Listen To The Special Weekend Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/commonsensenation/the-weekend-news-with-the-doctor-of-comm
Listen To The Special Weekend Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/commonsensenation/the-weekend-news-with-the-doctor-of-comm
On Sunday afternoon, when Elmer T. Williams’s wife told him that a mass shooting had taken place at a church in Texas, he leapt into action. First, he skimmed a handful of news stories about the massacre. Then, when he felt sufficiently informed, he went into his home video studio, put on his trademark aviator sunglasses, and hit record.
Roughly an hour later, Mr. Williams, 51, a popular right-wing YouTube personality who calls himself “The Doctor of Common Sense,” had filmed, edited and uploaded a three-minute monologue about the Sutherland Springs church shooting to his YouTube page, which had roughly 90,000 subscribers. Authorities had not yet named a suspect, but that didn’t deter Mr. Williams, who is black, from speculating that the gunman was probably “either a Muslim or black.”
Later, after the shooter was identified as a white man named Devin P. Kelley, Mr. Williams posted a follow-up video. He claimed that Mr. Kelley was most likely a Bernie Sanders supporter associated with antifa — a left-wing anti-fascist group — who may have converted to Islam. Despite having no evidence for those claims, Mr. Williams argued them passionately, saying that photos of Mr. Kelley circulating online suggested that he was a violent liberal.
“Sometimes, you can tell a lot from a person’s picture,” Mr. Williams said.
I came across Mr. Williams’s videos several hours after the massacre, when one of them appeared prominently in YouTube’s search results about the shooting, alongside other videos making unverified claims that had been posted by pages with names like TruthNews Network and The Patriotic Beast.
YouTube has long been a haven for slapdash political punditry, but in recent months, a certain type of hyper-prolific conspiracist has emerged as a dominant force. By reacting quickly and voluminously to breaking news, these rapid-response pundits — the YouTube equivalent of talk radio shock-jocks — have successfully climbed the site’s search results, and exposed legions of viewers to their far-fetched theories.
In a phone interview from his home in Houston, Mr. Williams told me that he had created more than 10,000 YouTube videos over an eight-year period, posting as many as 20 monologues per day, and racking up estimated 200 million views.
His hit productions have included fact-challenged videos like “Barack and Michelle Obama Both Come Out The Closet,” which garnered 1.6 million views, and “Hillary Clinton Is On Crack Cocaine,” which had 665,000. He was admitted to YouTube’s partner program, which allows popular posters to earn money by displaying ads on certain types of videos, and claims to have made as much as $10,000 a month from his channel.
“I like to call myself a reporter who reports the news for the common person,” Mr. Williams said.
Whether motivated by profit or micro-celebrity, the success of sensationalists like Mr. Williams has become a vexing problem for companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, which owns YouTube.
These companies sort and prioritize information for their users, and most have built ranking systems that boost news from mainstream outlets over stories from less credible sources. But those algorithms can be gamed in breaking news situations by users who work fast, uploading their videos in the valuable minutes between when news breaks and when the first wave of legitimate articles and videos appears.
“Before reliable sources put up stories, it’s a bit of a free-for-all,” said Karen North, a professor studying social media at the University of Southern California. “People who are in the business of posting sensationalized opinions about the news have learned that the sooner they put up their materials, the more likely their content will be found by an audience.”
The phenomenon is not limited to YouTube. After last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, a Facebook safety check page featured a story from a site called “Alt-Right News” that made false statements about the gunman, and Google’s search results displayed a conspiracy theory from 4Chan, the notoriously toxic message board. After last month’s terrorist attack in New York City, a trending topic page on Twitter briefly featured a story from Infowars, a conservative site that is popular among the conspiracy-minded.
Conservatives have argued that YouTube unfairly targets their videos while allowing liberal channels, such as The Young Turks, to post heated political commentary. And some dispute that there is any conscious gaming going on.
“There is absolutely no strategy,” said Paul Joseph Watson, an editor-at-large at Infowars and a popular YouTube personality who has 1.1 million subscribers. On the day of the Texas church shooting, one of Mr. Watson’s tweets appeared as a result in Google searches for the shooter’s name, although it has since disappeared.
Tech companies, already under fire for the ease with which they allowed Russia to interfere in last year’s election, have also vowed to take a harder stance on domestic misinformation. Twitter’s acting general counsel, Sean Edgett, told congressional investigators last week that the company would take steps to keep false stories from being featured on trending topic pages.
“It’s a bad user experience, and we don’t want to be known as a platform for that,” Mr. Edgett said.
YouTube, whose community guidelines prohibit hateful and threatening content, has begun using artificial intelligence to help identify offensive videos. But conspiracy theories don’t announce themselves, and machines can’t yet handle the complicated business of fact-checking.
