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Controversial NewsGuard App Linked to Saudi Arabia’s PR Machine

Elias Marat



NewsGuard Saudi

Controversial news rating app NewsGuard has been found to not only have ties to politicians and figures spawned by the Homeland Security state, but is also tied to a Washington, D.C.-based PR firm that shielded Saudi Arabia from charges associated with the September 11th attacks and took generous payments from Riyadh to help spin its murderous war on the people of Yemen, according to a new report.

NewsGuard, which assigns green or red ratings to websites based on their alleged “standards of accuracy and accountability,” had already come under fire for having on its advisory board such beltway politicians and neo-conservative political figures like Bush-era head of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and former CIA director Michael Hayden. The app garnered further attention when tech behemoth Microsoft added it as a built-in feature on its Microsoft Edge app, a browser derided by web surfers as  “bloatware” that comes preinstalled on Windows 10.

According to NewsGuard’s website, the third-largest investor in the mainstream media narrative-enforcing tool is Publicis Groupe, a multinational advertising firm based in Paris whose subsidiaries include public relations and damage-control firms whose modus operandi is the manipulation of media narratives for a range of corporate clients.

The company’s suite of PR firms includes Washington, D.C.-based Qorvis Group, an outfit that was enlisted by Saudi Arabia’s rulers following the September 11, 2001 attacks for the purpose of shielding Riyadh from charges that it supported the same hardline brand of Wahhabi Islam that underpins the ideology of groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Saudi state sponsorship of Wahhabi schools and terrorist groups has long been a matter of public knowledge.

In the year following the attacks, however, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia pumped $14.7 million into Qorvis Group in a bid to run a massive advertising campaign targeting the U.S. consumer market with messages sanitizing the Saudi regime, including running pro-Saudi ads under the name of a fabricated “activist” group called the “Alliance for Peace and Justice.”

The company’s knack for disinformation campaigns was so perfidious that by December 2002, the New York Times ran a report noting that three founding partners of the firm were quitting due to their “deep discomfort in representing the government of Saudi Arabia against accusations that Saudi leaders have turned a blind eye to terrorism.”

In 2004, the FBI raided the company while searching for evidence that it had violated foreign lobbying laws.

According to RT, which also received a negative “red” rating from NewsGuard:

“Between 2010 and 2015, Qorvis is believed to have received millions of dollars to continue to whitewash the kingdom’s image in the United States. The accelerated airbrushing came just as the Saudis launched its devastating war against Yemen. In fact, Qorvis created an entire website – – to promote the Saudi-led war in Yemen, according to the Intercept.

The firm has also successfully planted Riyadh-friendly stories in major US publications, including a 2016 op-ed by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, which was published by Newsweek. The headline bravely bellowed: “The Saudis are fighting terrorism, don’t believe otherwise.”

Of course, the Qorvis-installed PR piece received a green “trustworthy” rating from the watchdog app.

The news shouldn’t be surprising, given the disproportionate number of “Bush Administration alumni and other members of the beltway establishment elite” who are sitting on the NewsGuard advisory board. “The Bush Administration’s ties to Saudi Arabia are well-documented (mostly by the left, when they still opposed the establishment),” the report notes.

NewsGuard co-founder Steven Brill denies that Qorvis parent company Publicis has any say in the “content or operations” of the app, asserting that their stake in the company remains small.

Yet NewsGuard board member Richard Stengel, a former editor for Time magazine and ex-State Department official, has hailed the use of state propaganda in the past, bluntly stating in a conference last year that the U.S. should fight fire with fire in the war against alleged “fake news”:

“I’m not against propaganda … Every country does it and they have to do it to their own population and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.”


Police Rescue Dogs Trapped In Car on Sizzling Hot Day, Owners Complain About Broken Window

Elias Marat



Police in the UK acted quickly to save a two dogs locked inside a car in sizzling hot temperatures by smashing open a window, upsetting the car’s owner over the damage.

Officers responded Sunday to reports that a beagle and another dog were trapped in a car parked in the seaside British city of Brighton on a day of boiling heat.

In video captured of the incident, an officer can be seen jamming his baton through a rear window before finally shattering it to free the pooches.

This prompts the car alarm to go off as the car’s owners can be seen rushing toward it, upset over the police intervention.

A woman, standing with her shocked family, says: “You broke my window out!”

One of the officer responded: “It’s a hot day. You shouldn’t be leaving the dog in the car in this weather.”

The incident happened on a day when people across the region flock to the seaside resort city to dip into the beaches amid surging hot temperatures.

The onlooker who filmed the incident noted that the owners seemed unaware of the dangers posed to their pets by weather conditions.

“Where they had parked there is just no shade,” they told The Sun. “It’s directly on the seafront in 25°C (77°F) weather outside – I’ve got no idea what it was inside the car.”

The family was indignant over what they claim was an overreaction by the police.

