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November 14, 2018  

Global Warming: We’re Screwed

Global Warming: We’re Screwed

by Gary Null, PhD. and Richard Gale, edited by Helen Buyniski

There is no longer any question that climate change and global warming are bearing down upon us more aggressively and rapidly than previously believed. It is wishful thinking to cling to fantasies that life will return to normal. Reports on approaching climate change tipping points become direr. It is no longer a question whether climate change is occurring. Instead, we should prepare ourselves for what can be done in our own lives and communities and learn to adapt to the new abnormal that has never been experienced since homo sapiens appeared during the Middle Paleolithic period 200,000 years ago. Since 1972, we have been warned about the impasse we are now reaching. Forty-six years ago, the Club of Rome commissioned a consortium of scientists, legislators, corporate leaders and economists to create the now famous Limits of Growth report. That report predicted a systemic collapse of human civilization due to obscene economic growth and the depletion of essential natural resources. But leaders throughout the developed world flatly denied its conclusions.

It should therefore be evident that believing our world’s leaders will act in unison to lessen climate change’s forward advance is both idealistic and impractical. While there is a 97 percent consensus among scientists globally that planetary warming is human-generated, only 15 percent of Americans, according to a Yale and George Mason University survey, know and understand this fact. The Trump administration and the remainder of the American population continue to embrace the fallacy that the scientific community is divided on the matter. We now have the most anti-rational government in US history, one which categorically refuses to grasp the larger picture and instead chooses to assail the environment to leverage short term gains and profits. Clearly the message is not being communicated, and this leaves millions of citizens in harm’s way as climate change worsens.

We can identify several different attitudes about humanity’s ability to tackle the accelerating challenges of climate change and global warming. The question I pose is whether it is possible or reasonable to hold two seemingly diametrically opposed positions simultaneously. I believe it is.

One view holds that technology will save us – full stop. Such a utopian outlook is ultimately paralyzing because of the massive sums of money required to implement the new world-saving technologies. Some regions can benefit, of course – ultra-wealthy Gulf states like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, can afford to build the fantastically expensive desalination plants that are required to turn desert expanses into arable land. But at $100 million apiece, these plants are firmly out of reach of 99 percent of the planet’s population. Other nations must therefore set their sights dramatically lower, and here the gap between what is needed and what technology is capable of becomes problematic. Some environmental groups insist we merely need more wind and solar energy, in spite of the high costs of building wind farms, their comparatively paltry energy output, and their numerous downsides – bird deaths, unlivable noise. Hydroelectric dams are a much more economically-sound model for alternative energy, but the existence of a nearby river is obviously a prerequisite. Some groups have even embraced nuclear power, claiming it is non-polluting. They ignore, forget, or disingenuously avoid discussing how enriching uranium creates tons of pollution, how there is no safe disposal process for the spent fuel rods that will remain radioactive for eons, how nuclear power plants are prone to accidents and meltdowns – particularly as catastrophic climate events become more frequent, as Fukushima continues to remind us. For the techno-utopian set, there will always be some brilliant inventor who will sweep in at the critical hour and save us from ourselves. The solutions are always just beyond our fingertips, and we are supposed to merely prepare for the arrival of our techno-saviors by thinking positively about the future. The leaders of this school of thought are the masters of positive platitudes, and nothing – not facts, science, or cold hard reality – will intrude upon their fantasy.

David Korten, writing for Yes! Magazine, asks us to believe that it is within modern civilization’s power to wake up and make the critical changes necessary to either lessen the impact of climate change or reverse its course. Korten is not alone, and I suspect most climate scientists and environmentalists agree with him. Thousands of scientists convene at climate conferences around the world to discuss their conviction that our political leaders and institutions will arrive at a moment of clarity just in time to launch a global Marshall Plan to save our planet and species. After the release of the 2018 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report arguing that limiting global warming to 1.5 degree C is achievable if drastic action is taken within a dozen years, they imagine there is still plenty of time to act together and thwart the worst consequences. This attitude is especially prevalent in the US, a nation whose unrealistic optimism stems from its historical capacity to be industrious, innovative and brilliant in finding solutions.

Although this overly idealist attitude is not by any means utopian, it lacks a deeper understanding of the psychology of power, wealth, domination, and in particular economics. The environmental crisis is intimately entwined with the economic crisis. “If hope is something expressed through illusion,” notes social activist Chris Hedges, “it is not hope; it is fantasy.” The present strategy rests on the idea that wise people from interdisciplinary fields will collectively unite and work together to slow down, and where possible, reverse deforestation and the acidification of the oceans. We can dramatically reduce industrial agricultural practices and wean ourselves away from our meat-centric food habits. And the technology is already available to rapidly convert to renewable energy sources. Within a reasonable time period–so it is believed–coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas can be phased out and replaced with cleaner geothermal, solar, wind and wave technologies.

This is a noble view. Its optimism offsets the otherwise growing sense of apathy, indifference and fear that climate change instills in billions of people who are experiencing environmental catastrophes at this moment. I fully support those who embrace this optimism such as David Korten, Michael Mann, Bill McKibben, and others. I want to believe that what they believe will come to pass. But there is a serious problem that nobody I am aware of in the popular climate movement or among scientifically-literate legislators have understood. That is, every movement requires an intelligentsia with the capacity to serve as policy makers and opinion leaders to answer the most crucial questions. There cannot be an orchestra without a conductor. It is not the case, as Marx would have us believe, that the masses of average people are capable of agitating and launching a revolution as gargantuan as a much-needed Marshall Plan for the climate. Such a grand strategy to tackle the demands of climate change has been discussed for a decade, and yet the rush to extract and consume more fossil fuels has only increased. Consistently, American presidents including Bush, Obama and now Trump prefer to follow the road to Hades by favoring the illusions of perpetual growth over human survival. In order to mobilize the masses, scientifically-committed and powerful inspirers must step forward to take up multilateral leadership positions. As long as the powers that be value short-term gain over long-term survival, there can be no meaningful change on a societal level.

On the other hand, there is another growing faction of people whose awareness has expanded beyond the desire for self-gratification and acquisition of power and wealth. Their attitude is pragmatic yet cautiously optimistic. They are not policy makers and their efforts never make headline news. This is the new civilized, literate segment of humanity who are going off the grid and moving to sustainable regions. Their conscience is aligned with the changing times and planetary needs. They realize that the over-use of land to feed Americans’ hunger for a meat-based diet is contributing dramatically to climate change, and they understand that going vegan cuts their carbon footprint in half. Princeton University calculated that the animal-based American diet accounts for 85% of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and wastes about 90% of arable land that could otherwise feed an increasing population more efficiently and nutritionally with plant-based foods. Unfortunately, multiple industries and the entire banking sector benefit from economic growth within the livestock industry. The new climate literati’s efforts will not affect the time limits before climate tipping points chaotically cascade. For that to commence, a worldwide effort is necessary and there is a very slim chance that will ever happen.

The third attitude is best exemplified by scientists willing to speak out about worst case scenarios such as Paul Beckwith, Kevin Hester, Guy McPherson, Natalia Shakhova, and the anonymous climate scientists blogging under the pseudonym Sam Carana at Arctic News. These are the messengers of despair with only flickers of hope. There are already too many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to make any discernable corrections. Humanity has waited far too long and it is past the time when nations are capable of mustering the necessary resources and collective will to do anything truly constructive. However, scientists such as McPherson are not advocating complete apathy nor suggesting that we retreat into a stupor of do-nothingness. Nor is this small contingent of Cassandras saying we will experience an apocalyptic end to the world. Rather, they encourage us to understand that half the climate tipping points have already tipped, and it is prudent to prepare now for the new world we are entering. Their message was much too harsh when it was first introduced for most of the population to swallow, and as a result they mostly disappeared off the radar, their positions not renewed, their books unpublished. They tell us truths we are unprepared to act on: that we have to stop blindly spending, that growth for growth’s sake is unsustainable and ultimately self-destructive. How is a society to digest such messages when its entire economy is based on the accumulation of stuff? But these are the pragmatists, and their message is very simple: educate yourselves, change your habits, network with like-minded people and communities, and realize not everyone will have a place in the lifeboat.

Finally, there is the attitude of the climate change deniers who will discover the lifeboats have been filled when their personal Katrina moment arrives. Professional climate change deniers, almost none of whom are climatologists or experts in anything related to atmospheric sciences or the environment, have generated about 200 arguments on why we should not be worried about global warming. Almost none of these opinionated views are based upon peer-reviewed scientific publications, and the few that are contradict themselves and are amateurishly thought out. One of the stupidest relies on a theory called Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity to debunk a relationship between CO2 release and temperature increases on the earth’s surface. Grammar school physics can deconstruct the theory because the theory completely ignores that when water gets warmer, it evaporates, thus increasing the greenhouse effect! And the enormous illiteracy among large segments of the American population is indulged by its media echo chamber, the chorus of Fox, Infowars, Breitbart, the Trump-o-sphere, and the evangelical Christian networks telling them there’s nothing to all this climate nonsense – just keep performing the rituals and parroting the dogma and all those floods, fires, storms, and droughts will stay confined to the television where they belong. No one wants to believe their home will be burned, flooded, desiccated, or otherwise destroyed – and these types simply choose not to. They ignore the weekly reports of new climate disasters hundreds or even dozens of miles away, reasoning that if it’s not happening to them, it’s not their problem. Among these are found the evangelical Christians who believe God will save them at the last moment, whether via an emergency Rapturing or a last-minute stilling of the roiling tides of an angry planet. They stand side by side with the Schadenfreude addicts, so blinded by the joy they feel in seeing others’ misfortune that they cannot see that misfortune is also their own. America is a nation of individualists who deep down might find hard to stomach the notion that with regard to the environment, the human race stands or falls together. But we must get over our aversion to collective thinking quickly unless we wish to sacrifice ourselves for a principle we don’t fully understand.
Aside from Americans being poorly educated about climate change, the entire dominant edifice of corporations, government and the media is determined to keep everyone pacified and in denial. And this is largely due to an embedded elite that rule over the institutions responsible for alerting citizens and preparing the nation for an uncertain future. The entire mainstream media has acted criminally by keeping Americans ignorant about climate change and the science supporting human’s responsibility for global warming’s escalation. Media Matters reported that during the 2018 heat waves, three major networks–ABC, CBS and NBC–only made reference to climate change in one of 127 segments. For FOX, hurricanes devastating the Florida panhandle and the Carolinas or California’s 1.6 million acres ravaged by wildfires in 2018 are nothing more than acts of God. The reason for our media’s denial is obvious. It is the same leaders of industry and government who optimists are placing their faith in who are silencing the media from speaking out about climate truths.
To tackle climate change, an economic overhaul of the entire financial establishment is critical. For corporations to cooperate and retool for the new future, they will need to receive subsidies from taxpayers through the government. They will also likely need to defer and reduce their profit shares. Yet the neoliberal capitalist system is never altruistic. It is intrinsically mercenary. Investors hold stock or equity because these consistently assure high profitable returns. Shareholder equity is the number one financial fiduciary responsibility to those who invest in corporate interests.

And here is the dilemma of adhering to irrationally idealistic attitudes. The majority of private industries that fuel economic growth depend upon and are powered by the very same fossil fuel addiction that drives climate change. We are therefore forced to demand that all of the largest polluters change their entire paradigm of business-as-usual and invest in long-term sustainability immediately, because none of them can transition their financial agendas overnight. Fossil fuels have been the engine driving manufacturing and the quality of life that is taken for granted in developed nations. To change the paradigm in order to save the planet, and our species, means separating ourselves from this pernicious neoliberal ethos. Survival must be prioritized above the growth and profit that feed the insatiable oligarchy. Not just for the few, but across all industries. Populations in the developed world will need to lower their purchasing to that of a third world banana republic in order to minimize their carbon footprints. More taxes will be required to reforest, not just for their own nations but for poorer regions such as Brazil’s Amazon, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea that are being leveled and cannibalized by the US and other first world countries. And the ongoing development of gated communities for the elite, with private golf courses, sucking up enormous amounts of water from aquifers must cease. The idea that an oligarchy can live in a private desert oasis is no longer feasible.

The facts are crystal clear. The past several years have taught us that perpetual drought and more frequent wildfires in the Pacific coastal and southwestern states are here to stay. Southern states have been battered by category 4 and higher hurricanes. All of the science points to more extreme weather events and conditions as the planet’s surface warms. It is very likely that another Category 5 superstorm during the next year or two will result in the largest human migration in modern American history. Following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Michael, homeowners are realizing their insurance is not covering what they believed they were paying for. A year after Harvey, thousands of Texas residents still do not have their lives back in order. And both the federal and state governments need to be honest about where Americans should and should not live. The hard truth is that certain regions of the country simply cannot be protected from climate-related environmental disasters. Massive funding will be necessary either for population relocation or extensive climate-proofing infrastructure, or both.