In Mr. Williams’s case, human intervention seems to have been necessary. On Tuesday, shortly after I asked YouTube some questions about Mr. Williams’s account, all of his videos disappeared, and his profile was replaced by a message saying, “This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy prohibiting hate speech.”
Mr. Williams, who said he had recently left his job as an operations manager at a hazardous materials plant to focus on full-time punditry, has tangled with YouTube’s hate speech policies before. The company shut down one of his previous accounts for similar infractions, which he claimed cost him 250,000 subscribers and a lucrative income stream.
“If YouTube didn’t punish me,” Mr. Williams said, “I could easily be making over $30,000 a month.”
In a statement, YouTube said that Mr. Williams’s account was banned “as soon as it was flagged to us,” because its terms of service prohibit repeat rule-breakers from opening new accounts. It also said that its terms prohibit advertising from appearing on videos featuring “controversial and sensitive events, tragedies, political conflicts, and other sensitive topics.”
Even before this week’s crackdown, Mr. Williams was branching out. He sells cellphone ringtones on his website, and was considering starting his own paid streaming service. Tuesday night, just hours after he was banned by YouTube, Mr. Williams posted a video on Vimeo, another video-hosting platform. He pledged to keep insulting his favorite targets — Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama — and not shy away from controversy, no matter what the policies said.
“I don’t want to be on YouTube anymore,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s too communist.”
According to a new report from The Hill, early drafts of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement on Hillary Clinton’s email case accused the former Secretary of State of “gross negligence” in her handling of classified information as opposed to the “extremely careless” phrase that made its way into the final statement.
As The Hill further points out, the change in language is significant since federal law states that “gross negligence” in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines whereas “extreme carelessness” has no such legal definition and/or ramifications.
An early draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement closing out the Hillary Clinton email case accused the former Secretary of State of having been ‘grossly negligent” in handling classified information, new memos to Congress show.
The tough language was changed to the much softer accusation that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information when Comey announced in July 2016 there would be no charges against her.
The draft, written weeks before the announcement of no charges, was described by multiple sources who saw the document both before and after it was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee this past weekend.
“There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified information,” reads the statement, one of Comey’s earliest drafts.
Those sources said the draft statement was subsequently changed in red-line edits to conclude that the handling of 110 emails containing classified information that were transmitted by Clinton and her aides over her insecure personal email server was “extremely careless.”
Of course, Comey’s final statement, while critical of Hillary’s email usage, alleged that no prosecutor would pursue charges against actions which he described only as “extremely careless.”
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
“There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about the matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
Meanwhile, Section 793 of federal law states that “gross negligence” with respect to the handling of national defense documents is punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison…so you can see why that might present a problem for Hillary.
“Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer— shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
Unfortunately, The Hill’s sources couldn’t confirm the most important detail behind this bombshell new revelation, namely who made the call to the change the language…
The sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the memos show that at least three top FBI officials were involved in helping Comey fashion and edit the statement, including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, General Counsel James Baker and Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki.
The documents turned over to Congress do not indicate who recommended the key wording changes, the sources said. The Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to demand the FBI identify who made the changes and why, the sources said.
…that said, we’re going to go out on a limb and question whether it just might have had something to do with that infamous meeting between Bill Clinton and then Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Comey’s boss, that happened just 6 days before Comey made his statement?
The National Archives published more than 600 new records Friday relating to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy — and some addressed civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and his multiple alleged affairs.
The FBI document, titled “Martin Luther King, Jr. A Current Analysis” and dated March 12, 1968, compiled background information on King, including his influences, associates, alleged affairs and more. King was assassinated April 4, 1968.
“The course King chooses to follow at this critical time could have momentous impact on the future of race relations in the United States,” the 20 page document’s introduction reads. “And for that reason this paper has been prepared to give some insight into the nature of the man himself as well as the nature of his views, goals, objectives, tactics and the reasons therefor.”
One of the sections in the document in the section titled “King’s Personal Conduct” mentioned alleged affairs, which were alluded to in the 2014 film “Selma” and an infamous letter from the FBI urging King to commit suicide.
The document repeatedly referred to some the alleged sex acts King engaged in as “unnatural” and “abnormal.”
One of the events mentioned in the document are workshops King held in Miami, Florida, in February 1968 with funds from the Ford Foundation to train black ministers in leadership
“One Negro minister in attendance later expressed his disgust with the behind-the-scene drinking, fornication, and homosexuality that went on at the conference,” the document reads. “Several Negro and white prostitutes were brought in from the Miami area. An all night-sex orgy was held with these prostitutes and some of the delegates in attendance.”
“One room had a large table in it which was filled with whiskey. The two Negro prostitutes were paid $50.00 to put on a sex show for the entertainment of the guests. A variety of sex acts deviating from the normal were observed.”
The document continued to say that such occurrences were well known by King’s acquaintances.
