Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #1087 Fascism: 2019 World Tour, Part 2

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Before resum­ing dis­cus­sion about the Swe­den Democ­rats, we review infor­ma­tion about the over­lap between Wik­iLeaks and CIA deriv­a­tives such as the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. (In our pre­vi­ous pro­gram, we not­ed that both the Pirate Bay website–which host­ed WikiLeaks–and the Swe­den Democ­rats were financed by Swedish fas­cist Carl Lund­strom.) In this con­text, one should remem­ber in con­nec­tion with the alle­ga­tions of Russ­ian pri­ma­cy in the for­eign sup­port for Swe­den Democ­rats, that the CIA’s hack­ing tools are designed to mim­ic Russ­ian cyber activ­i­ty.

After review of Carl Lund­strom’s financ­ing of the Swe­den Democ­rats, as well as his cen­tral role in financ­ing the Pirate Bay site (which host­ed Wik­iLeaks, cour­tesy of Joran Jermas/Israel Shamir), we delve into the oper­a­tions of Lund­strom’s Swe­den Demo­c­rat asso­ciates.

Uti­liz­ing the anti-immi­grant theme uti­lized with great effect by fas­cists around the world, the Swe­den Democ­rats are gain­ing ground on the Swedish polit­i­cal land­scape.

Key points of dis­cus­sion include: The Nazi ori­gins of the Swe­den Democ­rats; the Waf­fen SS back­ground of one of the par­ty’s founders; net­work­ing of the Swe­den Democ­rats with fas­cists and reac­tionar­ies in oth­er coun­tries, includ­ing the U.S., France and Ger­many; the piv­otal role of the inter­net in advanc­ing the for­tunes of the Swe­den Democ­rats.

Next, we exam­ine the rise of Jair Bol­sonaro’s fas­cist gov­ern­ment.

Again, in recent pro­grams, we have exam­ined the pro­found role of online tech­nol­o­gy in the pro­mo­tion of fas­cism, as well as over­lap­ping areas of intel­li­gence activ­i­ty. In that con­text, it is vital to remem­ber that the Inter­net was devel­oped as a weapon, with the focus of the tech­nol­o­gy being coun­terin­sur­gency.

In Brazil, the rise of Jair Bol­sonaro’s fas­cist gov­ern­ment received deci­sive momen­tum from YouTube, which is trans­form­ing the polit­i­cal land­scape in Brazil, as it is in this coun­try.

. . . . In col­or­ful and para­noid far-right rants, Mr. Moura accused fem­i­nists, teach­ers and main­stream politi­cians of wag­ing vast con­spir­a­cies. Mr. Dominguez was hooked.

As his time on the site grew, YouTube rec­om­mend­ed videos from oth­er far-right fig­ures. One was a law­mak­er named Jair Bol­sonaro, then a mar­gin­al fig­ure in nation­al pol­i­tics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right com­mu­ni­ty in Brazil, where the plat­form has become more wide­ly watched than all but one TV chan­nel. Last year, he became Pres­i­dent Bol­sonaro.

‘YouTube became the social media plat­form of the Brazil­ian right,’ said Mr. Dominguez, now a lanky 17-year-old who says he, too, plans to seek polit­i­cal office. . . .

Two excerpts from the sto­ry below encap­su­late and epit­o­mize the grow­ing, suc­cess­ful man­i­fes­ta­tion of inter­net fas­cism: “An Ecosys­tem of Hate” and the “Dic­ta­tor­ship of the ‘Like’ ”

“. . . . An Ecosys­tem of Hate

. . . . As the far right rose, many of its lead­ing voic­es had learned to weaponize the con­spir­a­cy videos, offer­ing their vast audi­ences a tar­get: peo­ple to blame. Even­tu­al­ly, the YouTube con­spir­acists turned their spot­light on Deb­o­ra Diniz, a women’s rights activist whose abor­tion advo­ca­cy had long made her a tar­get of the far right.

Bernar­do Küster, a YouTube star whose home­made rants had won him 750,000 sub­scribers and an endorse­ment from Mr. Bol­sonaro, accused her of involve­ment in the sup­posed Zika plots. . . . .

. . . . As far-right and con­spir­a­cy chan­nels began cit­ing one anoth­er, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem learned to string their videos togeth­er. How­ev­er implau­si­ble any indi­vid­ual rumor might be on its own, joined togeth­er, they cre­at­ed the impres­sion that dozens of dis­parate sources were reveal­ing the same ter­ri­fy­ing truth.

“It feels like the con­nec­tion is made by the view­er, but the con­nec­tion is made by the sys­tem,” Ms. Diniz said.

Threats of rape and tor­ture filled Ms. Diniz’s phone and email. Some cit­ed her dai­ly rou­tines. Many echoed claims from Mr. Küster’s videos, she said.

Mr. Küster glee­ful­ly men­tioned, though nev­er explic­it­ly endorsed, the threats. That kept him just with­in YouTube’s rules.

When the uni­ver­si­ty where Ms. Diniz taught received a warn­ing that a gun­man would shoot her and her stu­dents, and the police said they could no longer guar­an­tee her safe­ty, she left Brazil. . . .

” . . . . ‘The Dic­ta­tor­ship of the Like’

Ground zero for pol­i­tics by YouTube may be the São Paulo head­quar­ters of Movi­men­to Brasil Livre, which formed to agi­tate for the 2016 impeach­ment of the left-wing Pres­i­dent Dil­ma Rouss­eff. Its mem­bers trend young, mid­dle-class, right-wing and extreme­ly online.

Renan San­tos, the group’s nation­al coor­di­na­tor, ges­tured to a door marked ‘the YouTube Divi­sion’ and said, ‘This is the heart of things.’

Inside, eight young men poked at edit­ing soft­ware. One was styl­iz­ing an image of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni for a video argu­ing that fas­cism had been wrong­ly blamed on the right. . . .

. . . . The group’s co-founder, a man-bunned for­mer rock gui­tarist name Pedro D’Eyrot, said ‘we have some­thing here that we call the dic­ta­tor­ship of the like.’

Real­i­ty, he said, is shaped by what­ev­er mes­sage goes most viral.
Even as he spoke, a two-hour YouTube video was cap­ti­vat­ing the nation. Titled ‘1964′ for the year of Brazil’s mil­i­tary coup, it argued that the takeover had been nec­es­sary to save Brazil from com­mu­nism.
Mr. Dominguez, the teenag­er learn­ing to play gui­tar, said the video per­suad­ed him that his teach­ers had fab­ri­cat­ed the hor­rors of mil­i­tary rule.

Ms. Borges, the his­to­ry teacher vil­i­fied on YouTube, said it brought back mem­o­ries of mil­i­tary cur­fews, dis­ap­peared activists and police beat­ings. ‘I don’t think I’ve had my last beat­ing,’ she said. . . .”

1a. In FTR #‘s 724, 725, 732, 745, 755 and 917,  we have detailed the fas­cist and far right-wing ide­ol­o­gy, asso­ci­a­tions and pol­i­tics of Julian Assange and Wik­iLeaks.

Here, we review the links between the Wik­iLeaks milieu and the Tor/CIA

Tor, Appel­baum, Assange and Wik­iLeaks:

  1. Became increas­ing­ly inter­twined, enjoy­ing acco­lades from many, appar­ent­ly unsus­pect­ing, groups: ” . . . .  His [Appel­baum’s] asso­ci­a­tion with Wik­iLeaks and Assange boost­ed the Tor Pro­jec­t’s pub­lic pro­file and rad­i­cal cre­den­tials. Sup­port and acco­lades poured in from jour­nal­ists, pri­va­cy orga­ni­za­tions, and gov­ern­ment watch­dogs. The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union part­nered with Appel­baum on an Inter­net pri­va­cy project, and New York’s Whit­ney Museum—one of the lead­ing mod­ern art muse­ums in the world—invited him for a ‘Sur­veil­lance Teach-In.’ The Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion gave Tor its Pio­neer Award, and Roger Din­gle­dine made in on For­eign Pol­i­cy mag­a­zine’s Top 100 Glob­al Thinkers for pro­tect­ing ‘any­one and every­one from the dan­gers of Big Broth­er.’ . . . .”
  2.  Dif­fered fun­da­men­tal­ly from the accept­ed text: ” . . . . With Julian Assange endors­ing Tor, reporters assumed that the US gov­ern­ment saw the anonymi­ty non­prof­it as a threat. But inter­nal doc­u­ments obtained through FOIA from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, as well as analy­sis of Tor’s gov­ern­ment con­tracts paint a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. They reveal that Appel­baum and Din­gle­dine worked with Assange on secur­ing Wik­iLeaks with Tor since late 2008 and that they kept their han­dlers at the BBG informed about their rela­tion­ship and even pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion about the inner work­ings of Wik­iLeak­s’s secure sub­mis­sion sys­tem. . . .”
  3. Did not adverse­ly affect the gov­ern­ment fund­ing of Tor at all, as might be expect­ed by the super­fi­cial appar­ent real­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion: ” . . . . Per­haps most telling was that sup­port from the BBG [read “CIA”–D.E.] con­tin­ued even after Wik­iLeaks began pub­lish­ing clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion and Appel­baum became the tar­get of a larg­er Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­ga­tion into Wik­iLeaks. For exam­ple, on July 31, 2010, CNET report­ed that Appel­baum had been detained at the Las Vegas air­port and ques­tioned about his rela­tion­ship with Wik­iLeaks. News of the deten­tion made head­lines around the world, once again high­light­ing Appel­baum’s close ties to Julian Assange. And a week lat­er, Tor’s exec­u­tive direc­tor Andrew Lew­man, clear­ly wor­ried that this might affect Tor’s fund­ing, emailed Ken Berman at the BBG in the hopes of smooth­ing things over and answer­ing ‘any ques­tions you may have about the recent press regard­ing Jake and Wik­iLeaks.’ But Lew­man was in for a pleas­ant sur­prise: Roger Din­gle­dine had been keep­ing folks at the BBG in the loop, and every­thing seemed to be okay. ‘Great stuff, thx. Roger answered a num­ber of ques­tions when he met us this week in DC,’ Berman replied. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . In 2011 con­tracts came in with­out a hitch–$150,000 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and $227,118 from the State Depart­ment. Tor was even able to snag a big chunk of mon­ey from the Pen­ta­gon: a new $503,706 annu­al con­tract from the Space and Naval War­fare Sys­tems Com­mand, an elite infor­ma­tion and intel­li­gence unit that hous­es a top-secret cyber-war­fare divi­sion.The Navy was passed through SRI, the old Stan­ford mil­i­tary con­trac­tor that had done coun­terin­sur­gency, net­work­ing, and chem­i­cal weapons work for ARPA back in the 1960s and 1970s. The funds were part of a larg­er Navy ‘Com­mand, Con­trol, Com­munca­tions, Com­put­ers, Intel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance, and Recon­nais­sance’ pro­gram to improve mil­i­tary oper­a­tions. A year lat­er, Tor would see its gov­ern­ment con­tracts more than dou­ble to $2.2 mil­lion: $353,000 from the State Depart­ment, $876,099 from the US Navy, and $937,800 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. . . .”

1b. After review of Carl Lund­strom’s financ­ing of the Swe­den Democ­rats, as well as Lund­strom’s cen­tral role in financ­ing the Pirate Bay site (which host­ed Wik­iLeaks, cour­tesy of Joran Jermas/Israel Shamir), we delve into the oper­a­tions of Lund­strom’s asso­ciates.

Uti­liz­ing the anti-immi­grant theme uti­lized with great effect by fas­cists around the world, the Swe­den Democ­rats are gain­ing ground on the Swedish polit­i­cal land­scape.

Key points of dis­cus­sion include: The Nazi ori­gins of the Swe­den Democ­rats; the Waf­fen SS back­ground of one of the par­ty’s founders; net­work­ing of the Swe­den Democ­rats with fas­cists and reac­tionar­ies in oth­er coun­tries, includ­ing the U.S., France and Ger­many; the piv­otal role of the inter­net in advanc­ing the for­tunes of the Swe­den Democ­rats.

“The Glob­al Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nation­al­ism” by Jo Beck­er; The New York Times; 08/10/2019.

. . . . That nativist rhetoric — that immi­grants are invad­ing the home­land — has gained ever-greater trac­tion, and polit­i­cal accep­tance, across the West amid dis­lo­ca­tions wrought by vast waves of migra­tion from the Mid­dle East, Africa and Latin Amer­i­ca. In its most extreme form, it is echoed in the online man­i­festo of the man accused of gun­ning down 22 peo­ple last week­end in El Paso.

In the nation­al­ists’ mes­sage-mak­ing, Swe­den has become a prime cau­tion­ary tale, drip­ping with schaden­freude. What is even more strik­ing is how many peo­ple in Swe­den — pro­gres­sive, egal­i­tar­i­an, wel­com­ing Swe­den — seem to be warm­ing to the nation­al­ists’ view: that immi­gra­tion has brought crime, chaos and a fray­ing of the cher­ished social safe­ty net, not to men­tion a with­er­ing away of nation­al cul­ture and tra­di­tion.

Fueled by an immi­gra­tion back­lash — Swe­den has accept­ed more refugees per capi­ta than any oth­er Euro­pean coun­try — right-wing pop­ulism has tak­en hold, reflect­ed most promi­nent­ly in the steady ascent of a polit­i­cal par­ty with neo-Nazi roots, the Swe­den Democ­rats. In elec­tions last year, they cap­tured near­ly 18 per­cent of the vote.

To dig beneath the sur­face of what is hap­pen­ing in Swe­den, though, is to uncov­er the work­ings of an inter­na­tion­al dis­in­for­ma­tion machine, devot­ed to the cul­ti­va­tion, provo­ca­tion and ampli­fi­ca­tion of far-right, anti-immi­grant pas­sions and polit­i­cal forces. Indeed, that machine, most influ­en­tial­ly root­ed in Vladimir V. Putin’s Rus­sia and the Amer­i­can far right, under­scores a fun­da­men­tal irony of this polit­i­cal moment: the glob­al­iza­tion of nation­al­ism.

The cen­tral tar­get of these manip­u­la­tions from abroad — and the chief instru­ment of the Swedish nation­al­ists’ suc­cess — is the country’s increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar, and vir­u­lent­ly anti-immi­grant, dig­i­tal echo cham­ber.

A New York Times exam­i­na­tion of its con­tent, per­son­nel and traf­fic pat­terns illus­trates how for­eign state and non­state actors have helped to give viral momen­tum to a clutch of Swedish far-right web­sites.

Russ­ian and West­ern enti­ties that traf­fic in dis­in­for­ma­tion, includ­ing an Islama­pho­bic think tank whose for­mer chair­man is now Mr. Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, have been cru­cial link­ers to the Swedish sites, help­ing to spread their mes­sage to sus­cep­ti­ble Swedes.

At least six Swedish sites have received finan­cial back­ing through adver­tis­ing rev­enue from a Russ­ian- and Ukrain­ian-owned auto-parts busi­ness based in Berlin, whose online sales net­work odd­ly con­tains buried dig­i­tal links to a range of far-right and oth­er social­ly divi­sive con­tent. . . .

. . . . The dis­tort­ed view of Swe­den pumped out by this dis­in­for­ma­tion machine has been used, in turn, by anti-immi­grant par­ties in Britain, Ger­many, Italy and else­where to stir xeno­pho­bia and gin up votes, accord­ing to the Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue, a Lon­don-based non­prof­it that tracks the online spread of far-right extrem­ism.

“I’d put Swe­den up there with the anti-Soros cam­paign,” said Chloe Col­liv­er, a researcher for the insti­tute, refer­ring to anti-Semit­ic attacks on George Soros, the bil­lion­aire bene­fac­tor of lib­er­al caus­es. “It’s become an endur­ing cen­ter­piece of the far-right con­ver­sa­tion.”

From Mar­gins to Main­stream

Mat­tias Karls­son, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ inter­na­tion­al sec­re­tary and chief ide­ol­o­gist, likes to tell the sto­ry of how he became a sol­dier in what he has described as the “exis­ten­tial bat­tle for our culture’s and our nation’s sur­vival.”

It was the mid-1990s and Mr. Karls­son, now 41, was attend­ing high school in the south­ern city of Vaxjo. Swe­den was accept­ing a record num­ber of refugees from the Balkan War and oth­er con­flicts. In Vaxjo and else­where, young immi­grant men began join­ing brawl­ing “kick­er” gangs, rad­i­cal­iz­ing Mr. Karls­son and draw­ing him toward the local skin­head scene.

He took to wear­ing a leather jack­et with a Swedish flag on the back and was soon intro­duced to Mats Nils­son, a Swedish Nation­al Social­ist leader who gave him a copy of “Mein Kampf.” They began to debate: Mr. Nils­son argued that the goal should be eth­nic puri­ty — the preser­va­tion of “Swedish DNA.” Mr. Karls­son coun­tered that the focus should be on pre­serv­ing nation­al cul­ture and iden­ti­ty. That, he said, was when Mr. Nils­son con­ferred on him an epi­thet of insuf­fi­cient com­mit­ment to the cause — “meat­ball patri­ot,” mean­ing that “I thought that every African or Arab can come to this coun­try as long as they assim­i­late and eat meat­balls.”

It is an account that offers the most benign expla­na­tion for an odi­ous asso­ci­a­tion. What­ev­er the case, in 1999, he joined the Swe­den Democ­rats, a par­ty unde­ni­ably root­ed in Sweden’s neo-Nazi move­ment. Indeed, schol­ars of the far right say that is what sets it apart from most anti-immi­gra­tion par­ties in Europe and makes its rise from mar­gin­al­ized to main­stream so remark­able.

The par­ty was found­ed in 1988 by sev­er­al Nazi ide­o­logues, includ­ing a for­mer mem­ber of the Waf­fen SS. Ear­ly on, it sought inter­na­tion­al alliances with the likes of the White Aryan Resis­tance, a white suprema­cist group found­ed by a for­mer grand drag­on of the Ku Klux Klan. Some Swe­den Democ­rats wore Nazi uni­forms to par­ty func­tions. Its plat­form includ­ed the forced repa­tri­a­tion of all immi­grants since 1970.

That was not, how­ev­er, a win­ning for­mu­la in a coun­try where social democ­rats have dom­i­nat­ed every elec­tion for more than a cen­tu­ry.
While attend­ing uni­ver­si­ty, Mr. Karls­son had met Jim­mie Akesson, who took over the Swe­den Democ­rats’ youth par­ty in 2000 and became par­ty leader in 2005. Mr. Akesson was out­spo­ken in his belief that Mus­lim refugees posed “the biggest for­eign threat to Swe­den since the Sec­ond World War.” But to make that case effec­tive­ly, he and Mr. Karls­son agreed, they need­ed to remake the party’s image.

“We need­ed to real­ly address our past,” Mr. Karls­son said.They purged neo-Nazis who had been exposed by the press. They announced a “zero tol­er­ance” pol­i­cy toward extreme xeno­pho­bia and racism, empha­sized their youth­ful lead­er­ship and urged mem­bers to dress pre­sentably. And while immi­gra­tion remained at the cen­ter of their plat­form, they mod­er­at­ed the way they talked about it.

No longer was the issue framed in terms of keep­ing cer­tain eth­nic groups out, or deport­ing those already in. Rather it was about how unas­sim­i­lat­ed migrants were evis­cer­at­ing not just the nation’s cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty but also the social-wel­fare heart of the Swedish state.

Under the grand, egal­i­tar­i­an idea of the “folkhem­met,” or people’s home, in which the coun­try is a fam­i­ly and its cit­i­zens take care of one anoth­er, Swedes pay among the world’s high­est effec­tive tax rates, in return for ben­e­fits like child care, health care, free col­lege edu­ca­tion and assis­tance when they grow old.

The safe­ty net has come under strain for a host of eco­nom­ic and demo­graph­ic rea­sons, many of which pre­date the lat­est refugee flood. But in the Swe­den Democ­rats’ telling, the blame lies square­ly at the feet of the for­eign­ers, many of whom lag far behind native Swedes in edu­ca­tion and eco­nom­ic accom­plish­ment. One par­ty adver­tise­ment depict­ed a white woman try­ing to col­lect ben­e­fits while being pur­sued by niqab-wear­ing immi­grants push­ing strollers.
To what extent the party’s makeover is just win­dow dress­ing is an open ques­tion.

The doubts were high­light­ed in what became known as “the Iron Pipe Scan­dal” in 2012. Leaked video showed two Swe­den Demo­c­rat MPs and the party’s can­di­date for attor­ney gen­er­al hurl­ing racist slurs at a come­di­an of Kur­dish descent, then threat­en­ing a drunk­en wit­ness with iron pipes.