Unfortunately, none of this happening. My greatest disappointment has been observing the US regress into the most self-absorbed, narcissistic and selfish citizenry in its history. There are always exceptions, but they seem to be progressively becoming a minority. Poll after poll indicates that concerns about climate change pale in comparison to the desires for economic growth and national security from imaginary terrorists. After almost fifty years of counseling people about their health conditions, even after heart attacks and strokes, and providing the best advice based upon hard scientific evidence, I watch patients continue to resist making fundamental changes even when their lives depend upon it. So even as sea levels rise and superstorms worsen, people will continue to rebuild along coastal regions while believing they are entitled to a pleasant climate and a normal life. Deep down, they understand the laws of cause and effect – that there are consequences to unchecked growth, that one cannot get something for nothing. But most people secretly believe they are the exception to the rule.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are approximately 61 million Americans in the professional class, which includes engineers, higher management, architects, physicians, computer and IT specialists, psychologists, diverse scientists and researchers, academics, clergy, etc. And according to some wealth analysts, this includes close to 11 million millionaires as of 2017. Over 90% of millionaires are married with families. Taking into account family size, this means there is a social class of approximately 181 million people, including 33 million living with ridiculous wealth. This latter group considers themselves among the privileged elite. To understand the economic obstacles thwarting any viable climate change initiative, we can ask a simple question. Who amongst this privileged elite will agree to downsize their lifestyle to help reverse human greenhouse emissions and preserve the environment? The US has never before been so polarized into two economic classes competing with each other. The professional careerists who are highly educated, work hard and carry enormous debt exist in sharp contrast to the remainder of the nation that struggles to make ends meet, living from paycheck to paycheck.

Having participated in or organized many dozens of demonstrations over the years, I have noticed that it is the average working people who go into the streets and protest. Rarely do you see many from the professional class and certainly none from the rank and file of the wealthy elite. Yet with the future set for more artificial intelligence technologies, higher education work visas, automation and off-shoring, once economically secure families are now starting to sink into the ranks of the new poor. Both classes are fully capable of agreeing that the environment is a defining problem, if not the defining problem of our time, but there is at most a nominal overlap between those capable of making a change and those in whom making a change will have an impact on their surroundings.

This realization came home to me recently after a conversation with a prominent Wall Street financial planner. For over three decades, he has counseled hundreds of clients in the multi-million dollar class. He said that in recent years he has witnessed something he has never encountered before. Rather than seeking investment advice, his clients are asking for assistance to sell off assets: antiques, designer clothing and jewelry, paintings, art, etc. Why? Because although many elite earn millions annually, they are spending millions-plus. They need cash. These same wealthy individuals are speculating at unprecedented levels, at margins of nearly 100 percent, convinced they can beat the system. They watched too-big-to-fail banks bounce back stronger than ever after the 2008 crash that should have killed them. They’ve seen hedge funds and equity partnerships create piles of money out of nothing, enriching their owners beyond their wildest dreams. This hyperconsumptive model has become the new American dream, the province of an emerging professional elite that lives off of debt in order to maintain a lifestyle that is no longer within their means to sustain. They live artificial lives solely to preserve artificial appearances. Private sector debt is astronomical. If the US debt clock is accurate, Americans’ total personal debt is now over $19 trillion, including $15 trillion in mortgage debt, $1.5 trillion in student loans, and $1 trillion in credit card debt.

If the US were a solvent nation without or with very little debt, with substantial currency holdings, a national effort to mitigate the worst consequences of climate change might be paid for. Yet the government can barely pay for the interest on its insane debt, and Trump’s perverted tax cut promises the country will be dead in the water when global warming cascades into catastrophes we can now barely imagine. So where will the tens of trillions be found to prepare the American public for the dismal future ahead?

Those who have built and profited most from the economic structure of the neoliberal regime are those who have brought upon us the climate crisis we face today. The elites’ habits of consumption have desensitized them to harsh natural realities. Al Gore is an excellent example, a man who has sculpted his image as one of the planet’s leading climate crusaders. Gore’s Generation Investment Management, a London-based investment firm co-founded by a former chief of Goldman Sachs’ asset management, David Blood, has made a killing on the speculation of putting a tax price upon carbon emissions. However little of this has anything to do with actually getting rid of fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions. Gore is not an environmentalist. He is simply the exemplar of climate change capitalism as he flies around the world in a private jet giving speeches for hundreds of thousands of dollars and racking up monthly electricity bills of up to $22,000. According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, our renewable energy champion’s own solar power installation only accounts for under 6% of his monthly energy consumption, which is 21 times that of the average American family.
And the average American family uses an appalling share of the world’s resources. Americans consume 26 percent of the world’s energy with only 4 percent of its population. The professional class has grown exponentially, and its members now occupy most of the power positions in the country. Their lifestyle is one of excessive consumption, and this consumption is integral to their self-concept – how will they show everyone they’ve “made it” in life if they aren’t surrounded by all the nicest stuff? To stop consuming is unthinkable. Who in this group of 181 million people will volunteer to lower their standard of living in order to set a good example for their peers, for their country, for the world? These people do not make sacrifices – they are not even willing to vote for a third-party candidate, to throw their support behind a Ralph Nader or a Rocky Anderson in order to register their dissatisfaction with a hopelessly corrupt duopoly. If these – our policymakers and opinion leaders – are not willing to change, we cannot be surprised that we find ourselves with:
The largest epidemic in overweight and obesity among children and toddlers
The largest medical bill in world history, comprising a full 17 percent of GDP
More people engaged in more speculative investment than before the 2008 crash, with derivatives, hedge funds, and equity partnerships thriving and bankers bringing home bigger paychecks than ever
Corporations kept on life support while families are foreclosed upon, 21 to 28 million homeless
Private prisons bringing back the once-unthinkable concept of debtor’s prison, for the swelling underclass caught in a series of financial traps

This leaves us with a bleak impression for the future. Perhaps this is the most we can expect, looking to the elite to side with humanity in order to prevent a global climate catastrophe. If so, we are in dire straits. Gore and his ilk should never be counted upon as inspiring examples to lead an effective climate Marshall Plan. When we look at the potential leaders who could advance such a plan, all we find is greedy Wall Street and Silicon Valley firms ready to make money off the next new green technology. Obama may have started an organic garden on the White House property, but he still signed the DARK Act to protect Monsanto and the chemical-agricultural industry’s profits from states passing legislature to label genetically modified foods. Such is the utter hypocrisy of our national policy makers. And it is futile to pray for an epiphany to awaken the corporate elite and our legislators from their insatiable need to acquire more stuff. Can we expect the commanders of finance and industry to give up their Wagyu Kobe or vintage cote de boeuf steaks, ostrich feathered handbags and massive consumption? It would be like trying to get a meth or crack addict to give up a drug dependency voluntarily. Good luck with that effort. If our leaders who profit from the military industrial complex are incapable of shedding a tear for dying mothers and children in Yemen and Palestine, how can we expect them to sacrifice their interests to protect poorer Americans from future cataclysmic climate events? For the elite, deaths associated with wildfires, superstorms, tornados and flash floods are the new collateral damage, an unfortunate necessity to keep the fossil fuel machine rolling.

In the meantime we are spiraling downward with the clock ticking. Whether it is a dozen years to fundamentally turn our energy consumption around as the conservative IPCC report allows, or the more thorough independent analyses giving us seven years or less, the time is rapidly approaching when nothing can be done. Party affiliation–Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or Green–will make absolutely no difference. Global warming doesn’t align with political ideologies. Nor do superstorms, floods, droughts and wildfires give a rat’s buttocks for human hubris or our illusions about any divinely ordained exceptionalism. The framing of climate change trends in the future depends entirely upon human beings and our consumption and psychological behaviors. We either harness our knowledge and resources or we don’t.

So where are the wise humans in higher positions of authority and policy-making to grasp the reins of a national climate change initiative? They are out shopping and supporting the very industries contributing to the Sixth Extinction and a hotter planet. To remain optimistic that they will do the right thing is foolishness. Consider that two major cities directly in the pathway for more devastating climate events — Miami and Houston — are also the two fastest booming regions for urban growth and entry of new residents. Yet nobody is warning new urban migrants about the future dangers they will face. The alternative would be to live a sustainable life in rural America instead of depending upon government to spend exorbitant dollars to fund energy-intensive cities in order to accommodate further urbanization. If no efforts to mobilize and shift the economy have been made since the warnings of the Limits of Growth report nearly five decades ago, we mustn’t waste time waiting for the corporate and political elite to have a change of heart. More than ever, as the IPCC report shows, we are capable of agreeing that the environment is the single most important problem facing us as a species. We understand, in no uncertain terms, that we must change. But we won’t.
In 2016, almost 11 percent of the world’s population, approximately 815 million people, suffered from chronic malnourishment. Tens of millions more are food-insecure. Last year almost 12 percent of Americans, 40 million people, were food-insecure, meaning they were unable to daily have sufficient food to sustain an active, healthy life for all family members. For a nation that prides itself as the wealthiest and most progressive in the world, this is unconscionable. But is also a clear sign that things will get far worse as national and personal debts continue to climb and extreme climate catastrophes increase. You’d be hard-pressed to find 15 countries living a sustainable existence, even those whose leaders admit in public that the environment is the most pressing problem of our time. Everyone wants to see the change, but no one wants to be it. Until a group of people with the intelligence and resources to lead a far-reaching shift in human consciousness steps up to the plate and gives voice to the existential quandary we all face, we remain paralyzed by the enormity of the problem and our own powerlessness as cogs in the neoliberal machine. This is the perfect recipe for disaster.

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November 13, 2018  

Putting the real American economy and the so-called economic recovery into pers

Prof. Gerald Epstein is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and the co-director of the university's Political Economy Research Institute. He has published widely on issues related to macroeconomic policy to promote economic justice and sustainable solutions to enhance living standards, central banking, and international and the US financial systems. In the past Prof. Epstein has been a visiting professor at universities in Rome, Paris, Senegal, China, and Turkey. He holds an MA in public policy and a doctorate in economics from Princeton University, and has co-authored a textbook on the political economy of financial crises and other works dealing with globalization, inflation, and monetary policy. His forthcoming book will be entitled "The Political Economy of Central Banking: Contested Control and the Power of Finance." 

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November 12, 2018  

Today is November 12th and like always The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.

 

Today's Topics: 

Grief linked to sleep disturbances that can be bad for the heart

 

Soy formula feeding during infancy associated with severe menstrual pain in adulthood

 

Clinical study finds Chinese medicine improves survival rates in colorectal cancer patients

 

Strongest evidence yet' that being obese causes depression

 

LIFESPAN CONTINUES TO INCREASE WITH EACH GENERATION

 

Bitter melon can lower blood sugar levels and even prevent cancer

 
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November 9, 2018  

Today is November 9th and like always The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.

 

Today's Topics: 

The California Fires 

What To Do When You Find Yourself In A Disaster

A New Retreat Date! 

Healthy Fats

How to improve your eye strength 

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November 8, 2018  

Brazil -- the rebirth of military dictatorships in Latin America 

Aline Cristiane Piva (peeva) is the Assistant Deputy Director at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington DC and the founder of the organization's Brazil Research Unit.   The council is a liberal research and information non-profit dedicated to promoting constructive American and Canadian policies towards Latin American nations. She is also currently a professor of international law at Bolivaran University in Venezuela. In the past, Aline has worked in media analysis and political campaigns for a Brazilian based international communications agency and collaborates with the Brazilian political blog Nocaute. She holds a degree graduate degree in international law from the State University of Londrina and a second higher degree in international affairs from the University of Brasilia. Piva's research has focused on democracy in Brazil, US-Cuban foreign relations, Haiti and popular Latin American movements. The council's website is COHA.org

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November 7, 2018  

Wikipedia: J’accuse

By Helen Buyniski

 

Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world. It’s free, it’s educational, and it’s democratic – what’s not to like? The average user has no reason to think the material it publishes is anything but true, and it has become the go-to authority for anyone looking to quickly educate themselves on a topic. Qualifications and expertise are beside the point – this is an open-source repository of all human knowledge, and surely the cream rises to the top; if information is wrong, surely editors are standing by to correct the record.

But as Andrew Lewis said, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”1 Our in-depth investigation has found that everything we’ve been led to believe about Wikipedia is a lie. Wikipedia serves as a warning that if something sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true. Scratch the surface of the “free encyclopedia anyone can edit” and you find a finely-honed propaganda machine manipulated by experts and used to destroy the reputations of those who dare question the status quo.

The casual user sees the “edit” button next to an entry and assumes all users can make changes on an equal footing. In reality, many areas of the encyclopedia are tightly controlled by ruling cliques operating with the blessing of Jimmy Wales, the co-founder and self-styled “benevolent dictator” of Wikipedia. The experience of trying to correct information about oneself on Wikipedia is akin to being trapped in a Kafka novel – enclosed by an impenetrable thicket of unevenly-enforced rules, subject to the whims of powerful groups that officially do not exist, helpless to stop millions of Wikipedia users from happening across false and even libelous information about yourself or your work. For those trapped in Wikipedia’s internet gulag, there is no escape – not even deletion. Wikipedia, Wales gloats, does not believe in the right to be forgotten.2

While Wales has said he considers his role akin to that of a constitutional monarch – largely ceremonial but ultimately powerless3 – he has the ability to override the actions of any other user and has deployed these godlike powers to shape the narrative. Favoritism, rules enforced unevenly, pay-for-play editing, ideological hit squads, hundreds of factions conspiring to various degrees of secrecy to game the system – all this goes on with Wales’ blessing. The Wikimedia Foundation has violated its charter as a non-profit and stripped itself of the immunity conferred by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by involving itself editorially in the content it hosts, by choosing which editors are allowed a platform, and by choosing when and where to enforce its rules.