“As early as January, 1964, King engaged in another, two-day drunken sex orgy in Washington, D.C. Many of those present engaged in sexual acts, natural as well as unnatural, for the entertainment of onlookers. When one of the females shied away from engaging in an unnatural act, King … discussed how she was to be taught and initiated in this respect,” the document reads.
“Throughout the ensuing years and until this date King has continued to carry on his sexual aberrations secretly while holding himself out to the public view as a moral leader of religious conviction.”
According to the document, King had a frequent affair with a woman, which may have led to a baby girl being born. The FBI said the sources of the information was “a prominent Negro who is related by law to King’s mistress,” who referred to King repeatedly as a “hypocrite.”
“It was learned in February, 1968, from a very responsible Los Angeles individual in a position to know, that King has been having an illicit love affair with the wife of a prominent Negro dentist in Los Angeles, California, since 1962. He believes King fathered a baby girl born to this woman inasmuch as her husband is allegedly sterile,” the document reads.
“The child resembles King to a great degree and King contributes to the support of this child. He calls this woman every Wednesday and frequently meets her in various cities throughout the country.”
According to the document, the source also said that King had affairs with three other women, including Joan Baez, a folk singer.
“The prominent Negro who furnished the information said he was appalled that a man of King’s low character could cause so much trouble for both Negroes and the Government,” the document reads. “As can be seen from above, it is a fact that King not only regularly indulges in adulterous acts but enjoys the abnormal by engaging in group sexual orgies.”
The document noted an alleged disconnect between King’s actions and messages.
More documents related to JFK’s assassination have yet to be released. Last week, President Donald Trump allowed the release of 2,800 documents but withheld thousands of other documents at the request of U.S. intelligence agencies. The withheld files were placed under a six-month review, and Trump ordered the intelligence agencies to release approved documents throughout the period.
Washington, DC – The attack by Islamic militants in the central African country of Niger that left four American military members dead and triggered a public fight between President Donald Trump and Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, of Florida, is hiding a far more dark episode in our nation’s military. New evidence has emerged that reveals that Sgt. La David T. Johnson, the center of the fracas between President Trump and Rep. Wilson, had betrayed his own squad by helping to set up the ambush in Niger by Islamic militants that would ultimately lead to the death of three American soldiers as well as his own.
Niger is a landlocked, west African country bordered by Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad. Since its independence from France in 1960, it has experienced military rule, countless coups and now a democratically elected government. The current president of Niger is Issoufou Mahamadou.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Food production isn’t keeping up with the population growth due to the arid climate, the lack of arable land and the high fertility rate.
Niger however is rich in natural resources and Islamic terrorists have targeted Niger in order to hurt its economy. Uranium mines, which are abundant in Niger, have been the target of recent terrorist attacks aimed at undermining the democratically elected government.
U.S. troops started arriving in Niger in 2013. During this time, extremists were on the rise in northwest Africa. The French had intervened in Mali in 2012 when an al-Qaeda affiliated group and other tribal groups took control of the northern part of the country. In addition, Boko Haram continued its assault on Nigeria through bombings and killings.
Former president Barack Obama deployed 40 U.S. military personnel to provide support to the French forces. This brought the total number of troops in Niger to 100 in 2013. However, the small troop numbers were grossly insufficient to deal with the complexity of the insurgency and Islamic terrorist activities. The number of U.S. troops in Niger has since ballooned to 800. In a letter to the House speaker at the time, Obama claimed,
“This deployment will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region.”
Currently, troops are assisting the U.S. Embassy in Niger’s capital of Niamey, while others are working on construction efforts at Air Base 201 in Agadez, according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
On October 4, four soldiers died in Niger “as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol,” according to the Defense Department. According to the Pentagon, twelve American soldiers were attending a routine patrol in the area when they were ambushed by up to 100 Islamic militants who engaged in a fierce firefight with the patrol. Four American soldiers died that day and the first three identified were Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, Army Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39 and Army Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29.
The fourth soldier identified was Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25 – the soldier whose widow President Donald Trump called and the source of the controversy between President Trump and Representative Frederica Wilson.
Although Johnson is said to have died on October 4, his body was found over a mile away from the site of the Islamic militant’s ambush and it took a whole 48 hours to retrieve his body, according to the Defense Department.
According to a New York Times report, the Pentagon has been trying to determine whether American forces involved in the deadly ambush in Niger diverted from their routine patrol to embark on an unapproved mission, according to military officials.
American and Nigerien soldiers on the patrol have given conflicting accounts about whether they were simply ambushed or were attacked after trying to chase Islamic insurgents, according to military officials from both countries.
One of the main problems with the timeline in Niger is that the area which was alleged to have been patrolled by U.S. forces was familiar to the soldiers and had not been deemed to have required additional security. The area had been patrolled numerous times with no incident.
