Propaganda 101: The New York Times pumps another ‘evil Russia’ plot

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By Finian Cunningham

The “newspaper of record” New York Times arguably holds the record for peddling anti-Russia scare stories. This week the NY Times delivered yet another classic spook tale dressed as serious news.

Among its splash articles, under the headline ‘Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say’, readers were told of an elite Russian spy team which has, allegedly, only recently been discovered.

It’s called “Unit 29155” and purportedly directed by the Kremlin to “destabilize Europe” with “subversion, sabotage and assassination.”

According to the NY Times, this crack squad of Russia’s most ruthless military intelligence agents were involved in an attempted assassination of an arms dealer in Bulgaria in 2015; the destabilization of Moldova; a failed coup against the Montenegrin government; and the alleged poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in England last year.

The article states: “Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination.”

The NY Times adds: “The purpose of Unit 29155, which has not been previously reported, underscores the degree to which the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, is actively fighting the West with his brand of so-called hybrid warfare — a blend of propaganda, hacking attacks and disinformation — as well as open military confrontation.”

This is all because, the readers are told, “The Kremlin sees Russia as being at war with a Western liberal order that it views as an existential threat.”

In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed it as more of the “pulp fiction category” which Western news media have manufactured with seeming increasing intensity over recent years. Peskov pointed out that Moscow has repeatedly stated its desire to normalize relations with Western states and the European Union in particular, contradicting the theme of the NY Times’ piece.

Indeed, the Russian Embassy in Britain recently published a compilation of false articles peddled by Western media over the past four years. The NY Times features prominently as one of the main purveyors of scare stories about alleged malign Russian activities, from hacking into presidential elections, to targeting American power grids, to covert collusion with President Donald Trump.

For students of Propaganda 101, this week’s tale makes a case study of how disinformation is disseminated in the guise of “news reporting.”

First of all, the NY Times reporter, Michael Schwirtz, gives a meandering account of lurid dirty deeds performed in various international locations allegedly carried out by the supposed “elite” Kremlin hybrid warriors. But tellingly, there are no details evidencing Russian involvement. It’s all lurid speculation spiced with fear-mongering, which reads like a pallid John le Carré spy novel.

Then, the usual giveaway that the NY Times is engaging in disinformation, it quotes anonymous security officials for apparent verification of its claims about “Unit 29155”. This is tacit admission of who the real authors are: Western spooks.

READ MORE: Problem of NYT 1619 Project isn’t that it sees America through slavery, it’s that it tells untruths

Next, a neat effort to give the lame story some legs is to quote named public figures. But these sources don’t confirm the existence of the alleged Kremlin unit; they are merely invited to speculate on its existence and presumed malign purpose. One of those named sources is MI6 chief Alex Younger. Yes, that’s right, the paper of record is quoting British military intelligence as a reliable source for public information. Another named source is Peter Zwack, who is described as a former US military intelligence officer who worked at the American Embassy in Moscow. Zwack is quoted as describing Russians as “organically ruthless” (whatever that means), while the paper actually admits that “he was not aware of the unit’s existence.”

The purpose of throwing a few names into the reporting mix is to lend a veneer of credibility to the nebulous, unverifiable, scary stuff that the anonymous spooks feed the reporter.

A special mention must be given to a third named source quoted by the NY Times. He is Eerik-Niiles Kross, an Estonian lawmaker and former military intelligence chief in Tallinn. He styles himself as “Estonia’s James Bond,” and is known for his salacious Russophobic warnings of “imminent invasion of the Baltic states” – over the past three decades. Kross is quoted to speculate on the existence of the alleged Kremlin hybrid warfare unit. Of course, he dutifully serves up his notorious anti-Russian fear-mongering. But he is not confirming. His speculation is pseudo-validation of information that is essentially fictional.

All in all, the latest installment of anti-Russia propaganda from the NY Times this week is a damp squib among many previous baseless reports of alleged Kremlin malign activity. If it serves any purpose, it is perhaps a choice illustration of how disinformation is sneakily, insidiously presented as ‘news’. The fact that this should appear in a Pulitzer Prize-winning, supposedly premier, American newspaper is the disturbing part.

But it is no surprise to those who have long studied how the US corporate media has been under the control of state intelligence agencies for many decades, especially after the Second World War and during the subsequent Cold War against the Soviet Union.

