle to Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton claiming the 13 declared cases in her state were actually 100,000 deathly-ill Americans just waiting to be tested — right after she was praised as a “calming leader” by fawning local media.
Big Tech has also stepped up to the plate, having fully matured into its mantle as the extraconstitutional arm of Big Brother ready to strangle any remaining civil liberties the American people might have left. As Trump announced his public health emergency, he declared that Google would be running the government’s Covid-19 screening, having sicced “more than 1,000” of its top engineers on a project that would route suspected coronavirus cases to their local testing centers and then on to “further care.” While ruling class mouthpieces from coast to coast rushed to social media to clarify, pointing out that it was not Google but a company called Verily behind the project, which wouldn’t be ready on Sunday like he said, and would only be available in the Bay Area of California, their claim that the president was “lying” was wildly overblown. Verily may not be Google, but it is a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet. The pilot version of the Covid-19 screening site is expected to debut a day later than Trump promised. And the project leader acknowledged its “vision and aspiration” are national. So yes, Google is running the US government’s coronavirus testing. The same trillion-dollar megacorporation that has eagerly slurped up enough predictive data on every American through their searches and the content of their emails to know better than you do what your next move will be will control your coronavirus status — and if you think that status can’t be manipulated for political ends, strategically leaked, or changed to serve a purpose, you probably still believe in the Easter Bunny.
It’s also possible the plague may suddenly become more virulent. If Iran and Italy are any indication, it has. Certainly the media buzz the first week of February is that coronavirus is close to being declared a “pandemic” by the WHO, which will necessitate the type of control measures hinted at in Lock Step and described more exhaustively in Event 201. The WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11. Congratulations! From “limited internet shutdowns” and “enforcement actions against fake news” to government bailouts of “core” industries, mandatory vaccinations, property seizures, and other police-state provisions laid out in the Model State Emergency Health Powers Acts passed in many US states in the paranoid aftermath of 9/11, the totalitarian nature of these provisions is limited only by the imagination of the regime carrying them out. Once events proceed to that stage, it is extremely difficult to reverse them. We would be wise not to allow this to happen.Add a comment
Over half a billion people visit Wikipedia every day. The site enjoys top billing in Google search results, and has all the trappings of a reliable source. It’s an encyclopedia, after all - like Britannica, it’s expected to have accurate, trustworthy, unbiased information. But a real encyclopedia doesn’t permit anonymous editors with no scholastic background to edit whatever they please. Even the crowd-sourced, fair and unbiased encyclopedia that Wikipedia claims to be doesn’t permit the sort of pay-for-play editing and uneven application of the rules that have made Wikipedia a goldmine for propagandists and a nightmare for unorthodox figures in every discipline.
All this happens with the full blessing of Jimmy Wales and the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit to which he gifted Wikipedia nearly two decades ago. The Foundation is run by executive director Katherine Maher and a growing stable of paid employees, none of whom are paid to write encyclopedia articles, and overseen by a hand-selected board of trustees, most of whom remain utterly unknown to the vast majority of internet users who consume - deliberately or indirectly - Wikipedia content daily. This is their story. The difference between what you are about to read and the bios featured on Wikipedia is that these are accurate and well-sourced.
The Wikimedia Foundation, according to its website, wants you to “imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” But spend a few hours on its flagship product, Wikipedia, and you can see just how loosely that term - “knowledge” - is defined. Wikipedia seems not to believe in the concept of truth, only verifiability - anything can be included in its articles so long as it has been written in a “reliable source.” And any source can become reliable if enough editors justify the decision to make it so. This nightmarish postmodernism has given rise to one of the preeminent repositories of disinformation on the internet.
Wikimedia Foundation trustees don’t bother themselves with such issues, of course. Many may be on the Foundation’s board in the hope of basking in the reputational glow of the group that runs the fifth-most popular website in existence, or because they want some say in guiding the future of an incredibly powerful website without having to answer to either an employer or the public. Certainly they don’t expect to be taken to task for facilitating the reputation-destruction mechanism that Wikipedia has become, or have their own histories scrutinized. But that is precisely what we plan to do here, in the hope that they think twice going forward about associating themselves with such a noxious, malevolent organization.
The Wikimedia Foundation begs for money via intrusive banners across the top of Wikipedia pages, banners which implore the viewer to give just a few dollars lest the site be shut down completely for lack of funds. These banners are the internet equivalent of a “beggar” who rises after a day sitting with a cardboard sign on the sidewalk conning hardworking people out of their spare change and steps into a Ferrari, from whence they’re chauffeured to their posh Upper East Side penthouse. The Wikimedia Foundation took in over $112 million last year in donations,1 and a Smithsonian article from way back in 2013 valued the site at “tens of billions of dollars,” with a replacement cost of $6.6 billion.2 Not a bad deal for a site that pays its content creators - the editors who write the articles - nothing, and indeed takes their money as well as their time through guilt-inducing begging banners, slurping up many times what is required to run the site every year.
The Foundation, unlike the editors, is largely parasitic - its employees, whose numbers swell with the excess cash taken in with every fundraising campaign, provide little to no value to the average Wikipedia reader, while its trustees do little more than pad their resumes with the Foundation name. Indeed, in our opinion, instead of providing value, they subtract it - whether through absconding with Foundation funds to pay for their vacations, or running roughshod over Wikipedia rules to push their pet agenda.
Maria Sefidari (Wikipedia alias Raystorm), chair of the Board of Trustees, has long been involved in managing the Foundation’s money, serving on multiple governance committees before becoming a trustee. She has an impeccable social-justice pedigree, having founded Spanish Wikipedia’s LGBT WikiProject and a Spanish-language women’s editing group. Sefidari came under the microscope recently when her erstwhile wife/girlfriend, Laura Hale, allegedly used her connections to get a longtime Wikipedia administrator, Fram, banned from editing after he corrected her sloppy work one time too many. Fram’s ban was handed down by the all-powerful Wikimedia Foundation for nebulous reasons of “abuse,” but unlike the usual permanent bans the Foundation hands out for unpardonable crimes, it was only temporary. Moreover, the Foundation’s Trust & Safety team had not discussed the matter with the Arbitration Committee, the editorial disciplinary board, at all before unilaterally blocking the editor. Fram did not suffer fools gladly and could be short with editors who repeatedly violated the rules; he had been hauled in front of disciplinary committees more than once over the previous years,3 but many attempts to bring proceedings against him were declined. When the “evidence” against Fram finally emerged, the “over a dozen people” who’d supposedly complained were found to have done so over a six-year period; many so-called “victims” denied having been harassed or hounded at all.4
Fram’s allies at Wikipedia did what the site’s editors do well - research - and uncovered a handful of minor altercations with Hale, an editor who could never seem to get the hang of the encyclopedia’s rules. Fram had been firm but not cruel with Hale, telling her to stop editing until she could grasp concepts like plagiarism and coherence - and Hale had, some editors suggested, run crying into Sefidari’s arms. For months, she ran a banner on her user page explicitly directed at Fram, telling him to keep away unless he was prepared to interact through a handful of editors of her choice and/or the Trust & Safety team.5 Hale was an unabashedly terrible editor, copy-pasting an incoherent swathe through paralympic athletes, obscure elements of feminism, abortion minutiae, and other marginal topics with a social justice aura that were likely to endear her to Sefidari and the board. And while some said she had a bit of a history as an internet grifter, crying sexism whenever a community got wise to her machinations,6 that was a feature, not a bug, for the Foundation, which used a poorly-written paper she’d written around the time of the GamerGate controversy in 2014 in a list of material its nascent “Support and Safety” (soon to become Trust and Safety, the division which banned Fram) team compiled about online harassment (likely due to the dearth of Wikipedia-specific material).7 When the Foundation wanted to expand its range of bannable offenses to include “incivility,” it was only natural they’d reach for Hale’s complaints, several editors alleged.8
Even if the Hale story is pure fiction - and Sefidari not only denies it but “protests too much,” accusing its authors of “bad faith” and involvement with the dreaded GamerGate9 (how could anyone possibly think a trustee would intervene on behalf of their spouse?)10 - Sefidari’s hands aren’t exactly clean. When first appointed as a trustee, Sefidari helped change the voting rules for the selection of two trustee positions so that Wikipedia User Groups gained the voting rights that had previously been limited to Chapters. This move benefited Hale, who’d started two user groups and was thus able to vote on behalf of one in the Foundation’s 2019 board election. Researchers on Wikipedia criticism board Wikipediocracy turned up several more conflicts of interest involving Hale and Sefidari, many of which involved the latter steering Foundation grants the former’s way. With Sefidari’s help, less than a year after joining her paramour in Madrid in 2013, Hale was able to first convince the Spanish Paralympic Committee into sponsoring her as a Wikipedian in Residence (a sort of official editor for nonprofits), despite not speaking Spanish,11 and then managed to use that title to convince the Wikimedia Foundation to pay her way to a paralympic alpine skiing event (bringing Sefidari as guest, for a total of €1035).12 Hale had been milking the Foundation for a while - along with her previous roommate/mate, Australian editor Ross Mallett (Hawkeye7), she’d wheedled $11,000 out of them to attend the London 2012 Paralympics.13 She’d eventually get the Foundation to pay for trips to Argentina, London, Amsterdam, Slovakia, and Berlin.14
Sefidari’s Wikimedia Foundation bio is rather bold about these extracurricular activities and her casual use of Foundation cash, hinting that she “travels around the world” “in her spare time” - though neglecting to mention this travel is often done on the Foundation’s dime. Nor does the Foundation get its money worth out of these junkets, since Wikipedia is based on secondary sources alone (i.e. articles that have already been written in so-called “reliable sources”) and Wikinews’ readers are vanishingly sparse. Worse, Hale may have taken cash from the Australian Center for Paralympic Studies to mass-create the thousands of poorly-written articles that set Fram and other editors’ teeth on edge,15 creating the kind of conflict of interest that is supposed to be either banned outright or at least acknowledged on a Wikipedia editor’s user page.
Hale even rewarded her wife for entrée into the upper echelons of the Foundation by writing a lengthy and rather ridiculous article on “Lesbians during the socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,” prominently featuring Sefidari (with photo) as “one of the major writers of the English Wikipedia article, ’Same-sex marriage in Spain,’ updating the article often in 2007.” Nothing says ‘notable’ like editing a Wikipedia article, especially ‘often!’ Digging deeper into Sefidari’s background, editor Vigilant at Wikipediocracy claimed he was “almost certain” that Sefidari’s academic credentials were “completely fabricated.”16 There is no evidence she has worked as a professor, aside from teaching a “vanity class” or two at the university where she claims to be studying for her PhD.17 But for all the couple’s transgressions, “increased activity in covering disability related issues and sensitivity in making Wikipedia more disability friendly” - along with increased activity in the LGBT and feminism subject areas - was considered more important than following the rules.
It may seem unfair to scrutinize Sefidari’s life in this manner; however, she is the chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees, and as such must be aware of conflicts of interest, lest she bring the entire organization into violation of the regulations governing charities (either in the US or elsewhere). According to California state law governing nonprofits (and the Foundation is headquartered in California, even though Sefidari and Hale live in Spain), “a staff member who is affiliated with a prospective vender, consultant, or grantee shall abstain from participating in any decision involving that vendor, consultant, or grantee,” and specifies that in a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, “no part of the net earnings of [a foundation] inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.” Regulations also bar “excess benefit transactions” in which a charity provides excessive economic benefits to a “disqualified person,” a term that includes spouses and relatives of board members. Board members are also required to divulge conflicts of interest on at least an annual basis18 - for all Sefidari’s defense of Hale in Wikipedia’s talk pages, she never makes reference to the pair’s romantic relationship (except to deny it amid the Fram controversy). Sefidari’s actions don’t just cast the rest of the organization into disrepute - they could jeopardize the Foundation’s tax-exempt status.
Because Wikipedia editors are almost exclusively white males from the global North, the Foundation is desperate for diversity - and it will set its vaunted principles on fire to get it. Whether it’s embracing Sefidari and Hale, or putting out a call on its website for nonwhite editors to “help correct history,” the Foundation wears its desperation on its sleeve.19 Thus it’s no coincidence that the Board’s gender balance is skewed opposite of its editors’, with two thirds of the trustees being female - or claiming to be.
Esra'a al-Shafei is a Bahrainian trustee represented online solely by a cartoon illustration - supposedly because her work as a human rights activist and pro-LGBTQ organizer in the Middle East has put her at risk. This intrigue has the benefit of getting the 33-year-old activist praised as “brave” - to the point of winning the “Most Courageous Media” prize from Free Press Unlimited. However, one could be forgiven for questioning her bona fides, especially after the revelation several years ago that a supposedly lesbian Syrian woman who regularly called out President Bashar al-Assad on her blog Gay Girl in Damascus was actually a middle-aged American man living in Scotland.20 A sense of déja vu begins to set in when one learns that the “Most Courageous Media” prize appears to have been awarded exactly once, in 2015, to al-Shafei. Her identity checks out in other ways, however, mostly concerning the wide array of prizes she has received. In 2013, she was honored by the royal family of Monaco for her role in the Arab Spring, having created a platform called CrowdVoice to curate grassroots reports from protests worldwide (the platform recently folded after congratulating itself for serving its purpose - great news, oppressed peoples of the world, your struggles are over!).21
Other groups that have showered her with money include the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Knight Foundation (which has also given generously to Wikipedia, and whose director Raul Moas was involved in USAID’s efforts to build a Twitter clone in Cuba called ZunZuneo to foment a “color revolution” echoing those of the Arab Spring22), and the Dutch government, which awarded her the Human Rights Tulip. The Dutch government has proven itself a poor judge of character in the Middle East, however, awarding aid to 22 “moderate rebel” groups in Syria from 2015 to 2018, grants that continued long after many of these groups' ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups were exposed.23
Al-Shafei first surfaced in 2006 at the helm of Mideast Youth, an advocacy group for LGBT young people in the region, which later changed its name to Majal and expanded its remit to include other targeted ethnic and social groups in a way that conveniently overlapped with the activities of the US military and State Department in the region. By 2007, it had spawned an “Alliance for Kurdish Rights” - NATO’s preferred group for fomenting regime change in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran, where it has dreams of cobbling together a client state out of the most resource-rich parts of those countries (and has already begun the process with Iraqi Kurdistan in that country’s north) - and “Middle East Youth Farsi,” shut down two years later in the midst of the failed US-backed “Green Revolution” in Iran, ostensibly “in order to protect our members in Iran.” Majal gave birth to CrowdVoice in 2010 in the midst of the Arab Spring, while the organization registered itself in the Netherlands in 2012 “in order to protect our finances from being frozen by regional governments.” The timeline suggests Majal is affiliated with one of the many soft-power tentacles of US Empire, an extensive network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by shell companies and nesting-doll subsidiaries of USAID and NED (as well as obscure prizes and fellowships) to foment unrest in targeted countries. Running an advocacy group for LGBT youth in a Muslim country is squarely within the sweet spot for the US’ regime-change industry, and al-Shafei’s made-for-TV rhetoric - she’s all about “revolutionizing the young people” and “changing the region’s status quo” by “living up to the full potential of the internet” - is right up their alley.24
How a then-teenage Bahrainian girl taught herself to use the internet well enough in just six years (she claims to have gained internet access “in the early 2000s”)25 to create her own online platform, then hooked up with the myriad sources of funding she has accessed, from Harvard University to the Rockefeller Foundation, is never satisfactorily explained in the handful of interviews she’s done (her arms surprisingly bared in western clothes, her face always kept carefully out of frame). Soft-spoken, with just a hint of an Arabic accent, her biography as she relates it - becoming one of Bahrain’s leading LGBT activists while living under the roof of parents who supposedly know little about her work beyond that she’s “in human rights” - stretches the limits of credulity, as do her reasons for taking what is supposedly such a dangerous career path - she claims witnessing the “inhumane treatment” of migrant workers as a child, plus stereotypical portrayals of Middle Eastern youth in the media, led her to forsake a life of ease for the hunted life of an internet rebel.26 It’s easy to see how this too-perfect figure, orbited by deep-pocketed foundations orders of magnitude richer than itself, appealed to the Wikimedia Foundation, which hired the young activist in December 2017, showering her with praise (“her achievements exemplify how intentional community building can be a powerful tool for positive change, while her passion for beautiful and engaging user experiences will only elevate our work”).27 Al-Shafei returned the flattery and then some, claiming that in her first encounters with Wikipedia, shortly after coming online, she “felt that the true purpose of the internet was realized” (the internet she’d known for less than a year, apparently). Wikipedia inspired al-Shafei’s own platforms, Mideast Youth, Majal, and all their branches, she claims.