“At first it was ‘what the f*** are you doing, why did you break my car window? I was only gone for 10 minutes,’” another witness explained.

“The bloke obviously thought he was completely in the right,” they added. “He didn’t really seem to have much empathy.”

According to UK animal welfare group RSPCA, outside temperatures of 22°C (71°F) can reach a brutal 47°C (116.6°F) inside a car within an hour.

“Police officers attended and tried to get a contact number for the owners of the car but were unable,” a Sussex Police spokesperson said. “Officers had no choice but to smash the side window to gain access and a kind member of the public donated a bottle of water.”

Authorities added that the officers let the pet owners off with a stern warning, without ticketing the family or separating their dogs from them.

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Scientists Prove What Causes Aurora Borealis for the First Time

Elias Marat



Since the dawn of time, humans have been mystified by what causes the aurora borealis or northern lights. However, a group of scientists have finally uncovered what causes the dazzling lightshow that has captivated people for so long.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have proven that the shimmering auroras are the result of powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms, according to a newly published study.

According to the study, phenomena known as Alfven waves propel electrons toward Earth and cause the particles to produce the brilliant display of northern lights seen in the higher latitudes of our planet,

“Measurements revealed this small population of electrons undergoes ‘resonant acceleration’ by the Alfven wave’s electric field, similar to a surfer catching a wave and being continually accelerated as the surfer moves along with the wave,” Prof. Greg Howes, a co-author of the study, told CNN.

Scientists have long understood that the aurora was the likely result of electrons surfing across the electric field, at least since the theory was introduced in 1946 by Soviet scientist Lev Landau.

However, the University of Iowa professors were able to finally put the theory to the test through a simulation at a lab at the Large Plasma Device (LPD) in the Basic Plasma Science Facility of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Using a 20-meter-long chamber to simulate the magnetic field of the Earth through state-of-the-art magnetic field coils, scientists were able to generate plasma similar to that which exists in spac.

“Using a specially designed antenna, we launched Alfven waves down the machine, much like shaking a garden hose up and down quickly, and watching the wave travel along the hose,” said Howes.

While this didn’t result in the type of auroras we might see in the sky, “our measurements in the laboratory clearly agreed with predictions from computer simulations and mathematical calculations, proving that electrons surfing on Alfven waves can accelerate the electrons (up to speeds of 45 million mph) that cause the aurora,” Howes noted.

Scientists across the country were elated by the results of the experiment.

“I was tremendously excited! It is a very rare thing to see a laboratory experiment that validates a theory or model concerning the space environment,” said Patrick Koehn, a scientist in the Heliophysics Division of NASA.

“Space is simply too big to easily simulate in the lab,” he added.

Researchers are hopeful that a greater understanding will allow forecasters to better understand weather conditions in space.

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Arizona Restores Gas Chamber Where ‘Nazi-Era’ Gas Will be Used for Executions

Elias Marat



Arizona has restored an old gas chamber retired during the 20th century in a bid to continue executing its inmates on death row, renewing criticisms about capital punishment and a method of execution the United States once rejected for being excessively cruel and unusual.

The gas chamber, which hasn’t been operated since it executed its last inmate 1999, has been refurbished to ensure that it can properly function as an option for death row prisoners to choose, reports Associated Press.

The move comes after the Grand Canyon State made a large purchase of ingredients to manufacture its own hydrogen cyanide gas.

The same chemicals Arizona plans on using were also used by the Nazis during the holocaust under the brand name Zyklon B. News articles about Arizona’s plans have provoked outrage among survivors of Nazi death camps in Germany and Israel.

“Whether or not one supports the death penalty as a general matter, there is general agreement in American society that a gas devised as a pesticide, and used to eliminate Jews, has no place in the administration of criminal justice,” wrote the American Jewish Committee said in a statement. 

The federal government has also used the gas in past executions of prisoners.

Arizona’s revival of the old execution method comes as prison authorities across the country continue to grapple with problems over another form of execution decried by critics as brutal, namely the use of lethal injection.

Once depicted as a more humane and painless form of killing prisoners, lethal injection has often led to slow, torturous and excruciating deaths. Additionally, many of the chemicals used in lethal injection drugs are impossible to attain due to the refusal of drug makers to continue manufacturing them – effectively cutting off the “choices” given to death row inmates about their preferred method of death.

In South Carolina, a recently-passed law would see inmates being forced to choose between firing squad and an electric chair, reports NPR.

In the waning days of the Trump administration, the outgoing president also vigorously pushed to fast-track the use of death by firing squad and death by electrocution.

At the time, former federal prosecutor Miriam Krinsky, who also heads the Fair and Just Prosecution advocacy group, said:

“As we find itself in the midst of a national reckoning with racism and our history of racial violence, ending the death penalty must be part of our transformation … Abolishing the death penalty would be a signal that the Biden-Harris administration is committed to fairness, equity, and evidence-based justice — and the time for this definitive move is long overdue.”

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