In a seminal essay in 1977 for Rolling Stone magazine, award-winning journalist Carl Bernstein documented how the CIA systematically cultivated hundreds of reporters, columnists, editors, publishing executives and broadcast networks to function as conduits for disinformation – much of it directed at demonizing the Soviet Union.

“From the outset, the use of journalists was among the CIA’s most sensitive undertakings,” writes Bernstein.

He added: “By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.”

How the CIA goes about planting false stories in the American and European media is outlined in this candid interview by John Stockwell, who was former National Security Council coordinator for the agency during the 1970s. Stockwell also added: “Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the US military machine to turn.”

You may wonder, if the Cold War ended nearly 30 years ago when the Soviet Union dissolved, why then do the NY Times and other Western media outlets continue to pump out anti-Russian propaganda? But that assumes the Cold War was primarily about the US opposing the ideology of communism. It wasn’t. It was, and still is, all about imposing control over the masses so they don’t ever challenge the power structure that deprives them of full democratic rights and decent livelihoods.

In a recent interview, philosopher André Vitchek makes the point that Western politicians and media like the NY Times keep harping on Cold War scare stories about evil foreigners in order “to distract their citizens from thinking about their increasingly limited freedoms and diminishing standards of living.”

The Cold War continues, and anti-Russia hysteria is but a distraction, as was the anti-Soviet hysteria. The aim is to distract the public from the real Cold War which is a war by the elites against democracy ever being actually realized among the masses.

 

Who are Extinction Rebellion — the ‘eco-activists’ grounding planes & shutting down cities

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Calling for civil disobedience in the face of climate change, Extinction Rebellion protesters have been remarkably successful in thrusting themselves into the headlines. But what is the movement all about? And who’s behind it?

Best known for shutting down the streets of London in April, Extinction Rebellion upped its game on Thursday, with a protester affiliated with the group grounding an Aer Lingus flight from London City Airport to Dublin. Another protester – Paralympian James Brown – clambered onto the roof of a British Airways plane and refused to budge, prompting police to eventually remove him.

The disruptions came as Extinction Rebellion threatened a “Hong Kong-style” occupation and shutdown of the airport, and as similar protests hit more than 60 cities worldwide.

“Ultimately, it is part of Extinction Rebellion’s aim to get people arrested,” read a flyer circulated by activists in Dublin. To that end, the group has been successful. More than 1,000 activists have been arrested in London alone this week, including 50 at London City Airport.

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What do they want?

The group’s demands are threefold. First, they call on governments to “tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency,” a similar demand to that made by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last month. A seemingly benign demand, but one that paints opponents as ‘anti-truth’.

Secondly, they demand that “government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.”  Finally, the group demands that government partner up with activists, and “create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.” 

While a ‘Citizens’ Assembly’ would draw on a cross-section of society, it would be government-created and guided by a collection of NGOs and academics, as was the case in Ireland when the government convened such an assembly to pave the way for referenda on gay marriage and abortion in recent years. Extinction Rebellion make no mention on whether NGOs with opposing views will be included in the deliberation.

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At XR’s rallies, protesters have called for any number of ways of meeting these goals and more, including government bans on meat and private cars, abolishment of the airplane, boycotts of the fashion industry, and disbandment of the military. Disrupting commerce is fair game for making their points, as is disrupting vital services. As a cancer patient in London was forced to walk to hospital treatment due to XR’s roadblocks, spokesperson Savannah Lovelock told Sky News that while she was “really sorry,” such action is necessary for the good of the planet.

An appeal to authority

Central to all of the group’s demands is a radical expansion of state power. Reducing greenhouse gases to net zero – if a state-led effort – would give government the power to restrict or outright deny its citizens freedom of travel, freedom to choose their own diets, and freedom to build their homes however they want. In the US, drafttext of ‘Green New Deal’ legislation gives a sneak-peek at just how all-encompassing this would be, working wealth redistribution and reparations for “historic oppression” into the mix for good measure.

A potent illustration of the group’s appeal to authority came last November, when XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook marched on Buckingham Palace and read aloud a message to Queen Elizabeth “with great humility,” calling on the monarch to save the planet by royal decree.

“It isn’t enough to live a life of voluntary simplicity,” academic and XR campaigner Rupert Read wrote at the time. The implied meaning is clear: people will have to be coerced into complying.

Who’s behind it all?

Here’s where things get interesting. Exploding onto the scene with a recognizable logo, coherent imagery across multiple continents, a dominant social media presence and a slick website, the leaders of Extinction Rebellion are no rabble of bong-smoking malcontents.