High-rank­ing par­ty offi­cials have bounced between Swe­den and Hun­gary, ruled by the author­i­tar­i­an nation­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban. Mr. Karls­son him­self has come under fire for call­ing out an extrem­ist site as neo-fas­cist while using an alias to rec­om­mend posts as “worth read­ing” to par­ty mem­bers.

“There’s a pub­lic face and the face they wear behind closed doors,” said Daniel Poohl, who heads Expo, a Stock­holm-based foun­da­tion that tracks far-right extrem­ism.

Still, even detrac­tors admit that strat­e­gy has worked. In 2010, the Swe­den Democ­rats cap­tured 5.7 per­cent of the vote, enough for the par­ty, and Mr. Karls­son, to enter Par­lia­ment for the first time. That share has steadi­ly increased along with the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of refugees. (Today, rough­ly 20 per­cent of Sweden’s pop­u­la­tion is for­eign born.)

At its peak in 2015, Swe­den accept­ed 163,000 asy­lum-seek­ers, most­ly from Afghanistan, Soma­lia and Syr­ia. Though bor­der con­trols and tighter rules have eased that flow, Ardalan Shekara­bi, the country’s pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion min­is­ter, acknowl­edged that his gov­ern­ment had been slow to act.

Mr. Shekara­bi, an immi­grant from Iran, said the sheer num­ber of refugees had over­whelmed the government’s efforts to inte­grate them.
“I absolute­ly don’t think that the major­i­ty of Swedes have racist or xeno­pho­bic views, but they had ques­tions about this migra­tion pol­i­cy and the oth­er par­ties didn’t have any answers,” he said. “Which is one of the rea­sons why Swe­den Democ­rats had a case.” . . . .

. . . . For years, the Swe­den Democ­rats had strug­gled to make their case to the pub­lic. Many main­stream media out­lets declined their ads. The par­ty even had dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting the postal ser­vice to deliv­er its mail­ers. So it built a net­work of closed Face­book pages whose reach would ulti­mate­ly exceed that of any oth­er par­ty.

But to thrive in the viral sense, that net­work required fresh, allur­ing con­tent. It drew on a clutch of rel­a­tive­ly new web­sites whose pop­u­lar­i­ty was explod­ing.

Mem­bers of the Swe­den Democ­rats helped cre­ate two of them: Samhall­snytt (News in Soci­ety) and Nyheter Idag (News Today). By the 2018 elec­tion year, they, along with a site called Fria Tider (Free Times), were among Sweden’s 10 most shared news sites.

These sites each reached one-tenth of all Swedish inter­net users a week and, accord­ing to an Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty study, account­ed for 85 per­cent of the elec­tion-relat­ed “junk news” — deemed delib­er­ate­ly dis­tort­ed or mis­lead­ing — shared online. There were oth­er sites, too, all inject­ing anti-immi­grant and Islam­o­pho­bic mes­sag­ing into the Swedish polit­i­cal blood­stream.

“Immi­gra­tion Behind Short­age of Drink­ing Water in North­ern Stock­holm,” read one recent head­line. “Refugee Minor Raped Host Family’s Daugh­ter; Thought It Was Legal,” read anoth­er. “Per­formed Female Gen­i­tal Muti­la­tion on Her Chil­dren — Giv­en Asy­lum in Swe­den,” read a third. . . . .

. . . . At the mag­a­zine Nya Tider, the edi­tor, Vavra Suk, has trav­eled to Moscow as an elec­tion observ­er and to Syr­ia, where he pro­duced Krem­lin-friend­ly accounts of the civ­il war. Nya Tider has pub­lished work by Alexan­der Dug­in, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist Russ­ian philoso­pher who has been called “Putin’s Rasputin”; Mr. Suk’s writ­ings for Mr. Dugin’s think tank include one titled “Don­ald Trump Can Make Europe Great Again.”

Nya Tider’s con­trib­u­tors include Manuel Ochsen­re­it­er, edi­tor of Zuerst!, a Ger­man far-right news­pa­per. Mr. Ochsen­re­it­er — who has appeared reg­u­lar­ly on RT, the Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da chan­nel — worked until recent­ly for Markus Frohn­maier, a mem­ber of the Ger­man Bun­destag rep­re­sent­ing the far-right Alter­na­tive for Ger­many par­ty. . . . .

Links Abroad

. . . . Anoth­er way to look inside the explo­sive growth of Sweden’s alt-right out­lets is to see who is link­ing to them. The more links, espe­cial­ly from well-traf­ficked out­lets, the more like­ly Google is to rank the sites as author­i­ta­tive. That, in turn, means that Swedes are more like­ly to see them when they search for, say, immi­gra­tion and crime.

The Times ana­lyzed more than 12 mil­lion avail­able links from over 18,000 domains to four promi­nent far-right sites — Nyheter Idag, Samhall­snytt, Fria Tider and Nya Tider. The data was culled by Mr. Lind­holm from two search engine opti­miza­tion tools and rep­re­sents a snap­shot of all known links through July 2.

As expect­ed, giv­en the rel­a­tive pauci­ty of Swedish speak­ers world­wide, most of the links came from Swedish-lan­guage sites.
But the analy­sis turned up a sur­pris­ing num­ber of links from well-traf­ficked for­eign-lan­guage sites — which sug­gests that the Swedish sites’ rapid growth has been dri­ven to a sig­nif­i­cant degree from abroad.

“It has the mak­ings, the char­ac­ter­is­tics, of an oper­a­tion whose pur­pose or goal is to help these sites become rel­e­vant by get­ting them to be seen as wide­ly as pos­si­ble,” Mr. Lind­holm said.

Over all, more than one in five links were from non-Swedish lan­guage sites. Eng­lish-lan­guage sites, along with Nor­we­gian ones, linked the most, near­ly a mil­lion times. But oth­er Euro­pean-lan­guage far-right sites — Russ­ian but also Czech, Dan­ish, Ger­man, Finnish and Pol­ish — were also fre­quent link­ers.

The Times iden­ti­fied 356 domains that linked to all four Swedish sites.

Many are well known in Amer­i­can far-right cir­cles. Among them is the Gate­stone Insti­tute, a think tank whose site reg­u­lar­ly stokes fears about Mus­lims in the Unit­ed States and Europe. Its chair­man until last year was John R. Bolton, now Mr. Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, and its fun­ders have includ­ed Rebekah Mer­cer, a promi­nent wealthy Trump sup­port­er.Oth­er domains that linked to all four Swedish sites includ­ed Storm­front, one of the old­est and largest Amer­i­can white suprema­cist sites; Voice of Europe, a Krem­lin-friend­ly right-wing site; a Russ­ian-lan­guage blog called Sweden4Rus.nu; and FreieWelt.net, a site sup­port­ive of the AfD in Ger­many. . . . .

. . . . But it came at a price: some promi­nent cen­ter-right politi­cians are now express­ing a will­ing­ness to work with the Swe­den Democ­rats, por­tend­ing a new polit­i­cal align­ment.

In Feb­ru­ary, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ Mr. Karls­son strode into a Wash­ing­ton-area hotel where lead­ers of the Amer­i­can and Euro­pean right were gath­er­ing for the annu­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence. As he set­tled in at the lob­by bar, straight­en­ing his navy three-piece suit, he was clear­ly very much at home.

At the con­fer­ence — where polit­i­cal boot-camp train­ing mixed with speech­es by lumi­nar­ies like Mr. Trump and the British pop­ulist leader Nigel Farage — Mr. Karls­son hoped to learn about the infra­struc­ture of the Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly its fund­ing and use of the media and think tanks to broad­en its appeal. But in a mea­sure of how nation­al­ism and con­ser­vatism have merged in Mr. Trump’s Wash­ing­ton, many of the Amer­i­cans with whom he want­ed to net­work were just as eager to net­work with him.

Mr. Karls­son had flown in from Col­orado, where he had giv­en a speech at the Steam­boat Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank. That morn­ing, Tobias Ander­s­son, 23, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ youngest mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and a con­trib­u­tor to Bre­it­bart, had spo­ken to Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform, a bas­tion of tax-cut ortho­doxy.

Now, they found them­selves encir­cled by admir­ers like Matthew Hurtt, the direc­tor for exter­nal rela­tion­ships at Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, part of the bil­lion­aire Koch broth­ers’ polit­i­cal oper­a­tion, and Matthew Tyr­mand, a board mem­ber of Project Ver­i­tas, a con­ser­v­a­tive group that uses under­cov­er film­ing to sting its tar­gets.
Mr. Tyr­mand, who is also an advis­er to a sen­a­tor from Poland’s anti-immi­gra­tion rul­ing Law and Jus­tice par­ty, was par­tic­u­lar­ly eager. “You are tak­ing your coun­try back!” he exclaimed.
Mr. Karls­son smiled.

2. In recent pro­grams, we have exam­ined the pro­found role of online tech­nol­o­gy in the pro­mo­tion of fas­cism, as well as over­lap­ping areas of intel­li­gence activ­i­ty. In that con­text, it is vital to remem­ber that the Inter­net was devel­oped as a weapon, with the focus of the tech­nol­o­gy being coun­terin­sur­gency.

In Brazil, the rise of Jair Bol­sonaro’s fas­cist gov­ern­ment received deci­sive momen­tum from YouTube, which is trans­form­ing the polit­i­cal land­scape in Brazil, as it is in this coun­try.

. . . . In col­or­ful and para­noid far-right rants, Mr. Moura accused fem­i­nists, teach­ers and main­stream politi­cians of wag­ing vast con­spir­a­cies. Mr. Dominguez was hooked.

As his time on the site grew, YouTube rec­om­mend­ed videos from oth­er far-right fig­ures. One was a law­mak­er named Jair Bol­sonaro, then a mar­gin­al fig­ure in nation­al pol­i­tics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right com­mu­ni­ty in Brazil, where the plat­form has become more wide­ly watched than all but one TV chan­nel. Last year, he became Pres­i­dent Bol­sonaro.

“YouTube became the social media plat­form of the Brazil­ian right,” said Mr. Dominguez, now a lanky 17-year-old who says he, too, plans to seek polit­i­cal office. . . .

Two excerpts from the sto­ry below encap­su­late and epit­o­mize the grow­ing, suc­cess­ful man­i­fes­ta­tion of inter­net fas­cism: “An Ecosys­tem of Hate” and the “Dic­ta­tor­ship of the ‘Like’ ”

. . . . An Ecosys­tem of Hate

. . . . As the far right rose, many of its lead­ing voic­es had learned to weaponize the con­spir­a­cy videos, offer­ing their vast audi­ences a tar­get: peo­ple to blame. Even­tu­al­ly, the YouTube con­spir­acists turned their spot­light on Deb­o­ra Diniz, a women’s rights activist whose abor­tion advo­ca­cy had long made her a tar­get of the far right.

Bernar­do Küster, a YouTube star whose home­made rants had won him 750,000 sub­scribers and an endorse­ment from Mr. Bol­sonaro, accused her of involve­ment in the sup­posed Zika plots. . . . .

. . . . As far-right and con­spir­a­cy chan­nels began cit­ing one anoth­er, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem learned to string their videos togeth­er. How­ev­er implau­si­ble any indi­vid­ual rumor might be on its own, joined togeth­er, they cre­at­ed the impres­sion that dozens of dis­parate sources were reveal­ing the same ter­ri­fy­ing truth.

“It feels like the con­nec­tion is made by the view­er, but the con­nec­tion is made by the sys­tem,” Ms. Diniz said.

Threats of rape and tor­ture filled Ms. Diniz’s phone and email. Some cit­ed her dai­ly rou­tines. Many echoed claims from Mr. Küster’s videos, she said.

Mr. Küster glee­ful­ly men­tioned, though nev­er explic­it­ly endorsed, the threats. That kept him just with­in YouTube’s rules.

When the uni­ver­si­ty where Ms. Diniz taught received a warn­ing that a gun­man would shoot her and her stu­dents, and the police said they could no longer guar­an­tee her safe­ty, she left Brazil. . . .

. . . . ‘The Dic­ta­tor­ship of the Like’

Ground zero for pol­i­tics by YouTube may be the São Paulo head­quar­ters of Movi­men­to Brasil Livre, which formed to agi­tate for the 2016 impeach­ment of the left-wing Pres­i­dent Dil­ma Rouss­eff. Its mem­bers trend young, mid­dle-class, right-wing and extreme­ly online.

Renan San­tos, the group’s nation­al coor­di­na­tor, ges­tured to a door marked “the YouTube Divi­sion” and said, “This is the heart of things.”

Inside, eight young men poked at edit­ing soft­ware. One was styl­iz­ing an image of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni for a video argu­ing that fas­cism had been wrong­ly blamed on the right. . . .

. . . . The group’s co-founder, a man-bunned for­mer rock gui­tarist name Pedro D’Eyrot, said “we have some­thing here that we call the dic­ta­tor­ship of the like.”

Real­i­ty, he said, is shaped by what­ev­er mes­sage goes most viral.
Even as he spoke, a two-hour YouTube video was cap­ti­vat­ing the nation. Titled “1964” for the year of Brazil’s mil­i­tary coup, it argued that the takeover had been nec­es­sary to save Brazil from com­mu­nism.
Mr. Dominguez, the teenag­er learn­ing to play gui­tar, said the video per­suad­ed him that his teach­ers had fab­ri­cat­ed the hor­rors of mil­i­tary rule.

Ms. Borges, the his­to­ry teacher vil­i­fied on YouTube, said it brought back mem­o­ries of mil­i­tary cur­fews, dis­ap­peared activists and police beat­ings. “I don’t think I’ve had my last beat­ing,” she said.

“How YouTube Rad­i­cal­ized Brazil” by Max Fish­er and Aman­da Taub; The New York Times; 8/11/2019.

When Matheus Dominguez was 16, YouTube rec­om­mend­ed a video that changed his life.

He was in a band in Niterói, a beach-ringed city in Brazil, and prac­ticed gui­tar by watch­ing tuto­ri­als online.

YouTube had recent­ly installed a pow­er­ful new arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence sys­tem that learned from user behav­ior and paired videos with rec­om­men­da­tions for oth­ers. One day, it direct­ed him to an ama­teur gui­tar teacher named Nan­do Moura, who had gained a wide fol­low­ing by post­ing videos about heavy met­al, video games and, most of all, pol­i­tics.

In col­or­ful and para­noid far-right rants, Mr. Moura accused fem­i­nists, teach­ers and main­stream politi­cians of wag­ing vast con­spir­a­cies. Mr. Dominguez was hooked.

As his time on the site grew, YouTube rec­om­mend­ed videos from oth­er far-right fig­ures. One was a law­mak­er named Jair Bol­sonaro, then a mar­gin­al fig­ure in nation­al pol­i­tics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right com­mu­ni­ty in Brazil, where the plat­form has become more wide­ly watched than all but one TV chan­nel. Last year, he became Pres­i­dent Bol­sonaro.

“YouTube became the social media plat­form of the Brazil­ian right,” said Mr. Dominguez, now a lanky 17-year-old who says he, too, plans to seek polit­i­cal office.

Mem­bers of the nation’s new­ly empow­ered far right — from grass-roots orga­niz­ers to fed­er­al law­mak­ers — say their move­ment would not have risen so far, so fast, with­out YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion engine.

New research has found they may be cor­rect. YouTube’s search and rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem appears to have sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly divert­ed users to far-right and con­spir­a­cy chan­nels in Brazil.

A New York Times inves­ti­ga­tion in Brazil found that, time and again, videos pro­mot­ed by the site have upend­ed cen­tral ele­ments of dai­ly life.

Teach­ers describe class­rooms made unruly by stu­dents who quote from YouTube con­spir­a­cy videos or who, encour­aged by right-wing YouTube stars, secret­ly record their instruc­tors. . . .

. . . . And in pol­i­tics, a wave of right-wing YouTube stars ran for office along­side Mr. Bol­sonaro, some win­ning by his­toric mar­gins. Most still use the plat­form, gov­ern­ing the world’s fourth-largest democ­ra­cy through inter­net-honed trolling and provo­ca­tion. . . .

. . . . But the emo­tions that draw peo­ple in — like fear, doubt and anger — are often cen­tral fea­tures of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and in par­tic­u­lar, experts say, of right-wing extrem­ism.

As the sys­tem sug­gests more provoca­tive videos to keep users watch­ing, it can direct them toward extreme con­tent they might oth­er­wise nev­er find. And it is designed to lead users to new top­ics to pique new inter­est — a boon for chan­nels like Mr. Moura’s that use pop cul­ture as a gate­way to far-right ideas.

The sys­tem now dri­ves 70 per­cent of total time on the plat­form, the com­pa­ny says. As view­er­ship sky­rock­ets glob­al­ly, YouTube is bring­ing in over $1 bil­lion a month, some ana­lysts believe.

Zeynep Tufek­ci, a social media schol­ar, has called it “one of the most pow­er­ful rad­i­cal­iz­ing instru­ments of the 21st cen­tu­ry.”

Com­pa­ny rep­re­sen­ta­tives dis­put­ed the stud­ies’ method­ol­o­gy and said that the platform’s sys­tems do not priv­i­lege any one view­point or direct users toward extrem­ism. How­ev­er, com­pa­ny rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­ced­ed some of the find­ings and promised to make changes.

Far­shad Shad­loo, a spokesman, said that YouTube has “invest­ed heav­i­ly in the poli­cies, resources and prod­ucts” to reduce the spread of harm­ful mis­in­for­ma­tion, adding, “we’ve seen that author­i­ta­tive con­tent is thriv­ing in Brazil and is some of the most rec­om­mend­ed con­tent on the site.”

Danah Boyd, founder of the think tank Data & Soci­ety, attrib­uted the dis­rup­tion in Brazil to YouTube’s unre­lent­ing push for view­er engage­ment, and the rev­enues it gen­er­ates.

Though cor­rup­tion scan­dals and a deep reces­sion had already dev­as­tat­ed Brazil’s polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment and left many Brazil­ians ready for a break with the sta­tus quo, Ms. Boyd called YouTube’s impact a wor­ry­ing indi­ca­tion of the platform’s grow­ing impact on democ­ra­cies world­wide.

“This is hap­pen­ing every­where,” she said.

The Par­ty of YouTube

Mau­rí­cio Mar­tins, the local vice pres­i­dent of Mr. Bolsonaro’s par­ty in Niterói, cred­it­ed “most” of the party’s recruit­ment to YouTube — includ­ing his own.

He was killing time on the site one day, he recalled, when the plat­form showed him a video by a right-wing blog­ger. He watched out of curios­i­ty. It showed him anoth­er, and then anoth­er.

“Before that, I didn’t have an ide­o­log­i­cal polit­i­cal back­ground,” Mr. Mar­tins said. YouTube’s auto-play­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, he declared, were “my polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion.”

“It was like that with every­one,” he said.
The platform’s polit­i­cal influ­ence is increas­ing­ly felt in Brazil­ian schools.

“Some­times I’m watch­ing videos about a game, and all of a sud­den it’s a Bol­sonaro video,” said Inza­ghi D., a 17-year-old high school­er in Niterói.

More and more, his fel­low stu­dents are mak­ing extrem­ist claims, often cit­ing as evi­dence YouTube stars like Mr. Moura, the gui­tarist-turned-con­spir­acist.

“It’s the main source that kids have to get infor­ma­tion,” he said.
Few illus­trate YouTube’s influ­ence bet­ter than Car­los Jordy.
Mus­cle­bound and heav­i­ly tat­tooed — his left hand bears a flam­ing skull with dia­mond eyes — he joined the City Coun­cil in 2017 with few prospects of ris­ing through tra­di­tion­al pol­i­tics. So Mr. Jordy took inspi­ra­tion from blog­gers like Mr. Moura and his polit­i­cal men­tor, Mr. Bol­sonaro, turn­ing his focus to YouTube.

He post­ed videos accus­ing local teach­ers of con­spir­ing to indoc­tri­nate stu­dents into com­mu­nism. The videos won him a “nation­al audi­ence,” he said, and pro­pelled his stun­ning rise, only two years lat­er, to the fed­er­al leg­is­la­ture.

“If social media didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “Jair Bol­sonaro wouldn’t be pres­i­dent.”

Down The Rab­bit Hole

A few hun­dred miles away from Niterói, a team of researchers led by Vir­gilio Almei­da at the Fed­er­al Uni­ver­si­ty of Minas Gerais hunched over com­put­ers, try­ing under­stand how YouTube shapes its users’ real­i­ty.

The team ana­lyzed tran­scripts from thou­sands of videos, as well as the com­ments beneath them. Right-wing chan­nels in Brazil, they found, had seen their audi­ences expand far faster than oth­ers did, and seemed to be tilt­ing the site’s over­all polit­i­cal con­tent.