 

J’ACCUSE

Jimmy Wales did not create Wikipedia, though he has edited his biographical article more than half a dozen times to give the impression that he did. Larry Sanger, whom Wales attempted to airbrush out of history, left Wikipedia in disgust soon after its launch: “Wikipedia never solved the problem of how to organize itself in a way that didn’t lead to mob rule. On the one hand, it isn’t a mob at all. It’s highly organized and structured and there’s a lot of rules…But on the other hand, the way that the community is organized isn’t codified or decided upon in any type of constitutional way. So there might be some people who selectively apply rules according to positions that other people take on their pet issues. And that’s inherently unfair.”4 The inmates have taken over the asylum, and they are running it with the blessing of Wales himself.

Wales may not have founded Wikipedia, but as its public face he has influenced the character of the site more than anyone else. It is his face users see during the fundraising campaigns that bring in far more cash than the site requires to operate - $89 million last year5 - fueling the growth of an unaccountable bureaucracy, top-secret projects hidden from the Wikipedia rank and file, and an increasingly detached sense of responsibility for the very real harms caused by its contents. Wikipedia has allowed itself to be weaponized to do the dirty work of the ruling class, and anything that deviates from the establishment line is fair game to be smeared, attacked, and destroyed.

Wikipedia’s elite operates in secrecy. In general, the more a user or group on Wikipedia protests that there is no “cabal” of powerful editors running the show, the more likely they are to be members of it. Wales himself joked about forming a “cabal” to enforce policy back in September 2001 when the site was just getting off the ground.6 His idea became the Arbitration Committee, which some have likened to Wikipedia’s “supreme court.” Skilled in navigating the dense thicket of rules that has grown up around Wikipedia, ArbCom and the hundreds of administrators who form the next layer of bureaucracy are able to control what remains on the encyclopedia and what (or who) is deleted. If these powers were wielded fairly, their influence would be welcome – but the rules are instead used as a cudgel to enforce ideological conformity.

Wikipedia isn’t just dismissive of expertise –it’s actively hostile to experts. While one of the site’s many policies discourages editors from removing something just because they dislike it (WP:IDONTLIKEIT), Wales and the ruling don’t-call-it-a-cabal have made an exception for themselves. From the beginning, Wales surrounded himself with a cadre of admirers willing to do his bidding – editing his biography when his own self-editing was exposed (and then editing it again to remove a paragraph about the self-editing),7 or attacking his enemies when they ask difficult questions on his talk page – and these internet hitmen became Wikipedia’s ruling class – shaping narratives made to order and serving them up as more real than reality.

 

ABUSE OF NONPROFIT STATUS

The IRS forbids 501(c)(3) organizations like the Wikimedia Foundation from participating in political campaigns “on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office,” a ban which extends to “contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” IRS policy clearly states that “violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.” The policy further explains that “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”8

The Wikimedia Foundation has dipped its toe into political waters on several occasions. Management is aware of the perils of getting politically involved – one of the first major Wikipedia scandals broke in February 2006 when it was discovered that US Congressional staff were scrubbing the biographies of their politicians – removing broken campaign promises,9 scandals, and other undesirable details and adding “glowing” tributes and favorable information.10 At the same time, negative information was appended to the biographies of their opponents, and some ambitious staffers were replacing their candidates’ biographies wholesale with staff-authored versions. Wikipedia responded initially by banning Congressional IP addresses, lest the site appear to be complicit in the political self-promotion, which would have torpedoed their nonprofit status.

When Google search results returned “Nazism” as the ideology of the California Republican Party just a week before that state’s primaries earlier this year, Google blamed Wikipedia, explaining that the Google “knowledge box” that contained the offending term is often populated with Wikipedia text.11 The “vandalism” had remained on the party’s Wikipedia page for six days before it was corrected, hidden in a “piped link” where the link text and “alt text” read differently; meanwhile, other edits were reverted within a few minutes, suggesting this one was allowed to persist, deliberately hidden so it would only appear in Google search results.12 Whether or not it was deliberate, it is not the first time Wikipedia has appeared to promote the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party.

Such apparent political bias makes more sense in light of the fact that the Wikimedia Foundation contracted the Minassian Group, run by Clinton Foundation Chief Communications Officer Craig Minassian, to train Wikimedia’s own C-level employees, directors and managers in media strategy for the year 2014-2015.13 Minassian was further tasked with conducting a “communications audit” in 2016.14 Some editors among the Wikipedia rank and file were unhappy about having their territory politicized,15 particularly given how much of Wikimedia’s money was going to Minassian – $436,104 in 2015 and $406,957 in 2016.16 While the details of Minassian’s activities are not public, the group did issue a report detailing its audit findings, which primarily consisted of parsing media coverage by subject, country, publication, and author and ranking outlets in terms of prestige. Wikipedia was advised to focus on portraying itself as trustworthy and neutral in the media even while “seeking out and dispelling controversial issues.” The audit recommended concentrating on building a rapport with “friendly” journalists writing for what Wikipedia’s editors would call “reliable sources.”17 Minassian has a history of planting stories favorable to the Clinton Foundation in “friendly” media, as WikiLeaks revealed in its Podesta emails dump, which included a message from Craig Minassian himself boasting of favorable coverage he had secured for the foundation on the Colbert Report.18

Wikipedia editor SashiRolls linked the Minassian hire to the arrival of a crew of militant editors on the Clinton Foundation article who kept it scrupulously clean of any mention of the billions of dollars the Foundation took in for victims of the Haitian earthquake but never distributed to victims, opting to construct a lucrative industrial park in an undamaged area of the island instead.19 Clinton’s own Wikipedia article is similarly spotless, bearing only a sanitized summary of her “email controversy” and no mention at all of the revelations from WikiLeaks’ DNC and personal email document dumps. No mention is made of the invasion of Libya on false pretenses or the fallout from that invasion – indeed, reality is directly contradicted with a mystifying sentence reading “there was a trend of women around the world finding more opportunities and in some cases feeling safer, as the result of [Clinton’s] actions and visibility,” sourced to a book called The Hillary Doctrine. The article is “protected” – frozen so that only high-level administrators can make changes – and includes the option to listen to it as audio, indicating it will stay frozen in that state. 20

The efforts of a clique of ideologically-motivated editors to whitewash political entries are of particular interest given the deployment of such teams on other social media sites like Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and Twitter during the 2016 election. Clinton strategist and fundraiser David Brock’s Correct the Record (CTR) superPAC spent at least $1 million during the election to “push back against” negative posts about Clinton as part of a program called “Barrier Breakers,”21 and it’s unlikely that such an operation would have overlooked Wikipedia, which other social media sites often use as a fact-checking tool. Brock has come under scrutiny before for bending campaign finance rules – superPACs aren’t supposed to participate in individual elections, and Media Matters for America, the organization for which he is best known, is a 501(c)(3) and therefore barred from conducting political activity on behalf of any candidate,22 much like Wikimedia. A former CTR contractor estimated the group’s expenditures at $5-6 million as of August 2016 in a post on 4chan in which he encouraged others to sign up for easy cash, explaining that CTR employees were given high-ranked and backdated accounts on Reddit and Twitter so as to more easily blend into the discussion.23 Infiltrating Wikipedia is even easier – editors can change usernames and sometimes choose to leave their history with a previous username behind, especially if it was associated with disciplinary sanctions, as ideologically-motivated editors’ often are. Any Wikipedia editor who attempts to look into this sort of infiltration can find themselves indefinitely banned from the site, as SashiRolls found when he tried to blow the whistle on Sagecandor, an editor who racked up hundreds of edits on articles related to Clinton’s 2016 campaign around the time of the election – 904 edits to “fake news websites,” 631 edits to “Russian interference in the 2016 election.”24 Sagecandor, implying that SashiRolls was part of a Kremlin disinformation campaign,25 had him hauled before Wikipedia’s disciplinary committee, where he was accused of “wiki-hounding” and indefinitely banned from editing. Sagecandor and his allies continued to smear Sashi while he was prohibited from responding, until another administrator found incontrovertible proof Sagecandor was in fact a “sockpuppet” of a previously banned user – vindicating SashiRolls, but too late, as he remains banned.26

“Charitable organizations” like Wikimedia are also barred from operating for the benefit of “private interests,” with no part of a group’s “net earnings” accruing “to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”27 Yet Wales used his Wikimedia credit card so much that he was relieved of it in 2006, after it was revealed that he was billing $1,300 steak dinners and other outsize expenses to the “charity.”28 At one point he was on the hook for $30,000 in expenses billed to the Foundation for which he could not show receipts; he reportedly reached an agreement with the Foundation’s lawyer to pay less than a third of that. More recently, Wales took the results of Minassian’s audit, which the Wikimedia Foundation paid for, and used it as the business plan for WikiTribune, pitched as a scrupulously neutral news platform helmed by “friendly” journalists and supported by an army of volunteer editors and fact-checkers. The professional journalists would be funded by reader subscriptions, while the volunteers would operate much in the manner of Wikipedia itself. WikiTribune’s mission? To combat “fake news.”

In 2011, the XKCD web comic coined the term “citogenesis” to describe the process by which a piece of nonfactual information is written into Wikipedia, used in stories by “real” journalists with poor research hygiene, and then re-cited in the original Wikipedia article (using the “reliable” source that found the information on Wikipedia). It’s impossible to calculate how common a phenomenon this is, but in January 2015, as ArbCom churned through a complex disciplinary case involving dozens of editors on both sides of the GamerGate controversy, the Guardian (on whose Board Wales sat until 2017) reported the proceedings had ended in a ban on five feminist editors. The story fit the prevailing media narrative concerning GamerGate – that the internet was full of sexism and misogyny, that some form of online affirmative action was needed to increase female representation in gaming, coding, even Wikipedia – and numerous other outlets reposted the Guardian story without fact-checking it. At least one Wikipedia editor emailed the original author, to no avail. With all these reliable sources discussing the results of the GamerGate ArbCom case, a Wikipedia article on “ArbitrationGate” was published to reflect the media’s version of reality. Protests that its content was false fell on deaf ears: certainly there were no reliable sources claiming the case hadn’t been closed – Wikipedia is not a reliable source, even about itself.29 Like a similar case in which author Philip Roth was told he was not a reliable source for information about his own books, the GamerGate affair laid bare the absurdity of Wikipedia’s policy on reliable sources. Yet Wales envisioned the Wikipedia model as the answer to “fake news,” and told any interviewer who would listen that WikiTribune would save the endangered Fact.

The Wikimedia Foundation already has a news subsidiary – WikiNews – that boasts few users but operates within the strictures of the nonprofit. For Wales to title his new venture WikiTribune suggests he deliberately sought to capitalize on the brand confusion engendered by the name. Last month, WikiTribune announced it was switching to an all-volunteer model, bringing the company even closer to direct competition with WikiNews in a way that is at least unethical if not illegal (Wales is both a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation, of which WikiNews is a subsidiary, and CEO of WikiTribune). It is also worth asking what will happen to subscribers’ donations now that WikiTribune is switching to a volunteer-only model. Now that readers are not paying writers’ salaries, they cannot expect to have any say in what topics are covered, even though this was an initial selling point in WikiTribune’s subscription-based business model. Wales never planned to offer subscribers real input into the site’s editorial process anyway, according to a Reddit Ask Me Anything he held in 2017: “if 10,000 advocates of Pizzagate sign up to have us investigate Pizzagate, they might be disappointed with the results.”30 And pay-for-play journalism would indeed have taken Wikipedia’s flaws to a terrifying new level. But Wales did convince the initial group of subscribers to join WikiTribune with the implied promise that a cadre of cryptocurrency enthusiasts could direct their subscription dollars to hiring a reporter to write in-depth stories on Bitcoin.31 Was he lying? Where does Bitcoin end and Pizzagate begin? According to a note posted on WikiTribune’s website, the firing of the journalists was only a temporary step – with an eye toward hiring more “community-minded” journalists in the future.32 Apparently, the volunteers didn’t like being bossed around by the experts, a problem which has been endemic to Wikipedia since the very beginning, and which eventually caused co-founder Larry Sanger to throw up his hands and leave. Wikipedia’s oligarchy depends on maintaining the illusion of democracy, but it took less than a year for the first admins to self-appoint, and the ruling power structure has only calcified since then.

 

QUID PRO QUO PAID EDITING

Wikipedia policy is made less for effect than for the sake of appearances, a problem which becomes clear when one examines the conflict of interest problem. Paid editing has been a thorny moral issue for Wikipedians since the site’s early days, which were marred by scandal after scandal breaking to Wales’ neverending chagrin. In 2009, he finally allowed a policy change to permit paid editing. The new rules didn’t permit an outright free-for-all, of course – that would look even worse than the scandal parade – but allowed editors employed by third parties to edit to their hearts’ content, provided they disclosed any possible conflicts of interest on their user page. The policy has enough loopholes that major PR firms like Bell Pottinger, which has repeatedly been caught with its hands in the Wikipedia cookie jar on behalf of clients like South Africa’s Oakbay Investments and Paramount Group, can portray their clients in a favorable light without their edits being reverted. In general, as with any propaganda outlet, the bigger the lie, the more effective it is.