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Especially not Dr. Gail Bradbrook. The co-founder of the movement told the BBC that she came up with the idea after praying in a deep way” while under the influence of “psychedelic medicines” on a retreat last year.

In truth, Bradbrook has made a career out of activism, and has for two decades worked as a professional campaigner. Speaking at a talk in 2016, she admitted that this role is “mostly about securing your own paycheck.” As director of Citizens Online – a charity campaigning for “digital inclusion,” Bradbrook has worked with BT to lobby the British government.

Joining Bradshaw are former organic farmer Roger Hallam, and also involved are Occupy London veteran Tasmin Osmond – a granddaughter of British nobility – and ex-UN worker Laura Reeves.

Behind the movement is a bulwark of elite cash. Heiress Aileen Getty has kicked in nearly £500,000 of her family’s oil wealth to the group via the Climate Emergency Fund, claiming that “disruption” is necessary to take on climate change. According to its own data, Extinction Rebellion has raised just short of a million pounds in large donations since March, from groups like the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, set up by a hedge fund manager and run by a former vice-chairman of billionaire financier George SorosOpen Society Institute.

What has the group achieved?

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Aside from annoying motorists and boosting superglue sales, Extinction Rebellion has achieved some of its aims. Eleven countries and dependencies, beginning with Britain and Ireland, have declared a state of “climate emergency,” even if Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar did say afterwards that the declaration was a “symbolic gesture.”

What Extinction Rebellion has also been successful in is pandering to the wishes of global financiers and the new captains of green industry. The group’s call for “net zero” carbon emissions is echoed by the World Bank, and a host of investment firms, including HSBC, JP Morgan Chase and Citi, that see “profits to be had” in “climate-related sectors.”

None of this is a bad thing on the surface, except that these groups – which have banded together to form the Climate Finance Partnership and Blended Finance Action Taskforce – want access to taxpayer money and pension funds to do this. This Western money, according to the groups, will be funnelled into projects in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Rarely do the demands of activists and the will of international finance line up, but not everyone is happy. In London, Police Commissioner Nick Ephgrave has warned that the current protests will hamper officers’ ability to tackle “street-based violence,” and leave the city more vulnerable to terrorism.

Street blockages and airport disruptions may put Extinction Rebellion at odds with the majority of the population, but majority support is unnecessary. XR co-founder Roger Hallam has repeatedly referenced Gene Sharp as an inspiration. An American political scientist, Sharp’s theory of nonviolent action – that only 3.5 percent of a population need to back a protest movement before it reaches critical mass and triggers change – has been adopted and put into practice by ‘color revolutionaries’ around the world, from US-sponsored student protesters in Serbia at the turn of the century, to Arab Spring revolutionaries more recently.

Celebrities have lined up to endorse Extinction Rebellion – from gloom-rockers Radiohead chipping in £300,000 to Benedict Cumberbatch joining protesters camped in Trafalgar Square. With elite cash and backing, as well as round the clock media coverage, Extinction Rebellion is well on its way to Sharp’s tipping point, and has well and truly glued itself to the public consciousness already.

UNIVERSITY BANS WHITE STUDENTS FROM ATTENDING ANTI-RACISM MEETING

University Bans White Students From Attending Anti-Racism Meeting

Oh, the irony.

  – OCTOBER 10, 2019

The University of Sheffield Student’s Union in the UK has banned white people from attending a meeting about anti-racism.

Yes, really.

The SU announced that it would hold focus groups on “how we can create an anti-racist Students’ Union” as part of an effort to shift from a “non-racist to an actively anti-racist” stance.

However, no white people are allowed to take part.

“Please note that these sessions are only open to black and minority ethnic (BME) students,” states the announcement.

Banning people from a meeting about racism because of their skin color is…what’s the word? Oh yeah, racist.

The controversy follows a similar farce at the University of Edinburgh where white people were banned from asking questions at an event called Resisting Whiteness.

“We will not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As, not because we don’t think white people have anything to offer to the discussion but because we want to amplify the voices of people of colour,” stated promotional material for the event.

 

Facebook CEO warns breaking up Big Tech will lead to more ‘election meddling’ and less censorship will hurt people in LEAKED audio

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears to threaten politicians who want to break up the company with election interference ‘issues’, and warns that unregulated social media would create angry crowds, in recently leaked audio.