In the months after YouTube changed its algo­rithm, pos­i­tive men­tions of Mr. Bol­sonaro bal­looned. So did men­tions of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that he had float­ed. This began as polls still showed him to be deeply unpop­u­lar, sug­gest­ing that the plat­form was doing more than mere­ly reflect­ing polit­i­cal trends.

A team at Harvard’s Berk­man Klein Cen­ter set out to test whether the Brazil­ian far right’s mete­oric rise on the plat­form had been boost­ed by YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion engine.

Jonas Kaiser and Yaso­dara Cór­do­va, with Adri­an Rauch­fleisch of Nation­al Tai­wan Uni­ver­si­ty, pro­grammed a Brazil-based serv­er to enter a pop­u­lar chan­nel or search term, then open YouTube’s top rec­om­men­da­tions, then fol­low the rec­om­men­da­tions on each of those, and so on.

By repeat­ing this thou­sands of times, the researchers tracked how the plat­form moved users from one video to the next. They found that after users watched a video about pol­i­tics or even enter­tain­ment, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tions often favored right-wing, con­spir­a­cy-filled chan­nels like Mr. Moura’s.

Cru­cial­ly, users who watched one far-right chan­nel would often be shown many more.

The algo­rithm had unit­ed once-mar­gin­al chan­nels — and then built an audi­ence for them, the researchers con­clud­ed.

One of those chan­nels belonged to Mr. Bol­sonaro, who had long used the plat­form to post hoax­es and con­spir­a­cies. Though a YouTube ear­ly adopter, his online fol­low­ing had done lit­tle to expand his polit­i­cal base, which bare­ly exist­ed on a nation­al lev­el.

Then Brazil’s polit­i­cal sys­tem col­lapsed just as YouTube’s pop­u­lar­i­ty there soared. Mr. Bolsonaro’s views had not changed. But YouTube’s far-right, where he was a major fig­ure, saw its audi­ence explode, help­ing to prime large num­bers of Brazil­ians for his mes­sage at a time when the coun­try was ripe for a polit­i­cal shift.

YouTube chal­lenged the researchers’ method­ol­o­gy and said its inter­nal data con­tra­dict­ed their find­ings. But the com­pa­ny declined the Times’ requests for that data, as well as requests for cer­tain sta­tis­tics that would reveal whether or not the researchers’ find­ings were accu­rate. . . .

An ‘Ecosys­tem of Hate’

. . . . As the far right rose, many of its lead­ing voic­es had learned to weaponize the con­spir­a­cy videos, offer­ing their vast audi­ences a tar­get: peo­ple to blame. Even­tu­al­ly, the YouTube con­spir­acists turned their spot­light on Deb­o­ra Diniz, a women’s rights activist whose abor­tion advo­ca­cy had long made her a tar­get of the far right.

Bernar­do Küster, a YouTube star whose home­made rants had won him 750,000 sub­scribers and an endorse­ment from Mr. Bol­sonaro, accused her of involve­ment in the sup­posed Zika plots.

The very peo­ple work­ing to help fam­i­lies affect­ed by Zika, their videos implied, were behind the dis­ease. Backed by shad­owy for­eign­ers, their goal was to abol­ish Brazil’s abor­tion ban — or even make abor­tions manda­to­ry.
As far-right and con­spir­a­cy chan­nels began cit­ing one anoth­er, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem learned to string their videos togeth­er. How­ev­er implau­si­ble any indi­vid­ual rumor might be on its own, joined togeth­er, they cre­at­ed the impres­sion that dozens of dis­parate sources were reveal­ing the same ter­ri­fy­ing truth.

“It feels like the con­nec­tion is made by the view­er, but the con­nec­tion is made by the sys­tem,” Ms. Diniz said.

Threats of rape and tor­ture filled Ms. Diniz’s phone and email. Some cit­ed her dai­ly rou­tines. Many echoed claims from Mr. Küster’s videos, she said.
Mr. Küster glee­ful­ly men­tioned, though nev­er explic­it­ly endorsed, the threats. That kept him just with­in YouTube’s rules.

When the uni­ver­si­ty where Ms. Diniz taught received a warn­ing that a gun­man would shoot her and her stu­dents, and the police said they could no longer guar­an­tee her safe­ty, she left Brazil.

“The YouTube sys­tem of rec­om­mend­ing the next video and the next video,” she said, had cre­at­ed “an ecosys­tem of hate.”

“‘I heard here that she’s an ene­my of Brazil. I hear in the next one that fem­i­nists are chang­ing fam­i­ly val­ues. And the next one I hear that they receive mon­ey from abroad” she said. “That loop is what leads some­one to say ‘I will do what has to be done.’”

“We need the com­pa­nies to face their role,” Ms. Diniz said. “Eth­i­cal­ly, they are respon­si­ble.”

As con­spir­a­cies spread on YouTube, video mak­ers tar­get­ed aid groups whose work touch­es on con­tro­ver­sial issues like abor­tion. Even some fam­i­lies that had long relied on such groups came to won­der if the videos might be true, and began to avoid them.

In Brazil, this is a grow­ing online prac­tice known as “lin­chamen­to” — lynch­ing. Mr. Bol­sonaro was an ear­ly pio­neer, spread­ing videos in 2012 that false­ly accused left-wing aca­d­e­mics of plot­ting to force schools to dis­trib­ute “gay kits” to con­vert chil­dren to homo­sex­u­al­i­ty.
Mr. Jordy, his tat­tooed Niterói pro­tégé, was untrou­bled to learn that his own YouTube cam­paign, accus­ing teach­ers of spread­ing com­mu­nism, had turned their lives upside down.

One of those teach­ers, Vale­ria Borges, said she and her col­leagues had been over­whelmed with mes­sages of hate, cre­at­ing a cli­mate of fear.

Mr. Jordy, far from dis­put­ing this, said it had been his goal. “I want­ed her to feel fear,” he said.

“It’s a cul­ture war we’re fight­ing,” he explained. “This is what I came into office to do.”

‘The Dic­ta­tor­ship of the Like’

Ground zero for pol­i­tics by YouTube may be the São Paulo head­quar­ters of Movi­men­to Brasil Livre, which formed to agi­tate for the 2016 impeach­ment of the left-wing Pres­i­dent Dil­ma Rouss­eff. Its mem­bers trend young, mid­dle-class, right-wing and extreme­ly online.

Renan San­tos, the group’s nation­al coor­di­na­tor, ges­tured to a door marked “the YouTube Divi­sion” and said, “This is the heart of things.”

Inside, eight young men poked at edit­ing soft­ware. One was styl­iz­ing an image of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni for a video argu­ing that fas­cism had been wrong­ly blamed on the right.

But even some peo­ple here fear the platform’s impact on democ­ra­cy. Mr. San­tos, for exam­ple, called social media a “weapon,” adding that some peo­ple around Mr. Bol­sonaro “want to use this weapon to pres­sure insti­tu­tions in a way that I don’t see as respon­si­ble.”

The group’s co-founder, a man-bunned for­mer rock gui­tarist name Pedro D’Eyrot, said “we have some­thing here that we call the dic­ta­tor­ship of the like.”

Real­i­ty, he said, is shaped by what­ev­er mes­sage goes most viral.
Even as he spoke, a two-hour YouTube video was cap­ti­vat­ing the nation. Titled “1964” for the year of Brazil’s mil­i­tary coup, it argued that the takeover had been nec­es­sary to save Brazil from com­mu­nism.
Mr. Dominguez, the teenag­er learn­ing to play gui­tar, said the video per­suad­ed him that his teach­ers had fab­ri­cat­ed the hor­rors of mil­i­tary rule.

Ms. Borges, the his­to­ry teacher vil­i­fied on YouTube, said it brought back mem­o­ries of mil­i­tary cur­fews, dis­ap­peared activists and police beat­ings.
“I don’t think I’ve had my last beat­ing,” she said.

Discussion

6 comments for “FTR #1087 Fascism: 2019 World Tour, Part 2”

  1. With the Sen­ate tri­al of Don­ald Trump’s sec­ond impeach­ment just get­ting under­way, here’s a pair of arti­cle that are a reminder that the tar­get audi­ence for this impeach­ment isn’t just the Amer­i­can pub­lic. Fas­cists and wannabe dic­ta­tors around the world have got to be watch­ing how this plays out, and like­ly root­ing for Trump’s acquit­tal. And of Trump’s wannbe-dic­ta­tor fans around the world, Jair Bol­sonaro is arguably his biggest fan. Not just a fan, but also a stu­dent, espe­cial­ly in the area of pre­emp­tive­ly dele­git­imiz­ing elec­tions. At least that’s the grow­ing fear in Brazil now that Bol­sonaro has been mak­ing it clear that his cam­paign strat­e­gy for the upcom­ing 2022 elec­tions is going to be the Trump 2020 strat­e­gy: pre­emp­tive­ly declare the whole vot­ing sys­tem is rigged against him:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Trump’s Capi­tol Riot Felt Like A Warn­ing From The Future
    To many Brazil­ians, Trump’s con­spir­a­cy-fueled riots sparked wor­ries that far-right Pres­i­dent Jair Bolsonaro’s 2022 elec­tion may lead to sim­i­lar­ly vio­lent out­bursts.

    By Travis Wal­dron
    01/10/2021 08:00 am ET Updat­ed Jan 10, 2021

    The world looked on in hor­ror as a mob stormed the U.S. Capi­tol build­ing on Wednes­day, putting a coun­try that touts itself as the planet’s old­est, strongest and most excep­tion­al democ­ra­cy on the brink of suc­cumb­ing to the author­i­tar­i­an whims of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his most rad­i­cal sup­port­ers.

    But in Brazil, per­haps more than any­where else, the Capi­tol riots felt like a warn­ing from a not-so-dis­tant future.

    Since win­ning elec­tion in 2018, far-right Brazil Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro has waged an all-out assault on the country’s demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, sought to under­mine faith in its elec­toral sys­tem, and traf­ficked in many of the same vot­ing-relat­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that Trump and the Repub­li­can Par­ty foment­ed over the last six months.

    That Trump’s provo­ca­tions result­ed in Wednesday’s melee in Wash­ing­ton set off alarm bells in Bolsonaro’s Brazil, as if it were mere­ly the mati­nee.

    “Attack on Democ­ra­cy,” the front page of Esta­do de S. Paulo, one of Brazil’s largest news­pa­pers, blared in bold, cap­i­tal­ized let­ters on Thurs­day morn­ing — cov­er­age of news from afar that nev­er­the­less felt like a plea for Brazil­ians to heed the dan­ger fac­ing their own repub­lic.

    Oth­ers were more direct.

    “For Brazil, it is a warn­ing about what can hap­pen even worse here, if Bolsonaro’s author­i­tar­i­an­ism and his mili­tias are not con­tained, if vio­la­tions of free­dom and rights con­tin­ue to be tol­er­at­ed,” for­mer left­ist Pres­i­dent Lula da Sil­va, who sought to chal­lenge Bol­sonaro in 2018’s elec­tions before he was barred from run­ning, wrote on Twit­ter.

    Alessan­dro Molon, an oppo­si­tion mem­ber in Brazil’s low­er house of Con­gress, tweet­ed that the riots in the Unit­ed States proved that “not even the most sta­ble democ­ra­cy in the world sur­vives right-wing pop­ulism with impuni­ty!”

    “That is why it is so impor­tant to come togeth­er: we need to pro­tect our­selves and avoid the worst in 2022!” Molon plead­ed, while São Paulo state Gov. João Doria, a for­mer Bol­sonaro ally who may run against him in next year’s elec­tions, called it an “alert for Brazil, where a minor­i­ty that flirts with author­i­tar­i­an­ism and fanati­cism tries to weak­en insti­tu­tions and threat­en the rule of law.”

    For more than two months, as Trump has par­rot­ed absurd claims of vot­er fraud and stolen or dis­ap­peared votes, Bol­sonaro remained one of his only inter­na­tion­al allies in the fight. He was one of the last world lead­ers to rec­og­nize Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s Novem­ber vic­to­ry, and still seems hell­bent on pre­tend­ing that Trump isn’t going any­where yet.

    This is not a new cause célèbre for the Brazil­ian. Bol­sonaro, like Trump, ped­dled con­spir­a­cies about the 2018 elec­tion, open­ly mus­ing about malfea­sance against him even in a race he won. He has not stopped since: Although many of Bolsonaro’s oth­er bla­tant threats to demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, as well as the destruc­tion of the Ama­zon Rain­for­est on his watch, have received more inter­na­tion­al atten­tion, he has spent the last two years attempt­ing to under­mine Brazil’s elec­toral sys­tem and the last two months using Trump and the Unit­ed States as a rea­son to ramp up his attacks.

    Just as many Brazil­ians have point­ed to Trump as an exam­ple of the hor­rors that Bol­sonaro could bring to their own nation, Bol­sonaro has warned that the prob­lems that exist in the minds of Trump and some Repub­li­cans in Amer­i­ca will make their way to Brazil soon.

    On Thurs­day, he pushed Brazil to aban­don elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines that pro­vide fast and rep­utable vote counts in favor of paper bal­lots — a move some have warned could fuel the type of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that, in the U.S., base­less­ly alleged that mail-in vot­ing was linked to ram­pant fraud.

    “There were peo­ple there who vot­ed three, four times, dead peo­ple who vot­ed,” Bol­sonaro told a crowd of sup­port­ers on Thurs­day morn­ing, accord­ing to Fol­ha de S.Paulo, Brazil’s largest news­pa­per. “And here in Brazil, if we have the elec­tron­ic vote in ’22, it will be the same thing. … We’re going to have a worse prob­lem than the Unit­ed States.”

    No such thing actu­al­ly occurred in the U.S., and no such thing is like­ly in Brazil, where the vot­ing sys­tem is far more effi­cient and imme­di­ate­ly accu­rate than any in the Unit­ed States. But that doesn’t mat­ter to Bol­sonaro. The point is to find even the small­est ker­nel of evi­dence to bol­ster wild-eyed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

    Such remarks would be dan­ger­ous­ly anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic in nor­mal times, but any sense of nor­mal­cy ceased to exist both in the U.S. and in Brazil years ago. In 2016, dozens of angry, right-wing Brazil­ians evad­ed secu­ri­ty and invad­ed the country’s Nation­al Con­gress build­ing to call for a mil­i­tary takeover of the gov­ern­ment, a small demon­stra­tion that nev­er­the­less offered some indi­ca­tion of the dis­con­tent that would lat­er dri­ve Bol­sonaro to pow­er and por­tend­ed worse to come. More recent­ly, Bol­sonaro has fueled sim­i­lar out­bursts that feel like direct pre­cur­sors to the sort of insur­rec­tion that occurred in Wash­ing­ton.

    Through­out the first two years of his pres­i­den­cy, Bolsonaro’s most rad­i­cal sup­port­ers have called for the clo­sure of the Nation­al Con­gress and the Supreme Court, and last year, a hand­ful of mil­i­tants were arrest­ed after shoot­ing fire­works at the Supreme Court build­ing, as if to mim­ic a bomb­ing. Bol­sonaro doesn’t always endorse the worst, but he’s always there to stoke the fer­vor among them.

    Trump’s instinct is also to throw red meat to his base when times are tough. And the riots, which broke out imme­di­ate­ly after Trump explic­it­ly told his sup­port­ers to go to the Capi­tol, offered Brazil­ians an obvi­ous look at how eas­i­ly such agi­ta­tion can erupt into a full-blown explo­sion, said Bruno Boghoss­ian, a polit­i­cal colum­nist for Fol­ha de S.Paulo.

    ...

    From the begin­ning, the wor­ry in Brazil was that Bol­sonaro was a more dan­ger­ous ver­sion of Trump, a force that would offer a much tougher stress test for younger, less entrenched insti­tu­tions. Trump and the Repub­li­can Par­ty ulti­mate­ly proved Amer­i­can insti­tu­tions weak­er than many ini­tial­ly pre­sumed, but in the end, the country’s elec­tions, the judi­cia­ry that over­sees them and the Con­gress required to cer­ti­fy them appear to have held — if only just, and if only (pos­si­bly) just for now.

    Brazil’s insti­tu­tions, mean­while, have at times acquit­ted them­selves bet­ter than many thought they would, and divides in Brazil’s Con­gress, where Bol­sonaro doesn’t enjoy the sup­port of a con­sol­i­dat­ed par­ty like Trump does in the GOP, may help shield the coun­try from total dis­as­ter.

    But it’s also not clear, Boghoss­ian said, that oth­er insti­tu­tions, includ­ing low­er ranks of the mil­i­tary and the judi­cia­ry, would stand firm in the face of an all-out chal­lenge should Bol­sonaro man­age to incite one.

    “In the Unit­ed States there was objec­tion from the mil­i­tary, from con­gress­men from the Repub­li­can Par­ty, from elec­toral author­i­ties from the Repub­li­can Par­ty in the states, and from the vice pres­i­dent,” Boghoss­ian said. “I’m not sure that Bol­sonaro is going to have the objec­tion of all these play­ers in Brazil. … The checks and bal­ances and the demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and all the author­i­ties involved in the polit­i­cal process might not be as hard on Bol­sonaro as the Amer­i­can author­i­ties were on Trump.”

    There are nuanced dif­fer­ences between Brazil and the Unit­ed States that the ready-made com­par­isons between Trump and Bol­sonaro often obscure. Still, it’s unde­ni­able that Trump’s elec­tion in 2016 was a pre­view of what fol­lowed in Brazil two years lat­er. Brazil didn’t learn the lessons on offer from its north­ern neigh­bor then. But this time, it still has a chance to heed the warn­ings before it’s too late.

    “Brazil must learn a lot from yesterday’s ter­ri­ble events in Wash­ing­ton,” Miri­am Leitão, a colum­nist for Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo news­pa­per, wrote on Thurs­day. “This is exact­ly Pres­i­dent Bolsonaro’s plan, and that is why he has been nur­tur­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries around the elec­tron­ic bal­lot box, the country’s elec­toral laws, and the [Supreme Court] since 2018. He plans to reap what we saw yes­ter­day in Wash­ing­ton.”

    “Brazil should take every­thing that hap­pened yes­ter­day seri­ous­ly,” Leitão con­tin­ued. “A pres­i­dent who lies for years and sab­o­tages the bases of the Repub­lic will one day use his pow­ers against the coun­try. We need to strength­en the defens­es of Brazil­ian democ­ra­cy.”

    —————

    “In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Trump’s Capi­tol Riot Felt Like A Warn­ing From The Future” by Travis Wal­dron; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 01/10/2021

    “Since win­ning elec­tion in 2018, far-right Brazil Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro has waged an all-out assault on the country’s demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, sought to under­mine faith in its elec­toral sys­tem, and traf­ficked in many of the same vot­ing-relat­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that Trump and the Repub­li­can Par­ty foment­ed over the last six months.

    Yes, Jair Bol­sonaro has been such a con­sis­tent ene­my of Brazil’s demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tion after his 2018 vic­to­ry that you almost have to won­der if Trump was fol­low­ing Bol­sonaro’s lead and not the oth­er way around. It’s that track record that puts Brazil near the top of the list of democ­ra­cies expect­ed to be test­ed by a coup attempt or two in com­ing years.

    It’s also quite inter­est­ing that Brazil’s far right appears to be join­ing Repub­li­cans in demo­niz­ing elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines, with Bol­sonaro demand­ing that they return to paper bal­lots by 2022. On the one hand, Bol­sonaro is clear­ly set­ting up a claim of a stolen elec­tion should he lose. But at the same time, there’s no get­ting around the real­i­ty that elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines real­ly are an absurd secu­ri­ty risk for elec­tions, some­thing vot­ing secu­ri­ty experts have warned about for years. The irony is that, at least in the US, it’s vir­tu­al­ly always been Repub­li­cans who seem to ben­e­fit when elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines have come into use. It’s an exam­ple of one of the chal­lenges fac­ing cor­rupt lead­ers like Bol­sonaro and Trump. On the one hand, mak­ing base­less “elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines stole the elec­tion from me!” claims is an allur­ing short-term response to an elec­tion loss, but actu­al­ly keep­ing those rig­gable elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines in place for future elec­tions is obvi­ous­ly a much more desir­able form of cor­rup­tion. So when we see politi­cians like Trump and Bol­sonaro focus on claims of elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine rig­ging and demand that elec­tions return to paper bal­lots, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that they prob­a­bly aren’t actu­al­ly seri­ous about want­i­ng to see a return to paper bal­lots and are far more like­ly to be plan­ning on using these claims to argue that the whole sys­tem is too cor­rupt to con­tin­ue and effec­tive­ly post­pone or end elec­tions entire­ly:

    ...
    That Trump’s provo­ca­tions result­ed in Wednesday’s melee in Wash­ing­ton set off alarm bells in Bolsonaro’s Brazil, as if it were mere­ly the mati­nee.