How did the Wikimedia Foundation chance upon the camera-shy cartoon crusader? The Foundation does not give away its secrets, but she could have rubbed shoulders with Jimmy Wales at Davos - the World Economic Forum named her one of “15 Women Changing the World in 2015,” and has since appointed her to its Global Future Council on Human Rights and Technology28 - or as early as 2008, when she received an award from Harvard Law’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, where Wales is a fellow. Al-Shafei was embraced into the bosom of Wikipedia as a keynote speaker to 2017’s Wikimania conference in Montreal. There, she wowed the Foundation with a talk on “Experiences from the Middle East: Overcoming Challenges and Serving Communities.”.29 While all the other speeches were livestreamed and archived for later viewing, al-Shafei’s was shrouded in secrecy, with attendees warned that attempting to photograph or record her would result in ejection from the conference. “Due to the nature of al-Shafei’s work, online photos may endanger her safety in her home country,” the conference notes state with obvious titillation.30
James Heilman is a Canadian emergency room physician who runs WikiProject Medicine (WPM) and the WikiProject Med Foundation, the site’s primary vehicle for interfacing with Big Pharma. WPM came up with the MEDRS - short for “medical reliable sources” - guidelines that require editors editing health-related articles to use a higher standard of source than typical articles. It’s a smart rule, aside from the mile-wide loopholes carved into it by the FRINGE guideline appended by so-called “Skeptics” who demand the right to libel alternative medical practitioners they deem “lunatic charlatans” - a term that was actually enshrined in semi-official Wikipedia policy after co-founder Jimmy Wales used it to repudiate a petition from a group of practitioners begging for fair treatment.31 The ironically-named activists who call themselves Skeptics are characterized by a quasi-religious regard for orthodox medical “science” - which in their view is unchangeable, unquestionable, existing in a state of timeless perfection - and a seething hatred for medical practices that haven’t made it into the mainstream, even (especially) if they have been shown to work. If a practice or healer does not fit into current medical orthodoxy, it is susceptible to being edited under FRINGE rather than MEDRS, at which point even self-published sources that normally aren’t permitted as Wikipedia citations can be weaponized against the hapless article subject. Heilman is a relentless proselytizer, singing the praises of Wikipedia’s medical accuracy32 as he spearheads the Foundation’s efforts to insinuate Wikipedia into real-world health agencies. Accordingly, he has encouraged and organized editing initiatives at the National Institutes of Health, the National Libraries of Medicine,33 even pharma conglomerate GlaxoSmithKline. The World Health Organization is even collaborating with Wikipedia on its revision of the International Classification of Diseases into the ICD-11,34 a sobering thought given the pro-pharmaceutical leanings and general inaccuracies rampant in Wikipedia’s medical content.
Despite Heilman’s proclamations that Wikipedia has brought about a new dawn in medicine, the site’s medical articles are riddled with verification issues and apparent conflicts of interest. Informed that Wikipedia was unwittingly mirroring a crowdsourced pharmaceutical database called Drugbank that had gotten its own information from Wikipedia - a circular-reporting phenomenon called citogenesis - Heilman took no action beyond adding Drugbank to a list of mirror sites and calling Drugbank to complain about its sloppy sourcing.35 Yet this is the website that is increasingly supplanting traditional medical resources for students and doctors. Faced with the gulf of missing and inaccurate information, Heilman has repeatedly tried to push the blame onto medical professionals, chiding them for not making updating Wikipedia a part of their job.36 Of course, doctors who try to bring the encyclopedia up to date on naturopathic treatments, or the benefits of supplements, will find their contributions trashed and perhaps their usernames topic-banned from the medical subject area - because their work in alternative medicine creates a “conflict of interest.” Heilman's own medical career, of course, is excused from any such conflict, as are the editors who hail from health agencies and drug companies who’ve passed through Wikipedia’s train-the-experts programs.
Heilman was quick to throw even his fellow worshipers of orthodox medicine under the bus last year in a rush to seal a deal with video production company Osmosis that would replace high-traffic medical articles with 5-10 minute “explainer” videos prominently featuring the company’s branding. When the first videos were unveiled in March 2018 after three years of sub-rosa collaboration, furious editors rushed to delete the monstrosities (which in addition to pushing vaccines and orthodox drug treatments also included inaccurate and outdated medical information).37 The deletions were reverted by Heilman and another editor working for Osmosis as the company promised to fix the problems - meanwhile leaving the erroneous medical information front and center, in many cases replacing well-sourced articles crafted over the years by the WPM spell out community - and when editors continued to object, Heilman tried to have one of the dissenters banned. Finally, Heilman seemed to cave, convincing Osmosis to remove all mention of the project from their website and removing the clips from the offending articles - but a month later they had returned as “works in progress,” allowing editors to leave feedback.38
WIkiProject Medicine hasn’t just encouraged health regulators and pharma reps to try their hand at editing - it has weaseled its way into medical schools around the world, from the University of California at San Francisco to Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine (yes, those Sacklers of OxyContin fame - when you’re suspected39 40 of conducting pharmaceutical experiments on imprisoned Palestinians considered second-class citizens under your legal system,41 opioid profiteering is small potatoes) Heilman runs a massive translation program designed to spread the western medical viewpoint around the world,42 which sounds benevolent until one remembers that the US doesn’t just have the highest-priced healthcare in the world - it has one of the lowest life expectancies in the developed world, too.43 A concurrent project seeks to audit Wikipedia’s medical articles to ensure they their content conforms to so-called “Evidence-based Medicine” (EBM) - another term that sounds utterly benign, even desirable until one observes that its practitioners rely not on clinical evidence, treatments that have been shown to cure patients, but on textbook evidence, treatments that “should” work based on established medical orthodoxy. EBM’s primacy in Wikipedia is maintained by the (profoundly unskeptical) Skeptics, who are allowed to run rampant under Heilman’s sympathetic rule. Heilman in 2016 revealed that WikiProject Medicine was working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). The project apparently involved translating articles and creating a set of standards to be imposed across language wikis; it was connected to Wikipedia Zero, the Foundation’s effort to penetrate areas with little to no internet access by offering devices capable of accessing a handful of websites, one of which is (of course) Wikipedia. One can imagine a tragicomic scenario in which a team of Wikipedia-educated doctors descend on some poor war-ravaged country and extend the victims’ suffering by limiting their treatments to Skeptic-approved “Science”-Based Medicine - while some knowledge is certainly better than none, handing a doctor in an isolated village a device capable of accessing only Wikipedia means that doctor must now choose between treating patients as they are accustomed to doing, or trusting Wikipedia - since they can’t check references or use a search engine to compare what non-Wikipedia sources say.44
Heilman's one-two punch of mainstreaming and disseminating dubiously verifiable pro-Big Pharma material has reportedly already convinced Indians in Malappuram to embrace vaccines in the face of so-called “fake messages” on WhatsApp and Facebook45 - disregarding India’s appalling history with western vaccination campaigns. Over half a dozen children died and hundreds were sickened following a 2009 Gardasil vaccination campaign in Andhra Pradesh; two more were killed and many more injured in Gujarat following a Cervarix campaign that same year. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), which conducted the trials, nevertheless declared them a roaring success, though a later investigation found consent for the vaccinations was often obtained illegally and the illnesses and deaths were largely covered up or explained away as unrelated to the shots, assisted by local government. The American NGO that carried out the studies on behalf of the BMGF, the Orwellian-sounding Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), was reportedly in talks with the Indian government to include the HPV vaccine in the country’s Universal Immunization Program, an initiative that fortunately ran aground on the bodies of its victims.46
But the BGMF didn’t stop there. In 2011, a five-in-one shot called Pentavalent (including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenza type b) was unleashed on the population. Infants began dying after vaccination - the Indian health ministry admits to 54 - and Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Vietnam actually stopped using the shot after similar horrors. In neighboring Pakistan, a 2011 report blamed the BMGF-funded Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) for 5,417 cases of polio in children it had vaccinated the previous year.47 The report suggested curtailing GAVI’s ability to administer vaccines to Pakistani children. With history like this, Indians are wise to hesitate before inviting Big Pharma into their veins once again. Yet Wikipedia’s feelings on “vaccine hesitancy,” an Orwellian psychological condition that appears to have been invented to pathologize parents’ negative reactions to learning about vaccine side effects,48 are unremittingly hostile, and “Doc James” Heilman is no exception. The pharmaceutical crusader’s certainty he is right is matched only by the likelihood he is wrong: in 2014, the same year an IMS Health study found Wikipedia was the #1 medical resource for doctors and patients alike,49 another study - this one from the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association - found that the site’s articles on 9 out of 10 of the costliest medical conditions in the US contained serious errors when compared to peer-reviewed medical literature.50 Heilman claims he got involved in Wikipedia in 2006 “after coming across a poor quality medical article”51 - if 9 out of 10 are poor quality now, what were they like before he got involved?
Nataliia Tymkiv is the board’s resident Ukrainian, serving as both a Foundation trustee and the Financial Director of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM), a Ukrainian “media policy and human rights nonprofit.”52 CEDEM was established as the Media Law Institute in the aftermath of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution but glided effortlessly through the US-backed 2014 Euromaidan color revolution and has nestled itself comfortably into the Poroshenko puppet government, taking advantage of the upheaval to get a law concerning a public service broadcasting system passed that it had been pushing for nearly a decade. Judging by the organization’s website, it is wholly a creature of US foreign policy, self-described as “a think-and-act tank, which has been working in the civil society sector of Ukraine since 2005.”53 While the term “civil society” is often a red flag indicating USAID involvement, one doesn’t even have to guess with CEDEM - USAID is actually listed on their “partners” page, alongside Radio Liberty, a NATO-backed broadcaster.54
With that pedigree, it’s no surprise that Tymkiv is an administrator on Ukrainian Wikipedia. She also became treasurer of Wikimedia Ukraine in 2012, just a year after first contributing to the wiki, and moved up to Executive Director of Wikimedia Ukraine the following year. In 2015, she made vice-chair. This is an extremely rapid rise for a normal organization, though Wikimedia Ukraine no doubt has fewer members than many of the more trafficked language wikis. But Tymkiv is an effective Wikipedian - that same year, she, as executive director of the Ukrainian Wikipedia, and with the help of CEDEM’s predecessor, won a court case releasing a list of monuments and cultural sites in the country.55
Tymkiv isn’t just good at legal matters. Her bio notes that she oversaw the “building and maintaining” of “donor, partner and community relationships” - with donor coming first. It’s worth noting that at least two major financial backers of the Foundation56 57 were also major boosters of the violent 2014 coup in Ukraine. Pierre Omidyar58 59 and George Soros60 61 are both credibly implicated in funding the uprising and the Foundation appears to have followed suit in its support for the regime change. Jimmy Wales himself took the stage at a conference in Yalta less than a year after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was forced to flee the country, calling on Ukrainian Wikipedia editors to "target both on-line and in physical environment the Russian speaking Wikipedia community in order to enable cooperation…so that Wikipedia remains the way of alternative views, alternative statements" - an order that could be interpreted as encouraging his loyal subjects to propagandize Russian readers about Ukraine.62
The fact that Tymkiv was treasurer of Wikimedia Ukraine, soliciting donations to expand her fiefdom, at the same time that Omidyar, Soros, and the usual cadre of regime-change fat-cats (several of whom were already Foundation donors) were funneling money into ‘democracy-promotion’ in Ukraine, suggests a strong likelihood of cross-pollination. She hinted in her 2016 candidate statement for appointment to the international board that she is active “not only locally” in Wikipedia - indicating she had interests outside Ukraine already, making her more than a provincial token - and included an endorsement from the virulently anti-Russian Estonian Wikipedia. Was Tymkiv given a seat on the international board in gratitude for her service - or perhaps to ensure her silence?
Shani Evenstein Sigalov
Shani Evenstein Sigalov is an Israeli educator pushing for the inclusion of Wikimedia projects in education, leading entire academic courses based on editing Wikimedia projects in the vain hope of giving Wikipedia some sheen of academic legitimacy, even though anything editable by anyone would seem to be necessarily unreliable in an academic context. Sigalov claims to have launched the first for-credit medical school course involving contributing to Wikipedia, with her students becoming responsible for a mind-boggling 10% of the medical content on Hebrew Wikipedia. She also launched the first academic course on Wikidata, in 2018 - a database even less reliable (because completely unsourced) than Wikipedia that is known to be riddled with errors, even libel, because few users bother to police its enormous data hoard for “vandalism” - deliberately-inserted errors.63 Is this malleability why she’s now getting her PhD in “Wikidata as a learning platform”?64 She is also a former board member of Wikimedia Israel, currently run by Itzik Edri, who worked as head PR man for former Mossad agent Tzipi Livni when she was chair of Israel’s Hatnua Party.65 While Livni resigned after several years in Israel’s secret intelligence service, “citing the pressures of the job,”66 one never really leaves the Mossad any more than one leaves the CIA, and the fact that Wikimedia’s chairman was the public face of a Mossad agent should at least raise a few questions about that chapter’s cozy relationship with the top brass at the Wikimedia Foundation.