The entire structure of Wikipedia depends on user anonymity, so this policy of disclosing conflicts of interest has always depended on an honor system. Even if an editor registered under their real name and was known to work for some group, it would be a simple matter for them to create another username and commence editing. Wales’ own perspective shifts on the matter have been so frequent it’s hard to tell where he stands on the matter, but given what he permits under his own roof – his wife, Katherine Garvey, works for Freud Communications, which has edited its own Wikipedia entry along with those of clients for years – it’s safe to say his conflict with paid editors isn’t philosophical. Indeed, he was personally accused of editing in exchange for “donations” to the Wikimedia Foundation in 2006, when software developer Jeff Merkey claimed the Wikipedia founder had offered to cleanse his biographical article for an annual $5,000 donation to the Foundation. Wales denied everything, but Merkey’s talk page showed he had in fact blanked the entry and warned other editors to “be extra careful here to be courteous and assume good faith,” adding a layer of editorial protection to prevent unregistered users from altering the text. Merkey claimed he’d only gone public after being banned by ArbCom in retaliation for stopping his yearly donation. Meanwhile, it’s worth a look at Wales’ exact denial: “I would never offer, nor accept any offer, whereby a donation would buy someone special editorial treatment in the encyclopedia.”33 Maybe it’s not special at all – the Foundation’s donor list includes a rogue’s gallery of corporate heavies like Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Bank of America, and GE, in addition to preposterously wealthy individuals like George Soros, David Koch, and Mark Zuckerberg. None of these names have ever been dragged through the mud on the “people’s encyclopedia,” and there’s no reason to think they’re supporting Wales’ do-gooder impulses out of their own sense of social duty – time and time again, they’ve made it clear they have none. For Wales, the problem is not quid pro quo, but subtlety. Sites like Wiki-PR and MyWikiBiz, with their whiff of crass commercialism, spoil the illusion of the perfectly neutral encyclopedia even as they offer nothing individual editors don’t provide under the table on freelancing sites like Fiverr.

POLITICAL MANIPULATION

Companies and individuals are far from the only entities interested in rewriting history, and Wales’ own biographical revisionism is small potatoes next to the ambitions of some of Wikipedia’s editors, but even seemingly inconsequential changes can have butterfly-effect-like impact. Wales learned his foreign policy approach from Tony Blair, his wife’s former employer, and correspondingly sees no moral conflict in selling favorable coverage to the world’s most brutal regimes while mouthing platitudes about freedom through knowledge. Wales personally groomed the Wikipedia pages of an executive at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, admitting on the article’s talk page that he had been “informally advising” the group on its internet strategy as he oversaw the removal of two scandals from the woman’s biography. When an editor took Wales’ “informal advisory” role and inserted it into the Foundation’s article, Wales removed it himself, conflict of interest be damned. He continued to massage the Blairs’ articles and they returned the favor with a photo op, cutting a cake for Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary.34 By the time Wales married his third wife, Blair’s former diary secretary – a wedding both Blairs attended – Wales was banning Wikipedia users who mentioned his friendship with Blair from his talk page. What went wrong?35

While Wales was buffing out the spots on Blair’s reputation, Blair was doing the same for some of the worst human rights violators of modern times. In April 2016, leaked emails revealed that Nursultan Nazarbayev, the dictator of Kazakhstan, had paid Blair $29.1 million to whitewash the crimes of the Central Asian dictatorship over the previous five years. As the tin-pot dictatorship dropped eight spots on the World Press Freedom Index and 18 places on the Corruption Perceptions Index, Blair helped Nazarbayev stonewall an international investigation into the massacre of 15 protesters during an oil strike in Zhanaozen and touted the country as “a remarkable success story.”36 Wales followed Blair to Kazakhstan in 2011, awarding the first-ever “Wikipedian of the Year” prize to Rauan Kenzhekhanuly for his work in essentially facilitating the takeover of the Kazakh language Wikipedia by a group allied with (and funded by) the ruling family. Wales’ pleas that Kenzhekanuly’s WikiBilim organization was “not political” rang hollow, as a cursory examination revealed that Kenzhekanuly was both a former government official and a former employee of the state TV channel and that WikiBilim had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing from the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund. In May 2011, Wikimedia Foundation trustee Samuel Klein asked WikiBilim staff how best to automate the transfer of all 15 volumes of the government-backed Kazakh encyclopedia into Kazakh Wikipedia.37 The discussion revealed several Kazakh government officials among WikiBilim’s “active community members,” and the Kazakh-language Wikipedia dutifully morphed into the state-sanctioned version of history. By the end of 2011, WikiBilim was described in Creative Commons documents as “a non-profit organization which also operates as the local representative of Wikimedia. Wikibilim in turn is supported by the Government of Kazakhstan and personally by the Prime-Minister Mr. Karim Masimov.”38

With Kazakh Wikipedia safely in the hands of the local Ministry of Truth, Wales began criticizing the Kazakh regime on the website for his Jimmy Wales Foundation.39 It’s unclear when the relationship soured between Wales and the regime. He was still claiming WikiBilim was apolitical in December 2012, when he closed a discussion on his talk page after he was confronted with incontrovertible evidence of WikiBilim’s links to the regime.40  In 2014, Kenzhekanuly was named deputy governor of the Kyzylorda region of Kazakhstan, and in an April 2015 Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” Wales lamented his lack of foresight in naming him Wikipedian of the Year, saying he wouldn’t do it again. He even seemed to turn on his former mentor Blair: “Tony Blair absolutely should be slammed for taking money from Kazakhstan. I condemn it without reservation.”41

The very existence of the Jimmy Wales Foundation is evidence of Wales’ moral flexibility. In December 2014, he was awarded the newly-minted "Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award," half a million dollars from the United Arab Emirates. Given the UAE’s abysmal human rights record, Wikipedians urged him to refuse the award. Instead, Wales opted to have his cake and eat it too, taking the money (the Foundation’s Wikipedia page says he “was not allowed to give it back,” citing an article which says nothing of the sort42) and using it to start a ‘human rights foundation’ which, despite its stated mission of fighting for freedom of expression in repressive regimes, has done nothing since hiring Israeli human rights lawyer Orit Kopel to repost articles condemning a selection of repressive regimes.43 Not a single article denounces the abysmal state of press freedom in the UAE. Nor does the Foundation call out Israel, whose snipers deliberately shot journalists covering the Palestinian March of Return this summer. Palestinian journalists, activists, and ordinary social media users are increasingly prosecuted for “incitement” for merely “liking” Facebook posts that may be entirely devoid of political content. Since October 2015, over 280 social media users have been arrested for “online incitement to violence,” and many influential Palestinian journalists’ accounts have been unilaterally shut down.44 Such repression would seem like a situation tailor-made for Wales’ Foundation – yet he and Kopel are silent. Wales received the $1 million Dan David prize from Israel in 2015, but his loyalty was purchased long before that. Perhaps he sees the closeness of the relationship between Wikipedia and the Israeli government as something to emulate – the chairman and spokesman of Wikimedia Israel, Itzik Edri, who for two years also sat on the global WMF’s funds dissemination committee, also manages PR for former Israeli president Shimon Peres (who was interviewed by WikiNews in 2004). Lest his propaganda efforts be in any doubt, Edri received the 2014 Roaring Lion Award from the Israeli Public Relations Association for his work on Wikipedia’s tenth anniversary campaign. He also worked directly with Tzipi Livni, then-chairperson of Israel’s Hatnua party (now Zionist Union) and current Knesset opposition leader.45

Israel was on the cutting edge of Wikipolitics, having burrowed into the editorial ranks of the site long before tin-pot dictators like Nazarbayev and his Azerbaijani counterpart Aliyev (who sponsored a “WikiDays” initiative in 2014 to “protect interests of Azerbaijan in Wikipedia and prevent distortion of information about Azerbaijan46) thought of using it for state propaganda purposes. An April 2008 exposé revealed that the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) had been teaching agents how to rewrite history on Wikipedia for years, instructing them to avoid alerting other editors to their mission by sticking to neutral content for a few months before getting to work on Israel-related articles. They were taught how to game Wikipedia’s ever-growing system of rules to get unfriendly edits reverted and unfriendly editors banned, told to form alliances with non-affiliated Wikipedians, and encouraged to work towards admin status in order to help their fellow agents. All collaboration occurred offline in a private Google group called “Isra-pedia.” 47 When the scandal came to light, it was duly written up in CAMERA’s Wikipedia entry, only to be erased by a user working from the offices of the US Department of Justice. An admin blocked all DoJ IP addresses for several days while other users implicated in the CAMERA edits were topic-banned from editing articles relating to Arab-Israeli conflict, and one user was banned entirely,48 but such obstacles are easily overcome on a site where anonymity is paramount. Any users patient enough to make hundreds of neutral edits to gain the community’s trust before embarking on a Zionist crusade to rewrite history are patient enough to repeat the process.

In 2010, two more groups began publicly offering classes in “Zionist editing” – My Israel and the Yesha Council.49 Yesha Council was formed in the 1970s to promote Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip – settlements that flagrantly violate international law and which are notorious for taking land by force. None of this is in their Wikipedia article. Instead, we are treated to the words of Ayelet Shaked, now the Israeli minister of justice, who organized Yesha’s Wikipedia project: it was definitely “not a Zionist conspiracy to take over Wikipedia.” When the extent of these Zionist editing cells within Wikipedia was brought to his attention, Wales merely slapped token protection on the “Israel” article, claiming the three groups’ work had amounted to essentially nothing.50 Like Shaked, he is forever reassuring WIkipedians there is no ruling cabal even as packs of roving administrators vote en bloc on political matters. Yesha has since expanded to Facebook and YouTube, claiming 12,000 members in 2010.51 Act.IL, a smartphone app co-developed by Israeli intelligence agencies, followed in its footsteps, launching in 2013 to gamify “hasbara,” the Hebrew term for propaganda. The app offers users a chance to score “points” by completing quick “missions” – edit a Wikipedia article, post a Tweet, “like” a post – creating the illusion of thousands of independent pro-Zionist actors all working toward a common public relations goal. This practice has been duplicated in recent years by non-Israeli groups and has resulted in many controversial accounts being “deplatformed” from social media after redefining non-mainstream political speech as “hate.” Twitter accounts like SleepingGiants specialize in a form of mass-reporting known as “brigading” which leads to their targets having their social media accounts suspended whether or not they are actually guilty of any terms of service violations.

The ultimate dystopian use of Wikipedia may come from Google, whose Jigsaw subsidiary developed a program called Conversation AI to root out “hate speech” and online harassment before it can proliferate on social media and in comments sections. One AI tool, called Detox, was fed 14 years of Wikipedia comments sections in order to “teach” it to recognize patterns of “abusive behavior.” Faced with a hopelessly heterogenous data set – 100,000 comments from Wikipedia talk pages, evaluated for personal attack content by 4,000 people – researchers claimed the algorithm was able to distinguish personal attacks from benign comments as well as a three-person team. They then ran 63 million comments through the algorithm and called the results science. The results (which any Wikipedian would happily have volunteered) indicated that over half of abusive comments came from registered users, putting the notion of “anonymous trolls” – so vital to Google and other social media platforms’ agenda of expunging anonymity from the web – to rest.52 While commenters do not retain copyright on their words once posted on Wikipedia, it’s not unreasonable to think that editors might not want their words fed to some unaccountable AI database operated by a tech conglomerate that has expressed marked hostility toward the concept of freedom of speech in the past and is actively working to censor users’ internet experience in the US and abroad. Editor retention is a very real problem for Wikipedia, where just one percent of users make 77% of the edits.53 Wikipedia is a reflection of the society that spawned it, further distorted through the image of the man who made himself its public face.

SHUTTING DOWN SCHOLARLY INQUIRY/SECTION 230

Wikipedia’s stated mission of open access to knowledge is itself fraudulent, if the short-lived Wikiversity Ethics project was any indication. When a group of users attempted to create a project called “The Ethics of Breaching Experiments” in early 2010 – essentially an experiment meant to test Wikipedia’s defenses against vandalism and other rule violations – Wales used his site-wide moderating powers to delete the project entirely and ban the associated users. Wales, who had never before shown any interest in Wikiversity, was thrown off guard by the backlash to his actions – unlike Wikipedia, where he is only semi-ironically revered as the “god-king,” Wikiversity harbored several users banned from the encyclopedia for “ethical breaches” like those described in the project, none of whom appreciated his barging into their virtual classroom. When users protested his unilateral suppression of free inquiry – the ostensible mission of the Wikimedia Foundation itself – Wales threatened to shut down Wikiversity entirely. Hundreds of users in return voted to strip Wales of his founding privileges, condemning him for betraying the stated mission of the project. He finally backed down, unbanning the wrongthinkers and self-limiting his admin powers54, but not before telling them that he had “the full support of the Wikimedia Foundation” and could shut them down whenever he liked. Technically, this isn’t even true – Wikiversity is owned by its contributors, not the Wikimedia Foundation, and while it is hosted on Foundation servers, it is only by the agreement of its members that it agrees to advance Wikimedia’s mission.55 When the self-styled “benevolent dictator” of Wikipedia shuts down a semi-autonomous project for doing what it was supposed to do – Wikiversity was launched to encourage the kind of “original research” barred from Wikipedia pages – the site is broken beyond repair. Such behavior would appear to violate section 230 as well, since it represents deliberate curation of content on Wales’ part.