    ...

    This is not a new cause célèbre for the Brazil­ian. Bol­sonaro, like Trump, ped­dled con­spir­a­cies about the 2018 elec­tion, open­ly mus­ing about malfea­sance against him even in a race he won. He has not stopped since: Although many of Bolsonaro’s oth­er bla­tant threats to demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, as well as the destruc­tion of the Ama­zon Rain­for­est on his watch, have received more inter­na­tion­al atten­tion, he has spent the last two years attempt­ing to under­mine Brazil’s elec­toral sys­tem and the last two months using Trump and the Unit­ed States as a rea­son to ramp up his attacks.

    Just as many Brazil­ians have point­ed to Trump as an exam­ple of the hor­rors that Bol­sonaro could bring to their own nation, Bol­sonaro has warned that the prob­lems that exist in the minds of Trump and some Repub­li­cans in Amer­i­ca will make their way to Brazil soon.

    On Thurs­day, he pushed Brazil to aban­don elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines that pro­vide fast and rep­utable vote counts in favor of paper bal­lots — a move some have warned could fuel the type of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that, in the U.S., base­less­ly alleged that mail-in vot­ing was linked to ram­pant fraud.

    “There were peo­ple there who vot­ed three, four times, dead peo­ple who vot­ed,” Bol­sonaro told a crowd of sup­port­ers on Thurs­day morn­ing, accord­ing to Fol­ha de S.Paulo, Brazil’s largest news­pa­per. “And here in Brazil, if we have the elec­tron­ic vote in ’22, it will be the same thing. … We’re going to have a worse prob­lem than the Unit­ed States.”

    ...

    But it’s also not clear, Boghoss­ian said, that oth­er insti­tu­tions, includ­ing low­er ranks of the mil­i­tary and the judi­cia­ry, would stand firm in the face of an all-out chal­lenge should Bol­sonaro man­age to incite one.

    “In the Unit­ed States there was objec­tion from the mil­i­tary, from con­gress­men from the Repub­li­can Par­ty, from elec­toral author­i­ties from the Repub­li­can Par­ty in the states, and from the vice pres­i­dent,” Boghoss­ian said. “I’m not sure that Bol­sonaro is going to have the objec­tion of all these play­ers in Brazil. … The checks and bal­ances and the demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and all the author­i­ties involved in the polit­i­cal process might not be as hard on Bol­sonaro as the Amer­i­can author­i­ties were on Trump.”
    ...

    And as the fol­low­ing For­eign Pol­i­cy piece notes, should Bol­sonaro actu­al­ly decide to go down the path of declar­ing a coup or insti­gat­ing an actu­al civ­il war in the event of a 2022 loss, he’s going to have a lot of advan­tages Don­ald Trump did­n’t have, like a gov­ern­ment cab­i­net stacked with loy­al for­mer mil­i­tary offi­cers. Then there’s the fact that Bol­sonaro’s were already heav­i­ly armed when he came into office. And thanks to Bol­sonaro’s relax­ations of gun own­er­ship laws, the num­ber of pri­vate­ly owned guns in Brazil basi­cal­ly dou­bled in 2019 and dou­bled again in 2020:

    For­eign Pol­i­cy

    Bol­sonaro Is Fol­low­ing Trump’s Anti-Democ­ra­cy Play­book
    Brazil’s “Trop­i­cal Trump” is lay­ing the ground­work to dis­cred­it his country’s elec­toral process.

    By Robert Mug­gah | Jan­u­ary 14, 2021, 6:00 AM

    At least one for­eign leader still believes out­go­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s des­per­ate claims that the elec­tion was rigged. Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro was one of the last heads of state to grudg­ing­ly acknowl­edge Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry. But Bol­sonaro remains adamant that the U.S. elec­tion was stolen and that Brazil’s pres­i­den­tial con­test in 2022 could be too. While his lat­est adamant on Brazil’s elec­tion sys­tem is con­tro­ver­sial (and pos­si­bly crim­i­nal), it hard­ly comes as a sur­prise. Not only does he idol­ize the out­go­ing U.S. pres­i­dent, Bol­sonaro is ped­dling sim­i­lar false claims and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries in Brazil.

    ...

    Even before his elec­tion in 2018, Bol­sonaro made no effort to con­ceal his anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic cre­den­tials. Since assum­ing pow­er, he has head­lined a series of anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic ral­lies. Inspired by his idol in the Unit­ed States, Latin America’s so-called Trop­i­cal Trump is lay­ing the ground­work to dis­cred­it his country’s elec­toral process­es. Just in the past few weeks, Bol­sonaro has ques­tioned the integri­ty of Brazil’s 2020 munic­i­pal elec­tions after most of his pre­ferred can­di­dates were knocked out in the first round of vot­ing. This week, he told his sup­port­ers that the 2022 pres­i­den­tial con­test should be restrict­ed to paper bal­lots, claim­ing with­out proof that elec­tron­ic machines were com­pro­mised. Sound famil­iar?

    Like Trump, Bol­sonaro, his sons, and his clos­est sup­port­ers are deter­mined to under­mine Brazil’s demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions. Fac­ing a slew of crim­i­nal and leg­isla­tive inves­ti­ga­tions and 54 appeals for impeach­ment, Bol­sonaro fre­quent­ly lash­es out at the Brazil­ian Supreme Court and Supreme Elec­toral Tri­bunal. His eldest son, also a politi­cian, has been charged with cor­rup­tion. His oth­er two sons, also elect­ed offi­cials, are accused of over­see­ing a clan­des­tine “hate cab­i­net,” a group of close advis­ers oper­at­ing out of the president’s office that orga­nizes online hit jobs against polit­i­cal oppo­nents and jour­nal­ists. Mean­while, mem­bers of his extend­ed fam­i­ly and inner cir­cle are engulfed in fake news enquiries and a sprawl­ing crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion. One of his sons even rec­om­mend­ed restor­ing AI-15, a dic­ta­tor­ship-era decree to close the Nation­al Con­gress and state assem­blies, for­bid polit­i­cal demon­stra­tions, cen­sor the news, and sus­pend con­sti­tu­tion­al rights. (Bol­sonaro lat­er said he regret­ted his son’s com­ment, who apol­o­gized.)

    Bolsonaro’s author­i­tar­i­an instincts run deep. He was a tire­less defend­er of Brazil’s mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship through­out his 30 years as a fringe politi­cian. He described con­vict­ed tor­tur­ers such as the army offi­cer Car­los Alber­to Bril­hante Ustra as heroes and lament­ed the fact that the dic­ta­tor­ship did not kill at least 30,000 peo­ple, start­ing with for­mer Pres­i­dent Fer­nan­do Hen­rique Car­doso. Like Trump, Bolsonaro’s dog whis­tles fire up his base, which was already riled up before his ascent to the pres­i­den­cy. Back in 2016, fas­cist demon­stra­tors call­ing for the return of the country’s mil­i­tary regime stormed the Nation­al Con­gress in Brasil­ia in much the same way as last week’s mob of Trump’s sup­port­ers ram­paged through the U.S. Capi­tol.

    Bolsonaro’s hard­core loy­al­ists are heav­i­ly armed and deter­mined to pro­tect their com­man­der-in-chief from impeach­ment and being elect­ed out of office. His back­ers are build­ing up their arse­nals, with some of them call­ing for a mil­i­tary takeover should the Nation­al Con­gress move for­ward with impeach­ment. Well before Bol­sonaro assumed the pres­i­den­cy, one of his most urgent pri­or­i­ties was to dis­man­tle the country’s firearms leg­is­la­tion. Since tak­ing office, he has issued a slew of legal mea­sures to increase access to high-pow­ered firearms and ammu­ni­tion and water down efforts to track miss­ing guns. In addi­tion to mak­ing semi-auto­mat­ic rifles more avail­able to civil­ians, he’s also tried to low­er import duties on for­eign-man­u­fac­tured firearms.

    Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Brazil­ian gun own­er­ship sky­rock­et­ed by more than 98 per­cent in 2019 and anoth­er 120 per­cent in 2020. This is deeply wor­ry­ing in a coun­try with between 50,000 and 60,000 vio­lent deaths a year—three times more than in the Unit­ed States, even though Brazil’s pop­u­la­tion is around one-third small­er. Not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the surge in gun sales has ben­e­fit­ed the country’s largest weapons man­u­fac­tur­er, Tau­rus, and played into the hands of the “bul­let cau­cus”—a pro-gun, tough-on-crime coali­tion of law­mak­ers that is among Bolsonaro’s most stead­fast allies. The arms manufacturer’s share price rose by more than 60 per­cent in 2020. Imports of for­eign firearms have also increased sev­er­al hun­dred­fold over the past two years.

    A for­mer army cap­tain, Bol­sonaro is mil­i­ta­riz­ing Brazil’s gov­ern­ment. At least 10 of his 23 cab­i­net min­is­ters are mil­i­tary offi­cers, the high­est num­ber since the dic­ta­tor­ship. Accord­ing to the Brazil­ian Fed­er­al Audit Bureau, he has appoint­ed 6,157 active-duty and reserve per­son­nel to gov­ern­ment posi­tions, twice as many as his pre­de­ces­sor. There are more than 1,250 mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the Health Min­istry alone. Bol­sonaro rou­tine­ly invokes the threat of mil­i­tary force to intim­i­date oppo­si­tion leg­is­la­tors in the Nation­al Con­gress and mem­bers of the Supreme Court. Last year, the head of the oppo­si­tion pro­posed ban­ning active-duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel from gov­ern­ment posi­tions start­ing in 2023, but it has yet to gath­er steam.

    Bol­sonaro com­mands wide­spread loy­al­ty from law-enforce­ment agen­cies. Brazil’s state and civ­il police forces are legal­ly sub­or­di­nate to 26 state gov­er­nors, but a size­able pro­por­tion of their mem­bers are also among the president’s most enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers. Bol­sonaro is the ulti­mate law-and-order pres­i­dent and has issued decrees to expand police dis­cre­tion for the use of lethal force. This is con­tro­ver­sial in a coun­try where more than 6,000 peo­ple, most of them poor Black men, are killed by police every year. Bol­sonaro has also resist­ed sanc­tion­ing ille­gal police strikes, most recent­ly in Ceará in Brazil’s north­east, until the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion spi­raled out of con­trol.

    ...

    ———–

    “Bol­sonaro Is Fol­low­ing Trump’s Anti-Democ­ra­cy Play­book” by Robert Mug­gah; For­eign Pol­i­cy; 01/14/2021

    Bolsonaro’s hard­core loy­al­ists are heav­i­ly armed and deter­mined to pro­tect their com­man­der-in-chief from impeach­ment and being elect­ed out of office. His back­ers are build­ing up their arse­nals, with some of them call­ing for a mil­i­tary takeover should the Nation­al Con­gress move for­ward with impeach­ment. Well before Bol­sonaro assumed the pres­i­den­cy, one of his most urgent pri­or­i­ties was to dis­man­tle the country’s firearms leg­is­la­tion. Since tak­ing office, he has issued a slew of legal mea­sures to increase access to high-pow­ered firearms and ammu­ni­tion and water down efforts to track miss­ing guns. In addi­tion to mak­ing semi-auto­mat­ic rifles more avail­able to civil­ians, he’s also tried to low­er import duties on for­eign-man­u­fac­tured firearms.”

    If Bol­sonaro is impeached the mil­i­tary should take over. Those are some of the calls from Bol­sonaro’s heav­i­ly armed back­ers, which is par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­turb­ing giv­en that the calls for Bol­sonaro’s impeach­ment are only grow­ing. And as this is all play­ing out, gun own­er­ship is explod­ing which is exact­ly what Bol­sonaro and his allies intend­ed:

    ...
    Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Brazil­ian gun own­er­ship sky­rock­et­ed by more than 98 per­cent in 2019 and anoth­er 120 per­cent in 2020. This is deeply wor­ry­ing in a coun­try with between 50,000 and 60,000 vio­lent deaths a year—three times more than in the Unit­ed States, even though Brazil’s pop­u­la­tion is around one-third small­er. Not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the surge in gun sales has ben­e­fit­ed the country’s largest weapons man­u­fac­tur­er, Tau­rus, and played into the hands of the “bul­let cau­cus”—a pro-gun, tough-on-crime coali­tion of law­mak­ers that is among Bolsonaro’s most stead­fast allies. The arms manufacturer’s share price rose by more than 60 per­cent in 2020. Imports of for­eign firearms have also increased sev­er­al hun­dred­fold over the past two years.
    ...

    So as we can see, Brazil’s democ­ra­cy is being set up for an assas­si­na­tion in 2022 by Bol­sonaro and the far right and they are open­ly fol­low­ing the Trump ‘rigged elec­tions’ play­book. And that’s all why Bol­sonaro and his fas­cist allies were prob­a­bly some of keen­est observers of the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. Along with all of the efforts that led up to it and whipped Trump’s sup­port­ers into a vio­lent fer­vor. Trump and the GOP taught the world a big les­son in the poten­tial fragili­ty of democ­ra­cy and it was­n’t just Democ­rats tak­ing notes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 8, 2021, 5:23 pm
  2. Now that the GOP’s intra-par­ty strug­gle over whether or not to con­demn or embrace the Jan 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion and the ‘stolen elec­tion’ Big Lie under­pin­ning the event has boiled over into a fight over whether or not Trump crit­ic and House GOP cau­cus leader Liz Cheney will be replaced with a Elise Ste­fanik, it’s worth not­ing that we might be rel­a­tive­ly to a real-world test of one of Cheney’s recent warn­ings about the fail­ure to rebuke Trump over the insur­rec­tion. Recall how Cheney’s May 5 Wash­ing­ton Post op-ed includ­ed the warn­ing that con­don­ing the insur­rec­tion and the ‘stolen elec­tion’ Big Lie behind it would do dam­age to the very idea that demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions can or should be trust­ed and empow­er author­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­ments around the world. Well, it turns out Brazil has a new pres­i­den­tial elec­tion com­ing up in Octo­ber of 2022, and we’re already hear­ing indi­ca­tions that Jair Bol­sonaro’s gov­ern­ment could end up call­ing in the mil­i­tary should he lose the elec­tion. Under what pre­text would Bol­sonaro sus­pend democ­ra­cy? Alle­ga­tions of wide­spread elec­tion fraud...presumably along the lines of the alle­ga­tions made by Don­ald Trump since it turns out Bol­sonaro was an open sup­port­er of Trump’s ‘stolen elec­tion’ claims.

    So what are the indi­ca­tions that Brazil could be in store for a return to a dic­ta­tor­ship? Well, for starters, Bol­soaro is look­ing increas­ing­ly vul­ner­a­ble to los­ing an elec­tion, espe­cial­ly with Brazil expe­ri­enc­ing the sec­ond worst coro­n­avirus out­break in the world right now. But per­haps more impor­tant is that for­mer pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Sil­va, who was jailed in high­ly politi­cized charges, is now out of jail and has begun rebuild­ing his polit­i­cal coali­tion. And while Lula has yet indi­cat­ed if he’s going to run against Bol­sonaro in next year’s elec­tions, cur­rent polls indi­cate he would have a very good shot if he does run.

    Oh, and then there’s the warn­ing about a loom­ing dic­ta­tor­ship that came from Bol­sonaro him­self in recent week when he con­fi­dent­ly pre­dict­ed that, should he order the mil­i­tary into take the streets to ‘restore order’, the order will be fol­lowed. The com­ment came a month after a cab­i­net reshuf­fle that was report­ed­ly met with shock from senior mil­i­tary offi­cers. Bol­sonaro put his for­mer chief of staff in charge of the Defense Min­istry and swapped all three com­man­ders of the armed forces.

    So the key ingre­di­ents required for a return to a dic­ta­tor­ship in Brazil are all in place: a wan­na-be dic­ta­tor who has con­sol­i­dat­ed his con­trol over the mil­i­tary is already in office and it looks like he might lose:

    Reuters

    Back in Brasil­ia, Lula lays foun­da­tions of anti-Bol­sonaro coali­tion

    Lisan­dra Paraguas­su
    May 7, 2021 12:26 PM CDT

    Brazil’s left­ist for­mer pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Sil­va is back in the polit­i­cal mix, lay­ing the ground­work in Brasil­ia this week to chal­lenge far-right Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro in next year’s elec­tion.

    The pop­u­lar for­mer union leader has not said whether he will run for pres­i­dent in Octo­ber 2022, but opin­ion polls show he may have a strong shot at defeat­ing Bol­sonaro after the Supreme Court threw out his graft con­vic­tions. read more

    With his polit­i­cal rights restored, Lula spent this week in the cap­i­tal Brasil­ia meet­ing allies and for­mer foes in the first steps towards build­ing a coali­tion against Bol­sonaro, whose unortho­dox pres­i­den­cy has been crit­i­cized at home and abroad for mis­han­dling the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and weak­en­ing envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion of the Ama­zon rain­for­est.

    Aides and inter­locu­tors said Lula is look­ing first to forge state-lev­el alliances, start­ing with the gov­er­nor’s race in Rio de Janeiro, which is Bol­sonaro’s polit­i­cal base and the cra­dle of the for­mer army cap­tain’s right-wing move­ment.

    The oppo­si­tion leader in the low­er cham­ber of Con­gress, Alessan­dro Molon of the Brazil­ian Social­ist Par­ty (PSB), said Lula showed he was open to back­ing can­di­dates from oth­er par­ties on state tick­ets to form a broad alliance in Rio.

    For exam­ple, Lula met with Marce­lo Freixo, a poten­tial can­di­date for Rio gov­er­nor from the Social­ism and Lib­er­ty Par­ty (PSoL), to the left of Lula’s Work­ers Par­ty (PT).

    “I want to see us build a wide front to defeat Bol­sonaro in Rio de Janeiro and then in Brazil,” Freixo said after meet­ing Lula. “Defeat­ing Bol­sonaro is not a left-wing project, it’s a civ­i­lized and demo­c­ra­t­ic project.”

    Lula also met for­mer House Speak­er Rodri­go Maia, of the cen­ter-right Democ­rats par­ty (DEM), which backed the 2016 impeach­ment of Lula’s hand-picked suc­ces­sor, Dil­ma Rouss­eff.

    Maia has emerged as a vocal Bol­sonaro crit­ic and is expect­ed to join an oppo­si­tion coali­tion in his home state of Rio.

    Lula’s most cru­cial meet­ing in Brasil­ia may have been with Gilber­to Kassab, whose cen­ter-right Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (PSD) backed both Rouss­ef­f’s 2014 re-elec­tion and her 2016 impeach­ment, which end­ed 13 years of PT rule.

    Kass­ab’s par­ty sup­ports Bol­sonaro and has a min­is­ter in the Cab­i­net, but may back away from the pres­i­dent as crit­i­cism mounts over his play­ing down the pan­dem­ic, which slowed an eco­nom­ic recov­ery and hurt his pop­u­lar­i­ty.

    “Lula is back in the game and he is bridge build­ing for now, try­ing to draw politi­cians who worked with him when he was in office,” said Cre­o­mar de Souza of Dhar­ma Search polit­i­cal risk con­sul­tan­cy in Brasil­ia.

    “But he has to draw the cen­ter. Watch Kassab, who reads the polit­i­cal cli­mate very well and can see the wear and tear of Bol­sonar­is­mo,” he said.

    Two peo­ple in Kass­ab’s par­ty have tak­en promi­nent roles in a Sen­ate inquiry of the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­men­t’s approach to the pan­dem­ic. read more The virus has killed more than 415,000 Brazil­ians, sec­ond only to the Unit­ed States with about 580,000 deaths.

    ...

    ————-

    “Back in Brasil­ia, Lula lays foun­da­tions of anti-Bol­sonaro coali­tion” by Lisan­dra Paraguas­su; Reuters; 05/07/2021

    “The pop­u­lar for­mer union leader has not said whether he will run for pres­i­dent in Octo­ber 2022, but opin­ion polls show he may have a strong shot at defeat­ing Bol­sonaro after the Supreme Court threw out his graft con­vic­tions. read more

    Lula might have a real shot at beat­ing Bol­sonaro. At least in a fair­ly run elec­tion, accord­ing to recent polls. And that’s all we need to know to rea­son­ably sus­pect that Bol­sonaro is plan­ning for non-demo­c­ra­t­ic means of stay­ing in office. So it does­n’t help that he has been mak­ing base­less claims of vot­er-fraud for years and recent­ly spoke of his con­fi­dence in the mil­i­tary fol­low­ing his orders to take con­trol of the streets:

    Reuters

    Brazil’s Bol­sonaro says mil­i­tary would fol­low his orders to take the streets

    April 23, 2021 9:44 PM CDT

    Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro said on Fri­day that if he were to order the mil­i­tary to take the streets and restore order, “the order will be fol­lowed,” rais­ing fresh ques­tions about his politi­ciza­tion of the armed forces.

