Glenn Greenwald
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France & Germany Officially BAN Pro-Palestinian Protests—As Rabid US Neocons Urge US War w/ Iran. PLUS: How Dystopian Face-Recognition Tech Will Destroy Your Privacy, w/ Kashmir Hill
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October 13, 2023
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Good evening. It's Thursday, October 12. 

Tonight: on last night's show, we reported on a spate of disturbing censorship that is emerging throughout the West, ostensibly designed to outlaw – to criminalize – dissent from the West policy toward the war in Israel and Gaza: exactly as they have spent the last 18 months doing, censoring opponents of the US-NATO proxy war in Ukraine. We know, of course, that the Israel-Gaza war fosters extreme emotion and passion on both sides of the war, on both sides of the debate – and that's true among the viewers of our show as well, which have been and continues to be one of the most ideologically diverse audiences of any political show, a real source of pride for us. We have members of our audience who are strongly in favor of what Israel is doing, who oppose Israeli blockades and occupation, who are disgusted by Hamas, but want humanitarian constraints on how Israel responds. 

Whatever your views are on the war or Israel and Gaza, it should be alarming to everyone to watch European governments seize on and exploit these emotions to yet again increase their own censorship power. We reported on several such repressive acts on last night's show, including the UK Home Secretary, warning that the waving of a Palestinian flag or chanting pro-Arab slogans may be a crime under British law, while the mayor of Toronto explicitly warned that protest in support of Gaza may be illegal, exactly using the same rationale they used to try and make a trucker protest in Canada against COVID mandates illegal as well. Today, both France and Germany seriously escalated the censorship to all new and radical levels in the name of this new war. As always, the reason why one should object to censorship, even if the target is views that you may hate, in this particular case is if you acquiesce to these measures because it's your enemies who are being censored this time rather than your friends, then the precedent gets implemented, or at least fortified, and then you will lose the ability to object going forward once those censorship powers start being weaponized against your own views and your own allies, as inevitably happens. We'll tell you about the latest acts of repression. 

Then: the dystopian rise of privacy-obliterating technologies is a topic that does not get nearly enough attention on some level. The notion that we have now ceded our privacy in the digital age has become so normalized that one barely notices any longer when there are major advances in the ability of states to digitally track and monitor everything we do. That normalization is really by design. Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg had a notorious quote from 2010, namely that “privacy is no longer a social norm,” he decreed – but it was really an observation by him that the Internet is training people, training populations, that there is no need to value personal privacy any longer. There's no reason to be concerned about how corporations and governments spy on you. 

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Coleman Hughes about how Ted tried to censor his TED talk about race because he advocated colorblindness, a view that TED employees somehow insisted was racist for a black man. Coleman used to advocate colorblindness, the same thing Martin Luther King and many other anti-slavery activists throughout the history of the United States advocated. And I mentioned during that interview with him that I had done a TED Talk in 2014, and I described the process I went through when the topic was essentially one that argued why privacy matters. That was the title of the talk: Why Privacy Matters. Privacy does matter. And it's still being aggressively eroded, primarily by new and stunning surveillance technologies that get far too little attention. One of the genuinely good reporters at The New York Times – yes, there are some – is Kashmir Hill. They're not many, but there are some and she's one of them. She covers technology and privacy for that newspaper. She just published a book that is truly good and important – it's gripping at times – in which she recounts the sometimes-creepy barriers she encountered as she tried to conduct a journalistic investigation of a new company, Clearwater AI, that has developed remarkably invasive facial recognition technology. Obviously, facial recognition technology is supremely invasive. We take our faces wherever we go and if there's technology that can identify us and track us based on our face, that kind of surveillance technology is as ubiquitous as any. We sat down with her for an interview about her new book and about specifically how this technology is already being weaponized by private corporations, billionaires, and government intelligence agencies in ways that I think will amaze you. This is really just part of a rapidly emerging dystopia that relies not just on privacy, crippling technology, but also on analytics to determine who are criminals and who are terrorists and who are other undesirable people – analytics that is used to determine who gets punished, who gets excluded, even who gets droned, at once remarkably efficient, yet remarkably prone to potentially disastrous error. And that includes facial recognition technologies. Well, I think you’ll really enjoy the interview we conducted with her, as well as her new book. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now.

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Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted

For years, U.S. officials and their media allies accused Russia, China and Iran of tyranny for demanding censorship as a condition for Big Tech access. Now, the U.S. is doing the same to TikTok. Listen below.

Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted
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Michael Shellenberger sounds the alarm over the threat of tyranny in Brazil, the US, & Europe. Please share this short (5+ minutes) video, which is on Rumble.