Former Foundation director Lila Tretikov traveled to Israel in 2015 and gushed for local media about how the country’s schools were “teaching with Wikipedia,” perhaps a necessary cover for the Israeli Defense Force division devoted to social media manipulation67 (which includes Wikipedia) and the many non-official Israeli groups determined to “make Wikipedia balanced and zionist in nature” (an actual quote from the director of one of these projects, Naftali Bennett - and if the name sounds familiar, it’s because he went on to become Israel’s Education Minister)68 who would also receive and benefit from the “special translation tool” she gifted the Israeli chapter. The Hebrew Wikipedia isn’t terribly active - it had about 30 edits a day in 201569 - most likely because most of the Israeli editors are working on the English (or German, or Arabic) Wikipedias. Sigalov’s students have written “hundreds” of articles “in Hebrew and Arabic” - though the press release announcing her addition to the board does not break down that number into how many in each language, or - most tellingly - the subjects on which they made their mark.70 And Sigalov, as an “EdTech [education technology] innovation strategist” with postgraduate degrees from Tel Aviv University, has likely met with Bennett himself, a meeting in which it would be surprising if they didn’t swap stories about their Wikipedia exploits. The two appear to have attended the same conference in June 2016.71
Sigalov told the Wikimedia Foundation that she had never even heard of Wikipedia until a friend dragged her to 2011’s Wikimania conference in Haifa.72 She claims she fell in love at that first conference, joined Wikimedia Israel on the spot, and almost immediately became Projects Coordinator for GLAMWiki (Galleries, Libraries, and Museums). She was chair of WikiProject Medicine before her ascension to the international board, hence responsible for suppressing non-pharmaceutical methods of healing in the same manner as her fellow trustee James Heilman. Was it her nationality, her focus on “gender and diversity gaps” - still a major cosmetic blot on Wikipedia’s reputation - or her determination to shoehorn Wikipedia into education that gave her such momentum through the ranks?
Dariusz Jemelniak is a Polish professor behind a magisterial whitewash of Wikipedia ethnography called “Common Knowledge,” which insists in its introduction that despite first appearances, Wikipedia is not biased at all. In lending his name and prestige to such a book, he ensured no one would come around to write another one on the same subject for a long time - long enough for the Foundation to sink its teeth into the very fabric of the internet, along with education and medicine. Better yet, the book costs $30 and is published by a university press, making it next to impossible anyone will stumble across it accidentally.73 Not to imply a quid-pro-quo, but Jemelniak published Common Knowledge in 2014, and was elected to the Board of Trustees the following year. He lends a credible academic patina to an organization desperately in need of it, having served as a professor at Cornell, Harvard, MIT, and UC-Berkeley in addition to his native Kozminski University. He’s also a fellow of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, alongside Jimmy Wales; fellow trustee Esra’a al-Shafei has received an award from the Center.
And Jemelniak has done his share of kowtowing to capital-D diversity - a short-circuiting of the rare meritocracies left in western society that coopts the struggle of actual marginalized people to give grifters a leg up - publishing a 2016 paper called “Breaking the Glass Ceiling on Wikipedia” that called for “aggressive reforms bolstering women’s sense of agency.” The nature of those reforms are not laid out in his paper, but in December 2016, the Foundation “formally committed” to “eliminating harassment, promoting inclusivity, ensuring a healthier culture of discourse, and improving the safety of Wikimedia spaces.”74 This all sounds quite noble on the surface, but in practice the Foundation’s obsessive focus on “harassment” is what birthed the Fram affair, as described above in the section on trustee chair Maria Sefidari. That same month, Sefidari herself declared Wikipedia was to ramp up its focus on inclusivity and “safe spaces.” The statistic she presented - that over half of Wikipedia users surveyed reported decreasing their editing because of harassment - didn’t even begin to try to define harassment, or address the weaponization of the concept.75 Laura Hale, Sefidari’s prickly spouse, had authored a different paper back in 2014 describing harassment of women on Wikipedia, but defining the word to include everything from use of the word “cunt” as an insult to use of “gendered generics,” i.e. “if the user wanted to add a source, he would have done so.” Hale also concluded that “interventions need to be tried to change the climate on English Wikipedia,” coming not only from the Foundation but from outside “feminist groups, universities, non-profits and existing social justice groups online”.76 Jemelniak’s paper, like his previous ethnography of Wikipedia, served to legitimize the Foundation’s attempt to reposition Wikipedia for the hyper-PC “social justice” power structure in a way that Hale’s could not.
The Foundation’s ambitions are, quite frankly, boundless: it wants to form “the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge.”77 That Jemelniak serves on the steering committee of the Internet Governance Forum, the UN-founded agency that serves as a sounding-board for international public policies governing the future of the internet, gives the Foundation entrée into the realm where the decisions shaping the internet’s future are made. Rubbing shoulders with NGOs and corporations, Jemelniak has a strong position from which to advocate for Wikipedia - as an educational resource, as a fact-checker, as a reputational barometer. These are not idle threats - Google already advises its “raters,” the low-paid contractors who shuffle through websites to assign algorithmic values to them and have the power to memory-hole inconvenient voices, to use Wikipedia to assess the trustworthiness of a website proprietor.78 This could have been an inside deal between the two companies - Google and Wikipedia have always had something of an incestuous relationship disguised as a rivalry. But given the Foundation’s efforts to insert itself in such base-level internet structures as Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract for the Web,79 Jemelniak’s involvement in something so far-reaching should be taken very seriously.
Lisa Lewin is a newcomer to the board, assuming the trustee role in 2019 in addition to her work as co-founder and managing partner of Ethical Ventures, a so-called “change management consulting firm helping leaders build thriving organizations with a positive impact on society.”80 She hit the ground running, giving a talk at Wikimania 2019 with executive director Katherine Maher titled “Can Strategy Help Predict Our Future? Thoughts on Movement Strategy” referring to Wikimedia 2030, the Foundation’s aforementioned plan to make itself indispensable as the “essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge.”81 With a background in education technology and teacher education, she also has plenty of connections to leverage in the Foundation’s mission to shoehorn Wikipedia into the classroom.
But it’s her day job that seems the most applicable to the Foundation’s current situation, in which reality stubbornly refuses to metamorphose into a future in which a gender-equitable Foundation sits snugly at the hub of 2030’s internet, doling out morsels of Wikidata to eager supplicants. Ethical Ventures sells a “strategy and change management” program that includes “growth enablement,” “reorganization,” “board engagement,” and - gulp - “leadership transition.” In a November presentation at the “All Tech Is Human” conference sponsored by regime change aficionado Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, Lewin suggested that when a tech company grows to the scale of a public utility - she used Facebook as her example, but Wikipedia clearly fit as well - its board members have a “moral duty” to consider how their platform affects its users, and to adopt “higher standards of care” if that platform puts the “safety of individuals, vulnerable populations, and democracy” at risk - especially if employees and management won’t do it. This advice seems tailor-made for Wikipedia, where gratuitous libel has cost its victims significant reputational capital. Could Lewin be the activist trustee arrived to save Wikipedia from itself?
Unfortunately, the rest of her speech indicated she was working for the other side. Lewin came down firmly on the side of thought-policing, citing internet security provider Cloudflare’s decision to deplatform anonymous imageboard 8chan - a longtime thorn in the establishment’s side - when it was alleged that a mass shooter had posted his manifesto there as a shining example to follow. “If we see a bad thing in the world and we can help get in front of it, we have some obligation to do that,” Lewin approvingly quoted the Cloudflare CEO in his come-to-Jesus moment, in which he violated the company’s content-agnostic policies out of misguided concern 8chan was inciting violence.82
But the Wikimedia Foundation and its trustees’ idea of a “bad thing” is often merely something they do not understand, or something that hurts the organization’s bottom line, dressed up in the language of morality. Seen through this lens, Lewin’s worldview is downright threatening, as it encourages board members to meddle enthusiastically in the strategic affairs of ‘their’ company if they get it into their head that the company is permitting some nebulous definition of “harm” to come to anyone. Is this what happened when the Trust & Safety division went over the heads of the Arbitration Committee to sanction the administrator Fram, despite the flimsiness of the “abuse” case against him? It has certainly laid the groundwork for a “leadership transition,” with several admins demanding trustee chair Maria Sefidari step down over her apparent conflict of interest, even though she claimed to have recused herself from that proceeding.83
Lewin has a few more interesting connections that the Foundation may wish to leverage. She sits on the board of the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs the OpenSecrets website tracking campaign contributions, giving her an inside eye on whose money is doing what in politics. She is also on the board of DoSomething.org, which purports to be the “largest non-profit exclusively for young people and social change.” Though its website is blanketed with photos of ebullient youth engaged in various forms of vigorous activity, the adults in the room - executives from Colgate-Palmolive, Snapchat, LinkedIn, JetBlue and Lyft, among others - are “legally and fiscally responsible for DoSomething.org.”84 DoSomething lets kids participate in clicktivism campaigns, share meaningless feel-good listicles (“11 facts about gangs,” 85 “11 facts about the Holocaust”86), while offering corporations a chance to expiate their sins by bestowing open-ended Opportunities on the Youth. It’s not easy to figure out exactly what DoSomething does, though it appears to be a platform for young people to launch and publicize awareness campaigns, which are in turn bankrolled by the group’s “sponsors.” These include the ubiquitous Omidyar Network, Johnson & Johnson (which hid asbestos in its talcum powder for decades and has paid out at least $325 million in damages to customers who developed cancer from its products),87 3M (currently mired in over 300 legal cases over knowingly releasing toxic ‘non-stick’ PFCs and PFAS into America’s waters;88 the highly persistent chemicals can now be found in 98 percent of the US population89 and will remain in the environment indefinitely, as they do not biodegrade),90 and General Mills (feeding your kids GMOs with a smile).91
Raju Narisetti is the Wikimedia Foundation’s link to ‘new media,’ having joined in 2017 when he was CEO of Univision Communications Inc.’s Gizmodo Media Group. He left that company the following year, however,92 before it sold the Gizmodo portfolio to private equity firm Great Hill Partners, unloading Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, the Root, Kotaku, Splinter, and Jalopnik.93 The publications have clashed with their new private equity overlords, despite Great Hill insisting its new acquisitions would operate as “independent assets” within the portfolio. In August, Deadspin published a lengthy evisceration of its new master,94 alleging the interloper packed senior management with old colleagues in a sexist, diversity-deficient manner, covered sites in auto-playing video ads, micromanaged content and editorial (demanding writers be nice to the companies that bought those auto-playing video ads),95 and otherwise made such a huge mess that Narisetti actually weighed in on the agony of watching his erstwhile baby dismantled by the cold claws of private equity, telling New York magazine that Great Hill could “easily destroy the essence of these brands and the magic of longevity and relevance giving you sticky growth” by misunderstanding what made them valuable.96
As his old empire collapsed - Splinter shuttered in October,97 while the entirety of Deadspin’s newsroom resigned the following month along with its parent company’s editorial director in protest of its new master’s toxic micromanagement - Narisetti landed on his feet, becoming a professor of professional practice and director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University.98 Under his watch, Gizmodo had collapsed in value from the $135 million Univision had paid for it to the much lower price - between $25 and $50 million - Great Hill did.99
Narisetti’s usefulness to the Foundation presumably lies in his media connections - before boarding the sinking ship that was Gizmodo, he was SVP of strategy at News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s empire, where the Foundation claims his remit was “identifying new digital growth opportunities globally.”100 He also served a stint as managing editor of the Washington Post, dragging it kicking and screaming into the digital age, after 15 years with the Wall Street Journal. The Foundation received specific instructions after a 2014 “media audit” by Minassian Media - the shadowy PR operation run by Clinton Foundation communications officer Craig Minassian - to form closer bonds with “friendly” journalists;101 Narisetti is the perfect journalistic liaison for Wikipedia, having gotten important facts publicly, embarrassingly wrong amid an attempt to grandstand about the “slippery slope of press freedom.” He mistook Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the ruling party of Pakistani PM Imran Khan, for the official news agency of India - where Narisetti grew up - in a tweet (their initials are the same, but their logos dramatically different, and one would expect quite different content from each), and was roundly mocked for it by people incredulous that a journalistic lifer could still make such rookie mistakes.102 Beyond a seeming reluctance to fact-check and a tendency to jump to conclusions regarding “freedom of expression” in his native land, Narisetti is a good fit for the Wikimedia Foundation because of his affiliations, which overlap extensively with some of the deeper pockets funding it.
He is vice-chair of the International Center for Journalists, a project of the Knight Foundation which offers journalism fellowships (including the one he oversaw at Columbia). The ICFJ is also backed by the Omidyar Network and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but got a major cash infusion from Knight in 2018 to build up its programs to “combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation,” i.e. truths inconvenient to the organization’s paymasters. It boasted in a press release about launching fact-checking organizations in Africa and a plugin to alert Latin American social media users when they’d shared “discredited” articles. In more veiled terms, it bragged about “creating an environment that enables digital media startups - often the only independent news sources [in Latin America] - to thrive,” perhaps referencing its program to train Cuban journalists through an immersive Miami program103 or initiatives in countries like Venezuela whose socialist government’s excellent state-run media bristle with what well-behaved American journalists would deem “wrongthink.”104 Wikipedia plays a significant role in this type of initiative, having been used as a reputational barometer by social media platforms from Facebook105 to Youtube,106 as well as by Google,107 to determine what sources are “reliable” for the purposes of fact-checking.
Narisetti only lasted a year at Columbia, leaving in November to “pursue new opportunities in business publishing.”108 Wherever his career takes him, however, he will be touting Wikipedia as the solution to the problems facing journalism - even to the crisis of truth in the world. In a 2018 interview, he insisted “there has never been more urgency in Wikipedia’s 16-year history than now,” claiming self-perpetuating cyclones of fake news had engulfed hundreds of millions of people in such a way that “potential conflict” could be the result, and that Wikipedia was a “proven antidote” to such problems.109 Certainly free exchange of information is under threat by authoritarian governments and the monopolistic tech firms they have deputized to skirt pesky constitutional regulations, but Wikipedia is not an antidote to such incursions on civil liberties. Particularly if it is able to achieve the goals set forth in Wikimedia 2030, and insinuate itself into the fabric of the free internet, freedom of thought will have suffered a crippling blow.