Wales himself has admitted Wikipedia is not merely a neutral platform of the sort protected by section 230. “People get frustrated when they thought it was all about voting. But we’re writing an encyclopedia here; it’s not an open democratic experiment.”56 Like the US government, Wikipedia offers its users the illusion of participation in a democratic system, but when they stray beyond the accepted behavioral parameters, enforcers are waiting to restore order. Touting this system as the best of all possible world, he explains that formerly neutral platforms actually have a duty to “build better software to give communities better control, so that your best voices come to the front, and the people who aren’t there for constructive reasons are marginalized and asked to leave.” Such policies are in flagrant violation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects sites like Wikipedia from lawsuits stemming from the content available on their platforms, but Wales may feel that living in London he does not have to abide by US laws. Unfortunately, the Wikimedia Foundation is still based in Silicon Valley, and Wikipedia – like Facebook and Twitter and the rest of the social media sites that have come under fire for their increasing censorship of users – must choose whether exercising editorial oversight is worth jettisoning those legal protections. Given the number of people who have been casually libeled by Wikipedia and its editors, it might want to think twice about throwing section 230 to the wind.

LIBEL

As an open-source site with tens of thousands of contributors, Wikipedia should not have a ‘point of view,’ and indeed it officially does not. Articles are supposed to be written from a Neutral Point of View (NPOV) and there are further policies in place to protect living people from slander. Once strongly enforced, these are now ignored, as malicious actors have developed an alternate channel of rules to circumvent them. Entire sections of Wikipedia – alternative medicine, nutrition, progressive political movements and activism – have become reputational prisons, where indelible scarlet letters are branded on the persons associated with them. Alternative healing is shackled with the “pseudoscience” tag, allowing admins to punish anyone making unsanctioned changes to these pages with a block or a ban; politically-sensitive pages are also booby-trapped with administrative sanctions, chilling any attempts to correct false information. Classifying a person or topic as “FRINGE” invokes a set of policies largely exempting editors from the rules surrounding the NPOV rule, and ideologically-motivated editors have wasted no time in corralling their victims into this internet ghetto.

Wikipedia does not require editors to display some familiarity with a topic before editing. Even – especially! – when they don’t understand the terminology or even the concepts in an article, editors are encouraged to jump right in by groups like Susan Gerbic’s Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia. The so-called Scientific Skeptic movement has become extremely powerful on Wikipedia, to the point that they have been able to convince ordinary editors that personal attack sites like Stephen Barrett’s QuackWatch, written by individuals with no expertise beyond a massive axe to grind, are “reliable sources” for Biographies of Living Persons, which according to Wikipedia’s own rules require a higher standard of reliability to avoid libeling their subjects. Wales declared open season on alternative medicine in 2014, rejecting a petition that called for Wikipedia to treat such topics with the respect offered by the scientific community and dismissing entire fields of healing as “lunatic charlatans,”57 but the Skeptics had infiltrated Wikipedia long before. Through years of “meatpuppeting” efforts – bringing in backup from outside Wikipedia to support one’s viewpoint in editorial or administrative disputes – the webmaster for QuackWatch’s email list, Paul Lee, was able to attain a quorum to have his mentor’s page declared a Reliable Source. He canvassed Skeptic email lists, message boards devoted to “debunking” chiropractic, and the now-defunct SkepticWiki in order to amass an army of Skeptic editors to shift the official Wikipedia point of view.

The extent of Lee’s interactions with Wales are not known, though Lee made numerous supportive posts on Wales’ talk page during this time. Somehow, Wales’ stated policy morphed from editors who don't stop to think that reverting someone who is trying to remove libel about themselves is a horribly stupid thing to do…. Real people are involved, and they can be hurt by your words. We are not tabloid journalism, we are an encyclopedia” (July 2006)58 to “What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of "true scientific discourse." (March 2014)59. Wales has never been tolerant of alternative healing modalities – he believes homeopathy should be illegal60 – but Lee, Gerbic, and the other Skeptics’ efforts seem to have emboldened him to abandon his pretense of neutrality concerning the “lunatic charlatans” he clearly disdains. Were it merely a matter of personal preference, Wales would be entitled to his beliefs, but when they become policy, superseding the rights of individuals not to be libeled on public platforms, they are problematic.

In a Vanity Fair interview released just last week, Wales told a new version of the ever-evolving Wikipedia founding myth in which he was moved to launch the encyclopedia after his daughter was born with a rare lung defect. In this retelling, he brought her to an expert doctor – the top in his field – who wanted to try an unorthodox treatment. The treatment was successful, and Wales decided then and there to create an encyclopedia so that this doctor’s knowledge – a “miracle cure,” in his words – could be available for the benefit of everyone.61 This isn’t the first time Wales has told this story – he shared it with a credulous Forbes India reporter in 2009, wiping a tear from his eye as he describes his realization that right then and there, holding his now-healthy baby in his arms, that “no one other than this doctor would ever know about this whole thing” if the knowledge wasn’t preserved somehow,62 perhaps forgetting that doctors share their findings with others in their profession as a matter of course. Given Wales’ legendary antipathy toward alternative medicine, “untested cures,” and anything else that is not “conclusively proven,” it’s unlikely he would have submitted his daughter for such a procedure, and if she had actually been saved by some maverick physician, his disdain for alternative practitioners would be inexplicable. The use of the phrase “miracle cure” is a dog-whistle to the Skeptics – no reputable alternative medicine practitioner describes their work as a “miracle cure,” and Wales is aware of this.

Wikipedia’s ruling class have made it clear that they set themselves to be above the site’s rules just as they set themselves above the law. Not only is Wales allowed to revise his own biography, rewriting history to order, but those he disdains – progressive political activists, alternative healing practitioners, anyone outside of the neoliberal establishment that has welcomed him with open arms – are fair game for thousands of anonymous editors to smear as they see fit. History is rewritten to order to suit Wales’ and his allies’ version of history, and all those whose reputations are destroyed in the process are just collateral damage. Wales and his Skeptic allies think nothing of the millions of people who could have been helped by alternative medicine but were discouraged from seeking treatment because of something they saw on Wikipedia. There is no way to calculate the harm done in this manner, but it is surely massive, and should weigh heavily on the consciences of those editors who think they are doing a service by assassinating the character of alternative health practitioners.

Wikipedia’s insistence on anonymity facilitates its use as a platform for attacks both ideologically and personally motivated. There is no way to tell if an editor has knowledge of the subject they are editing or if they are motivated by malice, financial gain, or other factors conducive to producing dishonest coverage of a topic. Conflict of interest, as we have seen, is more the rule than the exception on Wikipedia, where the only rule regarding paid editing seems to be “don’t get caught.”

EXAMPLES

John Pilger is an Australian journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. His 1979 documentary Year Zero, filmed after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, inspired viewers to raise substantial donations for the UK’s first relief shipment to Cambodia, purchasing much-needed medicines, food, and clothes. Pilger worked as a war correspondent for the Daily Mirror in Vietnam, Biafra, Bangladesh, and Cambodia. He has also made several documentaries about indigenous Australians and exposed the 1998 legislation that deprived them of their common-law rights. His documentary on the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, Death of a Nation, scored record ratings and contributed to the massive international outcry that culminated in Indonesian withdrawal from the province in 2000. The audience response to his films has been cited as proof that humanity has not yet succumbed to “compassion fatigue.” Yet Wikipedia calls his work “full of falsehoods,” quoting conservative journalist Oliver Kamm, who is not an authority on journalism, international conflicts, or documentary filmmaking.63 Unfortunately, Wikipedia’s libels are beginning to have a real-world effect: Pilger has stated that “my written work is no longer welcome” in mainstream publications, a chilling thought given his stellar track record. His last column was dropped in 2015 from the Guardian, whose Board includes such luminaries as Jimmy Wales.64

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author best known for the concept of morphic resonance, which posits that “self-organizing systems inherit a memory from previous similar systems.” Organisms and groups develop or change along teleological “paths” worn by their predecessors, and patterns are imposed on otherwise random or indeterminate activity according to the previous and contemporaneous iterations of that system. The theory radically reimagines everything from memory (memories no longer have to be stored inside the brain in a fixed location) to the notion of a collective unconscious (members of a species have access to the sum total of their knowledge). Sheldrake has written 13 books and 85 scientific papers. He has a PhD in biochemistry from Cambridge University. As a Fellow of the Royal Society, he discovered the chemiosmotic model of polar auxin transport in plants (auxin is a plant hormone that influences cell differentiation). His Wikipedia bio focuses almost exclusively on negative responses to his work without giving a proper explanation of that work. But then, Sheldrake is a vocal critic of what he calls the “dogmatic materialism” endemic to much of current science, which he likens to religion. His outspokenness on this front has made him the enemy of organized Skepticism, and the outcry they orchestrated following his TEDxWhitechapel talk in January 2013 both spilled into and fed off of his Wikipedia page.

Guy McPherson is an author and professor emeritus of conservation biology and natural resources at the University of Arizona, where he has taught for 20 years. He is the leading authority on abrupt climate change leading to near term human extinction, having coined the term “Near-Term Extinction” to designate the possibility of human extinction before the year 2030. McPherson became a tenured full professor before the age of 40 and is among the most accomplished faculty members at the University. His works include Walking Away from EmpireGoing Dark, and Letters to a Young Academic. McPherson is also one of the most slandered scientists in the climate change field, and Wikipedia has not hesitated to jump on the bandwagon, taking a New York Times quote that describes him as an “apocalyptic ecologist” far enough out of context to imply he’s some sort of cult leader with an “End of Days following,” then shoehorning in a quote from science blogger (and unreliable source, according to the Wikipedia rule which bars blogs and personal websites from being used as sources for the biographical articles of living persons) Michael Tobis, who accuses him of climate denialism “of a different stripe,” whatever that means – even though McPherson’s whole thesis is that mainstream climate science is itself denying the reality of humanity’s impending extinction.65

Sharyl Attkisson is an author and television journalist who currently hosts the public affairs program Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson on channels owned by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. Her book Stonewalled was a New York Times e-book bestseller. Attkisson began her journalism career on a PBS affiliate in Gainseville, Florida, and worked at local stations in West Palm Beach, Columbus, and Tampa before moving to CNN. She moved to CBS in 1993 and spent 21 years there, working as an investigative correspondent on the channel’s Washington DC bureau. From 1996 to 2001, she also hosted a medical news program on PBS. Attkisson has won Emmy awards for her reporting on the American Red Cross (2002), the Troubled Asset Relief Program (2009), and the BATF’s “Fast and Furious” program (2012). Wikipedia drags in the ubiquitous vaccine defender Dr. Paul Offit to criticize Attkisson’s reporting as “damning by association”66 because of a piece she aired on vaccines. Several other awards she received are also omitted, while the better part of a page is devoted to making her claims of being hacked for surveillance purposes seem less than credible.

Jeremy Corbyn is a UK politician currently serving as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. A Member of Parliament since 1983, he identifies as a Democratic Socialist. Corbyn opposes military intervention and austerity cuts to public services and supports renationalizing the UK’s public utilities, including its railway network. He has proposed the Bank of England issue funds for large-scale public spending such as housing, energy, and transportation projects, calling the policy “People’s Quantitative Easing” to contrast it with existing quantitative easing policies that attempt to stimulate the economy by buying commercial banks’ assets. He has been a strong campaigner for nuclear disarmament and active in the anti-war movement since his youth. Corbyn’s public support of the Palestinian cause has led to predictable allegations of anti-Semitism perpetuated by the Israeli lobby despite his widespread support among British Jews, and such allegations have metastasized to consume a third of his Wikipedia biography – certainly more space than his actual political views – and spawned several articles of their own.

Vandana Shiva is an Indian environmental activist, eco-feminist, and author who promotes seed freedom and water rights. She has brought global awareness to the destructive effects of GMO farming in her native India, where Monsanto seeds have largely supplanted natural crops and thus must be purchased year after year, leaving farmers so hopelessly in debt that many commit suicide. She exposed genetically modified “golden rice” as a fraud with negligible health benefits and fought against the patenting of living organisms. Shiva began her activist work in the aftermath of the Union Carbide leak in Bhopal. She was also an early voice warning the public about the carcinogenic effects of glyphosate. Beloit College, honoring her with its Weissberg Chair in International Studies, called her a “one-woman movement for peace, sustainability, and social justice.”67 Wikipedia opts to focus on criticism of her work, giving half a page to a single article written in response to a New Yorker piece about her.