    Speak­ing dur­ing a TV inter­view, Bol­sonaro said he would not “go into details into what I’m prepar­ing.” But he said that “if we were to have prob­lems, we have a plan of how to enter the field ... our armed forces could one day go into the streets.”

    The com­ments by Bol­sonaro, a far-right for­mer army cap­tain who has long praised Brazil’s two-decade mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, will do lit­tle to assuage crit­ics who fret about his politi­ciza­tion of the mil­i­tary. Oth­ers wor­ry about his com­mit­ment to a peace­ful han­dover of pow­er in the event of a tight result in next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    ...

    Last month, Bol­sonaro put his for­mer chief of staff in charge of the Defense Min­istry and swapped all three com­man­ders of the armed forces as part of a cab­i­net reshuf­fle that was met with shock from senior mil­i­tary offi­cers.

    Since his 2018 elec­tion vic­to­ry, Bol­sonaro has made base­less alle­ga­tions of vot­er fraud in Brazil, which crit­ics say could lay the ground­work to chal­lenge upcom­ing elec­tions in the same vein as his polit­i­cal idol, for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

    Bol­sonaro threw his sup­port behind Trump’s con­spir­a­cies of a stolen elec­tion last year, which cul­mi­nat­ed in his sup­port­ers’ dead­ly Jan. 6 assault on the Capi­tol build­ing in Wash­ing­ton.

    ———–

    “Brazil’s Bol­sonaro says mil­i­tary would fol­low his orders to take the streets”; Reuters; 04/23/2021

    “Speak­ing dur­ing a TV inter­view, Bol­sonaro said he would not “go into details into what I’m prepar­ing.” But he said that “if we were to have prob­lems, we have a plan of how to enter the field ... our armed forces could one day go into the streets.”

    He won’t reveal his plan for send­ing the mil­i­tary into the streets. But he’ll reveal he has such a plan. It’s more than a lit­tle omi­nous. Espe­cial­ly since these com­ments come after he shocked the mil­i­tary with a lead­er­ship over­haul that put his chief of staff in charge of the Defense Min­istry:

    ...
    Last month, Bol­sonaro put his for­mer chief of staff in charge of the Defense Min­istry and swapped all three com­man­ders of the armed forces as part of a cab­i­net reshuf­fle that was met with shock from senior mil­i­tary offi­cers.
    ...

    And that mil­i­tary reshuf­fling came a just months after Bol­sonaro open­ly endorese the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion on Jan­u­ary 7th, one day after the attack. He blamed the insur­rec­tion on vot­er fraud sus­pi­cious that, in his words, “No one can deny,” and then pre­dict­ed a sim­i­lar out­come or worse for Brazil in future elec­tions:

    AFP

    Brazil’s Bol­sonaro backs Trump fraud claim after unrest

    Issued on: 07/01/2021 — 17:10 Mod­i­fied: 07/01/2021 — 17:08

    Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro on Thurs­day backed his ally Don­ald Trump’s claim of fraud in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and warned the chaos that rocked Wash­ing­ton could also hit Brazil’s elec­tions next year.

    The far-right leader, dubbed the “Trop­i­cal Trump,” is a staunch sup­port­er of the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, a stance he main­tained even as inter­na­tion­al con­dem­na­tion poured in for Trump’s role in encour­ag­ing the mob that stormed the US Capi­tol Wednes­day.

    “What was the prob­lem that caused that whole cri­sis, basi­cal­ly? Lack of trust in the elec­tion,” Bol­sonaro told sup­port­ers out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace.

    “They max­i­mized mail-in bal­lots because of this pan­dem­ic thing, and there were peo­ple who vot­ed three, four times. Dead peo­ple vot­ed. It was a free-for-all. No one can deny that.”

    ...

    He was the last leader in the G20 group of nations to acknowl­edge pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry, which he did only after the US elec­toral col­lege offi­cial­ly con­firmed the Novem­ber 3 elec­tion result more than a month lat­er.

    Polit­i­cal ana­lysts say Trump’s defeat iso­lates Bol­sonaro, who mod­eled his own rise to the pres­i­den­cy on the Repub­li­can bil­lion­aire’s, and hurts his chances for re-elec­tion in 2022.

    As the shock­ing images of Wednes­day’s unrest in Wash­ing­ton cir­cu­lat­ed in Brazil, many com­men­ta­tors spec­u­lat­ed the South Amer­i­can coun­try could be head­ed for a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion next year if Bol­sonaro los­es.

    “Trump just gave Bol­sonaro his script for 2022,” jour­nal­ist Igor Gielow wrote in lead­ing news­pa­per Fol­ha de Sao Paulo.

    Bol­sonaro only fueled those con­cerns when he repeat­ed his fre­quent crit­i­cism of Brazil’s elec­tron­ic vot­ing sys­tem, which he alleges — with­out evi­dence — is rid­dled with fraud.

    “There’s fraud here, too,” he said, warn­ing Brazil faced “an even worse prob­lem than the Unit­ed States” if it did not rein­tro­duce paper bal­lots, as he has insist­ed.

    ————

    “Brazil’s Bol­sonaro backs Trump fraud claim after unrest”; AFP; 01/07/2021

    ““There’s fraud here, too,” he said, warn­ing Brazil faced “an even worse prob­lem than the Unit­ed States” if it did not rein­tro­duce paper bal­lots, as he has insist­ed.

    If Brazil does­n’t switch over to paper bal­lots entire­ly by 2022, some­thing worse than the Jan 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion could take place in Brazil. That’s what Bol­sonaro was open­ly pre­dict­ing just one day after Trump’s failed coup attempt.

    So we’re already basi­cal­ly being told what to expect if Bol­sonaro los­es the 2022 elec­tion. Expect a coup. That’s now real­ly in ques­tion. The big ques­tion is whether or not Lulua or some­one else can actu­al­ly defeat Bol­sonaro in the first place. Along with all the sec­ondary ques­tions relat­ed to the lessons Bol­sonaro may or may not have learned from Jan 6. It points towards to how far the US man­aged to fall by the end of the Trump term: a far right Brazil­ian gen­er­al was learn­ing lessons from the US over how to pull off a coup. That’s obvi­ous­ly not a new phe­nom­e­na, but it’s usu­al­ly not this direct.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 7, 2021, 4:06 pm
  3. Fol­low­ing up on the sto­ry of the grow­ing inter­est by Jair Bol­sonaro’s gov­ern­ment and Steve Ban­non in run­ning the same Trump 2020 ‘stolen elec­tion’ play­book in Brazil’s upcom­ing elec­tion, here’s a fas­ci­nat­ing Twit­ter thread by teleSUR on a cor­re­spon­dent Bri­an Mier on a relat­ed devel­op­ment. Relat­ed in the sense that is falls under the same unbrel­la of the inter­na­tion­al elites orga­niz­ing the rise of fas­cism. And in this case, the fas­cist return of the Brazil­ian Monar­chy. As Mier’s tweets describe, AfD Par­lia­men­tar­i­an Beat­rix von Storch, grand­daugh­ter of Hitler’s finance min­is­ter Count Johann Lud­wig Graf Schw­erin von Krosigk. Her birth title was Her High­ness Duchess Beat­rix Amelie Ehren­gard Eili­ka von Old­en­burg. She’s a rel­a­tive of Bertrand de Orléans e Bra­gança, the head of the Brazil­ian roy­al fam­i­ly, who she met with in in July. The for­ma­tion of a new Con­ser­v­a­tive Inter­na­tion­al was announced dur­ing that meet­ing with the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment and the Brazil­ian monar­chy. As Mier put it, “So, recall­ing the rela­tion­ship between deposed roy­al fam­i­lies, Hitler, Mus­soli­ni, and the Brazil­ian mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, it’s note­wor­thy that a Ger­man duchess/AfD Deputy Direc­tor, just met with Bol­sonaro and the Monar­chy, and announced for­ma­tion of a Con­ser­v­a­tive Inter­na­tion­al.” Yep:

    Aris­to­crats see fas­cism as a route to retak­ing pow­er lost to the bour­geoisie. While in Brazil plan­ning her “Con­ser­v­a­tive Inter­na­tion­al”, AfD Par­lia­men­tar­i­an Beat­rix von Storch, grand­daugh­ter of Hitler’s finance min­is­ter, met with Bol­sonaro-back­ers in the Brazil­ian Monar­chy. pic.twitter.com/y51aLIF2VE— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 27, 2021

    AfD Par­lia­men­tar­i­an Von Storch’s birth name/title was, Her High­ness Duchess Beat­rix Amelie Ehren­gard Eili­ka von Old­en­burg. She is a dis­tant rel­a­tive of both Prince Charles and Bertrand de Orléans e Bra­gança, the head of the Brazil­ian roy­al fam­i­ly, who she met with last month. pic.twitter.com/XKpXlzdVAR— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    In 2018, Congressman/Prince Luiz Philippe Maria José Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gon­za­ga de Orleans e Bra­gança became the first mem­ber of the Brazil­ian Roy­al Fam­i­ly to take polit­i­cal office since the fall of the Monar­chy. Jair Bol­sonaro lat­er said, “I should have cho­sen you as my VP. pic.twitter.com/VbsWptVkKE— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    Lit­tle known fact: Although the Brazil­ian monar­chy was deposed in 1889, the roy­al fam­i­ly still receives a 2.5% tax, called a Laudêmio, levied on every real estate trans­ac­tion in the for­mer Impe­r­i­al Sum­mer head­quar­ters of Petrop­o­lis, RJ, which has a GDP of R$12 billion/year. pic.twitter.com/469xpHteCt— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    Von Storch’s mater­nal grand­fa­ther, Count Johann Lud­wig Graf Schw­erin von Krosigk (sec­ond from right) was one of the few mem­bers of the Third Reich’s cab­i­net to serve con­tin­u­ous­ly from Hitler’s appoint­ment as Chan­cel­lor until his death. pic.twitter.com/qz3kl0KyM0— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    As Hitler’s Finance Min­is­ter, von Krosigk and his min­istry per­se­cut­ed Jews, stole their prop­er­ty, and laun­dered their mon­ey. In 1949, he was con­vict­ed of war crimes and sen­tenced to 10 years in prison, but his sen­tence was com­mut­ed in 1951. Those Aris­to­crats have the best lawyers pic.twitter.com/PQu8NVOsbx— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    The Brazil­ian Monar­chy tried to retake pow­er in a ref­er­en­dum in 1993. I was liv­ing in São Luís at the time and remem­ber think­ing, “what the hell?”. 13% of Brazil­ians — most­ly con­ser­v­a­tive Catholics — vot­ed for a return to Monar­chy. Obvi­ous­ly, many of them sup­port­ed Bol­sonaro too. pic.twitter.com/Kj7AH4U6FK— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    Dur­ing the lead up to the 1964 coup, the CIA fund­ed anti-com­mu­nist march­es by a con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic group called “Tra­di­tion, Fam­i­ly and Prop­er­ty”. The meet­ing between the Brazil­ian roy­als and Von Storch took place in its cur­rent head­quar­ters, Insti­tu­to Plinio Cor­rêa de Oliveira pic.twitter.com/eWCBPDJ437— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    Here is a Por­tuguese lan­guage source on lib­er­ta­tion the­ol­o­gy priest Frei Bet­to talk­ing about the CIA rela­tion­ship with TFP dur­ing the lead up to the 1964 coup: https://t.co/7QgKgUquhp— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    Before the 2016 coup, when Brazil was a more hope­full place, Vice Brasil hired to poke some fun at the Monar­chy. I went to an encounter with an open mind and met a few nice peo­ple there amid a bunch of far-right reac­tionar­ies. Here it is in Eng­lish https://t.co/5sKiSSymCa— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    So, recall­ing the rela­tion­ship between deposed roy­al fam­i­lies, Hitler, Mus­soli­ni, and the Brazil­ian mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, it’s note­wor­thy that a Ger­man duchess/AfD Deputy Direc­tor, just met with Bol­sonaro and the Monar­chy, and announced for­ma­tion of a Con­ser­v­a­tive Inter­na­tion­al. pic.twitter.com/IuLdlvxFvH— Bri­an­Mi­er (@BrianMteleSUR) August 28, 2021

    And now here’s a piece that has a bit more on Von Storch’s trip to Brazil and the joint calls for an inter­na­tion­al far right net­work. And as the piece points out, the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment has become so impor­tant in that inter­na­tion­al far right net­work­ing effort that the Trump White House essen­tial­ly passed the lead­er­ship man­tel to Bol­sonaro’s gov­ern­ment on Jan­u­ary 20, Trump’s last day in office. That was when Valerie Huber, the per­son cho­sen by the White House dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to address women’s health issues, sent an email announc­ing that Brazil has kind­ly offered to coor­di­nate this “his­toric coali­tion” and the Brazil­ian pres­i­dent will be respon­si­ble for lead­ing the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive inter­na­tion­al alliance cre­at­ed to influ­ence the deci­sions of the Unit­ed Nations, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions. It’s part of the con­text of Von Storch’s trip to Brazil: the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­men­t’s rel­a­tive impor­tance to the inter­na­tion­al far right has only grown in the months since Trump left office:

    Digis­Mak

    Bol­sonaro takes over from Trump as a cham­pi­on of the extreme right in the world | Inter­na­tion­al

    Eddie Corp
    August 1, 2021

    Ger­man MP Beat­rix von Storch, from the far-right Alter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) par­ty, was in Brazil last week to hold sev­er­al meet­ings with mem­bers of the Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment. On July 26, a pho­to of her was cir­cu­lat­ed next to Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro and her hus­band, Sven von Storch. The image was pub­lished on the deputy’s Insta­gram account, in which she thanked the Brazil­ian pres­i­dent for “the friend­ly wel­come.” “Impressed by her clear under­stand­ing of the prob­lems of Europe and the chal­lenges of the politi­cians of our time,” she wrote of Bol­sonaro. “At a time when the left is pro­mot­ing its ide­ol­o­gy through its inter­na­tion­al net­works and orga­ni­za­tions glob­al­ly, con­ser­v­a­tives must also estab­lish a clos­er and inter­na­tion­al net­work for our val­ues,” he added.

    More infor­ma­tion

    The pho­to sur­prised Brazil­ians, espe­cial­ly since von Storch is the grand­daugh­ter of Lutz Graf von Krosigk, finance min­is­ter in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi gov­ern­ment. The congresswoman’s par­ty, the AfD, is now the sub­ject of an inves­ti­ga­tion by the Ger­man secret ser­vices for its con­nec­tions to extrem­ist acts in the coun­try.

    It is not the first demon­stra­tion of close­ness of Bolsonaro’s bases with inter­na­tion­al rad­i­cal groups. At the end of last year, the son of the pres­i­dent and deputy, Eduar­do Bol­sonaro (PSL-SP), made a live broad­cast with the leader of Vox, San­ti­a­go Abas­cal. A year ear­li­er, the deputy was in Hun­gary with the prime min­is­ter of the Fidesz par­ty, Vik­tor Orbán. AfD, Vox and Fidesz have demon­strat­ed their affini­ties on issues such as the search for rad­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tive pro­grams, xeno­pho­bia and hos­til­i­ty towards the left and the press.

    Brazil has become fer­tile ground to expand those ideas, with a gov­ern­ment that still con­tributes an extra ele­ment: after the end of Don­ald Trump’s term in the Unit­ed States, the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive offen­sive has bet all its chips on Bolsonaro’s Brazil. In Jan­u­ary 2021, senior Trump offi­cials sent mes­sages to oth­er coun­tries inform­ing that the projects that had been led by the White House would be tak­en over by Bol­sonaro from that moment on. The infor­ma­tion is part of an email sent to col­lab­o­ra­tors by Valerie Huber, the per­son cho­sen by the White House dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to address women’s health issues. In a mes­sage on Jan­u­ary 20, 2021, Huber announces that Brazil has kind­ly offered to coor­di­nate this “his­toric coali­tion”. Under this pro­vi­sion, the Brazil­ian pres­i­dent is respon­si­ble for lead­ing the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive inter­na­tion­al alliance cre­at­ed to influ­ence the deci­sions of the Unit­ed Nations, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions.

    The coali­tion, made up of some 30 coun­tries, was called the Gene­va Dec­la­ra­tion and became a ref­er­ence for the most rad­i­cal wings of reli­gious move­ments. “Coun­tries that wish to adhere to the Dec­la­ra­tion can do so by con­tact­ing the Brazil­ian embassy in the Unit­ed States for more details,” Huber explained. The woman was the archi­tect of the coali­tion and, in recent months, has worked close­ly with Damares Alves, the Brazil­ian Min­is­ter for Women, Fam­i­ly and Human Rights, an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor.

    The Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment is not alone in this move­ment to keep alive the agen­da of the extreme right in the world. How­ev­er, it has become a key ele­ment in strength­en­ing that group in Amer­i­ca. In fact, Trump’s absence did not weak­en inter­na­tion­al coor­di­na­tion. In recent months and in the midst of the pan­dem­ic, mem­bers of the Brazil­ian Exec­u­tive have been promi­nent guests in closed-door meet­ings with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Amer­i­can Chris­t­ian NGOs, with anti-LGBT and anti-abor­tion pres­sure groups, as well as in meet­ings with polit­i­cal par­ties and groups.

    For for­eign diplo­mats, what you see in Brazil’s actions is noth­ing more than a script already designed and applied in small­er coun­tries that have had ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ments for years. Now, the objec­tive is its inter­na­tion­al­iza­tion. “There is a script and it’s scary,” says a Euro­pean Union nego­tia­tor under anonymi­ty. The mod­el is based on the gov­ern­ments of Hun­gary and Poland that, over a decade, man­aged to dis­man­tle a lib­er­al democ­ra­cy and install a new ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive base.

    This alliance began to take shape in the ear­ly days of the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment. In an unprece­dent­ed way, Brazil sent at least six mis­sions to Hun­gary in 2019 with agen­das that includ­ed the promise of coor­di­na­tion in the fight against the per­se­cu­tion suf­fered by Chris­tians, the defense of the fam­i­ly and the need to pro­tect “sov­er­eign­ty”. A meet­ing was held between the then Brazil­ian Cul­ture Sec­re­tary, Rober­to Alvim, and a team from the Hun­gar­i­an Min­istry of Cul­ture. Alvim end­ed up leav­ing office after a con­tro­ver­sial video was released using Nazi ref­er­ences.

    In addi­tion to the min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ings, there were also infor­mal meet­ings, closed-door con­fer­ences and an intense exchange between the mem­bers of the sec­ond ech­e­lon of the Brazil­ian and Hun­gar­i­an admin­is­tra­tions. There was even a vis­it from Eduar­do Bol­sonaro to Vik­tor Orbán. The fre­quen­cy of the encoun­ters is all the more strik­ing giv­en the fact that Brazil had not sent a mis­sion to Hun­gary since the 19th cen­tu­ry.

    ...

    ———–

    “Bol­sonaro takes over from Trump as a cham­pi­on of the extreme right in the world | Inter­na­tion­al” by Eddie Corp; Digis­Mak; 08/01/2021

    “Brazil has become fer­tile ground to expand those ideas, with a gov­ern­ment that still con­tributes an extra ele­ment: after the end of Don­ald Trump’s term in the Unit­ed States, the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive offen­sive has bet all its chips on Bolsonaro’s Brazil. In Jan­u­ary 2021, senior Trump offi­cials sent mes­sages to oth­er coun­tries inform­ing that the projects that had been led by the White House would be tak­en over by Bol­sonaro from that moment on. The infor­ma­tion is part of an email sent to col­lab­o­ra­tors by Valerie Huber, the per­son cho­sen by the White House dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to address women’s health issues. In a mes­sage on Jan­u­ary 20, 2021, Huber announces that Brazil has kind­ly offered to coor­di­nate this “his­toric coali­tion”. Under this pro­vi­sion, the Brazil­ian pres­i­dent is respon­si­ble for lead­ing the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive inter­na­tion­al alliance cre­at­ed to influ­ence the deci­sions of the Unit­ed Nations, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions.