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If the Constitution requires a warrant for the government to investigate an American citizen, how does the renewal of Section 702 pass scrutiny under the Constitution? Is the case that this law is allowed because it has not been challenged in court as being unconstitutional? I hope you can provide information on how this is legal.

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SYSTEM UPDATE RECAP: APRIL 8-12
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Welcome to the SYSTEM UPDATE recap, your weekend digest featuring everything we’ve covered throughout the previous week. 

Prefer to listen to your daily news analysis? Reminder that FULL episodes of SYSTEM UPDATE are available anywhere you listen to podcasts🎙️

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10 - EPISODE 254

Elon Musk Goes to War with Brazil’s Censorship Regime. PLUS: 19 Republicans Defy Speaker Johnson to Kill Renewal of Domestic Spying Bill

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (7:48)

Internet Censorship in Brazil (15:52)

Spy Bill Rejected (44:09)

Outro (1:03:38)

 

THURSDAY, APRIL 11 - EPISODE 255

Endless War and US Security State: W/ Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Davidson

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

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Intro (7:53) 

Interview with Senator Ron Johnson (13:30)

Interview with Representative Warren Davidson (43:30)

Outro (1:22:33) 

 

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FRIDAY, APRIL 12 - EPISODE 255

Mike Johnson Enables Warrantless Spying on Americans. War Between Israel/US and Iran? PLUS: Lee Fang on Ukrainian Smear Campaign

Full transcript available for paid supporters MONDAY

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (7:03)

House Enables Warrantless Spying (12:40)

War With Iran (46:26)

Interview with Lee Fang (1:06:18)

Outro (1:30:04)


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Endless War and US Security State: W/ Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Davidson
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Good evening. It's Thursday, April 11. Tonight, we speak to two members of Congress about a variety of issues involving the war in Ukraine, the war in Israel, the U.S. Security State, warrantless domestic spying and much more. 

The first is the Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, who started back in 2022 supporting the idea of U.S. aid to Ukraine for its war with Russia but has since become one of the most vocal and stalwart opponents of sending more aid there. We'll talk about what motivated that change and his views of current U.S. foreign policy. 

Then we speak to Congressman Warren Davidson, the former Army Ranger who now represents Ohio's eighth congressional district, a job he has held ever since. His predecessor, former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, retired in 2016, where we spoke extensively not only about the evils of U.S. foreign policy but also his view on the vote that took place in the House yesterday that we reported on last night, show that blocked renewal of the FISA spying law without any meaningful protections, warrant requirements or reforms. 

As I've been arguing for some time, one of the most significant and one of the most overlooked developments in U.S. politics, especially when it comes to foreign policy and civil liberties, is the radical realignment among left and right, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans when it comes to who supports the military-industrial complex in the United States and who does not, who supports the U.S. posture of endless war and who does not, who support vesting vast and unaccountable powers in the hands of the U.S. security state, and who does not. Both of our guests tonight are in many ways highly illustrative of this realignment. Senator Johnson, for instance, is not just an opponent now of the U.S. role in the war in Ukraine, but also a thoughtful critic of imperialistic American foreign policy over the last several decades, which he insists Washington needs to study much more to understand its foundational mistakes. Meanwhile, Congressman Davidson has become one of the most scathing opponents of what he calls the neocon consensus in Washington. In some ways, his foreign policy critique of American wars and militarism could almost be called “Chomskyesk” and, notably, it's almost impossible to hear similarly fundamental principled critiques of U.S. foreign policy, the military-industrial complex and the U.S. security state from any Democratic member of Congress, it is almost impossible to note that this critique is, I should say, is not always applied with complete consistency. 

I asked each of these lawmakers why their arguments against funding the war in Ukraine, that we cannot afford to fund more foreign wars, that it brings no benefits to American citizens, that it jeopardizes our standing in the world and does not apply equally to our current policy of financing and arming Israel's war in Gaza, which most Republicans and most Democrats support. In other words, even if one sides more and empathizes more with Israel over the Palestinians, why shouldn't Israel pay for its own wars instead of having Americans pay for them? Both gave thoughtful answers, even if not fully convincing, and I appreciate how willing they were to reconsider and think about in the interview, their stances on those questions and how they might align or not align with their broader principles. 

Both of these interviews, I believe, are highly illustrative of the realignment I described and why these clear changes in the DC consensus are starting to become ever more promising. We recorded both interviews last night after our live program, and we are delighted to share them with you. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 

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Elon Musk Goes to War with Brazil’s Censorship Regime. PLUS: 19 Republicans Defy Speaker Johnson to Kill Renewal of Domestic Spying Bill
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Good evening. It's Wednesday, April 10. 