Craig Murray is a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan turned whistleblower and human rights activist. While working for the UK Foreign Office in Samarkand, he informed his superiors that the Uzbek regime was torturing thousands of dissidents every year, employing such techniques as rape, asphyxiation, pulling out fingernails, and immersion in boiling liquids. Because the regime had just permitted the US military to move into a military base near the Afghan’s border to facilitate the hunt for Osama bin Laden – a privilege it was paying for with half a billion dollars in annual aid payments – it enjoyed a privileged status with regard to international human rights law; Murray was outraged at the “conspiracy of silence” perpetrated by his fellow diplomats, and spoke out against the regime’s abuses at an October 2002 human rights conference. He was subsequently drummed out of the Foreign Office with a series of fictional and trumped-up charges.68 While much of the worst material in his Wikipedia article has been removed – the editor responsible was banned from editing topics related to contemporary British politics for six months after several of his victims brought his misdeeds to media attention – the article is also missing any reference to Murray’s achievements before becoming Uzbek ambassador, including his roles brokering a peace deal in Sierra Leone, supervising Ghana’s first democratic election, and negotiating the UN’s convention on the law of the sea. The main “Craig Murray” page was even set up to redirect to the biographical article of an ice hockey player before it was fixed.

Deepak Chopra is an author and speaker known for bringing Ayurvedic medicine to a mainstream audience. He is board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology and focuses on mind-body spiritual healing through multiple modalities, aiming to integrate Ayurveda with quantum mechanics to create “quantum healing,” linking shifts in consciousness to shifts in biology. Chopra runs a spa retreat featuring meditation, yoga, massage, and Ayurvedic meals. Because he was one of the first practitioners attacked by Richard Dawkins on his “Enemies of Reason” television series, he has been hounded by the Skeptics who idolize Dawkins. They flock to Chopra’s Wikipedia page to pay homage, and as a result it is cluttered with derogatory phrases in quotation marks, linked to blogger and oncologist David Gorski, who appears to take great joy in verbosely mocking alternative medicine practitioners.

Susan Sarandon is an Academy Award-winning actress with dozens of film and TV credits to her name, including Thelma and Louise, The Lovely Bones, The Hunger, and Cloud Atlas. Reading her Wikipedia page, however, you would have no idea she was also an impassioned political activist. Sarandon most recently made appearances at multiple rallies for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Entire paragraphs detailing her history of activism for third party candidates like Sanders, Jill Stein, and Ralph Nader, against the war in Iraq and other imperialist conflicts, for economic justice with Occupy Wall Street, and against mass incarceration have been removed, with no substantial explanation given for their deletion. Does Wikipedia think actresses should confine their work to the screen, or just shut up and look pretty?

These are just a few examples of the type of reputational attacks found on Wikipedia – some quite subtle, some lying by omission, some giving undue weight to minor incidents in a figure’s life or giving space to “opposition voices” when no such courtesy is afforded voices who disagree with establishment dogma. They are not limited to politicians, scientists, journalists, or activists. There are as many ways to smear a person on Wikipedia as there are victims of Wiki smears. Because Wikipedia is among the first results to appear in an online search, being smeared on the site can have very destructive real-life consequences. Wikipedia’s victims have no recourse to a higher authority – section 230 protects the site from lawsuits, and individual editors hide behind their usernames. The Wikimedia Foundation receives hundreds of requests every year from people requesting their biographical entries be taken down, and takes pride in rejecting every single one.

FINAL NOTE:

Wikipedia is trusted by more people than the news media and the government, yet its articles are written by anonymous editors who could very easily be working on behalf of special interests to control the narrative. Manipulating reality through Wikipedia is easy. The blind trust users place in the site is wholly unwarranted, and the examples we have given are only a tiny fraction of the falsehoods and deliberate manipulation it contains. As George Orwell says, he who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past. Wikipedia controls the past, or at the very least the internet’s idea of the past, and as it becomes more influential, used as a “fact-checking” authority by sites like Google and Facebook, it increasingly controls the present. We must think long and hard about whether we want the kind of future a Wikipedia would give us. Wikipedia may seem too big to fail, having grown in size and power to the point that it can take on governments, but this is precisely why it must fail. We cannot allow the future of human knowledge to be controlled by a group of unaccountable anonymous editors with no understanding of the material, their motivations unknown, their backers unseen. This is the recipe for a totalitarian nightmare.

Time and again, the actions of Wikipedia’s ruling class reveal that their primary concern is how the site appears to observers. Wikipedia’s own reputation is dependent on how it is perceived by the millions of people who read its articles every day. If public opinion takes a nosedive, so does its traffic, and so do its donations. Now that it is Wikipedia’s turn for its reputation to hang in the balance, we will see how forgiving its victims are.

1 Laniado, Eran. “Who originally suggested that 'if you're not paying for the product, you are the product'? (answer)” Quora. 12 Nov 2012. https://www.quora.com/Who-originally-suggested-that-if-youre-not-paying-for-the-product-you-are-the-product

2 Curtis, Sophie and Alice Philipson. “Wikipedia founder: EU's Right to be Forgotten is 'deeply immoral.’” Telegraph. 6 Aug 2014. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/wikipedia/11015901/EU-ruling-on-link-removal-deeply-immoral-says-Wikipedia-founder.html

3 Bailey, Ian. “Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia’s ‘constitutional monarch?’” The Globe and Mail. 12 Aug 2012. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/jimmy-wales-wikipedias-constitutional-monarch/article4478062/

4 Schwartz, Zachary.Wikipedia's Co-Founder Is Wikipedia's Most Outspoken Critic.” Vice. 11 Nov 2015.  https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bnppw4/wikipedias-co-founder-is-wikipedias-biggest-critic-511

5 Wikimedia Foundation. IRS Form 990. 2016. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/6/67/Form_990_FY_2016-2017_-_Public.pdf

6 Wales, Jimmy. “Why I oppose a cabal.” Wikipedia. 26 Oct 2001. https://nostalgia.wikipedia.org/?oldid=24911

7 JzG. Revision to “Jimmy Wales.” Wikipedia. 30 Nov 2007. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jimmy_Wales&diff=prev&oldid=174852842

8 “Requirements – 501(c)(3) Organizations.” IRS.gov. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exemption-requirements-section-501c3-organizations Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

9 Lehmann, Evan. “Rewriting history under the dome.” Lowell Sun. 27 Jan 2006. http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_3444567

10 Noguchi, Yuki. “Wikipedia’s Help From the Hill.” 9 Feb 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/08/AR2006020802212.html?noredirect=on

11 Thompson, Alex. “Google listed ‘Nazism’ as the ideology of the California Republican Party.” Vice News. 31 May 2018. https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/vbq38d/google-is-listing-nazism-as-the-first-ideology-of-the-california-republican-party  

12 “Google apologizes for spreading Wikipedia vandalism.” Wikipedia Talk: California Republican Party. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:California_Republican_Party#Google_apologizes_for_spreading_Wikipedia_vandalism Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

13 Wikimedia Foundation. Communications Quarterly Review. 2014-2015. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Communications_WMF_Quarterly_Review,_Q2_2014-15.pdf

14 “Communications/Wikimedia Foundation messaging strategy/2014-16 audit.” Wikimedia Meta-Wiki. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Communications/Wikimedia_Foundation_messaging_strategy/2014-16_audit Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

15 “Talk:Communications/Wikimedia Foundation messaging strategy.” Wikimedia Meta-Wiki. https://https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Communications/Wikimedia_Foundation_messaging_strategy Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

16 Wikimedia Foundation. IRS Form 990. 2016. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/6/67/Form_990_FY_2016-2017_-_Public.pdf

17 Minassian Media. “Communications Audit.” Wikimedia Foundation. September 2016. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/4/4a/Wikimedia_Foundation_communications_audit_-_2014-2016.pdf Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

18 Minassian, Craig. “CGI U – The Colbert Report Special Episodes.” WikiLeaks. 10 Apr 2013. https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/46703

19 X, Sashi. “Re: Some people in the comments have raised concerns…” Medium:WikiTribune. 13 Jul 2017. https://medium.com/@sashi_x/clinton-foundation-does-pr-for-the-wikimedia-foundation-6f53eb511d82

20 “Hillary Clinton.” Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton Accessed 21 Sep 2018.

21 Collins, Ben. “Hillary PAC Spends $1 Million to ‘Correct’ Commenters on Reddit and Facebook.” The Daily Beast. 21 Apr 2016. https://www.thedailybeast.com/hillary-pac-spends-dollar1-million-to-correct-commenters-on-reddit-and-facebook

22 Watson, Libby et.al. “Behind the Clinton campaign: Dark money allies.” Sunlight Foundation. 3 Dec 2015. https://sunlightfoundation.com/2015/12/03/behind-the-clinton-campaign-dark-money-allies/

23 “Drawing the Public Eye: The Unintentional Consequence of “Astroturfing” by Political Organizations.” Web of Slime. 10 Nov 2016. https://sites.google.com/view/webofslime/article

24 “An Open Letter to ArbCom.” Creolista. https://ling.creoliste.fr/index.php?title=En-WP:Press_Release_/_An_Open_Letter_to_ArbCom Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

25 Sagecandor. “Concerns about potential influx of Russian propaganda users .” Neutral point of view (Noticeboard). Wikipedia. 2 Dec 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view/Noticeboard/Archive_63#Concerns_about_potential_influx_of_Russian_propaganda_users

26 User talk:SashiRolls. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:SashiRolls

27 “Requirements – 501(c)(3) Organizations.” IRS.gov. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exemption-requirements-section-501c3-organizations Accessed 23 Aug 2018.

28 Bergstein, Brian. “Wikipedia founder’s private troubles go public.” NBC. 9 Mar 2008. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/23470060/ns/technology_and_science-internet/t/wikipedia-founders-private-troubles-go-public/

29 Auerbach, David. “The Wikipedia Ouroboros.” Slate. 5 Feb 2015. https://slate.com/technology/2015/02/wikipedia-gamergate-scandal-how-a-bad-source-made-wikipedia-wrong-about-itself.html

30 Bell, Emily. “Wikitribune venture will not address journalism's underlying issues.” The Guardian. 30 Apr 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/apr/30/wiktribune-experiment-will-not-address-journalisms-underlying-issues

31 Owen, Laura Hazard. “Jimmy Wales on Wikitribune’s business model and why it might cover not just politics but also dog breeding.” 4 May 2017. http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/05/jimmy-wales-on-wikitribunes-business-model-and-why-it-might-cover-not-just-politics-but-also-dog-breeding/

32 Wales, Jimmy and Orit Kopel. “Letter from Jimmy and Orit: What we have learned so far.” WikiTribune. 21 Oct 2018. https://www.wikitribune.com/project/what-we-have-learned-so-far/

33 Ral315. “Scandal fallout continues.” Wikipedia Signpost. 13 Mar 2008. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2008-03-13/Scandal_fallout_continues

34 “Jimmy Wales, Kazakhstan, Tony Blair and Wikipedia: A Timeline.” Wikipediocracy. 2 Jan 2013. http://wikipediocracy.com/2013/01/02/jimmy-wales-kazakhstan-tony-blair-and-wikipedia-a-timeline/

35 Williams, Christopher. “Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales restricts discussion of Tony Blair friendship.” The Telegraph. 24 Dec 2012.  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/wikipedia/9764719/Wikipedia-co-founder-Jimmy-Wales-restricts-discussion-of-Tony-Blair-friendship.html

36 Adams, Guy and Vanessa Allen.Blair's £5m deal with a despot: Explosive leaked papers reveal PM’s greed as he shamelessly touted services to Kazakh president accused of appalling human rights abuse.” Daily Mail. 22 Apr 2016. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3554478/Tony-Blair-s-5million-deal-despot-Leaked-documents-lay-bare-ex-PM-s-greed.html

37 (unknown user 84.240.196.128) Revision to “Talk:Wikimedia Kazakhstan.” Wikipedia. 27 Aug 2011. https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Wikimedia_Kazakhstan&diff=next&oldid=2838257

38 Wikipediocracy, op.cit.

39 Tag: Kazakhstan. Jimmy Wales Foundation (website) http://jimmywalesfoundation.org/tag/kazakhstan/ Accessed 1 Nov 2018.

40 Smith, Myles G. “Kazakhstan Wikipedia Controversy Raises Questions About the Crowd.” Eurasianet. 27 Dec 2012. https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-wikipedia-controversy-raises-questions-about-the-crowd

41 Michel, Casey. “Wikipedia Founder Distances Himself from Kazakhstan PR Machine.” Eurasianet. 2 Apr 2015. https://eurasianet.org/wikipedia-founder-distances-himself-from-kazakhstan-pr-machine

42 “Jimmy Wales Foundation.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Wales_Foundation Accessed 5 Nov 2018

43 “UAE grants belie ‘free-speech activism’; return them, now.” Middle East Monitor. 24 Jun 2015. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/19410-uae-grants-belie-free-speech-activism-return-them-now

44 “Israel arrests 280 Palestinians for Facebook posts.” Middle East Monitor. 27 Nov 2017. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171127-israel-arrests-280-palestinians-for-facebook-posts/

45 Edri, Itzik (profile). LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/in/itzikedri/?originalSubdomain=il Accessed 1 Nov 2018.