However, according to the survivors of the ambush, Johnson’s body was found a good mile away from the point at which Islamic militants launched their ambush. In response to media queries why it took so long to recover Johnson’s body, an irate Secretary of Defense, James Mattis said to the media,
“The U.S. military does not leave its troops behind, and I would just ask that you not question the actions of the troops who were caught in the firefight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once.”.
John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff, said on October 19 that more was known about events than has been reported in the press but that he would not disclose it. That “more” is precisely what led to the controversy when President Trump called the widow of Johnson and said “he knew what he signed up for.”
According to a senior White House official who was privy to the discussions between the Pentagon and the Oval Office regarding the Niger ambush and requested anonymity, part of the reason that President Trump took four days before he could publicly comment on the death of the American soldiers is that Johnson was the one who had leaked the position of the patrol to Islamic militants who then launched the ambush, which killed three of Johnson’s fellow soldiers.
The White House was incredulous that a betrayal from an exemplary soldier was possible and they spent four long days trying to confirm what the Pentagon was claiming happened. The bigger question was whether to admit that Johnson had betrayed his squad – no matter how you spun this information – there would be no winners, only losers. Ultimately, the decision was taken to cover up the fact that Johnson had betrayed the position of his squad to Islamic terrorists. Understanding why Johnson, who was highly regarded by his military peers, would do such a thing was far more complex.
La David T. Johnson was a husband and father to a 2-year-old son and a 6-year-old-daughter and was set to welcome his third child in January. According to MilitaryTimes.com, Johnson joined the Army in January 2014 and was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina.
Highly regarded by his military peers, Staff Sgt. Dennis Bohler, a close friend of Johnson’s who was also Johnson’s supervisor at Fort Bragg, said Johnson rose through the ranks rapidly – from a private to a sergeant in less than three years. According to Bohler,
“He caught on quickly. You tell him once, and it’s complete, any task.”
“He was just that one soldier that always wanted to better himself every day. Every day, he wanted to do better than he did yesterday.”
Lt. Col. David Painter, commander of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), said in a statement that,
“The Bush Hog formation (the Battalion nickname) was made better because of Johnson’s faithful service and we are focused on caring for the Johnson family during this difficult period.”
“(Johnson) had some pretty good upbringing. He didn’t do any drinking. He didn’t do any smoking. He was a family-oriented soldier.”
“There was a sense that Johnson didn’t feel like he knew what he was fighting for anymore.”
Johnson hated Donald Trump and thought that he was a white supremacist and a racist and made that clear in conversations with other soldiers. Whereas before, Johnson was more than happy to serve under former president Barrack Obama, the thought of serving under President Donald Trump was something that he had not prepared for.
Then came Charlottesville and the Colin Kaepernick controversy flared up. According to another soldier deployed in Niger with Johnson and who also requested anonymity,
“There was Charlottesville and then there was the whole Colin Kaepernick thing and that really set David off.”
“He was furious that the president would speak in defense of white supremacists and he questioned what he was still doing out here instead of being with his family.”
“As we came under heavy fire, I looked up and saw Johnson jump into one of the Land Cruisers and speed off in the other direction. That Land Cruiser was manned by the Nigerian soldiers who were with us, so I thought it was weird that he would do that instead of providing covering fire.”
President Trump was well aware of Johnson’s betrayal, but decided ultimately that in the interest of keeping the nation united, it would be best to let Johnson’s betrayal go unmentioned, after all, his death was punishment enough – no need to go any further. However, true patriot that President Trump is, he struggled in the phone call to Myeshia Johnson – La David T. Johnson’s widow.
During the call, President Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband “must have known what he signed up for,” according to an account from Wilson, who was riding in a limousine with the soldier’s family when the President called. What Representative Wilson did not know, was that President Trump was struggling with speaking kind words for a soldier who had committed the ultimate sin, betraying his fellow soldiers. According to a senior White House communications aide who asked not to be named and was standing next to the President during the phone call,
“The President really struggled.”
“He wanted to provide comfort to Johnson’s widow, but at the same time, the knowledge that he was saying kind words about a traitor, that was too much for the President, which is why he said Johnson ‘must have known what he signed up for’.”
Ultimately, Johnson’s betrayal and death are a mere reflection of the division that is tearing up this country. An unsettling trend is sweeping across the country, where vows are no longer sacred and symbols are no longer respected and it has reached such a point where it’s even undermining the integrity of our military. Johnson may have been a deserter, but he did not need to be a traitor and it was his traitorous act which resulted in the loss of three other loyal American soldiers who were in country to do their job – defend our freedoms.
As Johnson is buried today as a hero, the true heroes are the ones who chose to let him be remembered that way, because it is better he died as a symbol of unity, then that he expose the truth about the division which plagues our democracy.