    With Trump out of office, Brazil was the bright­est light of fas­cism left in the West­ern hemi­sphere. With new lead­er­ship respon­si­bil­i­ties:

    ...
    The coali­tion, made up of some 30 coun­tries, was called the Gene­va Dec­la­ra­tion and became a ref­er­ence for the most rad­i­cal wings of reli­gious move­ments. “Coun­tries that wish to adhere to the Dec­la­ra­tion can do so by con­tact­ing the Brazil­ian embassy in the Unit­ed States for more details,” Huber explained. The woman was the archi­tect of the coali­tion and, in recent months, has worked close­ly with Damares Alves, the Brazil­ian Min­is­ter for Women, Fam­i­ly and Human Rights, an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor.
    ...

    And yet Brazil is fol­low­ing the mod­el of some even more bright­ly shin­ing fas­cist stars found in the EU, with Brazil and Hun­gary devel­op­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly close rela­tion­ship in recent years:

    ...
    For for­eign diplo­mats, what you see in Brazil’s actions is noth­ing more than a script already designed and applied in small­er coun­tries that have had ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ments for years. Now, the objec­tive is its inter­na­tion­al­iza­tion. “There is a script and it’s scary,” says a Euro­pean Union nego­tia­tor under anonymi­ty. The mod­el is based on the gov­ern­ments of Hun­gary and Poland that, over a decade, man­aged to dis­man­tle a lib­er­al democ­ra­cy and install a new ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive base.

    This alliance began to take shape in the ear­ly days of the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment. In an unprece­dent­ed way, Brazil sent at least six mis­sions to Hun­gary in 2019 with agen­das that includ­ed the promise of coor­di­na­tion in the fight against the per­se­cu­tion suf­fered by Chris­tians, the defense of the fam­i­ly and the need to pro­tect “sov­er­eign­ty”. A meet­ing was held between the then Brazil­ian Cul­ture Sec­re­tary, Rober­to Alvim, and a team from the Hun­gar­i­an Min­istry of Cul­ture. Alvim end­ed up leav­ing office after a con­tro­ver­sial video was released using Nazi ref­er­ences.

    In addi­tion to the min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ings, there were also infor­mal meet­ings, closed-door con­fer­ences and an intense exchange between the mem­bers of the sec­ond ech­e­lon of the Brazil­ian and Hun­gar­i­an admin­is­tra­tions. There was even a vis­it from Eduar­do Bol­sonaro to Vik­tor Orbán. The fre­quen­cy of the encoun­ters is all the more strik­ing giv­en the fact that Brazil had not sent a mis­sion to Hun­gary since the 19th cen­tu­ry.
    ...

    And note that the res­ig­na­tion of Brazil­ian Cul­ture Sec­re­tary, Rober­to Alvim, in 2020 over his mak­ing Nazi ref­er­ences was­n’t real­ly Alvim about mere­ly refer­ring to the Nazis. The prob­lem was Alvim seem­ing­ly copied word for word procla­ma­tions by Joseph Goebbels when Alvim announced that, “The Brazil­ian art of the next decade will be hero­ic and will be nation­al, will be endowed with great capac­i­ty for emo­tion­al involve­ment... deeply linked to the urgent aspi­ra­tions of our peo­ple, or else it will be noth­ing.” It’s a reminder that, while Poland and Hun­gary may be mod­el fas­cist nations coun­tries like Brazil are increas­ing­ly try­ing to emu­late, the real mod­el gov­ern­ment they’re all try­ing to fol­low ceased exist­ing in 1945, if you exclude the hearts and mind of fas­cists where it obvi­ous­ly still thrives.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2021, 1:27 pm
  4. @Pterrafractyl–

    Wow!

    BTW, in AFA#1 (April of 1984) we not­ed that it was Finance Min­is­ter von Krosigk who coined the term “Iron Cur­tain.”

    https://spitfirelist.com/anti-fascist-archives/rfa-1-looking-back-from-1984/

    Source: “The Bor­mann Broth­er­hood” by William Steven­son.

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 28, 2021, 3:16 pm
  5. Here’s a set of sto­ries com­ing out of Swe­den that point towards the next phase in the deep­en­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare cam­paigns foment­ing con­flict between the West and Rus­sia and Chi­na: Swe­den just set up a new Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency, ded­i­cat­ed to fight­ing fake news. Specif­i­cal­ly for­eign fake news.

    It’s not entire­ly clear how Swe­den’s new agency is going to accom­plish this goal, but it sounds like the plan is less about cen­sor­ing fake news and more focused on equip­ping the Swedish pop­u­lace with greater crit­i­cal think­ing skills. In that sense is a fas­ci­nat­ing pro­pos­al because it’s basi­cal­ly pledg­ing to do the seem­ing­ly impos­si­ble: they’re make peo­ple smarter and savvi­er through gener­ic pub­lic mes­sag­ing cam­paigns. Can the dumb­ing-down effects of mass pro­pa­gan­da work in reverse? We’ll see, but it feels like kind of a Catch22 sit­u­a­tion.

    Are nation­al Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agen­cies a sign of things to come? Well, we’re told France already has plans for one of its own. And it seems inevitable some ver­sion of this is going to pop up across the world in the long run.

    So Swe­den just launched its new Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency this year. Just in time to defend Swe­den from the Russ­ian inva­sion. Yes, Swe­den is at risk of a Russ­ian inva­sion. A real inva­sion. Not just an infor­ma­tion­al inva­sion. At least that’s the warn­ing Swe­den’s gov­ern­ment is issu­ing as Swe­den moves troops to Got­land. As defence min­is­ter Peter Hultqvist put it, “It is clear there is a risk. An attack against Swe­den can­not be ruled out . . It’s impor­tant to show we are not naive. Swe­den will not be caught nap­ping if some­thing hap­pens. It is impor­tant to send sig­nals that we take this sit­u­a­tion seri­ous­ly.”

    A poten­tial­ly cru­cial addi­tion­al detail in this sto­ry is that it turns out a major­i­ty of Swe­den’s par­lia­ment sup­ports join­ing NATO. But the rul­ing cen­tre-left par­ty does NOT sup­port such a move.

    That’s the warped sto­ry emerg­ing from Swe­den at the start of 2022: First, a creepy new anti-fake news mil­i­tary agency that was launched. And then a cou­ple weeks lat­er we get hys­ter­i­cal claims of a Russ­ian inva­sion. The kind of claims that are awful­ly con­ve­nient for those push­ing for NATO mem­ber­ship. Which is why it’s also quite con­ve­nient that the new psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agency is appar­ent­ly only going to be focused on for­eign dis­in­for­ma­tion:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Swe­den sets up Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency to fight fake news, for­eign inter­fer­ence

    By Adela Suli­man
    Jan­u­ary 6, 2022 at 6:48 a.m. EST

    Swe­den is launch­ing a new agency to defend against a ris­ing threat: dis­in­for­ma­tion — orga­nized cam­paigns to spread false infor­ma­tion.

    The Scan­di­na­vian coun­try, home to about 10 mil­lion peo­ple, estab­lished the Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency on Jan. 1, in a bid to safe­guard its “demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety” and “the free for­ma­tion of opin­ion,” the agency said on its web­site. As the coun­try heads into elec­tions this year, the agency will work along­side the Swedish mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment on the new bat­tle­ground of fake news and mis­in­for­ma­tion.

    “The secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion in our near Euro­pean envi­ron­ment has dete­ri­o­rat­ed for some time now and there­fore we need to rebuild our total defence,” Mag­nus Hjort, the agency’s deputy direc­tor, told The Wash­ing­ton Post by email.

    The agency will aim to boost the country’s “abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy and counter for­eign malign infor­ma­tion influ­ence, dis­in­for­ma­tion and oth­er dis­sem­i­na­tion of mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion direct­ed at Swe­den,” Hjort said.

    The agency will not bat­tle those spread­ing false infor­ma­tion with­in Swe­den, instead aim­ing “its sole focus on for­eign threat actors,” Hjort said. “Rus­sia and Chi­na often resort to infor­ma­tion influ­ence activ­i­ties, but we can also see new actors engag­ing in these activ­i­ties.”

    The gov­ern­ment-fund­ed body, which will start with 45 staff mem­bers based in Karl­stad and Sol­na, will report to the country’s jus­tice depart­ment.

    The idea for the agency was first devel­oped in 2018, and it is being led by Direc­tor Gen­er­al Hen­rik Lan­der­holm, a for­mer army offi­cer and ambas­sador to the Mid­dle East.

    Dis­in­for­ma­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly around elec­tions, has been a major threat around the world. Rus­sia launched a far-reach­ing cam­paign to influ­ence the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in favor of Don­ald Trump. Last year, Euro­pean Union offi­cials warned Rus­sia against car­ry­ing out “mali­cious cyber activ­i­ties” on the eve of elec­tions in Ger­many, as Europe grows wary of Krem­lin-backed hack­ers.

    Social media giant Face­book issued a report last year reveal­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns in more than 50 coun­tries since 2017, and it named Rus­sia as the largest pro­duc­er.

    France has announced plans to estab­lish a nation­al agency to fight fake news and pre­vent for­eign inter­fer­ence in its elec­tions. Hjort says there is “huge inter­est from oth­er coun­tries to gain knowl­edge from our expe­ri­ences,” pre­dict­ing oth­ers will fol­low suit.

    For this year, the agency will focus on work­ing to “pro­tect Swe­den against for­eign malign infor­ma­tion influ­ence” ahead of elec­tions in Sep­tem­ber, he added.

    Swe­den is not a mem­ber of NATO and has main­tained a scaled-down mil­i­tary since the Cold War end­ed. Neigh­bor­ing Rus­sia has been an ongo­ing per­ceived threat, with its annex­a­tion of Crimea in 2014 alarm­ing the Swedes.

    Like oth­er coun­tries, Swe­den has expe­ri­enced mis­in­for­ma­tion about the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and protests over gov­ern­ment-imposed restric­tions. The agency empha­sizes that indi­vid­u­als will have a role to play in tack­ling fake news, along­side a robust nation­al media and civ­il soci­ety.

    The Swedish agency says fight­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion “strength­ens democ­ra­cy,” how­ev­er it will need to do so with­out imping­ing on the free­doms of speech and expres­sion, which are pro­tect­ed by the country’s con­sti­tu­tion.

    “One has to tread very care­ful­ly when it comes to free­dom of speech. We must nev­er lim­it the demo­c­ra­t­ic rights of our pop­u­la­tion,” Hjort said.

    Karen Dou­glas, pro­fes­sor of social psy­chol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kent, told The Post that the new agency would prob­a­bly equip the Swedish pop­u­la­tion with the skills to spot fake news and to take in infor­ma­tion “with a more crit­i­cal eye.”

    This approach, she said, was “prob­a­bly less like­ly to meet with pub­lic resis­tance” than sim­ply block­ing infor­ma­tion on social media or web­sites.

    “Block­ing infor­ma­tion and par­tic­u­lar sources can only be so effec­tive, because peo­ple and groups are like­ly to find new ways of shar­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion. The process of deal­ing with mis­in­for­ma­tion there­fore becomes a bit like a game of whack-a-mole,” she added.

    ...

    ———–

    “Swe­den sets up Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency to fight fake news, for­eign inter­fer­ence” by Adela Suli­man; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 01/06/2022

    The Scan­di­na­vian coun­try, home to about 10 mil­lion peo­ple, estab­lished the Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency on Jan. 1, in a bid to safe­guard its “demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety” and “the free for­ma­tion of opin­ion,” the agency said on its web­site. As the coun­try heads into elec­tions this year, the agency will work along­side the Swedish mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment on the new bat­tle­ground of fake news and mis­in­for­ma­tion.”

    The new Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency is going to safe­guard its “demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety” and “the free for­ma­tion of opin­ion,” against the threat of dis­in­for­ma­tion. Specif­i­cal­ly for­eign dis­in­for­ma­tion. Domes­tic dis­in­for­ma­tion is fine:

    ...
    The agency will aim to boost the country’s “abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy and counter for­eign malign infor­ma­tion influ­ence, dis­in­for­ma­tion and oth­er dis­sem­i­na­tion of mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion direct­ed at Swe­den,” Hjort said.

    The agency will not bat­tle those spread­ing false infor­ma­tion with­in Swe­den, instead aim­ing “its sole focus on for­eign threat actors,” Hjort said. “Rus­sia and Chi­na often resort to infor­ma­tion influ­ence activ­i­ties, but we can also see new actors engag­ing in these activ­i­ties.”

    The gov­ern­ment-fund­ed body, which will start with 45 staff mem­bers based in Karl­stad and Sol­na, will report to the country’s jus­tice depart­ment.

    The idea for the agency was first devel­oped in 2018, and it is being led by Direc­tor Gen­er­al Hen­rik Lan­der­holm, a for­mer army offi­cer and ambas­sador to the Mid­dle East.
    ...

    Is this the kind of idea that’s going to catch on? Maybe. France has already announced an anti-fake news agency of its own. Again, focused on for­eign fake news:

    ...
    France has announced plans to estab­lish a nation­al agency to fight fake news and pre­vent for­eign inter­fer­ence in its elec­tions. Hjort says there is “huge inter­est from oth­er coun­tries to gain knowl­edge from our expe­ri­ences,” pre­dict­ing oth­ers will fol­low suit.
    ...

    Final­ly, note the inter­est­ing pre­dic­tion about the nature of the pro­tec­tive ser­vices this new agency will deliv­er: it’s not just going to flag or cen­sor for­eign dis­in­for­ma­tion. It’s going to try to equip the Swedish pop­u­la­tion with the skills to spot fake news and to take in infor­ma­tion “with a more crit­i­cal eye.” A mil­i­tary intel­li­gence mass psy­chol­o­gy agency tasked with teach the pop­u­lace how to iden­ti­fy dis­in­for­ma­tion. It’s going to be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how much dis­in­for­ma­tion relat­ed to tech­niques for iden­ti­fy­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion ends up deployed. After all, it’s not like Swe­den’s mil­i­tary is going to want to make the Swedish pop­u­lace savvy enough to pick out the domes­tic dis­in­for­ma­tion com­ing from the Swedish gov­ern­ment itself. It’s a tricky line to walk:

    ...
    Karen Dou­glas, pro­fes­sor of social psy­chol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kent, told The Post that the new agency would prob­a­bly equip the Swedish pop­u­la­tion with the skills to spot fake news and to take in infor­ma­tion “with a more crit­i­cal eye.”

    This approach, she said, was “prob­a­bly less like­ly to meet with pub­lic resis­tance” than sim­ply block­ing infor­ma­tion on social media or web­sites.

    “Block­ing infor­ma­tion and par­tic­u­lar sources can only be so effec­tive, because peo­ple and groups are like­ly to find new ways of shar­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion. The process of deal­ing with mis­in­for­ma­tion there­fore becomes a bit like a game of whack-a-mole,” she added.
    ...

    Next, here’s a Finan­cial Times opin­ion piece by Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute fel­low Elis­a­beth Braw on Swe­den’s new psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agency. And while Braw is high­ly sup­port­ive of the mis­sion of the new agency, its mis­sion does­n’t go far enough in Braw’s opin­ion. As Braw puts it, “The Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defence Agency will mon­i­tor malign influ­ence by expos­ing both the aggres­sors and their meth­ods. I believe it should go fur­ther, by launch­ing infor­ma­tion counter-strikes against the offend­ing country’s rul­ing elite. In future, Nato and its allies could respond to dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns by reveal­ing some of the over­seas prop­er­ties owned by senior offi­cials in the hos­tile coun­try.

    Offen­sive infor­ma­tion cam­paigns tar­get­ing the lead­ers of the offend­ing coun­tries (so pre­sum­ably Russ­ian or Chi­nese lead­ers) by reveal­ing their over­seas prop­er­ties. A pol­i­cy of tar­get­ed ‘Pana­ma Paper’-like embar­rass­ing leaks. We’ll see if Swe­den ends up pur­su­ing such a pol­i­cy, but if not Swe­den, maybe France after they form their own psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agency? Or one of the oth­er nation­al psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agen­cies that will undoubt­ed­ly be formed in com­ing years. That’s part of the larg­er con­text of Braw’s piece to keep in mind: while it’s focused on Swe­den’s new psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agency, Braw’s talk­ing about some­thing that’s going to sweep­ing the world. Nation­al psy­cho­log­i­cal defense is like­ly a glob­al boom mar­ket. Which means we should prob­a­bly expect a boom mar­ket in offen­sive psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions too:

    The Finan­cial Times

    Psy-ops are a cru­cial weapon in the war against dis­in­for­ma­tion
    Sweden’s new psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions agency will attack false­hoods that spread online like a virus

    Elis­a­beth Braw
    Jan­u­ary 11 2022

    The writer is a fel­low at the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute, a think-tank

    When Sweden’s Navy tried to hunt down a sus­pect­ed ene­my sub­ma­rine in the Stock­holm arch­i­pel­ago eight years ago, its efforts were ridiculed by Russ­ian media and offi­cials, who trolled their armed forces chief and accused him of pur­su­ing a “phan­tom” ves­sel. Since then, hos­tile states includ­ing Rus­sia, Chi­na and Iran have increased their use of dis­in­for­ma­tion and online pro­pa­gan­da to ampli­fy anti-vax sen­ti­ment and foment polit­i­cal ten­sions in Europe and the US. Con­cerned about the poten­tial for this to under­mine democ­ra­cy, Swe­den has just launched an agency for psy­cho­log­i­cal defence. Oth­er coun­tries would do well to fol­low its exam­ple.

    Mikael Tofves­son, head of the new agency’s oper­a­tive divi­sion, says aggres­sors are increas­ing­ly try­ing to sow divi­sion by tar­get­ing areas of pub­lic con­cern such as crime, Covid vac­ci­na­tions, the government’s response to the pan­dem­ic, and immi­gra­tion. “These are low-inten­si­ty cam­paigns that are con­stant­ly in oper­a­tion, and when a spe­cif­ic issue is in the news the activ­i­ty increas­es,” he tells me.

    As many coun­tries have found, the pan­dem­ic has spawned a new breed of dis­in­for­ma­tion, which has spread as ram­pant­ly as the virus. This is not only from usu­al sus­pects but also from new actors, who are copy­ing Moscow and Beijing’s meth­ods. Pri­vate sec­tor organ­i­sa­tions are using a com­mer­cial offer­ing known as “dis­in­for­ma­tion as a ser­vice” to con­duct malign influ­ence oper­a­tions against their com­peti­tors.

    The results are alarm­ing­ly obvi­ous. Dis­putes about Covid-19 and the vac­cines to fight it are already divid­ing pop­u­la­tions. And just as the minor­i­ty of peo­ple who refuse vac­cines under­mine wider efforts to stamp out the virus, a minor­i­ty of cit­i­zens can ruin their coun­tries’ resilience against adver­saries by believ­ing the dam­ag­ing false­hoods spread by the oth­er side. The rumour unleashed by Russia’s KGB in the 1980s that the US army cre­at­ed HIV — which is still in cir­cu­la­tion now — shows the last­ing harm of an eye-catch­ing cam­paign. The Covid pan­dem­ic has been fuelled by the fact many peo­ple believe anti-vax dis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­trust mes­sag­ing from their own gov­ern­ments. Just imag­ine the effect that incen­di­ary dis­in­for­ma­tion could have on the cur­rent stand-off between Rus­sia and Nato.

    Pub­lic trust in the gov­ern­ment is the Achilles heel of west­ern democ­ra­cies seek­ing to defend them­selves against inno­v­a­tive adver­saries. Dis­in­for­ma­tion aimed at weak­en­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence in its mil­i­tary forces or polit­i­cal lead­er­ship can have a potent desta­bil­is­ing effect. The US’s deep social and ide­o­log­i­cal divi­sions may be root­ed in its domes­tic polit­i­cal his­to­ry, but Moscow’s dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign ahead of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion helped to sow doubt about America’s demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions.

    The Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defence Agency will mon­i­tor malign influ­ence by expos­ing both the aggres­sors and their meth­ods. I believe it should go fur­ther, by launch­ing infor­ma­tion counter-strikes against the offend­ing country’s rul­ing elite. In future, Nato and its allies could respond to dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns by reveal­ing some of the over­seas prop­er­ties owned by senior offi­cials in the hos­tile coun­try.

    But as with Covid, the most impor­tant task in psy­cho­log­i­cal defence is to inoc­u­late the pop­u­la­tion against believ­ing false infor­ma­tion — a job that Sweden’s new agency will also han­dle. This involves teach­ing the pub­lic how to ver­i­fy infor­ma­tion. A cit­i­zen­ry able to dis­tin­guish truth from false­hoods is vital, not just from a nation­al secu­ri­ty per­spec­tive but for pro­tec­tion from more every­day threats such as quack cures ped­dled on the inter­net.