Tanya Capuano joined the Foundation in October 2017, the same month she joined real estate digital marketing company G5 as CFO. It’s not immediately clear how her past suited her for the job, and the generic name of her employer makes its own history difficult to uncover. Capuano was previously VP of finance at Intuit, overseeing the company’s financial software platforms, and worked in acquisitions and divestitures at Hewlett Packard after the obligatory stints in management consulting and investment banking.110 Hewlett Packard has tried to spin its work in illegally-occupied West Bank Palestine as somehow “reducing friction between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers at barrier checkpoints,”111 but the company’s operation of the apartheid-enabling BASEL biometric checkpoint system in the territory honeycombed with Jewish-only colonial outposts makes it complicit in the flagrant ongoing violation of international law those settlements represent. There is no evidence Capuano had anything to do with the West Bank project - HP acquired EDS Israel, the company contracted by the IDF to build that system, in 2009, four years after she left HP - but the acquisitions and divestitures division that employed her would have overseen that acquisition. It is also possible that the unnamed educational nonprofit boards she serves on were what drew her to the Foundation. Perhaps she is even that rarest of birds - a wholly innocent trustee on a very questionable board. If the latter, Capuano would be wise to ditch the position and never look back.
Some might say putting the Wikimedia Foundation’s trustees under the microscope in this way is unfair, or that delving into the activities of the other organizations they work with borders on guilt by association. But the Foundation does all this and more when it allows agenda-toting editors to smear innocent people in its “encyclopedia” and refuses to take down pages that are clearly set up as repositories for libel, stitched together with imagination and liberally peppered with chutzpah, using guilt by association to fill in the gaps. Indeed, the Foundation prides itself on never taking a page down, and editors have openly admitted that asking to have one’s bio removed will result in further negative information being added.112 The Wikimedia Foundation and its representatives may bloviate about “free knowledge” until they’re blue in the face, but the platform is not about freedom - it is more about crafting reputational cages from which dissidents of any kind cannot break free and consigning them to the internet’s darkest penal colonies. The Foundation’s trustees may believe they are above the fray, but they are in fact the standard-bearers for the modern Ministry of Truth, the public-facing representatives of an organization that deliberately hides its true purpose under layers of jargon about making the whole of human knowledge available to everyone.
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By now, most people following the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak have stumbled upon Event 201, the pandemic simulation held at Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, and other ruling-class heavy hitters two months before the epidemic was declared. Seemingly tailor-made to set off "conspiracy theorists" - that class of intellectually-curious thought-criminals whom the US media establishment have placed somewhere between child molesters and drunk drivers on the hierarchy of unforgivability - Event 201 was hurriedly "debunked" by that same establishment, which quickly set up and eviscerated a straw man (“No, Bill Gates didn’t cause the coronavirus epidemic!”) and convinced the group itself to issue a statement denying their exercise was meant to predict the behavior of the actual virus, 65 million deaths and all.
But few are aware that the epidemic playing out in China and two dozen other countries, including the US, is unfolding in line with a decade-old simulation titled “Lock Step” devised by the Rockefeller Foundation in conjunction with the Global Business Network. The scenario, one of four included in a publication called “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development” in 2010, describes a coronavirus-like pandemic that becomes the trigger for the imposition of police-state controls on movement, economy, and other areas of society. The novel coronavirus is thus not merely a depopulation exercise, as some have claimed. It could be the trigger for the imposition of a global police state.
Lock Step describes “a world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback.” In “2012” (i.e. two years after the report’s publication), an “extremely virulent and deadly” strain of influenza originating with wild geese brings the world to its knees, infecting 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million people in just seven months - “the majority of them healthy young adults.” It devastates global economies and ruptures international trade. But not everyone, the Rockefeller Foundation makes clear, is hit equally.
Countries of Africa, southeast Asia, and central America suffer the worst “in the absence of official containment protocols” - it wouldn’t be the Rockefeller Foundation if someone wasn’t licking their lips at the thought of a mass die-off in the Global South - but western “democracies” also pay the ultimate price. “The United States’ initial policy of ‘strongly discouraging’ citizens from flying proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the US but across borders,” the report warns. But remove such obstacles as ‘individual rights’ and you have a recipe for surviving, even thriving in the event of a pandemic, the Foundation gushes:
“A few countries did fare better - China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing-off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a swifter post-pandemic recovery.”
The message is clear - police state good, freedom bad. And other governments rapidly get the message, according to the simulation. First and third world nations alike follow suit by “flexing their authority” and imposing quarantines, body-temperature checks, and other “airtight rules and restrictions” - most of which, the report is careful to note, remain in place even as the pandemic recedes into the past. “In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems - from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty - leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.”
This global power-grab is facilitated by a frightened citizenry who “willingly gave up some of their sovereignty - and their privacy - to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability…tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight.” Everything from tighter biometric identification to stricter industrial regulation is welcomed with open arms. It takes over a decade for people to “grow weary” of the authoritarian controls imposed in the wake of the pandemic, and hints that even the civil unrest that ultimately manifests is focused on the developed world. After all, a popular uprising in the technocratic police state envisioned by the simulation would be all but impossible - as it will be in real life once 5G makes real-time total surveillance of all cities a reality.
Pin the blame on the dragon
It remains unclear what - or who - unleashed the novel coronavirus in Wuhan. The initial claim that it originated in bats from a “wet market,” in which live animals are sold and then butchered in front of the customer, couldn’t have been more perfect from a western point of view - wet markets are reviled in the West, where consumers prefer that the animal cruelty required to put meat on their tables happens behind closed doors. While wet markets would seem to improve food safety by making it impossible to sell “mystery,” mislabeled or expired meat, time and again they are fingered as disease vectors by the disapproving West, every time followed by calls to ban them entirely. However, the Huanan seafood market hadn’t sold bats for years, meaning - if the “wet market” hypothesis is to persist - an “intermediate host” species would be required to get the virus to humans. Snakes were nominated, even though scientists weren't sure they could be infected by a coronavirus - it was more important that they eat bats and were sold at the market. Three weeks after the Huanan seafood market was shuttered and disinfected, a Lancet study put the last nail in the hypothesis' coffin, revealing the first several coronavirus cases had no exposure to the market at all. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has not discouraged the media from continuing to blame it for the epidemic.
Beyond the disintegrating “official story,” rumormongers have pinned the blame on the Chinese government, suggesting that through malice or incompetence Beijing released a virus cooked up in a top-secret bioweapons program operating in the city’s high-security lab. The chief purveyor of this theory is Dany Shoham, an Israeli biosafety analyst, which should raise a forest of red flags in anyone familiar with Israel’s own experiments in gene-targeted biowarfare even before taking into account Shoham's own history of fraudulently blaming Saddam Hussein’s Iraq for the 2001 anthrax attacks. Other outlets spreading this theory cite American biosafety consultant Tim Trevan, who opined in a 2017 Nature article - published before the Wuhan lab even opened! - that “diversity of viewpoint” and “openness of information” are both critical to the safe functioning of such a high-risk lab and alien to Chinese culture. The persistence of the “lab accident” theory of coronavirus’ creation thus owes more to cultural chauvinism and sinophobia than any fact-based clues.
While many alt-media outlets have fingered Event 201 as the replica "drill" that so often coincides with a false flag event, few are aware that on the day after that simulation, the 2019 Military World Games kicked off in Wuhan, bringing 300 US military personnel to the city. Matthias Chang, former advisor to the Malaysian PM, however, zeroed in on the games as the likely entry point for what he described as a biological war waged by the US against China. In an interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting last month, Chang placed coronavirus on a continuum of American bio-attacks he said included deliberate infection of Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea and Cubans with dengue fever, as well as creating the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone.
As of February 4, there are over 1,000 times more coronavirus cases in China than outside of it, and the foreign cases appear to be ethnically Chinese where reported. This is not a coincidence - a recent scientific paper revealed the enzyme which serves as a receptor for novel coronavirus is produced by a certain type of lung cell found in “extremely large numbers” in Asian men compared to those of other ethnicities. Even more intriguingly, those lung cells are involved in the expression of “many other genes that positively regulating [sic] viral reproduction and transmission.” The paper’s authors stop short of suggesting the virus came out of a lab, instead drily observing that it seems to have “cleverly evolved to hijack this population of [lung] cells for its reproduction and transmission,” but one man’s clever viral evolution is another’s expert bioweapon development.
Certainly, American researchers have been surreptitiously collecting Chinese DNA for decades. A notorious Harvard School of Public Health program in the mid-1990s drafted village medics to administer “free physicals” to locals “with asthmatic symptoms.” These “checkups” were conducted as part of a genetic project that also involved the US National Institutes of Health and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, supposedly aimed at “identify[ing] and characteriz[ing] genes that play a role in causing asthma and other allergic disorders.” It later emerged that the researchers had secured the required consent forms from neither the local experimental ethics board nor the test subjects themselves. A government inquiry was commandeered by an insider and squelched. Over 200,000 DNA samples were thus collected and spirited out of the country.
US military literature has been lusting after genetically-targeted weapons for at least 50 years. The infamous Project for a New American Century, whose members have been steering the US ship of state into a series of icebergs since the George W. Bush administration, described gene-specific bioweapons as a “politically-useful tool,” part and parcel of the "new dimensions of combat" in which the future's wars would unfold. In 1998, the year after PNAC's formation, reports Israel was working on just such a weapon to target Arabs while leaving Jews untouched flooded the media - part PR campaign, part warning. And it is DARPA and other divisions of the US military, not the Chinese, that has been intensively studying bat-borne coronaviruses for years, even as their own high-security biowarfare labs are being shut down for shoddy safety procedures.
Meanwhile, the likelihood of the Chinese government unleashing a genetically-targeted virus on its own population is vanishingly low. Unlike popular attitudes of “white guilt” in the West born of a hangover from colonialism, the Chinese do not traffic in racial self-loathing - indeed, outsiders have accused the Chinese of an unspoken, unshakeable belief in their own racial superiority, and regardless of whether that belief is problematic, it is unlikely to lead to intentional self-genocide. Even if behavior-correcting false flag was sought by Beijing in Hong Kong, where US-backed pro-“democracy” protests have raged destructively for months, such an event would not have been unleashed hundreds of miles away in Wuhan.
Never let a good crisis go to waste?
The real-life coronavirus is much less virulent than the pandemic described in Lock Step, with an official death toll of “just” 427 and a global infection toll of “only” 20,629 as of February 4, and the dead were mostly over 60 with preexisting medical issues. Economies worldwide are nevertheless in free-fall just like the simulation predicted. This drop is fueled by scare-stories percolating in establishment media and alt-media alike (the name of an actual article in ZeroHedge by a Rabobank analyst: “What if we are on the brink of an exponential increase in coronavirus cases?”) while videos of dubious origin appearing to show horrific scenes from within China keep the virus viral on social media. Adding to the fear is coronavirus’ lengthy incubation period, up to two weeks in which a carrier could be blithely spreading it to everyone they meet, creating a constant threat of a “boom” in cases just around the corner.
China’s economy, of course, is being hit the worst, and the epidemic’s timing could not have been more disastrous from Beijing’s point of view, coming on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday. At this time, some 400 million Chinese travel around the country to see family, mostly in the high-speed bullet trains that have their hub in - you guessed it - Wuhan. With much of this travel having occurred before the city was quarantined, cases are likely in their incubation phase all over the country, making today’s numbers look like a rounding error.
Correspondingly, the situation couldn’t be better for the American ruling class: a pandemic that targets Asians striking China just when it’s most vulnerable is a powerful blow to the rising superpower. And in case anyone still believes the circumstances of the virus’ ascendance are merely an extended string of coincidences, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross took that plausible deniability and stomped on it last month, unable to stop himself from gushing that coronavirus would “help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America” in an interview with Fox News. Prefacing his victory lap by saying he didn’t “want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease,” he pointed out that businesses will be forced to take China’s inexplicable susceptibility to deadly viruses into account when reviewing their supply chains. Unmentioned, but adding to the perfect economic storm, was Trump’s signature on the USMCA trade agreement, supposed to bring in an extra 1.2 percentage points in GDP growth.
“On top of all the other things, you had SARS, you had the African Swine virus there, now you have this,” Ross said, hammering home the point by linking coronavirus to other suspect plagues. Just as many scientists concluded SARS was a manmade bioweapon, many - scientists and statesmen as well as alternative media - have raised the alarm about coronavirus. Good luck finding any of their statements on Google, however. Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have been hard at work removing coronavirus “rumors,” and Google has memory-holed hundreds of search results regarding Chinese accusations of biowarfare. Even on platforms that don’t censor on government orders, the baseless claims from Shoham and other disinfo artists about Chinese biowarfare have muscled any comments from Chinese officials out of the way. Even the Malaysian politician’s comments are obscured behind a Farsi language barrier - his original comments inexplicably missing from English-language media and reprinted only by Iran’s IRIB News Agency (this author can no longer even find the tweet that alerted her to those comments, but would like to thank that person).
Coronavirus is not the doomsday epidemic it is being portrayed as by irresponsible media actors. But as the Lock Step scenario makes clear, one does not need massive die-off or victims exploding in geysers of blood in the streets to achieve desired social goals. It’s possible the novel coronavirus epidemic is a “dry run,” a test of both China’s readiness to handle an outbreak and of the international community’s reaction to such a plague. It's even possible, though unlikely, that the epidemic was a mistake - that the virus escaped from a lab, likely American, by accident.
It's also possible the plague may suddenly become more virulent. Certainly the media buzz the first week of February is that coronavirus is close to being declared a “pandemic” by the WHO, which will necessitate the type of control measures hinted at in Lock Step and described more exhaustively in Event 201. From “limited internet shutdowns” and “enforcement actions against fake news” to government bailouts of “core” industries, mandatory vaccinations, property seizures, and other police-state provisions laid out in the Model State Emergency Health Powers Acts passed in many states in the paranoid aftermath of 9/11, the totalitarian nature of these provisions is limited only by the imaginations of the regimes carrying them out. Once events proceed to that stage, it is extremely difficult to reverse them. We would be wise not to allow this to happen.Add a comment
Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled the government’s decision to ban access to Wikipedia in April 2017 was a violation of freedom of expression, a constitutionally-protected right. The decision represents a reversal of a Turkish court ruling from 2017 and comes just a month before an expected ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a body which has ruled against Turkey more than any other country in its purview. No timetable has been put forth for when Turks might regain access to the online encyclopedia, which had been blocked as a "national security threat" under Turkish law.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that owns Wikipedia, is doing a victory lap, congratulating the Turkish people on being reconnected with what it never stops reminding the world is the largest online repository of human knowledge. The Foundation bragged that despite the two-year blackout, it never caved to Ankara’s request to remove negative information showing Turkey "in coordination and aligned" with ISIS and other terrorist groups, information the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced as a "smear campaign." Wikipedia, it boasted, would never give in to governments trying to quash free speech.