46 Kolbe, Andreas. “Wikipedia – the new ministry of truth.” Wikipediocracy. 26 Jan 2014. http://wikipediocracy.com/2014/01/26/wikipedia-the-new-ministry-of-truth/

47EI exclusive: a pro-Israel group’s plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia.” Electronic Intifada. 21 Apr 2008. https://electronicintifada.net/content/ei-exclusive-pro-israel-groups-plan-rewrite-history-wikipedia/7472

48 Metz, Cade. “US Department of Justice banned from Wikipedia.” The Register. 29 Apr 2008. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/29/wikipedia_blocked_doj_ip/

49 If Americans Knew. “Israel’s Internet Censorship War” (video). Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/263597961

50 Sales, Ben. “Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales likes Israel but stays neutral.” Times of Israel. 19 May 2015. https://www.timesofisrael.com/wikipedia-founder-jimmy-wales-likes-israel-but-stays-neutral/

51 Shabi, Rachel and Jemima Kiss. “Wikipedia editing courses launched by Zionist groups.” The Guardian. 18 Aug 2010. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/aug/18/wikipedia-editing-zionist-groups?INTCMP=SRCH  

52 Smellie, Sarah. “Inside Wikipedia’s Attempt to Use Artificial Intelligence to Combat Harassment.” 17 Feb 2017. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/aeyvxz/wikipedia-jigsaw-google-artificial-intelligence

53 Oberhaus, Daniel. “Nearly All of Wikipedia Is Written By Just 1 Percent of Its Editors.” Vice. 7 Nov 2017. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7x47bb/wikipedia-editors-elite-diversity-foundation

54 Requests for comment/Remove Founder flag. Wikimedia Meta-Wiki. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Requests_for_comment/Remove_Founder_flag Accessed 1 Nov 2018.

55 Wikimedia Foundation doesn’t own Wikiversity. Wikimedia Meta-Wiki. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_doesn%27t_own_Wikiversity Accessed 1 Nov 2018.

56 Dredge, Stuart. “Wikipedia founder backs site's systems after extortion scam.” The Guardian. 6 Sep 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/06/wikipedia-founder-backs-sites-systems-after-extortion-scam

57 Wales, Jimmy. “Jimmy Wales’s response.” Change.org: 23 Mar 2014. Retrieved 18 Aug 2018. https://www.change.org/p/jimmy-wales-founder-of-wikipedia-create-and-enforce-new-policies-that-allow-for-true-scientific-discourse-about-holistic-approaches-to-healing/responses/11054

58 http://mail.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikien-l/2006-May/046726.html

59 “Jimmy Wales’s response.”

60 Wales, Jimmy. “Homeopathy – Oscillococcinum in Particular.” Quora. 31 Jan 2013. https://jimmywales.quora.com/Homeopathy-Oscillococcinum-in-particular

61 “’The Making Of…’ Episode One: Jimmy Wales.” Vanity Fair. 1 Nov 2018. https://www.vanityfair.com/london/2018/11/the-making-of-podcast-jimmy-wales-eva-chen-arianna-huffington-neil-blumenthal

62 Bagchi, Subroto. “Daddy has Kira to Thank.” 5 Jun 2009. http://www.forbesindia.com/column/zen-garden/daddy-has-kira-to-thank/812/1

63 “Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia.” Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Zero:_The_Silent_Death_of_Cambodia Accessed 12 Sep 2018.

64 Walker, James. “John Pilger says Guardian column was axed in 'purge' of journalists 'saying what the paper no longer says.'” Press Gazette. 24 Jan 2018. https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/john-pilger-says-guardian-column-was-axed-in-purge-of-journalists-saying-what-the-paper-no-longer-says/

65 “Guy McPherson.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_McPherson Accessed 12 Sep 2018.

66 “Sharyl Attkisson.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharyl_Attkisson Accessed 12 Sep 2018.

67 Specter, Michael. “Seeds of Doubt.” New Yorker. 25 Aug 2014. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/25/seeds-of-doubt

68 Walsh, Nick Paton. “The envoy who said too much.” The Guardian. 15 Jul 2004. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/jul/15/foreignpolicy.uk

00:0000:00
November 6, 2018  

Today is Election Day and like always The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.

 

This episode is devoted to election day 2018 and the state of politics 

00:0000:00
November 5, 2018  

New Vaccines Still Cause Autism and Our Government Knows

New Vaccines Still Cause Autism and Our Government Knows

Richard Gale and Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network, November 5, 2018
Today in the US and a growing number of other countries, the official policy is that any scientific study, regardless of its methodology, quality, author credentials, and peer-reviewed process, is summarily dismissed as incomplete, irrelevant or unsupported if it finds a connection between any vaccine or combination of vaccines and autism. Even when the CDC’s own immunologist, Dr. William Thompson, whistle-blows and provides thousands of pages of scientific data and research proving a vaccine-autism connection, the matter is rapidly swept under the rug. In the case of Dr. Thompson’s release of confidential documents to a Congressional subcommittee, the CDC intentionally concealed their evidence that African American boys under 36 months had a higher risk of autism after receiving the MMR vaccine.  The documents also proved the CDC has known for a long time that neurological tics, indicating brain disturbances, were associated with thimerosal-containing vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine.

We have also known for over fifteen years, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filing, that CDC officials, scientists on the CDC’s vaccine advisory panel, the WHO and private pharmaceutical executives met secretly for two days at the Simpsonwood retreat center near Atlanta to deliberate on the Verstraeten research’s findings proving thimerosal’s role in the rise of autism. The meeting was held for the specific purpose of strategizing on how to prevent the findings from reaching the public – and how to spin and manipulate the data to disprove a vaccine-autism connection.

Private medical consultant Barry Rumack, MD, was hired by the FDA to review the mercury levels in children with an eye toward childhood vaccines. According to his findings, “There was no point in time from birth to approximately 16-18 months of age that infants were below the EPA guidelines for allowable mercury exposure…. In fact, according to the models, blood and body burden levels of mercury peaked at six months of age at a shocking high level of 120 ng/L. To put this in perspective, the CDC classifies mercury poisoning as blood levels of mercury greater than 10 ng/L.”  Dr. Rumack notes that the FDA chose to hide this finding from the public and higher health officials.[1]

Unfortunately, the vaccine-autism debate has been limited to only two issues: the MMR vaccine, following the controversies over Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s findings in the 1990s, and the toxicology of thimerosal. Concerns over thimersosal are waning because it has been removed from all vaccines except for the influenza shot, and even the flu vaccine cannot account for the rising autism rate. Since 2001, autism has steadily continued to rise. In 2000, it was 1 in 250 children. Today it is 1 in 36. The CDC argues that this proves thimerosal is not the culprit. It ignores a 2012 Australian study published in the journal Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry that there is a direct maternal transfer of ethylmercury from pregnant mothers to the embryo/fetus.[7] It remains American federal health policy for pregnant women to receive the flu shot, which may contain 25 micrograms of mercury.

For the current 2018-2019 flu season, approximately 80% of flu vaccines will be mercury-free. One would therefore expect autism rates to noticeably decrease; however, the opposite has been the case. So what else is contributing to the escalating autism epidemic? Might it be other vaccine ingredients that are being medically ignored as potential causal agents? Or might it be any or all of the three Hepatitis B, two Hepatitis A, two Rotavirus, five DpT, four Haemophilus influenzae, four pneumococcus, three polio, two MMR, two Varicella and the annual flu vaccinations children receive during the first five years of their lives?

The science clearly indicates that the autism epidemic is not and never has been solely caused by the influenza vaccine, which continues to use a high mercury level, and the MMR vaccine. Although the MMR vaccine continues to be a leading culprit in autism cases, the entire childhood vaccination regimen needs to undergo deep scrutiny. Studies point to the role of other vaccines as well.  Doctors at Stony Brook University’s Medical Center determined that male infants vaccinated with the Hepatitis B vaccine prior to 1999 have a three-fold higher autism rate than their non-vaccinated peers. The risk was greater among non-white boys.[6]

One damning case of government-industry knowledge about a vaccine-autism connection is a leaked December 16, 2011 document from GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers. The text admits the corporation has been aware of the autism risk associated with its Infanrix vaccine, which combines diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, hepatitis B, inactivated polio and haemophilus influenza viruses. The report details adverse effects associated with autism, including encephalitis, developmental delays, altered states of consciousness, speech delays and other adverse reactions.[2]

While these revelations might be considered criminal cover-ups that directly threaten public health, they have had little effect on changing national policy over vaccine safety. Rather, the official denial of any possible association between vaccines and autism has hardened into an absolute dogma. And to date, there is not a single gold standard publication to refute with any certainty a vaccine-autism connection. Indeed, research from around the world proving a relationship increases, but almost none of it is coming from within American medical institutions.

Unfortunately, the American media has also accepted the federal health officials’ denial as absolute. Never do we hear the media questioning the veracity and scientific legitimacy of the vaccine doctrine. In fact, the media goes even further, embracing the principles of fake news to attack scientists, physicians and parents who provide evidence to the contrary. The media falsely frames the debate as a war between science versus parents. The argument is, what can parents possibly know about vaccine science? They aren’t medical professionals. Therefore, we present for readers to review and reflect upon the proof of an unequivocal relationship between vaccination and autistic disorders.

Unlike the US, the UK and Australia, the majority of the governmental health ministries in the modern industrialized world do not take an official national stance on the vaccine-autism controversy and other serious vaccine-related injuries. Only nineteen countries, including the US, have no-fault policies regarding the pharmaceutical industry for vaccine injury compensation programs. This is partially due to the American and British health agencies being heavily compromised by private vaccine business interests. The revolving doors and conflict of interests between these federal agencies and the pharmaceutical industry have been well documented. In the US, members of the CDC’s vaccine advisory community are deep in the pockets of pharmaceutical firms.
The vaccine market is one of the most toxic cash cow scams in operation. In 2016, Market Watch reported that the technological advisory firm Technavio released its Global Human Vaccines Market 2016-2020 analysis estimating that the vaccine market would reach $61 billion by 2020. At the start of 2016, it was worth $24 billion. The enormous projection increase is due to global initiatives to push vaccination compliance upon other nations and over 270 new vaccines, for both old and new indications, in development. The report also predicted that American pharmaceutical companies, notably Merck, Pfizer and Abbott, have the most to gain. The industry also benefits from the $10 billion pledged by Bill and Melinda Gates to increase vaccination rates and compliance worldwide.[a] Another culpable ingredient now used in most childhood vaccinations, and also associated with adverse neurological effects, is the adjuvant aluminum. Because the viruses in vaccines have been weakened or killed, they are unable to trigger a sufficient immune response in the body. Therefore, an adjuvant is used to hyperstimulate the immune system to start producing antibodies. Without an adjuvant, vaccines would largely be ineffective. The critical question raised by Generation Rescue co-founder and author of How to End the Autism Epidemic Jonathan “JB” Handley is, “Could an ingredient in vaccines whose purpose is to hyperstimulate the immune system trigger immune activation in the brain at critical points during brain development?”[b]

Since 2000, as thimerosal was being phased out, children’s aluminum adjuvant burden has increased, with more vaccines being added to the CDC’s vaccination schedule.[8] Aluminum compounds — either as aluminum hydroxide or aluminum phosphate — are the most used adjuvants found in vaccines, including the hepatitis A and B vaccines, DTP, Hib, Pneumococcus, and the HPV vaccine or Gardasil. Each is given to children, the HPV now starting at 10 years. Handley notes that in the mid-1980s, a fully vaccinated child would have received 1,250 mcg of aluminum before turning 18 years of age. Today, that same fully vaccinated child would be injected with over 4,900 mcg, a four-fold increase.[b] A child’s actual aluminum exposure is likely much greater because aluminum sulfate is used in the purification of municipal water. Drinking water may contain levels up to 1,000 mcg/L. An early 1996 study published in the American Academy acknowledged aluminum toxicity and adverse effects in premature infants receiving intravenous fluid therapy.[c]

A common argument against vaccine opponents, who blame aluminum for a variety of health conditions, including autism, is that the metal is the third most prevalent element on earth.  What they fail to acknowledge is our gastric-intestinal system is rather impervious to aluminum absorption.  About 2% of orally consumed aluminum from the environment is actually absorbed and much of this is later expelled from the body by other means.  However, injectable and intravenous aluminum compounds directly entering the bloodstream are a completely different matter. This is why the use of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines carries a high neurodegenerative and autism risk.  Aluminum neurotoxicity in preterm infants after intravenous feeding, which then contained alum, was observed back in 1997 and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.[11] Thirty-nine percent of infants receiving aluminum-containing solutions developed learning problems upon entering schools compared to those receiving aluminum-free solutions.

Similar to thimerosal, aluminum is a heavy metal that contributes to oxidative stress leading to neuroinflammation and microgliosis, an intense adverse reaction of the central nervous system microglia that leads to a pathogenic results characteristic in some ASD conditions.[9] The National Library of Medicine lists over 2,000 references about aluminum’s toxicity to human biochemistry.  Aluminum’s dangers, often found as alum or aluminum hydroxide in vaccines and food preparations, have been known since 1912, when the first director of the FDA, Dr. Harvey Wiley, later resigned in disgust over its commercial use in food canning; he was also among the first government officials to ever warn about tobacco’s cancer risks back in 1927.[10] The medical profession cannot argue against aluminum’s ill effects on children.