    ...

    ———–

    “Psy-ops are a cru­cial weapon in the war against dis­in­for­ma­tion” by Elis­a­beth Braw; The Finan­cial Times; 01/11/2022

    The Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defence Agency will mon­i­tor malign influ­ence by expos­ing both the aggres­sors and their meth­ods. I believe it should go fur­ther, by launch­ing infor­ma­tion counter-strikes against the offend­ing country’s rul­ing elite. In future, Nato and its allies could respond to dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns by reveal­ing some of the over­seas prop­er­ties owned by senior offi­cials in the hos­tile coun­try.”

    Offen­sive lies and defen­sive counter-strikes of truth. That’s the vision Braw is ped­dling. A glob­al cacoph­o­ny of wild accu­sa­tions. Which sounds a lot like today, but it will be waged by nation­al psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agen­cies.

    Although it’s not like we should expect that the ‘edu­ca­tion­al’ ser­vices by these agen­cies will always be pub­licly adver­tised. Covert ‘edu­ca­tion’ is some­thing we should expect.

    And that brings us to the lat­est in con­tem­po­rary far­ci­cal Russ­ian hys­te­ria, an area of exper­tise for any new psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agency: The Swedish mil­i­tary just sent troops to Got­land after warn­ing about a poten­tial Russ­ian inva­sion.
    Yep. Rus­sia is about to invade Swe­den. Just you wait:

    The Finan­cial Times

    Swe­den sends troops to Got­land as Rus­sia ups activ­i­ty in Baltic Sea
    Non-mil­i­tar­i­ly aligned coun­try has stressed it retains the option to apply for Nato mem­ber­ship

    Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Cor­re­spon­dent yes­ter­day
    Jan­u­ary 16, 2022 9:56 AM

    Swe­den has sent hun­dreds of troops to rein­force a cru­cial island in the Baltic Sea as its defence min­is­ter warned that the Scan­di­na­vian coun­try should not be naive and could be attacked.

    An emer­gency con­tin­gency unit of Sweden’s armed forces land­ed on Got­land on Fri­day and Sat­ur­day by plane and pas­sen­ger fer­ry, bring­ing troops and equip­ment to an island many have com­pared to an air­craft car­ri­er in the mid­dle of the Baltic Sea.

    The deploy­ment comes amid ris­ing jit­ters in Nordic and Baltic coun­tries about Russia’s inten­tions on its bor­der with Ukraine, and how that could spill over to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. Swedish media not­ed at the week­end increased Russ­ian naval activ­i­ty in the Baltic Sea as troops were sent to Got­land.

    “It is clear there is a risk. An attack against Swe­den can­not be ruled out . . . It’s impor­tant to show we are not naive. Swe­den will not be caught nap­ping if some­thing hap­pens. It is impor­tant to send sig­nals that we take this sit­u­a­tion seri­ous­ly,” defence min­is­ter Peter Hultqvist told radio sta­tion Ekot on Sat­ur­day.

    Russia’s deploy­ment of more than 100,000 troops to the Ukrain­ian bor­der and its harsh diplo­mat­ic rhetoric has led Swe­den and Fin­land, both mil­i­tar­i­ly non-aligned, to stress that they retained the option to apply for Nato mem­ber­ship.

    A major­i­ty in Sweden’s par­lia­ment is in favour of mem­ber­ship of the mil­i­tary alliance, but the rul­ing cen­tre-left Social Democ­rats are not and with­out their sup­port Swe­den is unlike­ly to join.

    Experts said that Swe­den, which had no per­ma­nent mil­i­tary pres­ence on Got­land from 2005 until 2016 as it decreased defence spend­ing after the cold war, was forced to act so vis­i­bly owing to the rel­a­tive weak­ness of its armed forces.

    It took sim­i­lar action in August 2020 send­ing over armoured vehi­cles along­side hol­i­day­mak­ers’ camper­vans on the fer­ry to the pop­u­lar tourist island as Rus­sia held a num­ber of mil­i­tary exer­cis­es in the region.

    Swe­den has increased its defence spend­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly in recent years after a series of embar­rass­ments includ­ing not being able to scram­ble jets as Rus­sia sim­u­lat­ed an attack on Stock­holm as it was the East­er week­end, and search­ing unsuc­cess­ful­ly for a sus­pect­ed Russ­ian sub­ma­rine in the arch­i­pel­ago out­side the Swedish cap­i­tal.

    The three Baltic coun­tries, which are mem­bers of Nato, had long urged Swe­den to take the secu­ri­ty of Got­land more seri­ous­ly, and Swedish forces — togeth­er with a large con­tin­gent of US troops — held their biggest exer­cise for decades in 2017 includ­ing an attack on Got­land, which one US gen­er­al called “an unsink­able air­craft car­ri­er”.

    ...

    Swedish media report­ed that a large uniden­ti­fied drone had flown over Stock­holm on Sat­ur­day, includ­ing over the roy­al palace. It came after police report­ed on Fri­day uniden­ti­fied drones fly­ing over at least one and pos­si­bly as many as four nuclear pow­er plants. Police, who informed Sweden’s armed forces, said they viewed the pos­si­bly con­nect­ed sight­ings at the nuclear plants as “extreme­ly seri­ous”.

    ———–

    “Swe­den sends troops to Got­land as Rus­sia ups activ­i­ty in Baltic Sea” by Richard Milne; The Finan­cial Times; 01/16/2022

    ““It is clear there is a risk. An attack against Swe­den can­not be ruled out . . . It’s impor­tant to show we are not naive. Swe­den will not be caught nap­ping if some­thing hap­pens. It is impor­tant to send sig­nals that we take this sit­u­a­tion seri­ous­ly,” defence min­is­ter Peter Hultqvist told radio sta­tion Ekot on Sat­ur­day.”

    “It is clear there is a risk. An attack can­not be ruled out.” It’s an absolute­ly absurd state­ment, put out there to the pub­lic with com­plete seri­ous­ness. And note part of the con­text here: Swe­den’s par­lia­ment is in favor of NATO mem­ber­ship, but the rul­ing cen­tre-left Social Democ­rats con­tin­ue to oppose such a move. In oth­er words, get ready for A LOT more warn­ings about an impend­ing Russ­ian inva­sion:

    ...
    A major­i­ty in Sweden’s par­lia­ment is in favour of mem­ber­ship of the mil­i­tary alliance, but the rul­ing cen­tre-left Social Democ­rats are not and with­out their sup­port Swe­den is unlike­ly to join.

    Experts said that Swe­den, which had no per­ma­nent mil­i­tary pres­ence on Got­land from 2005 until 2016 as it decreased defence spend­ing after the cold war, was forced to act so vis­i­bly owing to the rel­a­tive weak­ness of its armed forces.

    It took sim­i­lar action in August 2020 send­ing over armoured vehi­cles along­side hol­i­day­mak­ers’ camper­vans on the fer­ry to the pop­u­lar tourist island as Rus­sia held a num­ber of mil­i­tary exer­cis­es in the region.

    Swe­den has increased its defence spend­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly in recent years after a series of embar­rass­ments includ­ing not being able to scram­ble jets as Rus­sia sim­u­lat­ed an attack on Stock­holm as it was the East­er week­end, and search­ing unsuc­cess­ful­ly for a sus­pect­ed Russ­ian sub­ma­rine in the arch­i­pel­ago out­side the Swedish cap­i­tal.
    ...

    It all rais­es a fas­ci­nat­ing ques­tion: so how would an hon­est nation­al psy­cho­log­i­cal defense agency rec­om­mend cit­i­zens inter­pret these kinds of warn­ings about an loom­ing Russ­ian inva­sion? What con­clu­sions should our crit­i­cal think­ing skills direct us towards when assess­ing the verac­i­ty of these claims? It points towards one of the oth­er implic­it Catch22-ish chal­lenges in this sit­u­a­tion: the immense need to care­ful­ly apply your crit­i­cal think­ing skills when absorb­ing lessons in crit­i­cal think­ing from ‘anti-pro­pa­gan­da’ pro­pa­gan­da agen­cies.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 17, 2022, 5:05 pm
  6. Fol­low­ing up on the sto­ry about Swe­den’s new Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency ded­i­cat­ed to teach­ing the Swedish pub­lic how to iden­ti­fy for­eign dis­in­for­ma­tion, paired with report of Swe­den mov­ing troops to Got­land while warn­ing about a pos­si­ble Russ­ian inva­sion, here’s a set of arti­cles about anoth­er anom­alous nation­al secu­ri­ty-relat­ed sto­ry that’s sud­den­ly popped up in the coun­try:

    Drones are buzzing Swe­den’s nuclear plants. It popped up last week, with reports of police inves­ti­gat­ing drone sight­ings around the Fors­mark nuclear plant search­ing for a sin­gle large drone seen fly­ing over the site. The sit­ing came amid reports of anoth­er pos­si­ble drone sight­ing at the Ring­hals nuclear plant on the coun­try’s west coast. In total, there have been reports of drones around four Swedish pow­er plants this week: Fors­mark, Ring­hals, Oskar­shamn, and Barse­bäck. Fors­mark has appar­ent­ly been buzzed on mul­ti­ple days. And that’s on top of drone sight­ings out­side gov­ern­ment build­ings on Stock­holm.

    So what kinds of drones are these? We have no idea. There’s no hard evi­dence yet of any of these sight­ings, although one anony­mous source claims that one sight­ing involved a large winged drone. But this source could­n’t pro­vide any visu­al evi­dence. It’s part of what makes this mys­tery so mys­te­ri­ous: in an era a smart­phones with pow­er­ful cam­eras no one can snag a video of any of these drones.

    And again, don’t for­get that this mys­tery drone swarm­ing is hap­pen­ing at the same the Swedish gov­ern­ment is mak­ing big new invest­ments in the area of psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare, with the open­ing of the Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defense Agency. And it’s also all hap­pen­ing in the mid­dle of a show­down with Rus­sia. Are we look­ing at a Swedish psy­op?

    As we’ll see in the final arti­cle excerpt below, there’s anoth­er intrigu­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty in terms of the ori­gins of these drones: last month, Nor­way announced the launch­ing of a new Coast Guard ser­vice. Five Nor­we­gian Coast Guard ships are being equipped with new radi­a­tion-detect­ing drones. The drones were design in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the US and intend­ed for use mar­itime use. All five ships were expect­ed to be fit­ted with the drones this year, with plans on test­ing the sys­tems dur­ing a big inter­na­tion­al Arc­tic radi­a­tion exer­cise in the area around Bodø, north­ern Nor­way in May.

    Yes, in the midst of Swe­den’s ongo­ing sabre rat­tling with Rus­sia, we get a mys­tery drone event involv­ing high sen­si­tive loca­tions. The exact kind of high­ly sen­si­tive loca­tions that Nor­way’s new radi­a­tion drone fleet is ide­al for mon­i­tor­ing. It’s quite an alarm­ing coin­ci­dence. Alarm­ing in part because it’s a coin­ci­dence seem­ing­ly designed to raise pub­lic alarm:

    Euractiv.tv

    Swedish police hunt­ing down drone spot­ted at nuclear plant

    By Charles Szum­s­ki | EURACTIV.com

    Jan 16, 2022

    Police in Swe­den deployed patrols and heli­copters at the Fors­mark nuclear pow­er plant to hunt for a large drone seen fly­ing over the site late on Fri­day. So far, they have been unable to iden­ti­fy the unmanned device.

    At 8:20 pm on 14 Jan­u­ary, a secu­ri­ty guard at Fors­mark nuclear pow­er plant raised the alarm about a drone fly­ing over and around the pow­er plant, before dis­ap­pear­ing towards the island of Gra­so.

    “Police con­tin­ue to try to locate the drone, even with their own (drones), but with­out suc­cess,” the police force said in an inci­dent report on its web­site. There were no signs the drone had dropped any­thing in the area or land­ed, the police added.

    It also cit­ed uncon­firmed reports of pos­si­ble drone sight­ings at the Ring­hals nuclear plant on the country’s west coast, while sev­er­al media reports spoke of object sight­ings near the Oskar­shamn and Barse­bäck pow­er­plants.

    The inci­dents came a day after Sweden’s mil­i­tary start­ed patrolling the main town on the Baltic Sea island of Got­land amid increased ten­sions between NATO and Rus­sia and the recent deploy­ment of Russ­ian land­ing craft in the Baltic.

    Forsmark’s press offi­cer, Josef Nylén, did not want to com­ment on what secu­ri­ty sys­tems are in place to pre­vent drones from fly­ing over the plant.

    ...

    Swedish police have drawn up reports of unau­tho­rised access to pro­tect­ed areas, vio­la­tions of the Avi­a­tion Act and unau­tho­rised imag­ing of pro­tect­ed objects con­cern­ing the var­i­ous inci­dents. The Armed Forces have been informed of the oper­a­tions.

    Defence Min­is­ter Peter Hultqvist did not want to spec­u­late on whether mil­i­tary drones are involved but told SVT that drones have been observed at var­i­ous sites used in mil­i­tary exer­cis­es on pre­vi­ous occa­sions.

    This is some­thing that hap­pens from time to time. We have also changed the leg­is­la­tion so that this type of drone can be shot down. Now it is up to the police to inves­ti­gate,” he added.

    ———–

    “Swedish police hunt­ing down drone spot­ted at nuclear plant” by Charles Szum­s­ki; EURACTIV.com; 01/16/2022

    “It also cit­ed uncon­firmed reports of pos­si­ble drone sight­ings at the Ring­hals nuclear plant on the country’s west coast, while sev­er­al media reports spoke of object sight­ings near the Oskar­shamn and Barse­bäck pow­er­plants.”

    That’s four dif­fer­ent nuclear plants with drone sight­ings: Fors­mark, Ring­hals, Oskar­shamn, and Barse­bäck. Yikes. Some­one was send­ing a mes­sage. It’s not actu­al­ly clear what the mes­sage is, but it’s clear they intend­ed to send it. This was­n’t covert:

    ...
    Defence Min­is­ter Peter Hultqvist did not want to spec­u­late on whether mil­i­tary drones are involved but told SVT that drones have been observed at var­i­ous sites used in mil­i­tary exer­cis­es on pre­vi­ous occa­sions.

    This is some­thing that hap­pens from time to time. We have also changed the leg­is­la­tion so that this type of drone can be shot down. Now it is up to the police to inves­ti­gate,” he added.
    ...

    And nei­ther were the sight­ings lim­it­ed to those four plants. In addi­tion to a num­ber of drone sight­ings over gov­ern­ment build­ings in Stock­holm Days, there was round of sight­ings at Fors­mark.

    And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, there’s still no hard footage of any of these drones. We don’t know what they look like or even what kind of drones they are. There’s one anony­mous source claim­ing to have seen a large winged drone with at least a two-meter wingspan, but no evi­dence was pro­vid­ed to back this claim up. So part of the mys­tery of the Swedish drone swarm is why there’s no visu­al evi­dence of the drones peo­ple keep see­ing:

    The Dri­ve
    The War­zone

    Swedish Secu­ri­ty Agency Declares A Nation­al Event As Drone Incur­sions Over Nuclear Sites Grow0
    Swedish police are also inves­ti­gat­ing a spate of recent unmanned air­craft sight­ings over oth­er sen­si­tive sites beyond nuclear pow­er plants.

    By Joseph Tre­vithick
    Jan­u­ary 17, 2022

    Police in Swe­den have con­firmed a new drone sight­ing near the Fors­mark Nuclear Pow­er Plant. This comes a day after the Swedish Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice announced it was tak­ing over the inves­ti­ga­tion of a num­ber of ear­li­er report­ed drone incur­sions into the air­space near that plant, as well as around two oth­er nuclear facil­i­ties else­where in the coun­try. You can read more about what is already known about these ear­li­er sight­ings in The War Zone’s ini­tial report­ing here.

    Those inci­dents have now col­lec­tive­ly been cat­e­go­rized as a “nation­al spe­cial event,” under­scor­ing the con­cerns that Swedish author­i­ties have about the inten­tions of the drones’ oper­a­tors, who remain unknown. They have come amid a spate of addi­tion­al drone sight­ings in the coun­try near var­i­ous sen­si­tive sites, includ­ing gov­ern­ment build­ings and air­ports.

    Cit­i­zens in Swe­den alert­ed police after spot­ting the new object in the air above Fors­mark, which is the coun­try’s largest sin­gle ener­gy-pro­duc­ing facil­i­ty, ear­li­er today. Law enforce­ment offi­cials who were dis­patched to the scene observed the object them­selves and assessed it to be a drone, accord­ing to police spokesper­son Jonas Ero­nen. A police heli­copter and the nuclear pow­er plan­t’s on-site secu­ri­ty force were involved in the response to the sight­ing, but the drone was not cap­tured and no arrests have been made, Swedish nation­al pub­lic tele­vi­sion broad­cast­er SVT report­ed. The type of heli­copter was not spec­i­fied, but Swe­den’s nation­al police force’s fleet cur­rent­ly con­sists of Bell 429s.

    The Swedish Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, also known by the Swedish acronym Säpo, would not com­ment on the lat­est sight­ing, say­ing that it was not part of its cur­rent inves­ti­ga­tion. Police spokesper­son Ero­nen said that he ful­ly expect­ed this new inci­dent to be added to their work. Säpo is a nation­al-lev­el law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence agency that is charged in part with counter-espi­onage and counter-ter­ror­ism tasks and is anal­o­gous in many respects to the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion (FBI) in the Unit­ed States.

    Säpo announced over the week­end that it had tak­en over respon­si­bil­i­ty for the probe into the ear­li­er drone sight­ings over Fors­mark, as well as the Ring­hals and Oskar­shamn Nuclear Pow­er Plants fur­ther to the south. It is unclear if this inves­ti­ga­tion will also include look­ing into recent report­ed sight­ings near the Barse­bäck Nuclear Pow­er Plant, the last reac­tor at which was decom­mis­sioned in 2005 and that is set to be demol­ished by 2028.

    Local author­i­ties have been left to con­tin­ue their inves­ti­ga­tion of sep­a­rate reports of drones fly­ing over var­i­ous gov­ern­ment build­ings in the Swedish cap­i­tal Stock­holm, as well as near Kiruna and Luleå Air­ports, accord­ing to the Afton­bladet news­pa­per. In Stock­holm, unmanned air­craft had report­ed­ly been spot­ted over the build­ing that hous­es the coun­try’s Riks­dag, or par­lia­ment, and the neigh­bor­ing Stock­holm Palace, the offi­cial res­i­dence of the coun­try’s monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf. Kiruna is the north­ern­most air­port in Swe­den, while Luleå is sit­u­at­ed in the coun­try’s north­east along the Bay of Both­nia.

    There are vir­tu­al­ly no hard details avail­able about the drones involved in any of these inci­dents. “This isn’t about some small pro­peller drone, but a large winged drone with at least a two-meter [~6.5 feet] wingspan,” Afton­bladet report­ed, cit­ing an anony­mous source, but no evi­dence has been pro­vid­ed to sub­stan­ti­ate these claims. An ear­li­er report from Swe­den’s TV2 tele­vi­sion net­work described at least one as “a larg­er mod­el that can with­stand wind as it blew hard in the area.”

    Videos that have emerged so far that are report­ed­ly from these drone sight­ings show sin­gle bright points of light in the sky, but lit­tle else.

    Here are the mys­te­ri­ous objects that are added to the nuclear pow­er plants in swe­den yes­ter­day. it is sus­pect­ed the same object. this was seen out­side strängnäs 22:30. filmed to the north-west. #Swe­den #Mil­i­tary #UFO #Object #Nuclear pic.twitter.com/X4OPVRrXV5— MilitaryActivity22 (@SebbanNews) Jan­u­ary 15, 2022

    The con­cern, obvi­ous­ly, is that who­ev­er the oper­a­tors of these drones might be could have some kind of nefar­i­ous intent. The poten­tial threats could range from spy­ing some­how on Swe­den’s nuclear pow­er infra­struc­ture or oth­er aspects of its pow­er grid to scout­ing for poten­tial weak points, includ­ing cyber­se­cu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in asso­ci­at­ed wire­less net­works. Uncov­er­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, phys­i­cal or oth­er­wise, could aid future intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing oper­a­tions or attacks.