Breaking up Big Tech firms like Facebook “is not actually going to solve the issues,” Zuckerberg complained during a July open question-and-answer meeting with employees, a recording of which was obtained by The Verge. Instead, he warned, it’ll make them worse.

It doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together.

Why broken-up Facebooklets would refuse to coordinate to quash “election interference,” one can only wonder. The statement, which could be easily interpreted as a veiled threat, comes in response to widespread concern that Facebook is a monopoly with too much power over what information people see online. Facebook previously threatened the journalism industry with extinction if publishers refused to cooperate with the social media behemoth (“I’ll be holding hands with your dying business like in a hospice,” his deputy Campbell Brown warned publishers in a meeting last year, adding that Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about what happens to them if they scorn Facebook’s olive branch), and Zuckerberg is very much aware of the amount of political power his company wields, especially heading into an election year.

An offer they can’t refuse? Facebook offers mainstream news millions in licensing fees

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But Facebook being broken up isn’t even a concern, as the CEO said the company would “win the legal challenge” should Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren or any other candidate calling for the break up of the Big Tech monopolies actually follow through on that campaign promise. The court battle would “still suck for us,” though, since “I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government.”

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“We care about our country and want to work with our government to do good things. But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.” Translation: we care about our country, as long as it doesn’t get in our way. And other countries? Asked about skipping hearings where he was expected to testify in Canada and the UK, Zuckerberg indicated he didn’t care so much about those: “It just doesn’t really make sense for me to go to hearings in every single country that wants to have me show up,” he explained, sounding genuinely bewildered that such a thing might be expected of him.

One particularly interesting employee question concerned how to improve Facebook’s “self-image” – what to tell friends and family who hate or fear the social network. Zuckerberg’s answer was elusive and vague – tell critics that “you care about the problems and acknowledge that there are issues and that you’re working through them.”

And Zuckerberg insisted – despite that boilerplate answer – that caring is genuine. He “really cares” about “making sure that our products promote positive well-being,” he said, adding that this concern was behind the company’s decision to more prominently feature content from “friends and family” in newsfeeds, deemphasizing political and viral content. That decision hurt both the producers of such content and the company itself, which lost $100 billion of market cap in one day as the number of users fell dramatically – a historic record for a single-day drop, according to Zuckerberg, who laughed it off.

He also tried to smooth over the rough rollout of Libra, Facebook’s digital currency that has been panned by governments worldwide, claiming that “the public things” – presumably meaning politicians’ calls for extreme scrutiny of the project owing to Facebook’s history of privacy abuses – “tend to be a little more dramatic” but private meetings with regulators have been much easier.

While Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to be a fan of regulations targeting Libra, he is very supportive of regulation of social media – and it has more to do with dodging the pitchforks of angry users than innate virtue. Without regulation, “people are just going to keep on getting angrier and angrier … demand more extreme measures, and eventually people just say ‘Screw it, take a hammer to the whole thing.’”

UK school under fire for hosting ‘Resisting Whiteness’ event with rules discriminating against white people

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The University of Edinburgh has allowed a ‘Resisting Whiteness 2019’ event to proceed at its venue, even though there was outrage over organizers’ rules, which limited white people’s access to a microphone and to certain rooms.

The conference, aimed at raising awareness about “the importance of anti-racist action in the UK”  took place at Pleasance Theater, owned by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, on Saturday.

It was organized by a group tellingly named ‘The Resisting Whiteness Collective,’ which describes itself as a “not-for-profit grassroots organization of QTPOC [Queer and Trans People of Color] activists.” While touting the event, the group said that it wants to make it “as accessible as possible and therefore have free tickets available for those who would like to attend.”

READ MORE: Galloway blasts Lord Sugar for ‘sacrilegious mockery of Christian martyrs’, asks Pope to intervene

However, it seems not everybody was welcome. The rules published on the conference’s official website state that if an attendee is white, they will have no right to ask questions, at least publicly. The rule, introduced to “amplify the voices of people of color” said that “priority will be given to questions from people of color in the audience.”

“If you are a white person in the audience and you still have a question after the panel has ended, please feel free to share your questions with a member of the committee or our speakers then” 

While some argued that the attempt to muffle voices of a particular group, in this case white people, is tantamount to the racism that the “collective” so fervently opposes, another controversial rule sparked comparisons with segregation practices.

The “safe spaces” rule states that one of the two rooms “available to anyone who needs to remove themselves from the conference” due to anxiety issues or just to take a break is off-limits to white people.