But there are more than a few holes in the Foundation’s version of events, starting with its boast that it stands for freedom of expression against repressive governments. While the Foundation very rarely obeys requests to remove information, whether they come from governments or individuals, it admits to having done so once. In 2014, the newly-installed US-backed Ukrainian government made a request to take down content on the English-language Wikipedia, and the Foundation acquiesced (it’s not clear what the information was). Why obey the dictates of Kiev but not Ankara? The puppet government of Petro Poroshenko was certainly no friend to free expression - its launch of a Ministry of Information Policy in December 2014 was widely ridiculed as a ham-handed censorship effort heavy on the propaganda, no different from Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth.” Thousands of journalists were doxxed through a site called Mirotvorets, declared “terrorist collaborators” for nothing more than obtaining accreditation from the separatist eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. As a result, at least 14 journalists had been killed by 2016, and many more were threatened and attacked. While some politicians advocated punishing the publishers of Mirotvorets, others called for revoking the press accreditation of the doxxed journalists and declaring them enemies of the state, and the Ministry of Information Policy itself praised the site for its "principled stance concerning defending national security."
This is not the behavior of a government that supports free speech. Yet Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and the Foundation made no secret of their support for the coup that replaced Russian-sympathetic Viktor Yanukovych with the neo-Nazi Poroshenko government. Not only had Wales nominated a Ukrainian Wikipedia editor shot to death during the Maidan Square riots for ‘Wikipedian of the Year’ (without explaining how or by whom he came to be shot), but he would go on the record during the Yalta European Strategy conference of December 2014 calling on Ukrainian editors to skew the narrative in the Russian-language Wikipedia to retroactively whitewash the color revolution (and demonize Crimea's reunification with Russia). Russian Wikipedians, Wales said, deserved to be bombarded with “alternative views, alternative statements” - a.k.a. Trumpian “alternative facts” - through the supposedly-neutral encyclopedia.
Additionally, Turkish editors determined to circumvent Ankara’s ban on Wikipedia never really lost access to the site - it was a simple matter to use a VPN or other location-spoofing tools to read and edit to their heart’s content. Indeed, by blocking the average Turk’s access to Wikipedia, the government only ensured that whatever slander against Erdogan and his administration already existed on the site would metastasize, reproducing without interference by pro-Erdogan editors who might otherwise have pushed back against negative portrayals of the country. If anything, the ban handed control of Turkish Wikipedia to dissidents - a self-sabotaging move that may explain why the Turkish court was willing to reverse course on the ban. Others have speculated that the ruling by the Turkish court was meant to preempt yet another negative ruling from the ECHR, which never misses a chance to censure Turkey.
Turkey’s reasons for banning Wikipedia - the site wouldn’t remove information about government officials being involved with ISIS in trading oil, or about Turkey’s sponsorship of ISIS and other terror groups - are somewhat petty, as the information is true, no matter how negatively it reflects on Turkey. For all that Wikipedia is positively bristling with libel about any government that has gotten on the bad side of the US, UK or Israel, the relationship between Turkey and ISIS is real. While Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US provide funding, weapons, protection, and PR, Turkey assists in the movement and protection of people and supplies - and oil. If Turkey didn’t want the world learning about their support for terrorists, they might have thought of that before getting into bed with the governments that have done more than anyone else to unleash chaos upon the region.
Even if Turkey is in the wrong, however, for the Foundation to cry “freedom of expression” is disingenuous when it is willing to give other countries a pass on their own human rights violations, even working with them to oppress their populations. The case of Wikipedia in Kazakhstan is an instructive example of what a repressive government can do when it cooperates with the encyclopedia, instead of kicking it to the curb. In March 2011, a month before Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev changed the country’s official language from Russian to Kazakh, a group of Kazakhs bankrolled by the ruling family operating under the name WikiBilim began transferring material from the government-sanctioned Kazakh encyclopedia into the Kazakh-language Wikipedia. WikiBilim soon arranged with the Wikimedia Foundation to have all 15 volumes of the encyclopedia piped in, overwriting the work of any Kazakh Wikipedia editors who might have thought they were entitled to something more than the government-approved version of reality.
Wales didn’t merely allow the Nazarbayev regime - which has been repeatedly sanctioned by the ECHR for human rights violations and which has a lengthy track record of jailing and even killing journalists critical of the government - to seize control of the Kazakh Wikipedia. He declared Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, director of WikiBilim, Wikipedian of the Year and awarded him a $5,000 prize. Wales for years insisted WikiBilim was an independent organization, but when it later emerged that he had discussed the project with the group’s government patron at Davos the previous year, he was left scrambling for excuses. When Kenzhekanuly, a former government official, was appointed governor of the Kyzylorda region in 2014, Wales finally gave up on pretending everything was kosher in Kazakhstan, implying in a Reddit Ask Me Anything the following year that he’d been tricked into assisting the repressive regime.
Kazakhstan is only one of the countries that has received the Foundation and Wales’ stamp of approval despite (because of?) an adversarial relationship with freedom of expression. Wales is married to the former diary secretary of Tony Blair, who has followed up his warmongering stint as British PM with a lucrative lobbying career, hopping from one despot to another to help them whitewash their human rights records and reposition themselves as ripe for foreign investments. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Azerbaijan, and Israel have all fostered friendships with the Foundation to various extents, despite atrocious track records in human rights. For the Foundation to cry foul in Turkey’s case is hypocritical in the extreme - Erdogan's crime, in their eyes, is not jailing journalists but failing to work out a lucrative agreement that would allow him to whitewash his human rights record by lining the Foundation's pockets. Wikipedia no more supports free expression than Turkey fights terrorism.
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The story of Pacifica Radio is a cyclical saga of factional warfare, class and racial struggle, and the power of the self-preservation instinct. “People talk about their tenure at these stations as if they’d just returned from a war zone,” says a long-time producer, who has spent 40 years watching Pacifica’s dysfunction blossom and gradually destroy the network. Pacifica’s public image as a bastion of progressivism — a “voice for the voiceless” — hides from the public the cutthroat rivalries and perpetual infighting that have made the station a notoriously dysfunctional swamp. Long-time broadcasters call it the “end of the line” for radio — its stations rank dead last in their markets in New York, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Houston, and Washington DC — but hope springs eternal, and every so often a visionary programmer revives the seemingly doomed network. The last Golden Age of Pacifica ended almost twenty years ago, however, and it’s doubtful that the network can be saved.
Democracy Now! launched in 1996 on Pacifica as its flagship news show, offering current events, analysis and opinion with a focus on stories ignored or underreported by the mainstream news establishment. It was the network’s only money-making program, annually earning $500,000 in syndication fees from more than 100 stations outside the Pacifica network and $250,000 from archival purchases. Democracy Now was founded by the network’s Program Director, Samori Marksman, and initially featured a rotating crew of hosts from each of the five Pacifica stations, a structure that was only later eclipsed by all-Amy Goodman, all the time. It was a shining example of collaboration, of how an excellent program arises from skilled individuals working together to achieve a goal. Particularly in the midst of the legendarily dysfunctional Pacifica network, which veteran news producer Paul DeRienzo calls “the elephant graveyard of radio,” Democracy Now was a diamond in the rough. Marksman was a well-liked figure at the network, capable of cutting through the petty rivalries and inspiring staff to create quality programming. Back then, according to DeRienzo, people might argue ferociously, but they’d go out for coffee afterwards.
“Legendarily dysfunctional” is an understatement in the eyes of many who labored in the trenches of Pacifica from the 1970s on. Network management has a lengthy track record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, according to veteran programmers. One likened going to work there to “intentionally climbing into a sewer every day with no boots and no hazmat outfit,” describing a “full-on hate campaign” unleashed in response to the brightening fortunes of WBAI, Pacifica’s New York station, during the mid-1970s. Fund drives fueled by a new audience and a shift toward more positive programming began to put the station reliably in the black, allowing them to pay bills and even salaries. But the old guard was apparently threatened by the arrival of new, empowering programming and the growth of an audience that was receptive to this material. As one WBAI lifer told him, “Anyone successful and happy they’re going to hate. These people live in emotional poverty.” The station became ground zero for intense factional warfare — on one side, people whose identities were tied up in the WBAI of the 1960s, who had offices and 24/7 access to the building but often no show or even official broadcasting duties. On the other hand, there were the new voices like the programmer, a best-selling author whose massive audience followed him to the station and who believes his success made him the lightning rod for these individuals’ anger. His producer was reportedly driven away from the office by an escalating terror campaign of misogynistic comments, air tapes cut with razor blades, and finally human feces inserted into her mail. The newcomer’s attempts to find common ground with his alleged tormentors — sharing stories of his working-class beginnings, arriving in New York on a Greyhound bus, or his work with over a dozen activist movements that effected real social change during the 1960s and 1970s — were rebuffed. “This isn’t a good mix,” he was told; “Why don’t you just go back?” The station remained a battleground even as its new direction attracted more positive hosts and intelligent voices than any other time in its history. By the 1990s, Pacifica seemed to be at the top of its broadcast game. At the same time, veteran programmers and management attested to the seething undercurrent of resentment, of racial, class, and ideological hatreds, fomented by WBAI lifers who would rather see the station die than compromise their politics.
Amy Goodman arrived at WBAI as an entry-level reporter, her way paved by a long-term charitable donation bestowed by her grandfather as a reward for allowing Goodman opportunities above and beyond a typical internship. The money opened doors in the news department, freeing her to pursue whatever stories she liked without being told what to do by senior staff or having restrictions placed on her use of Pacifica resources. While she demonstrated intense dedication to her craft, colleagues say she lacked any of the social niceties required to work in a newsroom (“Amy doesn’t talk, she yells,” goes a recurring complaint), and the “adults in the room” — Marksman and General Manager Valerie van Isler — generally gave her what she wanted in order to keep the peace. What she wanted, former co-workers say, was full control of her immediate environment, access to Marksman’s treasure trove of progressive contacts, and free use of all resources (finances, equipment, even interns) she claimed to require to do her work. If anyone complained or objected, she reportedly threatened to halt her grandfather’s largesse, eventually terrorizing the anemic and understaffed news department into making her News Director of WBAI.
According to DeRienzo, Goodman landed at WBAI only after being kicked out of WNYC, where the behaviors that made her notorious at Pacifica were not tolerated. NPR’s professional standards apparently left no room for Goodman’s histrionics, her high-volume temper tantrums, and her violent reactions to criticism. These behaviors were merely quirky at WBAI, which over the years had become a collection basin for the detritus of New York radio — people who might be talented but who could not handle the stress of producing radio in the big city and who had, in DeRienzo’s words, “snapped.” There was a sizable contingent of “troublesome” personalities who had, for whatever reason, reached the end of the line — a “brotherhood and sisterhood of losers who would make sure that any attempt at change would be nipped in the bud.” Goodman endeared herself to these people, who were looking for a champion, a “celebrity” who could serve as the presentable public face of the radical Left. She had already amassed a hefty support base among college students and enjoyed a close relationship with big Harvard names Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader, but she reportedly understood the importance of having the “losers” on her side as well. The word “Machiavellian” inevitably surfaces when discussing Goodman, especially with people who knew her at the beginning of her career.
Some considered Van Isler to be an ineffective General Manager, with lax professional standards and an “anything-goes” attitude in keeping with the station’s reputation as a home for radio rejects. Goodman was one of many WBAI staff to sign a petition to replace her. Her apparent disregard for van Isler not only did not foster animosity from the General Manager, but perversely drove van Isler closer to Goodman, which onlookers have analyzed as van Isler seeking to ingratiate herself with power in order to be spared the axe. A former senior WBAI producer says Goodman took full credit for projects undertaken as collective WBAI efforts and happily sucked up every spare dime at the cash-strapped station. Unlike the station’s own bookkeeper, Sybil Wong, she had the freedom to write checks and sign for at least one bank account, through which she allegedly channeled donations meant for WBAI and Pacifica projects into her own. Van Isler colluded in the charade, reportedly representing to foundations and donors that their money was going to Pacifica and WBAI even as it piled up in the coffers of a parallel organization run by Goodman. An anonymous report disseminated by Pacifica Board member Steve Brown claims the Goodman account’s existence was never revealed to Pacifica — that there is not even an official record of its existence, and that for this reason Wong was not allowed access to the books she was supposed to keep, preventing her from doing her job effectively. Former General Manager Utrice Leid concurs, claiming “absolute criminal activity” by Goodman involving secret accounts and the redirection of funds with Van Isler’s cooperation. DeRienzo recalls fundraisers where large sums of money were raised for Pacifica and disappeared into Goodman’s secret accounts in New York and California, never to be seen again. Concerned about the size of the donations that he claims were vanishing, he consulted with a private investigator, who laughed and explained that a non-profit designation was essentially a “license to steal.” Another long-time producer, who requested to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, actually witnessed garbage bags full of cash from a fundraiser being turned over to Program Director Bernard White, who crammed them under his bed. Brown confirms that a former assistant of White told him she was responsible for taking trash bags full of fundraiser cash back to White’s apartment, where she counted the money and stashed the bags under the bed.
Mutiny Takes Shape
Reportedly not content to run Democracy Now within the confines of Pacifica, Goodman was busily building up a parallel structure within WBAI, assisted by all the station equipment and funding she could lay her hands on, according to Leid. She constructed a powerful support base using Marksman’s connections and threw herself into accumulating power, positioning herself in Leid’s words as the “sole progressive voice” on New York radio. Former station staff say she befriended wealthy liberal donors and fostered a cult of personality alien to the ethos of other WBAI hosts, who preferred to give credit to the network and work within the collective. DeRienzo confirms that Goodman became the Genuine Leftist Celebrity to whom Democratic real estate investors, Hollywood millionaires, and other big-name liberals could point as a recognizable face they were proud to support; a role model for the crowds of college students who attended her speaking engagements on their campuses and a champion for the listeners who loved her and knew or cared nothing about the complaints of her co-workers. Leid calls her a “George Soros capitalist” — a ruthless, by-any-means-necessary, screw-the-consequences pursuer of what’s best for Amy Goodman.