    The very real threats that drones, includ­ing mod­i­fied com­mer­cial­ly-avail­able types, present to com­mer­cial pow­er infra­struc­ture, as well as oth­er sen­si­tive civil­ian sites, and mil­i­tary tar­gets on and off the bat­tle­field, is well-estab­lished. The War Zone was first to report on a series of sim­i­lar­ly con­cern­ing and still-unex­plained drone sight­ings near the Palo Verde Nuclear Pow­er Plant in Ari­zona in 2019. Now-pub­lic U.S. Nuclear Reg­u­la­to­ry Com­mis­sion (NRC) doc­u­ments show that were as many as 60 sep­a­rate drone sight­ings spread across 24 U.S. nuclear pow­er facil­i­ties, not just Palo Verde, between 2015 and 2019.

    Late last year, it emerged that U.S. author­i­ties had deter­mined that a crashed drone near a pow­er sub­sta­tion in Penn­syl­va­nia to have like­ly been involved in an attempt­ed attack on the elec­tri­cal grid there, some­thing that had nev­er been assessed to be the case in any sim­i­lar pre­vi­ous inci­dent.

    For Swe­den, all of this comes at a time of height­ened geopo­lit­i­cal con­cerns about Rus­si­a’s activ­i­ties in areas adja­cent to the south­ern end of the coun­try, where all of these sight­ings have occurred. The Swedish mil­i­tary deployed hun­dreds of addi­tion­al troops, along with armored vehi­cles, to the strate­gic island of Got­land in the Baltic Sea last week in response to the arrival in the region of three amphibi­ous war­fare ships from Rus­si­a’s North­ern Fleet. Swedish author­i­ties were on alert again today, as three oth­er amphibi­ous ships from the Russ­ian Navy’s Baltic Fleet left the area. Offi­cials in Swe­den have made clear that they feel these move­ments have been irreg­u­lar and there have been dis­cus­sions about the poten­tial links between these naval deploy­ments and spikes in ten­sions else­where in Europe, espe­cial­ly between Ukraine and Rus­sia.

    ...

    ———-

    “Swedish Secu­ri­ty Agency Declares A Nation­al Event As Drone Incur­sions Over Nuclear Sites Grow” by Joseph Tre­vithick; The Dri­ve; 01/17/2022

    “Police in Swe­den have con­firmed a new drone sight­ing near the Fors­mark Nuclear Pow­er Plant. This comes a day after the Swedish Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice announced it was tak­ing over the inves­ti­ga­tion of a num­ber of ear­li­er report­ed drone incur­sions into the air­space near that plant, as well as around two oth­er nuclear facil­i­ties else­where in the coun­try. You can read more about what is already known about these ear­li­er sight­ings in The War Zone’s ini­tial report­ing here.”

    A new drone sight­ing near Fors­mark. Mul­ti­ple sight­ings in just a few days. It makes you won­der what the drone spot­ted the first time around. And then there’s the addi­tion­al drone sight­ings over var­i­ous gov­ern­ment build­ings in Stock­holm. The whole thing has risen to the lev­el of a “nation­al spe­cial event”. Some­one is putting on a show, and the whole nation is the tar­get audi­ence:

    ...
    Those inci­dents have now col­lec­tive­ly been cat­e­go­rized as a “nation­al spe­cial event,” under­scor­ing the con­cerns that Swedish author­i­ties have about the inten­tions of the drones’ oper­a­tors, who remain unknown. They have come amid a spate of addi­tion­al drone sight­ings in the coun­try near var­i­ous sen­si­tive sites, includ­ing gov­ern­ment build­ings and air­ports.

    ...

    Local author­i­ties have been left to con­tin­ue their inves­ti­ga­tion of sep­a­rate reports of drones fly­ing over var­i­ous gov­ern­ment build­ings in the Swedish cap­i­tal Stock­holm, as well as near Kiruna and Luleå Air­ports, accord­ing to the Afton­bladet news­pa­per. In Stock­holm, unmanned air­craft had report­ed­ly been spot­ted over the build­ing that hous­es the coun­try’s Riks­dag, or par­lia­ment, and the neigh­bor­ing Stock­holm Palace, the offi­cial res­i­dence of the coun­try’s monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf. Kiruna is the north­ern­most air­port in Swe­den, while Luleå is sit­u­at­ed in the coun­try’s north­east along the Bay of Both­nia.
    ...

    Sad­ly, not only could the drone not be cap­tured, but there’s appar­ent­ly no clear footage of any of these drones. We have reports that at least one of these inci­dents involves a large winged drone with a least a two-meter wingspan, but those reports are anony­mous and uncon­firmed. It’s a rather remark­able lack of evi­dence in an era ubiq­ui­tous cam­eras. Could the police heli­copter snag a few images they can share?

    ...
    Cit­i­zens in Swe­den alert­ed police after spot­ting the new object in the air above Fors­mark, which is the coun­try’s largest sin­gle ener­gy-pro­duc­ing facil­i­ty, ear­li­er today. Law enforce­ment offi­cials who were dis­patched to the scene observed the object them­selves and assessed it to be a drone, accord­ing to police spokesper­son Jonas Ero­nen. A police heli­copter and the nuclear pow­er plan­t’s on-site secu­ri­ty force were involved in the response to the sight­ing, but the drone was not cap­tured and no arrests have been made, Swedish nation­al pub­lic tele­vi­sion broad­cast­er SVT report­ed. The type of heli­copter was not spec­i­fied, but Swe­den’s nation­al police force’s fleet cur­rent­ly con­sists of Bell 429s.

    ...

    There are vir­tu­al­ly no hard details avail­able about the drones involved in any of these inci­dents. “This isn’t about some small pro­peller drone, but a large winged drone with at least a two-meter [~6.5 feet] wingspan,” Afton­bladet report­ed, cit­ing an anony­mous source, but no evi­dence has been pro­vid­ed to sub­stan­ti­ate these claims. An ear­li­er report from Swe­den’s TV2 tele­vi­sion net­work described at least one as “a larg­er mod­el that can with­stand wind as it blew hard in the area.”

    Videos that have emerged so far that are report­ed­ly from these drone sight­ings show sin­gle bright points of light in the sky, but lit­tle else.
    ...

    And that com­plete lack of hard detail about these drones brings us to a sto­ry out of Nor­way from ear­ly Decem­ber. A sto­ry about Nor­ways new fleet of radi­a­tion-detect­ing drones. Yep, Nor­way announced last month that five Coast Guard ships are soon to be equipped with radi­a­tion-detect­ing drones and will be patrolling the coast. So Nor­way has ships with drones that have a spe­cif­ic inter­est in radi­a­tion new­ly deployed a month before the wave of mys­tery drone sight­ings near neigh­bor­ing Swe­den’s nuclear plants. Hmm­mm...

    Also note that Nor­way was­n’t inde­pen­dent­ly work­ing on this radi­a­tion drone pro­gram. Back in Octo­ber, a team of experts from the Nor­we­gian Radi­a­tion and Nuclear Safe­ty Author­i­ty (DSA) and the Coast Guard worked togeth­er with experts from the US Depart­ment of Energy’s Nation­al Nuclear Secu­ri­ty at a Neva­da Test Site where they test­ed how the drones could be used for detec­tion. In May of 2022, the drones are going to be used in a large inter­na­tion­al Arc­tic radi­a­tion exer­cise in the area around Bodø, north­ern Nor­way.

    So are they the large winged drones capa­ble of fly­ing long dis­tances? Or the heli­cop­tor-like small­er drones capa­ble of hov­er­ing with pre­ci­sion? That’s unclear from the report­ing. But keep in mind that we still don’t know what the drones sight­ed over Swe­den look like either. So at this point we don’t have enough infor­ma­tion to con­clude whether or not the Swedish drone mys­tery is a prod­uct of Nor­way’s drone fleet. But we don’t have any infor­ma­tion that could rule it out either:

    The Bar­ents Observ­er

    Nor­way deploys radi­a­tion drones along its coast amidst nuclear emer­gency con­cerns

    Five Coast Guard ships are soon to car­ry drones with sen­sors capa­ble of detect­ing radioac­tiv­i­ty in case of a mar­itime acci­dent involv­ing a poten­tial release from a reac­tor-pow­ered civil­ian or mil­i­tary ves­sel.

    By Thomas Nilsen
    Decem­ber 03, 2021

    A sharp increase in nuclear-pow­ered ves­sels and ships with radioac­tive mate­ri­als pose an increas­ing risk of acci­dents, a recent radi­o­log­i­cal- and nuclear risk assess­ment study for the Arc­tic Coun­cil con­cludes.

    The risk is mod­er­ate and increas­ing in regards to nuclear-pow­ered ves­sels and float­ing nuclear pow­er plants, the report reads.

    Now, author­i­ties take action and deploy drones with radi­a­tion detec­tors on board Norway’s fleet of five Inner Coast Guard patrol ves­sels, from the North Sea region in the south to the Bar­ents Sea in the north.

    The dan­ger is obvi­ous. A worst-case sce­nario is a nuclear-pow­ered ves­sel with a reac­tor leak­age drift­ing at sea or run­ning aground with a wind direc­tion towards pop­u­lat­ed areas. In north­ern Nor­way, nine out of ten inhab­i­tants live less than four kilo­me­ters from the sea.

    A drone can help mea­sure lev­els of radi­a­tion in close vicin­i­ty to the ves­sel in dis­tress with­out expos­ing any of the emer­gency response teams to dan­ger. The Coast Guard is already on 24/7 watch and plays an impor­tant role in emer­gency pre­pared­ness.

    Nuclear-pow­ered ice­break­ers are more fre­quent­ly sail­ing between the yard in St. Peters­burg and their home­port in Mur­man­sk, like this week­end when the newest ice­break­er, the “Ark­ti­ka“ sails around Scan­di­navia a few nau­ti­cal miles off the coast.

    The civil­ian nuclear-pow­ered “ Sev­mor­put ” is also reg­u­lar­ly sail­ing between the Far East and St. Peters­burg via the coasts of Siberia, Nor­way, Swe­den, Den­mark, Poland, Esto­nia and Fin­land loaded with seafood and oth­er prod­ucts. The ship is 33 years old and is not allowed to make port calls to coun­tries out­side Rus­sia.

    Every now and then, car­go ves­sels bring spent nuclear fuel or radioac­tive sub­stances to the port of Mur­man­sk.

    Navy sub­marines

    Caused by increased mil­i­tary ten­sions, both NATO and Russ­ian nuclear sub­marines are more fre­quent­ly patrolling the strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant North Atlantic. Allied sub­marines even make port calls to har­bors in Nor­way, like this spring when “USS New Mex­i­co” came to Trom­sø in a high-pro­file vis­it.

    Detailed emer­gency response plans were made ahead of the submarine’s vis­it. For Nor­way, which has a com­pre­hen­sive net­work of radi­a­tion detec­tors on land, the chal­lenge how­ev­er is what to do if some­thing hap­pens at sea.

    “The Coast Guard has pilots and train­ing ready. When the sen­sors are deliv­ered they will be deployed to the ships,” says Lt. Cdr Stein Magne Eidis­sen to the Bar­ents Observ­er.

    He says the project is a coop­er­a­tion between the Coastal Admin­is­tra­tion, the Radi­a­tion and Nuclear Safe­ty Author­i­ty (DSA), the Mar­itime Author­i­ty, and the Coast Guard.

    Lt. Cdr Eidis­sen adds that the Out­er Coast Guard ves­sels, sail­ing Arc­tic voy­ages in the Nor­we­gian and Bar­ents Seas all north to Sval­bard, lat­er will be equipped with sim­i­lar sys­tems for radi­a­tion detec­tion as the Inner Coast Guard now gets.

    Addi­tion­al to the drone in oper­a­tion onboard “KV Tor”, two detec­tors are deliv­ered and under test­ing, while two more will come next year.

    The Coast Guard will use drones also for fish­eries inspec­tions, search- and res­cue, oil pol­lu­tion and dif­fer­ent police tasks.

    Sub­marines and ice­break­ers

    Norway’s Inner Coast Guard includes the five ves­sels “Nor­nen”, “Tor”, “Heim­dal”, “Njord” and “Farm”. The lat­ter has Kirkenes as home­port and sails the waters clos­est to Russia’s Kola Penin­su­la where sev­er­al tens of nuclear-pow­ered sub­marines are based as well as being home to the increas­ing Arc­tic fleet of nuclear-pow­ered ice­break­ers.

    Two brand new ice­break­ers, pow­ered by two reac­tors each, will be added to the fleet before the end of the year. The first is this week­end en route along the coast of Nor­way from St. Peters­burg to Russia’s ice-cov­ered waters around the Yamal Penin­su­la and the Kara Sea.

    In Octo­ber, a team of experts from the Nor­we­gian Radi­a­tion and Nuclear Safe­ty Author­i­ty (DSA) and the Coast Guard worked togeth­er with experts from the U.S. Depart­ment of Energy’s Nation­al Nuclear Secu­ri­ty at the Neva­da Test Site. Togeth­er, they test­ed how the drones could be used for detec­tion. The for­mer nuclear weapons poly­gon in Neva­da has a skilled staff devel­op­ing remote-con­trolled vehi­cles for mea­sur­ing radi­a­tion.

    The drone to be deployed by the Nor­we­gian Coast Guard became the first to fly down the famous Sedan Crater to mea­sure radioac­tiv­i­ty.

    Cir­cum­po­lar coop­er­a­tion

    Two years ago, the Nor­we­gians and Amer­i­cans sailed north to Sval­bard togeth­er with Russ­ian experts from the emer­gency response unit of Rosatom, work­ing on remote-con­trolled sys­tems for mea­sur­ing radi­a­tion in case of acci­dents.

    Col­lab­o­ra­tion on nuclear acci­dent pre­pared­ness is a pri­or­i­ty for all cir­cum­po­lar nations which agree that shared resources in sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed areas ben­e­fit all.

    “Our emer­gency pre­pared­ness in coastal areas and at sea has not been good enough,” says Øyvind Aas-Hansen, senior advi­sor with DSA’s Sec­tion High North in Trom­sø. In a phone inter­view with the Bar­ents Observ­er, Aas-Hansen prais­es the coop­er­a­tion with the Nor­we­gian Coast Guard. “The Inner Coast Guard has a well-trained crew. They are a very good resource for emer­gency pre­pared­ness along the coast where the major­i­ty of the Nor­we­gian pop­u­la­tion lives,” he tells.

    “We nev­er know where acci­dents might hap­pen. But with the Coast Guard and their skills on oper­at­ing drones, we are about to become world-class in pre­pared­ness,” Aas-Hansen elab­o­rates.

    “The new drone detec­tors for radi­a­tion are unique. What we learn from this is some­thing we absolute­ly will share with oth­er nations,” says Øyvind Aas-Hansen. He under­lines that cross-sec­tor col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er agen­cies in Nor­way has brought the project for­ward. “DSA is a small play­er, but togeth­er with the Nor­we­gian Coastal Admin­is­tra­tion, the Coast Guard and the Joint Res­cue Coor­di­na­tion Cen­tre of North­ern Nor­way we had the per­fect team.”

    It is the Coastal Admin­is­tra­tion that owns the drones and was the ini­tia­tor of the pilot project to take detec­tors into use.

    Large nuclear exer­cise in 2022

    In May 2022, the part­ners will test the sys­tems in a large inter­na­tion­al Arc­tic radi­a­tion exer­cise in the area around Bodø, north­ern Nor­way.

    “The sce­nario for the exer­cise is an event involv­ing a reac­tor-pow­ered ves­sel,” says Aas-Hansen. “Based on sail­ings and port calls of allied reac­tor-pow­ered ves­sels we find it nat­ur­al to give pri­or­i­ty to ves­sels in the north and on the west coast.”

    Addi­tion­al to Trom­sø, U.S. nuclear-pow­ered sub­marines fre­quent­ly make port calls to Haakonsvern naval base near Bergen.

    Sharp increase in reac­tors

    The Bar­ents Observ­er has pub­lished an overview (pdf) list­ing the increas­ing num­ber of reac­tors in the Russ­ian Arc­tic. The paper is part of Bar­ents Observer’s ana­lyt­i­cal pop­u­lar sci­ence stud­ies on devel­op­ments in the Euro-Arc­tic Region.

    Accord­ing to the list, there are 39 nuclear-pow­ered ves­sels or instal­la­tions in the Russ­ian Arc­tic today with a total of 62 reac­tors. This includes 31 sub­marines, one sur­face war­ship, five ice­break­ers, two onshore and one float­ing nuclear pow­er plant.

    Look­ing more than a decade ahead, the num­ber of ships, includ­ing sub­marines, and instal­la­tions pow­ered by reac­tors is esti­mat­ed to increase to 74 with a total of 94 reac­tors, maybe as many as 114. Addi­tion­al to new ice­break­ers and sub­marines already under con­struc­tion, Rus­sia is brush­ing dust of old­er Sovi­et ideas of uti­liz­ing nuclear pow­er for dif­fer­ent kinds of Arc­tic shelf indus­tri­al devel­op­ments, like oil- and gas explo­ration, min­ing and research.

    Although Russia’s exist­ing “Akademik Lomonosov” and four planned float­ing nuclear pow­er plants are to oper­ate on the coast of the Chukot­ka Penin­su­la thou­sands of kilo­me­ters east of the Euro­pean Arc­tic, main­te­nance, test­ing and change of spent nuclear fuel ele­ments will take place at the Atom­flot base in Mur­man­sk, a city with about 300,000 inhab­i­tants a few hours dri­ve from the bor­der to Nor­way.

    “By 2035, the Russ­ian Arc­tic will be the most nuclearized waters on the plan­et,” the paper reads.

    Also, exist­ing ice­break­ers and sub­marines get life­time pro­lon­ga­tion. The aver­age age of the North­ern Fleet’s nuclear-pow­ered sub­marines has nev­er been old­er than today. Sev­er­al of the sub­marines built in the 1980s will con­tin­ue to sail the Bar­ents Sea and under the Arc­tic ice cap until the late 2020s.

    ...

    ———-

    “Nor­way deploys radi­a­tion drones along its coast amidst nuclear emer­gency con­cerns” by Thomas Nilsen; The Bar­ents Observ­er; 12/03/2021

    “Now, author­i­ties take action and deploy drones with radi­a­tion detec­tors on board Norway’s fleet of five Inner Coast Guard patrol ves­sels, from the North Sea region in the south to the Bar­ents Sea in the north.”

    Nor­way’s Coast Guard is tak­ing action against the grow­ing risk of float­ing mar­itime nuclear-pow­ered ves­sels with five Coast Guard ves­sels set to get equipped with one of these new radi­a­tion-detect­ing drones. This was the news less than two months before Swe­den’s mys­tery “nation­al spe­cial event”.

    But also notes that Nor­way’s new drone pro­gram isn’t some­thing they’re devel­op­ing on their own. It’s a joint project being devel­oped in part­ner­ship with the US, with plans to incor­po­rate the drones into a large inter­na­tion­al Arc­tic radi­a­tion exer­cise in the area around Bodø, north­ern Nor­way in May 2022:

    ...
    In Octo­ber, a team of experts from the Nor­we­gian Radi­a­tion and Nuclear Safe­ty Author­i­ty (DSA) and the Coast Guard worked togeth­er with experts from the U.S. Depart­ment of Energy’s Nation­al Nuclear Secu­ri­ty at the Neva­da Test Site. Togeth­er, they test­ed how the drones could be used for detec­tion. The for­mer nuclear weapons poly­gon in Neva­da has a skilled staff devel­op­ing remote-con­trolled vehi­cles for mea­sur­ing radi­a­tion.

    ...

    Two years ago, the Nor­we­gians and Amer­i­cans sailed north to Sval­bard togeth­er with Russ­ian experts from the emer­gency response unit of Rosatom, work­ing on remote-con­trolled sys­tems for mea­sur­ing radi­a­tion in case of acci­dents.

    Col­lab­o­ra­tion on nuclear acci­dent pre­pared­ness is a pri­or­i­ty for all cir­cum­po­lar nations which agree that shared resources in sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed areas ben­e­fit all.

    ...

    In May 2022, the part­ners will test the sys­tems in a large inter­na­tion­al Arc­tic radi­a­tion exer­cise in the area around Bodø, north­ern Nor­way.

    “The sce­nario for the exer­cise is an event involv­ing a reac­tor-pow­ered ves­sel,” says Aas-Hansen. “Based on sail­ings and port calls of allied reac­tor-pow­ered ves­sels we find it nat­ur­al to give pri­or­i­ty to ves­sels in the north and on the west coast.”

    Addi­tion­al to Trom­sø, U.S. nuclear-pow­ered sub­marines fre­quent­ly make port calls to Haakonsvern naval base near Bergen.
    ...

    So what are we look­ing at here? It’s unclear. But it does­n’t look like we’ve seen the last of these sight­ings. Hope­ful­ly one of these times some­one will actu­al­ly snap a pic­ture.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 18, 2022, 3:56 pm

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