Tonight: a virtual war has erupted between Elon Musk and X on one side, and virtually the entire Brazilian establishment and the Brazilian left with which they're united on the other. As we have been reporting for two years now, the censorship regime that has been imposed in Brazil—the world's fifth most populous country—all centralized in the hands of a single Supreme Court judge, is more extreme, more repressive, and more lawless than anywhere in the democratic world. And that's saying a lot given how much censorship has spread. That's just one indicator of how extreme the Brazilian censorship scheme is. 

This platform Rumble decided last year that they would rather block Brazilians from viewing its content, despite having built a large and growing Brazilian audience, rather than face massive fines and even criminal threats of prosecution for failure to comply with the avalanche of censorship orders they were receiving virtually daily. 

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That message is what people in Brazil now see when they try to access Rumble, a message saying Rumble is not available in the country because of censorship orders. Rumble announced that it would no longer serve as a weapon in the censorship regime and would block access for all Brazilians, at least for those who don't use VPNs, pending its judicial challenge of the censorship laws that it has now brought.

Last week, the independent journalist Michael Shellenberger, working with two separate Brazilian journalists, released the Brazilian part of the Twitter Files. It documented how internal Twitter lawyers in Brazil were growing increasingly alarmed at the politically motivated censorship orders from the court that they were being drowned with routinely, and they were worried about the consequences they might face from failure to comply. We interviewed Shellenberger last week about his reporting. He was in Brazil at the time, and he was interviewed by multiple media outlets in Brazil, usually in a very hostile manner, far more interested in attacking his character and methods than addressing the substance of his revelations. 

Elon Musk saw all of this—obviously, he pays attention to the Twitter Files—and responded to all of that over the weekend by launching a series of very vitriolic attacks on this one Supreme Court judge overseeing the censorship regime, calling him a tyrant and urging his impeachment. Musk also vowed that X would prefer to disobey unjust censorship orders and even leave Brazil than continue to be used as a weapon in service of this regime. The same decision that Rumble made concerning Brazil last year. That, in turn, provoked very aggressive threats from this judge. He declared Musk to be a target of a pending criminal investigation involving fake news and disinformation. He just inserted Musk into this pending criminal investigation as one of the targets of the criminal probe. He also ordered X employees in Brazil to be questioned by the federal police and explicitly threatened them in writing, with arrest and prosecution if X permitted any banned voices to return to the platform. All of this demonstrates the severity of the growing censorship regime, not only in Brazil but throughout the democratic world. Precisely because Brazil has been so extreme is why it's so relevant to Americans, because it's being used as a laboratory to see how far control over the Internet and online speech can go. Europe and the United States have embarked on their own online censorship regime. We have been reporting on that extensively to the point that it's now at the Supreme Court. What is being done in Brazil is a harbinger of what is coming to the West. We will report on everything that happened here and explore its quite significant implications. 

Then: Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has long been a vocal and steadfast opponent of the U.S. Security State, generally in its attempts to censor the Internet and spy on Americans in particular. Shortly before becoming a speaker, we interviewed him on this show, and he was very clear about his views on these questions. Yet since being elected Speaker, Mike Johnson has seemingly changed his views in quite radical ways on many key issues. He was a longtime opponent of providing more U.S. aid to the war in Ukraine, yet now is working to ensure that Joe Biden's $60 billion request for Ukraine is approved in the House, even if that means relying on Democrats and Democratic protection to do so. Earlier today, Speaker Johnson tried to bring to the floor a vote to renew the domestic spying powers of the NSA and the FBI and to do so without allowing even a single reform, safeguard, or warrant requirement. In other words, Speaker Johnson worked hard to give the Biden White House and the U.S. Security State what they were demanding for renewal of their domestic spying powers and spying on Americans, which was originally enacted during the Bush administration in the name of the War on Terror, and to renew it without any reforms or protections at all. But Mike Johnson had a serious surprise today: his own caucus delivered a major and quite unusual defeat to the House Speaker, with 19 members defecting and preventing the speaker from bringing the bill to the floor. It is likely that some domestic spying bill will eventually pass, though it's not guaranteed and we'll explain what happened today in Congress that dealt a serious blow to the efforts suddenly led by Speaker Johnson, to hand the FBI all these spying powers they want without a single reform. We also will have various members of Congress on over the next week or so to talk about the war in Ukraine, to talk about the FISA law and related issues as well. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 

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