Marksman died in March 1999 and was replaced by White, who had no management background, having worked as a station DJ prior to his promotion to Program Director. With the inexperienced White at the helm, Goodman was free to take the gloves off regarding her “ownership” of Democracy Now. When Steve Yasko, National Program Director, attempted to reform the program along its original lines, with a rotating crew of hosts from each Pacifica station, Goodman reportedly initiated a scorched-earth campaign against him with fake “confidential” memos that created the impression of a targeted harassment campaign against Goodman. The implication was that Pacifica was, cruelly and without cause, trying to take away “her” program. Yasko was depicted as a misogynistic porno merchant with such effectiveness that he not only received threatening calls from listeners who had bought Goodman’s lies, but saw them show up both at WPFW headquarters and at his residence. According to one former producer, Goodman also attempted to bankrupt Pacifica with a passel of frivolous lawsuits alleging “harassment, civil rights violations, a hostile work environment, and other despicable lies.” These she spun as Pacifica suing her, ever the victim, even as she allegedly alienated her AFTRA union lawyers by forcing them into service in her unjust war. DeRienzo says the union essentially quarantined her into a one-person “shop,” aware of her legendary inability to work well with others. When the AFTRA lawyers finally refused to take part in her crusade, she reportedly fell back on a network of wealthy and well-connected lawyer friends — the same lawyers who would later write the contract that handed her ownership of Democracy Now.
Having pried control of Democracy Now from the admittedly weak grasp of Pacifica management, Goodman proceeded to milk it for all it was worth, producers say. She allegedly demanded that every Pacifica station carry the program during morning and afternoon drive times in addition to the Goodman-hosted evening news hour (and demanded a separate salary from each program!). She was to receive an additional “discretionary” budget for Democracy Now, which while it would come from Pacifica’s coffers would not be controlled by Pacifica or any of its program directors, including Yasko. She got office space in DC and New York, with equipment, including the station’s equipment when needed, and staff to run it. Even when not physically present, she cast a long shadow over the office — “her people” enjoyed priority use of the best equipment, and woe betide any producer who defied her, according to DeRienzo, whom she allegedly screamed at over the phone when he sat down at the “good” tape machine an intern of hers coveted.
Around this time, Van Isler was let go, having been effectively overwhelmed by the stressful station environment, according to one veteran producer. She was not fired outright, but instead offered a higher-paying position in Washington DC. Only after repeatedly declining this post was she dismissed. The Pacifica Campaign, a “listener movement” against the National Board led by Goodman’s Democracy Now co-host, pointed to her dismissal as indisputable evidence of a “purge,” which mushroomed into a “coup,” that signaled the growing influence of shadowy corporate interests intent on selling out Pacifica to the highest bidder for personal gain. The Campaign called for listeners to respond by boycotting pledge drives, boycotting the station, calling management, and picketing station offices. This outpouring of support seems disingenuous given that Goodman and the other Campaign ringleaders at WBAI had actually signed the petition calling for van Isler’s dismissal. When Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash tried to promote News Director Jose Santiago to replace Van Isler, the Campaign blamed him for her departure and allegedly began a targeted harassment campaign that — in combination with a major family health crisis — forced Santiago to turn down the post. While the Campaign claimed to resent Wash’s imposition of her choice of manager upon the station, citing the appointment as a classic example of the National Board’s dictatorial rule, the Pacifica Foundation’s bylaws had already been ignored once when van Isler skipped over Utrice Leid — the WBAI staffing committee’s first choice to replace Marksman as Program Director — and runner-up Laura Flanders to select White, who received zero committee votes. Van Isler, defending the choice of her personal friend over the committee’s preferences, claimed the selection process was “tainted.” Invoking the bylaws after that flagrant breach of procedure was closing the barn doors after the last horse had long since galloped away.
Wash finally convinced Utrice Leid to take the post, on the condition that there would be no firings, no bannings, and no interference from the National Board. In December 2000, Leid joined as interim General Manager, making it clear she did not want the job on a permanent basis but was merely there to help right the ship. The Pacifica Campaign was worried, according to producers then at WBAI, as the professionalism Leid mandated was several notches above Van Isler’s anything-goes attitude. The same day Leid joined, Wash fired White for “using his forum to criticize the board unfairly.” There was an air of impropriety about the proceedings only because van Isler had slighted Leid to promote White, and the Pacifica Campaign exploited this fact to spin White’s firing as an unprofessional and vindictive act.
Leid soon came in for criticism for taking people off the air unilaterally, without recourse to union mediation or open discussion, according to contemporary reports. She backed Wash in firing White without consulting the union, an act which cemented the Pacifica Campaign’s loathing and opposition to her. Leid’s common-sense edict of “don’t defecate on the airwaves” didn’t sit well with the malcontents accustomed to airing their dirty laundry publicly. She removed Ken Nash for personally attacking her on air, silencing him in the middle of his show (not long after removing his co-host, Mimi Rosenberg). Some staff complained that her supporters had free reign to attack those who had been banned or fired, whatever their crimes, while their victims had no recourse or opportunity to address the criticism on air. Leid was also criticized for replacing hostile personalities with friends and cronies. However, she did bring a sense of order and professionalism to WBAI, which sorely needed her discipline, and was praised for keeping the station on air in the aftermath of 9/11 — even while she herself was subject to intensifying personal attacks. Rosenberg and White reportedly drove through her neighborhood, screaming abuse at her as she walked home. Her house was repeatedly broken into, and libelous flyers were distributed throughout her neighborhood. Despite her standing in the community — she founded and ran the City Sun, a popular newspaper written by and for New York’s black community — neighbors began to shun her, believing that where there was smoke, there must be fire.
The “Plot” Thickens
The Pacifica Campaign sought allies not only among listeners but within station staff, claiming the Board was controlled by corporate interests looking to sell the network’s stations. Goodman’s Democracy Now sidekick resigned from the program in January 2001 to run the Campaign¹, which allegedly resorted to smearing individual Board members while promoting rumors about the impending corporate coup. Pacifica’s Board was said to be plotting to sell off WBAI and KPFA’s commercial licenses, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, so that they could share the profits among themselves. Evidence to support these claims was debatable, but the group cobbled together a convincing propaganda campaign out of a few scraps and repeated the threat until listeners began to believe, assisted by the trust that listeners tend to place in their favorite radio personalities. The “losers” Goodman had befriended early on, many of whom had been fired as Leid tried to impose some semblance of professionalism on the station, were promised their shows back and more — anything to get them on board the war effort, according to DeRienzo.
According to a veteran producer, the corporate-takeover rumors stemmed from a yearly meeting of the Pacifica Board during which time they shared their wishlists for network changes in the coming year. The treasurer calculated the cost of the desired changes, which generally ran to millions of dollars, far outside the means of the perpetually-struggling Pacifica. Board members then brainstormed how they might raise that money, and one member — usually a different person every year — would suggest selling off a commercial license to raise funds — either to buy a new station, to invest the proceeds in the other four stations, or as a license-swap exchanging the valuable commercial license for a noncommercial license. Board members could not legally profit at a personal level from such a sale, which at any rate remained in the realm of the hypothetical. It was not a plan of action, and none of the dissident Pacifica Campaign members could provide proof such a plan existed. Still, they strung rumors about the national meeting together with an undated memo from Micheal Palmer discussing the sale of WBAI and KPFA, which they claimed was contemporary but which one producer stated dates from 1966. The email, if indeed it is an email, contains multiple red flags that could cast doubt on its legitimacy — questions concerning how it landed in the inbox of a Pacifica Campaign supporter instead of its intended addressee, for instance² — but it was published in FAIR, CounterPunch, and other outlets to great effect. The “impending corporate takeover of Pacifica” scare was enough of a story to fool the listeners who worshiped Goodman and wanted to believe she was David rather than Goliath in the battle for Pacifica.
The rest of the Pacifica Campaign’s “issues” concerned local stations’ perceived lack of influence on the national level. A coalition of Pacifica listeners was granted legal standing to sue for the “public benefit,” alleging that the Pacifica National Board was acting unilaterally without consulting local station boards or those stations’ listeners. National management, the suit alleged, was centralizing power in preparation for the dreaded sell-off, appointing cooperative personnel to manage the local stations. A second lawsuit was filed by Dan Siegel (who later joined the same National Board he had sued as both Executive Director and General Counsel) on behalf of the local station boards. Goodman herself sued Pacifica for “defamation” after she was reprimanded by the National Board for allegedly using the network’s press credentials to sneak Ralph Nader onto the floor of the 2000 Republican National Convention, where she interviewed him. The defamation suit followed closely on the heels of a Pacifica financial statement showing Democracy Now had made nearly $300,000 for the network; given the Pacifica Campaign’s apparent philosophy of “the ends justify the means” — the campaign leader compared their struggle to that of communist revolutionaries like the Bolsheviks and Sandinistas — some have speculated that Goodman’s suit was an attempt to stake her claim to that cash.³
Because Goodman’s clique was so focused on seizing power, and willing to pursue what many witnesses deemed underhanded smear tactics in order to secure the network for Goodman, they had a natural advantage over their enemies, who were focused on their jobs: creating community-focused, responsible radio programming. Looking back at the conflict, Leid recalls her certainty that Pacifica would be sorely needed in the coming years, with the convergence of “strange political forces” heightening the sense of urgency she and her allies felt. But the voices pleading for civility and a focus on Pacifica’s mission were lost in the maelstrom, while the Goodman faction reportedly weaponized listeners by leveraging the trust they placed in their beloved radio personalities. According to one producer, the Pacifica Campaign had individual talking points drawn up to justify the dismissal of every enemy figure — dozens of managers and board members were smeared and targeted on- and off-air. KPFK news producer Marc Cooper had opposed Yasko’s hire as National Program Manager but was horrified by what he saw as the Pacifica Campaign’s demonization of Yasko as a slimy porn kingpin (for the crime of letting his web registration lapse and the site’s subsequent colonization by an unrelated smut peddler).⁴ Goodman added injury to that insult by filing a gender harassment suit, telling her followers that Yasko, a gay man, couldn’t handle “strong heterosexual feminists” like Goodman.
Cooper pointed out that the “issue” targeted by the Pacifica Campaign was constantly shifting, though he failed to take his critique far enough in an article he wrote on the subject — “first the firing of KPFA Manager Sawaya; then it was the Democrats taking over, or was it the corporatists and the commercializers; then, briefly, it was the FBI; soon after, Pacifica’s supposed plan to move out of California; promptly, it morphed into a ‘strike,’ against PNN: and then recently the dastardly ‘Christmas Coup,’ which lasted only until the issue shifted to the National Association of Homebuilders. As I write, the new flavor of the week is Democracy Now!”⁵ Such a bewildering stew of “causes” was reflective of nothing more than the methodical targeting of individual board members, in the opinion of many former staff, some of whom were victimized themselves (Ken Ford was a member of the NAHB, while others were tenuously linked to the other bêtes noires du jour). As the campaign knocked off Board members, it cemented its control over Pacifica — conquest by attrition.
Yasko was finally terrorized out of his position, his physical and mental health severely compromised by Goodman’s attacks. Almost 20 years later, he refuses to discuss the incident. Leid took his place as National Program Director in Washington DC, where she says her arrival was greeted with apprehension by the local staff. More than half a dozen engineers threatened to leave if Goodman even showed up in the building. Leid recalls that she and the national news team produced two news programs a day rivaling Democracy Now in both quality and listener support, leading Goodman to view her as the next big threat to her dominance, and the Pacifica Campaign’s focus shifted to taking out Leid.
Multiple observers confirmed Goodman’s campaign against Leid was heavily racialized despite Goodman being white and Leid black; Goodman had conspicuously surrounded herself with a cadre of black supporters willing to vouch for her “blackness,” an imperative given that Pacifica and WBAI were already staffed with competent and qualified black professionals who had no allegiance to Goodman. Despite roping in marquee names like Harry Belafonte, reportedly with the help of “community outreach” efforts sponsored by her wealthy donor friends, she was unable to block a successful fundraising drive by Leid, and shifted her focus to expanding her power base within WBAI. Her staff proliferated, colonizing the station offices and preventing others from doing their work, even running anti-Pacifica protest campaigns and producing anti-Pacifica content using station equipment while others were trying to produce their shows, according to producers who found it difficult to work in such an environment even as they tried to avoid taking sides in the mushrooming civil war. Some “Amy-bots,” as WBAI staff took to calling them, reportedly moved in, sleeping in the offices overnight, stealing equipment, selling and using drugs, and generally trashing the place. More than one producer claims they caught these new faces rifling through desk drawers and downloading information off hard drives, occupying offices that were not their own.
Because much of station management consisted of highly-educated black professionals, the allegations of racism that periodically surfaced had a surreal aspect. Steve Brown describes the rivalry as between Leid’s “Caribbean black” faction and White’s “uptown black” faction, while some considered White’s primary function to furnish Goodman with credibility in the black community. Particularly given Pacifica’s history of black radicalism, some of the black station staff saw White as an “uncle Tom” figure and resented Goodman throwing her weight around. The matter came to a head when Leid fired White. On the morning show, which he had co-hosted with Goodman, White was replaced by Clayton Riley, a black man who lost no time in criticizing Goodman’s power-grab on air. Listeners and provocateurs called in to defend her, flinging around racial slurs, and the two hosts were soon at each other’s throats. They were kicked off the air and Goodman was relegated to a side studio. According to DeRienzo, she perceived this move as a demotion and summoned her college followers into the station offices through a side door she left unlocked. Dozens of students swarmed in and were only at the last moment prevented from entering the broadcast studio when security guards barred the door.
Van Isler had never secured the station offices with a lock during her tenure as General Manager, violating FCC rules and allowing disreputable elements — one producer called them “street urchins” — to take advantage of WBAI’s hospitality-by-negligence. Rumors grew that Goodman and White, whose offices served as the hub for the protest activity, were planning a full-on takeover of the station, to be parlayed into a takeover of the entire network. Several producers overheard their minions discussing bringing guns to the station, literally plotting an armed coup, and White had openly discussed “taking over” station offices. Word of the impending takeover finally reached Executive Director Bessie Wash, who flew cross-country to help secure the station — to protect both the employees and the station license, which could have been confiscated by the FCC had Pacifica lost control of the premises.