Dr. James Lyons’Weiler at the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge has noted that aluminum levels found in vaccines are based on increasing immune efficacy and completely ignore the body weight safety of a child, especially infants and toddlers. But even more negligently, the safety codes for aluminum vaccine doses rely on dietary studies in mice and rats, not human children! Lyons-Weiler notes, “On Day 1 of life, infants receive 17 times more aluminum than would be allowed if doses were adjusted per body weight.”[d] The author is referring to the Hepatitis B vaccine given immediately after birth.
Infancy and the neonatal states are the most vulnerable periods of human development, a time when individuals are most susceptible to transfer and uptake of toxic metals such as aluminum and mercury — if a pregnant mother received a thimerosal-laced flu shot — into the brain tissue. Newborns also vary in size, organ development, genetic disposition, and mother’s environment in utero. Fetal elimination of toxins is also vastly different that the later stages of development in life. Research investigating the elimination of ethylmercury or aluminum in an adult has little relevance to that of a fetus. Nevertheless, vaccines adhere to a one-size-fits-all model for their formulation, and much of the argument for vaccine ingredient safety is solely based upon published studies on adults, not fetuses and infants. Worse, JB Handley’s investigations realized that “aluminum was grandfathered into pediatric vaccines without safety testing.”[b] In other words, injecting aluminum into the bloodstreams of small children has NEVER best tested. This is supported by Drs. Christopher Shaw and Lucjia Tomljenovic at the University of British Columbia’s Neural Dynamics group, who has been investigating aluminum toxicity diligently in their laboratory. In their paper “Mechanisms of Aluminum Adjuvant Toxicity and Autoimmunity,” the authors state, “It is somewhat surprising to find that in spite of over 80 years of use, the safety of AL adjuvants continues to rest on assumptions rather than scientific evidence. For example, nothing is known about the toxicology and pharmacokinetics of AL adjuvants in infants and children.”[f] Shaw and Tomljenovic have conducted extensive research over the years to determine the neurotoxicological effects of vaccine aluminum and its correlation with the rise of autism spectrum disorders. There is already a strong correlation between children in countries with the highest autism rates and aluminum levels from vaccine exposure. As stated above, the FDA established its measurement for aluminum allowance based upon the amount necessary to trigger the vaccine’s antigenicity rather than concerns about toxicity or safety. In an earlier 2009 study published in the Journal of Neuromolecular Medicine, Dr. Shaw and his team demonstrated that the extreme toxicity of aluminum adjuvant contributed to motor neuron death associated with Gulf War illness.[12] It was the first study to test aluminum in vaccines within a biological setting.[e]

Some of the research to discover aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines’ toxic levels and their adverse effects has found the following:
⦁ Aluminum inflicts strong neurotoxicity on primary neurons.[14] ⦁ Aluminum-laced vaccines increase the aluminum levels in murine brain tissue leading to neurotoxicity.[15] ⦁ Aluminum hydroxide, the most common form of adjuvant used in vaccines, deposits mostly in the kidney, liver and brain.[16] ⦁ Long term exposure to vaccine-derived aluminum hydroxide (which is today an ingredient in almost all vaccines) results in macrophagic myofascitis lesions.[17]

In 2002, researchers at Utah State University conducted a serological study of elevated measles antibodies and myelin basic protein (MBP) autoantibodies from 125 autistic children and 92 children in a normal control group. MBP has been identified as playing a significant role in the onset of autism. Ninety percent of the MMR antibody-positive autistic children were also positive for MBP autoantibodies. The researchers concluded that “an inappropriate antibody response to MMR, specifically the measles component thereof, might be related to the pathogenesis of autism.”[18] It is well known that in addition to metals such as mercury and aluminum, viral infections also cause oxidative stress that decreases methylation capacity, as is common in autism.[19]

The work of Dr. Roman Gherardi at the University of Paris has also recently come to light, showing that when an aluminum adjuvant is injected in a mouse, it will find its way to the brain a year later. The significance of this discovery would confirm that many cases of autism progress gradually, and symptoms do not necessarily appear immediate upon or several days after vaccination. Gherardi and his colleagues also discovered in a later 2015 study that aluminum adjuvant remains in the tissues far longer than originally assumed. The principle argument offered by the pro-vaccine community and health officials is that aluminum is quickly eliminated from the body. However, the Paris University study raises a serious concern over aluminum’s biopersistence, which Gherardi calls a “Trojan horse mechanism.” The adjuvant can lodge and accumulate in brain tissue for years, decades or perhaps a lifetime.[g] This should also further raise a question whether vaccines are now also contributing to the epidemic in dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease that has also been associated with brain neuroinflammation caused by the buildup of aluminum plaque. Back in the US, Dr. Carlos Pardo-Villamizar at Johns Hopkins University published his paper “Neuroglial Activation and Neuroinflammation in the Brain Patterns of Patients with Autism.” His conclusions: autistic brains are permanently inflamed. This was the first independent study to actually look at the brains of people with autism.[h]

Finally, this brings us to the critical research and findings of Prof. Christopher Exley at Keele University in the UK and their investigation into the brain tissue of autistic patients to measure aluminum levels. Exley’s finding, reproduced by JB Handley, is shocking. He reports,

“While the aluminum content of each of the five brains (of people with autism) was shockingly high, it was the location of the aluminum in the brain tissue which served as the standout observation…. The new evidence strongly suggests that aluminum is entering the brain in ASD via pro-inflammatory cells which have become loaded up with aluminum in the blood and/or lymph, much as has been demonstrated for monocytes at injection sites for vaccines including aluminum adjuvants.”

Why is this so critical? Because Exley has identified a biomolecular pathway directly leading to vaccine-caused brain inflammation. It is the monocytes or macrophages at the injection sites, the point where a child has been vaccinated, that have become the carriers of aluminum to the brain.[i]

Unlike the US and UK, in most nations independent and scientific integrity rules, and compensation for vaccine adverse events is the norm. In 2014, French authorities ruled there was a direct relationship between the Hepatitis B vaccine and a sudden rise in multiple sclerosis.[3] In 2012, after a long investigative trial, an Italian court ruled that the MMR vaccine caused brain injury leading to autism in the case of Valentino Bocca.[4] This ruling was intentionally blacked out by the American media. The Japanese government halted the MMR in 1993 due to rising autism rates. As of mid-2017, the US vaccine injury compensation court has paid out approximately $3.7 billion to families of vaccine-victimized children. The actual number of awarded cases nevertheless is very small compared to the large number of claims filed and subsequently denied. Many more compensations have been awarded to cases of vaccine-induced encephalitis or brain inflammation, a common event associated with regressive autism. Therefore, within the legal record, contrary to the adamant denials of the CDC and pro-vaxxers such as Paul Offit, vaccines do cause autism.
Let’s be clear. The health of Americans is declining dramatically. Annually, the statistics worsen. According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 39th in the overall health of its population. And a large proportion of this poor ranking is made up of the failing health of American children, with autism and neuro-developmental disorders rising.

The public must demand a national debate between those who advocate for mandatory vaccination and those who challenge it. More than ever before, it is imperative to have this dialogue, as privately controlled interests infiltrate the halls of state legislators to lobby for state-wide mandates. It is highly predictable that autism rates will escalate as more vaccines come to market and states mandate the CDC’s vaccination schedule. The public needs to be educated about the science and ultimately decide for themselves. In a real democracy, an informed patient should have the freedom of choice in making his or her own health decisions. Today, there is no honest debate, no informed consent, no real science, no transparency of vaccine research, and no accurate statistics. Instead, we have federal health agencies, such as the CDC, on its own website, making false claims, advocating fake news. The powers of federal and state governments are being used to mandate the enforcement of vaccination in a totalitarian manner upon its citizens. This is not democracy, this is medical tyranny.

NOTES

[1] http://cdc.news/2017-02-02-americas-taxpayer-funded-bureaucracies-lie-about-vaccine-safety.html
[2] https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-jYsdHZuRhCVXZUbFFlUzdfNGM/edit?pli=1
[3] https://healthimpactnews.com/2014/new-study-hepatitis-b-vaccination-in-france-sparked-a-wave-of-new-cases-of-ms/
[4] https://www.undergroundhealth.com/courts-quietly-confirm-mmr-vaccine-causes-autism/
[5] Sharpe MA, Livingston AD, Baskin DS. Thimerosal-derived ethylmercury is a mitochondrial toxin in human astrocytes: possible role of Fenton chemistry in the oxidation and breakage of mtDNA. Jounral of Toxicology vol. 2012, (2012)
[6] J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2010;73(24):1665-77. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2010.519317.
[7] Gallagher CM, Goodman MS. Hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and autism diagnosis, NHIS 1997-2002. Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry. Volume 94, Issue 8, 2012
[8] Brown IA, Austin DW. Maternal transfer of mercury to the developing embryo/fetus: is there a safe level?
[9] Seneff S, Davidson RM, Liu JJ. Empirical Data Confirm Autism Symptoms Related to Aluminum and Acetaminophen Exposure. September 24, 2012
[10] http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/whatwedo/history/centennialoffda/harveyw.wiley/default.html
[11] Bishop NJ, Morley R, Day JP, Lucas A. Aluminum neurotoxicity in preterm infants receiving intravenous-feeding solutions. New England Journal Medicine. May 29, 1997 336(22):1557-61
[12] Shaw C. Aluminum adjuvant linked to gulf war illness induces motor neuron death in mice. Neuromolecular Medicine, 2007
[13] Seneff S, Davidson RM, Liu JJ. Empirical Data Confirm Autism Symptoms Related to Aluminum and Acetaminophen Exposure. September 24, 2012
[14] Kawahara M et al. Effects of aluminum on the neurotoxicity of primary cultured neurons and on the aggregation of betamyloid protein. Brain Res. Bull. 2001, 55, 211-217
[15] Redhead K et al. Aluminum adjuvanted vaccines transiently increase aluminum levels in murine brain tissue. Pharacol. Toxico. 1992, 70, 278-280
[16] Sahin G et al. Determination of aluminum levels in the kidney, liver and brain of mice treated with aluminum hydroxide. Biol. Trace. Elem Res. 1994. 1194 Apr-May;41 (1-2): 129-35
[17] Gherardi M et al. Macrophagaic myofastitis lesions assess long-term. Brain. 2001. Vol. 124, No. 9, 1821-1831
[18] Singh VK, Lin SX, Newell E, Nelson C. Abnormal measles-mumps-rubella antibodies and CNS autoimmunity in children with autrism. J. Biomed Science. 2002 Jul-Aug;9(4):359-64.
⦁ [19]James J, Culter P, Melnyk S, Jernigan S, Janak L, Gaylor DW. Metabolic biomarkers of increased oxidative stress and impaired methylation capacity in children with autism. Am J Clin Nutr December 2004 vol. 80 no. 6 1611-1617
[20] http://www.jpands.org/vol9no2/bradstreet.pdf

 

[a] Big Pharma and Big Profits: The Multibillion Dollar Vaccine Market By Timothy Alexander Guzman Silent Crow News 26 January 2016 https://www.globalresearch.ca/big-pharma-and-big-profits-the-multibillion-dollar-vaccine-market/5503945
[b] Handley, JB. How to End the Autism Epidemic.
[c] Aluminum Toxicity in Infants and Children Pediatrics March 1996, VOLUME 97 / ISSUE 3 114(4):1126 http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/97/3/413
[d] James Lyons-Weiler and Robert Ricketson Reconsideration of the immunotherapeutic pediatric safe dose levels of aluminum Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology Volume 48, July 2018, Pages 67-73 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X17300950#!

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November 2, 2018  

Gary has a new special for you! 

 

Sleep Stuff, 300 grams

 
Proprietary Blend of: Passion Flower Extract, Valerian Extract, Chamomile Extract, Ashwagandha Extract, Melatonin, L-Theanine, Hops Extract, Reishi Mushroom, Lipase, Amylase, Protease, Inulin, Jasmine Tea Flavor, Stevia Extract, Griffonia Ext (5HTP), GABA, Magnesium Citrate, Lemon Balm, Skullcap, Catnip, Organic Cane Juice
 

Directions: Mix 1 scoop of Sleep Stuff with 8-12 ounces of water, juice or your favorite beverage.
Warnings: Consult a physician before using if you are taking any medications. 
Keep out of the reach of children.  
Store in a cool, dry place. 
Do not expose to excessive heat.  
Sleep Stuff has been formulated without addition of the following ingredients: wheat, shellfish, honey, lactose, egg, milk, yeast, fish. 
Note: Ingredients settle, shake jar before using to 
mix ingredients.

• Vegan

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November 1, 2018  

The causes behind the autism epidemic and how to end it 

Jonathan Handley is the co-founder along with his wife of Generation Rescue, a non profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to sharing information with parents to help them recover their children from autism.  The Handleys are also parents of a son with autism. JB received his degree from Stanford University and for much of his career worked in the private equity industry. He has also worked closely with British physician Andrew Wakefield in the lead up to his hearings and trial in the UK over the controversies of his research into the MMR-autism relationship.  Last month he published "How to End the Autism Epidemic" which backs the argument with some of the best current science to prove that the debate over vaccines and autism is far from being settled.  His website is JBHandley.com where you can also watch a series of free videos JB has created to educate parents. 

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