“The Braid room is a safe space for only people of color, and the Cheviot room is available for anyone who needs it,” the rule states.

The controversial event was thrust into the national media spotlight earlier this week after outspoken media personality Katie Hopkins denounced the university’s decision to host the gathering on Twitter.

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Her tweet has opened the floodgates to similar accusations against the university, with many arguing that by throwing its weight behind the event, the school is endorsing racism.

“You’re hosting ‘Resisting Whiteness,’ is that not similar to ‘resisting blackness?'” one commenter asked.

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Another Twitter user suggested that the group has “a hidden agenda… [to] stoke race wars.”

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Responding to the backlash, the university said that the organizers had agreed to revise the “safe spaces” policy to “ensure [the] event is compliant with our values.”

They did appear to have watered-down the wording of the mic-access rule that had originally stated: “We will not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As.” However, if there were changes to the “safe spaces” rule, they are not reflected on the event’s official webpage.

While many chided the organizers, others sided with the “collective,” arguing that “reverse racism” does not exist.

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A bookshop that helped to arrange the event took a swipe at the critics, saying that they had “willfully misunderstood” the group’s intentions.

“Resisting whiteness is not about white individuals, it is about whiteness as a pervasive system of oppression – both social & political – a system that needs resisting & dismantling,” it wrote.

 

Children as young as SIX are to be given compulsory self-touching lessons that critics say are sexualising youngsters

  • The lessons are part of the controversial All About Me teaching programme

  • All About Me is being rolled out across 241 primaries by Warwickshire County Council

  • Campaigners warn that inappropriate sexual material could be given to children

By SANCHEZ MANNING and MARK HOOKHAM

Children as young as six are being taught about touching or ‘stimulating’ their own genitals as part of classes that will become compulsory in hundreds of primary schools.

Some parents believe the lessons – part of a controversial new sex and relationships teaching programme called All About Me – are ‘sexualising’ their young children.

One couple told last night how they were so disturbed they withdrew their sons from lessons at a school where the programme is already being taught.

All About Me is being rolled out across 241 primaries by Warwickshire County Council and could be adopted by other local authorities next year as part of the Government’s overhaul of Relationship and Sex Education (RSE).

Family campaigners and religious groups warned that vague guidelines issued by the Department for Education meant schools could soon be providing sexual material to young children that many parents would consider inappropriate.

Children as young as six are being taught about touching or ¿stimulating¿ their own genitals in lesson that are part of a controversial new sex and relationships teaching programme called All About Me (stock image)

Children as young as six are being taught about touching or ‘stimulating’ their own genitals in lesson that are part of a controversial new sex and relationships teaching programme called All About Me (stock image)

Even politicians who had supported the RSE legislation expressed concern. Tory MP David Davies said: ‘I and many other parents would be furious at completely inappropriate sexual matters being taught to children as young as six. These classes go way beyond the guidance the Government is producing and are effectively sexualising very young children.’

Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday detail how All About Me classes involve pupils aged between six and ten being told by teachers that there are ‘rules about touching yourself’. An explanation of ‘rules about self-stimulation’ appears in the scheme’s Year Two lesson plan for six and seven-year-olds.

Under a section called Touching Myself, teachers are advised to tell children that ‘lots of people like to tickle or stroke themselves as it might feel nice’. They are also instructed to inform youngsters that this may include touching their ‘private parts’ and, that while some people may say this behaviour is ‘dirty’, it is in fact ‘very normal’.

However, the youngsters are warned it is ‘not polite’ to touch themselves in public – it is an activity they should do when alone in the bath, shower or in bed.

In the same lesson, children are given scenarios which they must judge to be ‘OK’ or ‘not OK’.

In one, pupils are told that when a girl called Autumn ‘has a bath and is alone she likes to touch herself between her legs. It feels nice’.

At this point, teachers are advised to remind the students of the ‘rules about self-stimulation’.

Family campaigners and religious groups warned that vague Government guidelines meant schools could soon be providing sexual material to young children that many parents would consider inappropriate (stock image)

Family campaigners and religious groups warned that vague Government guidelines meant schools could soon be providing sexual material to young children that many parents would consider inappropriate (stock image)

 

The guidance on touching is repeated in lesson plans for Years Four and Five, involving pupils aged eight to ten.

As part of the Government’s RSE reforms, all primary schools will be required to teach compulsory relationships education from next September. It includes topics about families, friendships, online relationships, privacy and ‘being safe’. Sex education tailored to the needs of their pupils is also recommended, but not mandatory.