This was the much-maligned “Christmas Coup” — the last-ditch attempt by Pacifica management to save WBAI from Goodman and her followers. Wash merely called in locksmiths to secure the building. Far from “locking out the staff,” they were able to avoid changing the few locks that existed on the premises because staff simply turned over their keys, “colluding” with the “coup plotters” because they did not want to see Goodman’s faction continue abusing the facilities and putting the staff in danger, according to several staff who “survived” the affair. The host broadcasting at the time reported it as if it was a top-secret military operation, and the myth was born, becoming the Pacifica Campaign’s latest cause célèbre. Had Goodman, White, and the rest of their minions succeeded in taking over the station, the FCC could have taken away WBAI’s license, which mandates a station maintain control of its airwaves — hence the need for locks. Far from engineering a coup, her defenders say, Wash was merely restoring order.
Goodman enlisted Village Voice gadfly Nat Hentoff to shore up support for what has been described as her own coup attempt, presenting Leid as a corporate shill and censor-happy fascist and Goodman herself as a champion of truth and justice, having “risked her life to break the story of the slaughtering of independence fighters in East Timor” — a brave act of journalism, to be sure, but even then a decade in the past. Members of the Pacifica Campaign were duly canonized, while National Board members were smeared as agents of Big Business. Ken Ford, the last of the Board to be driven out by the scorched-earth campaign, was introduced as “a manager with the National Association of Home Builders” sandwiched between a professional sports team owner and a commercial real estate broker in an effort to smear by association; in the following paragraph he was called a “high-level player in the corporate world.”⁶ Protesters assembled outside his office, accusing him of squandering the network’s funds and trying to sell off its stations and confusing his coworkers, one of whom called the sideshow “totally irrelevant to the business of the NAHB.”⁷ Protesters thronged parties thrown by affiliates of his employer, handing out leaflets and buttonholing attendees. They posted Ford’s contact information online, so extensively that it’s still there nearly two decades later. They even hounded him on a cruise he took with co-workers, pulling aside the ship in their own boat and holding up massive banners demanding his resignation.⁸ The protests were arranged via dedicated email lists and instructions on how to participate were blasted out to all Pacifica members. Because Goodman, White, and the other ringleaders were popular radio personalities, listeners trusted their version of events and readily turned out to demonstrate against their adversaries, according to Brown, whose own loyalties were influenced by his affinity for Goodman and White’s programs.⁹
Brown was on the front lines of the harassment, being himself responsible for one of the infamous flyers distributed to Leid’s neighbors in an effort to make her a pariah within her community. Though he had never met Leid and knew nothing about her, he believed what Goodman and her cronies said on air and volunteered to participate in the character assassination campaign. Even after meeting Leid at the behest of a long-time friend and station producer, and learning that she was not guilty of any of the crimes his flyer pinned on her (among them that she had bankrupted the City Sun, a newspaper she had actually founded and successfully run for many years and which still exists to this day), he continued to distribute the flyers because she had fired all the people he liked on the air. Brown views his flyer as a small piece of the targeted harassment campaign against Leid by Goodman’s minions, which included multiple break-ins, death threats, and the spreading of malicious rumors among the neighbors in her building, and has in retrospect attempted to justify his participation in the abuse with the rationale that others were doing it too. In the midst of this harassment, Goodman accused Leid of violently assaulting her, spinning the charge out of an incident where Leid restrained Goodman from having what onlookers called a violent temper tantrum. Leid had moved a producer into White’s (empty) office to ease tensions with an on-air host and Goodman, apparently perceiving an incursion on the fired White’s territory, began allegedly shrieking and taking photographs of the producer sitting in White’s office; Leid snatched Goodman’s camera, setting off Goodman’s histrionics (a regular occurrence, according to DeRienzo) and forcing Leid to restrain the flailing Goodman lest she injure herself or others. Goodman finally collapsed, sobbing, and left the building, refusing to return and alleging “hostile workplace violations.”
Wash was subject to the same terror campaign as Yasko, Ford, and Leid. She received bomb threats and death threats credible enough that the FBI advised her to split up her family for their protection. She finally had enough of the Pacifica Campaign’s harassment and announced her departure in November 2001. Leid and several other managers filed out with her in solidarity. Democracy Now was lost, and the combination of lawsuits and loss of revenue from one of the station’s only profitable programs had essentially sucked Pacifica dry, but Leid believes “a hardy band of people across the Pacifica spectrum” ultimately saved the network from Goodman’s clutches. Goodman’s intent, Leid says, was to force Pacifica into bankruptcy in order to swoop in at the last minute to “save” the network with the help of her wealthy donor network. She would have her own personal network of five immensely valuable radio stations, to do with as she (and her well-heeled liberal patrons) wished. Wash, for her part, told the Washington Post she had completed her “five year plan,” leaving the network a better place than she found it, and that even if she was technically fired, her departure was her idea.¹⁰
The vicious harassment campaigns against the National Board and its allies, involving stalking, public harassment, smear campaigns both online and interpersonal, burglaries and break-ins, slander and libel, all occurring systematically, simultaneously, and frequently to the point of physical illness, were the norm for over a year, according to staff on both sides of the conflict. Goodman painted herself as the victim of such harassment on air, riling up her listeners with stories that the evil network was trying to take away “her” program.¹¹ The so-called assault by Leid was only one of many incidents — there were charges of racism, sexism, and the aforementioned “defamation” lawsuit that was her revenge against the Board for criticizing her behavior at the RNC, according to DeRienzo. Listeners, of course, believed Goodman — they had never heard of Utrice Leid, or Steve Yasko, or any of the other villains in Goodman’s radio dramas.
The Spoils of Victory
The Pacifica lawsuits, including Goodman’s, were eventually rolled into a single suit, which was settled in December 2001. The settlement saw the National Board, already depopulated by the scorched-earth Pacifica Campaign, neutered and sidelined. It dissolved the centralization of administrative powers, atomizing the network’s finances such that Pacifica has never really recovered. One hand was legally prohibited from knowing what the other was doing. Pacifica’s newly-“democratized” structure mandated the election of Local Station Boards by listener-members who contributed $25 or volunteered for three hours in a given year. In 2002, the network had approximately one million regular listeners, of which maybe 10% made regular contributions or volunteered. Only 10% of those actually voted in listener elections, making Pacifica listeners perhaps the only “democracy” less enthusiastic about self-government than the United States. The station’s bylaws actually require such a quorum, meaning if enthusiasm slips further, the already dysfunctional institution risks institutional paralysis. Meanwhile, at the time of Goodman’s takeover, only about 300 votes — less than one percent of listeners — were required to place someone on a Local Station Board.¹² It was a simple matter to stack the new Boards with a dysfunctional crew of yes-men and -women and incompetents, according to DeRienzo. The new members included crack-smoking former DC mayor Marion Barry, while Michael Ratner — Goodman’s lawyer, who had just finished suing Pacifica as legal counsel for the Pacifica Campaign — became the legal counsel for the network itself.
According to a former producer, Goodman around this time threatened to quit Democracy Now and stop raising money unless Pacifica gave her private corporation total ownership of the show and its seven-year archive, free of charge. Having interposed herself between the station’s wealthiest donors and Pacifica, Goodman was responsible for up to 25% of the station’s revenue during fund drives. She struck at a vulnerable time, having (with the help of the Pacifica Campaign) purged at least 56 people for their failure to support her power grab and helped bleed the station dry with petty lawsuits, according to producers. With a green new management board and a depleted war chest weakening any opposition the network could have mounted against her, she set her terms before the new Board Chair, Leslie Cagan. The Board accepted a contract dictated almost exclusively by Ratner, who became sole arbiter; she got all her demands plus $500,000 per year to broadcast Democracy Now on Pacifica stations, plus the $750,000 per year which had formerly accrued to Pacifica through syndication and archival sales. She also gained the rights to solicit donations to her private corporation using Pacifica’s mailing list. Cagan had not consulted with a single one of the 21 other Board members and was being supported financially by Ratner at the time, with a $30,000 payoff “to defray living expenses” as icing on the cake. According to one estimate from a former board member, from 2001 to 2011, Goodman managed to hoover up $77.2 million that would otherwise have gone to Pacifica. She reported Democracy Now’s income in 2011 as $6.5 million, its assets as $13 million, and her own salary as just $148,493.¹³
Perhaps uncomfortable with her audience knowing the truth about the violent and underhanded manner in which she wrested control of Democracy Now from Pacifica’s grasp, Goodman has been reticent in discussing the network’s part in her stratospheric rise.¹⁴ Her Wikipedia entry — now that such bathroom-wall-level scribblings are considered gospel truth — barely mentions Pacifica, and the origins of Democracy Now as a collaborative product are entirely obfuscated. Samori Marksman’s name has been erased from his creation, as has the fact that Goodman was originally meant to be one of five program hosts. The work of Goodman’s supporters in spinning the events of 1999–2002 is all over the internet, papering over what one producer has called a “one-sided ass-kicking” with the Goodman-sanctioned version of events. Those who may consider this current narrative one-sided are reminded that at no time during the Pacifica Campaign’s reign of terror — one veteran producer recalled a participant actually saying “we’re the new Robespierre court” — did they give the other side a fair hearing, instead opting to shoot first and ask questions later.
While Goodman was finalizing what many consider her coup d’état at WBAI, other Pacifica stations were subjected to the same line of personal, professional and legal harassment. Allegedly terrorized on a personal and professional level by the Pacifica Campaign, Pacifica trustees left by the dozen; those who wouldn’t leave were fired, and those who couldn’t be fired were sued. The settlement that “democratized” Pacifica placed the network under an interim Board, most of whom had no experience in radio or even business and reportedly gave away contracts to friends and cronies to predictably chaotic results. This dysfunctional, unelected Board persisted long past the legally mandated period.¹⁵ For over two years, these amateurs ran Pacifica into the ground, which some believe was the intended outcome of the Pacifica Campaign’s legal and personal harassment initiatives, which stripped the network of experience and capital. In May 2003, identity politics became official station policy: a resolution dictating that “priority of programming would be given to groups historically and currently under immediate threat of losing life, liberty and limb, particularly black women” was unanimously passed by the unelected Board, which also voted in a massive increase in Spanish-language programming. While giving a “voice to the voiceless” has always been Pacifica’s stock in trade, the network’s staff were already mostly black even before the settlement, and the resolution carried a whiff of virtue-signaling — an effort to burnish their revolutionary cred with listeners who might have been turned off by the civil war. Just a few weeks after a fund drive, there was a mass purging of KPFK’s best and longest-running programs and directors. Long-time listeners were progressively alienated, according to former Board member Nalini Lasiewicz. “Pacifica began to pride itself on who it did not want listening,” said one producer.
With the National Board firmly in the hands of Goodman’s allies, and Democracy Now safely in Goodman’s possession, the network’s new rulers were free to pursue their pet projects, even if they conflicted with the aims of the stations. With no central administrative control, local boards set their own agendas. Those who had not been purged saw WBAI becoming increasingly politicized, with White rehired along with others Leid had fired. One long-time producer watched in disbelief as the Board rejected a highly-qualified job applicant because “she wasn’t Left enough,” instead picking someone with no experience in radio whose politics were closer to their own. While Pacifica is a nonprofit with an obvious political bent, even nonprofits need to maintain a certain level of funding; the dissenting producer explained that management is normally selected based on professional experience and connections, with an eye toward what they can do for the organization. Picking people based on their revolutionary ideals might have looked good, especially to listeners convinced the old board had to go because it was lousy with bourgeois sellouts, but it sealed Pacifica’s fate financially.
In 2004, White had long-running health and politics show host Gary Null removed from WBAI, even though as much as half the station’s audience was primarily Null’s and he was responsible for the lion’s share of Pacifica’s fundraising. White not only cut Null’s broadcast in the middle of an exposé on the Pacifica coup — he took Null’s broadcasting slot and gave it to his personal physician without informing either Null or his audience. Null, who had two days earlier debated White, Cagan and van Isler for nearly an hour on air, was joined by almost 2,000 of his listeners in protest.¹⁶ The station lost 44,000 listeners — 54% of its audience — and hasn’t made a fundraising goal since. Null began broadcasting on WNYE, only agreeing to return to WBAI when he was told that new management was running the station. Management turnovers are a regular occurrence, according to DeRienzo, because there is no real authority: control of WBAI and the other Pacifica stations is “easy to take over but hard to hold onto.”
In 2005, WBAI signed a prohibitively-expensive 15-year lease renewal on its 50 kW Empire State Building transmitter. The 2005 Board has no memory of seeing or reviewing the lease; DeRienzo posits that even then-Interim Executive Director Ambrose Lane did not read the lease, merely signing it and concealing its existence from the rest of the Board. Lane, a WPFW broadcaster, replaced Dan Coughlin, a Goodman ally, who quit two weeks before the signing. After serving what some believe was his purpose of shepherding through the unaffordable transmitter lease, Lane was replaced by Dan Siegel, who had once sued the network on Goodman’s behalf.¹⁷ When the one-sided Democracy Now contract came up for renewal in 2006, it was once again placed before an inexperienced Board, who were no match for Goodman’s legal sharks. Her lawyers presented the contract as a fait-accompli, convincing the Board to once again sign away their best interests and Pacifica’s only cash cow to the already-wealthy Goodman and her private corporation.
Siegel was elected interim Executive Director over the objections of several Board members, railroaded through by his allies Margy Wilkinson and Lydia Brazon (plus eight others), according to Brown, who has extensively documented what he considers a pattern of sabotage by Siegel. The so-called Save KPFA faction seized power by canceling regularly scheduled elections with an eye toward profiting from Pacifica’s recurring misfortunes — some of which, Brown says, they were responsible for.¹⁸ Siegel and Wilkinson formed a shadow corporation that Siegel admitted was designed to acquire the licenses and assets of Pacifica stations should the network go bankrupt — a bankruptcy that Siegel and Wilkinson were well-placed to engineer in their positions as legal counsel and national Board member. Because they stood to gain from Pacifica’s demise, which could place licenses worth over $100 million in their hands, they were legally obligated to inform the Board of their mammoth conflict of interest — with Siegel doubly obligated due to his additional position as Pacifica’s attorney. But they never informed the Board, and Siegel was later investigated by the California bar for his failure to do so.
Siegel had allegedly been milking Pacifica as legal counsel for years, submitting bills that were not itemized and making decisions despite the conflicts of interest inherent in serving simultaneously as counsel and Executive Director. His instigating role in one of the lawsuits that decentralized control of Pacifica is merely the first conflict of interest in what Brown and others believe to be an extensive career of such conflicts. What some consider Siegel’s thuggish behavior was not limited to the courtroom — in 2007, he allegedly broke into a Pacifica election supervisor’s home, drunk, and harassed his wife.¹⁹ According to Brown, he also sabotaged Pacifica’s defense against a lawsuit brought by a former employee, forcing the network to pay $400,000 to settle a racial discrimination suit that the network should have won. According to Brown and others, Siegel committed this violation of professional ethics as revenge on Pacifica’s Board for forcing him to resign as counsel for reasons of incompetence.²⁰ Other Board members have meticulously documented Siegel’s misdeeds, which appear to be numerous and always leave Pacifica somewhat poorer. Their conclusion, given his ownership of a corporation designed to receive Pacifica’s licenses in the event of bankruptcy, is that Siegel sought to engineer such a bankruptcy, just as Leid and DeRienzo believe Goodman did.
Indeed, some of Pacifica’s behavior is inexplicable unless viewed from the perspective of intentional self-sabotage. Null threatened to quit WBAI again in July 2013, partially out of frustration with how the station managed to alienate listeners, donors and producers all at one go with its mishandling of pledge premiums. He had asked the artist Peter Max, a personal friend, to donate some original and signed prints for a star-studded auction event to benefit Pacifica. Station managers were informed of the plan, and Max contacted celebrity friends who lived in the vicinity of Pacifica stations to encourage them to attend the auctions. Three days before the planned events, Pacifica staff had yet to even speak with Max by phone, let alone confirm any of the logistical details, and the artist had no choice but to cancel his participation. So Pacifica lost the prints, which Max donated to other groups, depriving the network of potential millions of dollars in lost pledge revenue. During another pledge drive, Null offered a two-week health retreat as a premium that earned the station $60,000 in pledge revenue. The station promised to reimburse him for thousands of dollars of expenses afterward but failed to do so until Null threatened to stop fundraising for Pacifica entirely. He is far from the only show host to lose patience over the network’s mishandling of premiums. If the FCC were ever to enforce its own statutes mandating premiums be delivered within 30 days of a pledge, Pacifica could be on the hook for fines running upwards of $130 million.
In 2017, the Empire State Realty Trust began demanding $1.8 million in back rent plus legal fees for WBAI’s 50kW Empire State Building antenna. With monthly rent running over $50,000 — four times the market rate — and increasing at a rate of 9% per year, the cash-strapped station had few options. When an October 2016 judgment found for the Empire State Realty Trust, throwing out an alleged “verbal agreement” reached with the landlord in 2014 in a closed Board session from which Pacifica’s New York real estate attorney was deliberately excluded,²¹ the court opened the door to the landlord seizing Pacifica assets outside New York to pay the debt. With its ultra-valuable FCC licenses now in jeopardy — the same prizes coveted by the competing factions of the network since time immemorial — Pacifica began seriously considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, negotiations that dragged on as the landlord filed in California to seize the property of KPFA and KPFK.²² As the vultures circled, the Board secured a $2 million loan assembled by Pacifica members in southern California to pay off the ESRT.²³ By April 2018, Pacifica was able to work out a settlement that relieved the network of its financial responsibilities, liberated WBAI from its ruinously expensive transmitter lease, and allowed the station to take advantage of a standing offer to move to 4 Times Square.²⁴ Warring factions had laid down their swords and united to save Pacifica, if only so they could return to battling for control of its assets.
Some defenders of the status quo protest that Pacifica was mismanaged prior to the 2001 “coup” — even though it had $3 million in the bank, the highest listener numbers in the network’s history, and the most qualified, experienced, and diverse staff reliably producing quality programming. They dismiss those cash reserves, reasoning that they don’t matter because the stations never got to use them, but omitting the fact that the money was frittered away defending Pacifica from lawsuits. They claim Pacifica is better off having purged the formidable progressive General Managers, Program Directors, and Board members whose years of experience in non-commercial radio was an invaluable asset to the network — that their replacement by unqualified rabble-rousers wearing their identity politics on their sleeves is somehow incidental to the network’s decline. Pacifica apologists justify their actions with the argument that there was no real democracy before the restructuring, ignoring how the old bylaws mirrored those of almost every successful non-commercial radio station in the country, prioritizing experience and fundraising ability over radical politics and the willingness to get one’s hands dirty. They ignore the toxic culture of petty internecine squabbles that plays out daily on internet message boards and mailing lists, pretending that the cross-factional cooperation that temporarily saved Pacifica from its creditors was not unusual at all — that it represented the network’s new direction, a new Golden Age that’s always just over the next hill. But in the words of one veteran programmer, “all that anyone at Pacifica has ever done for the last 20 years is double down on stupid.” And the network would not be so lucky the next time.
The Future(?) of Pacifica
Pacifica’s flagship station KPFA has veered far from the progressive path in recent years, canceling Bonnie Faulkner’s beloved program Guns & Butter because of a pair of angry letters written in response to her airing of a provocative presentation by military historian Alan Sabrosky. While the vast majority of KPFA’s audience consists of level-headed adults capable of handling viewpoints different from their own with maturity, these two letter-writers’ opinions apparently overshadowed the history of supporting free speech for which Pacifica is revered. The decision was augured nearly two years before, when KPFA Manager Quincy Jones began using the specter of “fake news” as a lever to pry more money out of listeners during fundraising drives.²⁵ Listener Daniel Borgstrom called this fearmongering out for what it was and many other listeners complained, yet the spot was used for several months, feeding on the McCarthyite climate that has settled over American public discourse in the wake of the 2016 election. How ironic that Pacifica was once the only station brave enough to stand up to Senator McCarthy during the original Red Scare.
Some might say that the corporate raid model, used to such devastating effectiveness by predatory investors in the 1980s, is being used as a model by the Goodman/Siegel crew in their alleged plot to seize Pacifica. By taking control of first the local and then the national Boards, creating an atmosphere of chaos both interpersonal and financial in order to deplete the network’s cash reserves, and swooping in at the last minute via a conveniently-incorporated private company to snatch Pacifica up from bankruptcy, the cabal could be merely following the script that made countless private equity firms rich. We do not expect such behavior from the “progressive” left, and the “real” Pacifica has been victimized repeatedly for assuming its enemies are playing by the same honorable rules. But left-gatekeepers like the heavily foundation-funded Amy Goodman, who has never apologized for her support of US regime change operations in Libya and Syria, where she acted as on-air cheerleader for the terrorist White Helmets, are no more progressive than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Such “limousine liberals” are corporate wolves in progressive sheep’s clothing. Whether or not they are being helped by Deep State interests is immaterial at this point, when the damage has been done, but it’s worth noting that the constant internecine struggles at Pacifica come straight from the COINTELPRO playbook.
Pacifica’s decline is not the fault of Amy Goodman — the network has been rife with dysfunction for as long as anyone I spoke to worked there. Indeed, Goodman, apparently taking pity on the network after nearly two decades of holding the massive Democracy Now debt over its head, reportedly forgave the debt in early 2019²⁶ after repeatedly refusing to do so in the past.²⁷ But the “democratization” of Pacifica’s board by her allies played a large part in its downfall, according to those who witnessed it. Andrew Phillips, who preceded Marksman as Program Director at WBAI and later worked as Interim General Manager at KPFA, explained that democratization “sabotaged” Pacifica: “one would think it would have worked, but it created too much democracy, in a way. Everyone was pulling in different directions.” By enshrining institutional gridlock in Pacifica’s bylaws, the hyper-democratic restructuring — former KPFA General Manager Nicole Sawaya called it “so flat that it is concave”²⁸ — impaired the network’s ability to react and adapt to a changing media climate. Out of touch with the evolving needs of its audience, and no longer the sole progressive voice in the media wilderness, Pacifica has been left behind. Phillips thinks Pacifica could perhaps be saved — if unified, competent management were able to eschew democracy and “nationalize” the network, taking the best programming from each station and putting it “all under one umbrella” anchored by a solid morning show. Until then, WBAI is “an albatross around the neck of the rest of the network,” while the individual stations with their shrinking audiences are “vanity projects” with too few standouts to thrive on their own. Pacifica has value as a stepping stone for people like Goodman, whom Phillips introduced to WBAI in 1984 after she audited his class at Hunter College, but Democracy Now’s budget now reportedly exceeds Pacifica’s.
Because of the one-sided contract between Goodman and Pacifica, the impoverished network now owed Goodman several million dollars for broadcasting Democracy Now, “her” show. In December 2017, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, whose CEO is Goodman crony Dan Coughlin, offered to “save” WBAI by relieving Pacifica of financial responsibility for the station through a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA). Such a move would effectively place the station fully within Goodman’s control,²⁹ and the plot was not a new one. As far back as July 2012, Coughlin allegedly submitted a secret bid for a lease management agreement for WBAI’s Empire State Building signal that would have completely absorbed the beleaguered station into MNN.³⁰ Mimi Rosenberg, another long-time Goodman ally from the Pacifica Campaign days, has vocally backed the idea that MNN should take over WBAI, and the Coalition to Save WBAI — an activist faction populated by many of the same faces as the old Pacifica Campaign — drew up a petition in favor of the MNN PSOA, calling the proposed partnership “an exciting solution.”³¹ The proposition was deferred when WBAI received its stay of execution in 2018, but that reprieve was only temporary.
Indeed, the entire network may have climbed out of the frying pan, but it remains engulfed in fire. Several Pacifica board members who opposed the financing deal that saved the network from its debts in 2018 floated a plan to take over the New York station, warning the others that “WBAI is out of control” and would surely bring down the entire network unless its entire staff was replaced.³² Unable to garner sufficient support for a takeover under existing management, Siegel’s Save KPFA faction — now rebranded as the Pacifica Restructuring Project, sans Siegel— attempted to overhaul network bylaws to legitimize the planned coup, but failed. Dissenting board members warned WBAI staff what they suspected was about to go down, but the plot went forward anyway under their noses, cloak-and-dagger style. In October 2019, a handful of board members operating under the direction of Pacifica’s interim Executive Director John Vernile (who’d held his post for all of three months) changed the locks at WBAI’s offices, confiscated their equipment, fired everyone at the station save two, and told the landlady to re-rent the space because they weren’t coming back, all without informing half the board what they were up to. The lockout took place in the middle of a vital WBAI fund drive — as usual, the station was in the red — and programming was replaced with reruns of shows from other Pacifica stations. The sheer cost of the coup — severance pay for ten fired employees, the cancellation of the fund drive, even plane tickets and hotel costs for the board members who comprised the impromptu death squad — would have been prohibitive for cash-strapped Pacifica, unless there was big money at the end of the rainbow — leading many to speculate that the end goal of the takeover was, once again, the sale of WBAI’s license.³³ Certainly the idea of “saving” WBAI was flimsy cover. “If they wanted to save the station, they wouldn’t have gone in there and told the landlady that the station was closed and was not going to open again,” Gary Null, still WBAI’s biggest audience draw, pointed out.
There are other explanations for why the Pacifica plotters went after WBAI when they did. Long-time producer Mimi Rosenberg had recorded a promo that included the phrase “We have to stop Trump” — conflating her personal politics with the station’s, an act that could theoretically endanger its 501(c)3 nonprofit status. Station Manager Berthold Reimers suspended Rosenberg for a week, but refused to force her to pre-tape her shows in the future as Vernile demanded. His loyalty to Rosenberg — who’d been broadcasting for decades — over a corporate exec who’d been running Pacifica for two months reportedly triggered a warning from management that his leadership had imperiled WBAI’s license.³⁴ Was Vernile merely using Rosenberg’s on-air Trump Derangement Syndrome as an excuse? Rosenberg certainly thought so, and said as much on air.³⁵ WBAI listener-delegate and temporary chair of the Pacifica board Alex Steinberg suggested the coup was “a ‘cleansing’ operation to remove any dissident voices to the left of the Democratic Party establishment from having any say on the politics and culture of this country,” hinting that there was “big money” behind Vernile³⁶ (and KPFA Station Manager Quinn McCoy, suspected by some of having engineered the hire of Vernile specifically to take out WBAI³⁷).
Regardless of why it happened when it did — almost exactly 20 years after a similar lockout-coup at KPFA — the takeover was total, including even WBAI’s bank accounts, indicating the presence of a traitor in the station’s ranks who gave up the station’s passwords, likely in return for being spared the axe. More importantly, the coup was flagrantly illegal, and a New York judge demanded a reversal of the entire mess. That decision took time to enforce, however, and after five weeks offline, the damage was done. The station’s audience — what little remained of it — was gone. The coup had technically failed; Vernile was put on paid leave, while the vice-chair and secretary of the Pacifica board, both of whom had backed the takeover, were removed.³⁸ But over a month offline had succeeded in killing the station, or at least mortally wounding it: Null gives WBAI six months to live.
This is how a one-of-a-kind network with a 60-year history in some of the most progressive cities in the US and prime dial space is millions of dollars in the hole, on the brink of bankruptcy, its staff in perpetual turmoil, unaware who even owns the loan that could be called in at any moment to snuff out the network.³⁹ Thwarted once from seizing hold of all of Pacifica, Amy Goodman and the faction that surrounds her never gave up — whatever criticism former colleagues may have of her, none can say she is not shrewd, driven, and fiercely dedicated to her goals. Goodman now has the legitimacy her former colleagues say she has always craved since she was reportedly fired from NPR — indeed, she has long since outgrown Pacifica, emerged from its rapidly-desiccating husk like a COINTELPRO butterfly to become a leading figure in the who’s-who of Corporate Progressivism™. History is written by the victors, and the story of Pacifica has been reported almost exclusively by voices loyal to Goodman and the Pacifica Campaign; all we are trying to do is bring balance to the narrative by telling the stories of those who were so effectively vilified and chased out of the network — to bring a voice to the voiceless, as Pacifica itself might have put it in better days. This is the story of the downfall of a once-formidable broadcast network — a decline that began long before Goodman arrived on the scene and which will continue until the network is either put out of its misery or, by some miracle, saved.
This report was compiled primarily from interviews with current and former Pacifica staff. They are either named in the text or wished to remain anonymous out of concern about retaliation. Requests for comment sent to Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, and Bernard White were ignored. Dan Coughlin agreed to be interviewed, but was not present for most of the events depicted in this report; he denies any “secret contract” or “secret lease renewal” or “secret bid” and insists Goodman was lovely to work with. To anyone who might complain that I “only” attack the Left, I will say that it is because of the sheer incompetence of what passes for the “Left” in the 21st century that the country is where it is today. This appalling culture of appeasement, navel-gazing, and infighting has given us a “Left” that cheers on the CIA and FBI, embraces endless war, and shuts down any discussion of controversial subjects with an authoritarian response that would make any right-wing fascist proud. We expect this from the Right — but the “Left” of 2019 has abandoned the working class to serve the same interests it was convinced were going to steal Pacifica. Congratulations, you’ve become the enemy.Add a comment
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