Warwickshire has introduced relationship lessons in some primaries ahead of the nationwide launch, including sessions addressing ‘self-stimulation’. From next September, parents will not be able to withdraw children from these lessons.

Parents at Coten End Primary School in Warwick met sex education consultant Jonny Hunt, one of the architects of the All About Me scheme, in June and raised concerns about some of its content.

Asked why ‘self-stimulation’ appeared in the Year Five lesson plans and why it was not in the non-compulsory sex education element of the programme, he said: ‘Actually we refer to self-stimulation or self-soothing throughout the programme in earlier years as well. This is not sex education but actually information around safe and appropriate touching. However uncomfortable adults may find it, children of all ages will self-stimulate from time to time. They may do this when anxious or simply because it feels nice.’

Naomi and Matthew Seymour, whose two sons attend Coten End, strongly disagree with that assessment. Concerned their sons would be exposed to issues they ‘were not ready to hear’, they removed them from school for the week during which the programme was taught.

‘My wife cried the first time she read what was going to be in the lessons,’ said Mr Seymour, 38. ‘This sexualisation of our children is just totally inappropriate. They are calling it self-touching and they won’t use the term masturbation, but when you read it that’s exactly what they’re talking about.

‘We don’t want to start picket lines and wave banners. We’re just an ordinary family. I think many families who had seen these lesson plans would feel the same way we did.’

Lynette Smith, a teacher who runs a company which provides RSE programmes for schools, said she sympathised with those concerned by the ‘self-stimulation’ section of the Year Two curriculum.

She said: ‘We never use the word self-stimulation, not in primary school. For us it is not appropriate.’

Piers Shepherd, of the Family Education Trust, said RSE guidance was too vague. He added: ‘It is even more concerning that parents may be denied the opportunity to withdraw their children from these lessons if the school brands them as relationship education classes rather than as sex education.’

Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, said: ‘It looks like Warwickshire has paid more attention to a controversial sex education consultancy than to… what parents understand to be in the best interests of their children.’

Warwickshire County Council said the lessons were ‘tailored to the age and development level of the children’, adding: ‘While some of the material may be sensitive for some, we believe it is important for children… to get clear and consistent information about this important, but often overlooked subject.’

The married sex education guru who doesn’t want your children to be taught marriage is good 

The sex education consultant behind the All About Me programme is also likely to raise eyebrows with his views on marriage.

Jonny Hunt, 37, criticised draft Government guidelines for relationships and sex education for highlighting the importance of wedlock

Jonny Hunt, 37, criticised draft Government guidelines for relationships and sex education for highlighting the importance of wedlock

On the blog section of his website last July, Jonny Hunt, 37, criticised draft Government guidelines for relationships and sex education for highlighting the importance of wedlock.

Ironically, he married his partner Gemma the following month. The guidelines stated that by the end of primary school, pupils should know that marriage represents ‘a formal and legally recognised commitment of two people to each other which is intended to be lifelong’.

But railing against the ‘continued emphasis on marriage’, Mr Hunt wrote: ‘There still seems to be the belief that a marriage provides a safer environment for children or for sex. This is not the case.’

Mr Hunt has worked with Warwickshire Council for more than seven years.

After he visited Holland in 2012, the council bought Spring Fever, a Dutch sex education programme for four to 11-year-olds which provided the blueprint from which he helped develop the All About Me lesson plans. Approached for comment, Mr Hunt said he had nothing to add to the council’s statement.

Australian Couple Travels Through Asia To ‘Break Stigma’ Of Countries Getting A ‘Bad Rap.’ They’re Reportedly In Jail In Iran.

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By Hank Berrien

An Australian couple traveling through Asia who wanted to “break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,” reportedly found out the hard way that some countries may well deserve the reputation they have: the couple was reportedly arrested 10 weeks ago in Iran.

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Jolie King, who has dual U.K. and Australian nationality, and Mark Firkin, have over 20,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube, where they document their travels. According to the BBC, the couple was traveling through Asia to Great Britain, starting in 2017. The pair had a drone they used to take footage of the dozen countries through which they were passing.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that drone landed them behind bars in Iran 10 weeks ago. “The pair has been held as prisoners for about 10 weeks after being arrested for reportedly flying a drone without a permit,” ABC reports.

The BBC reports that the couple is “believed to be being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.”

Another British-Australian woman, reportedly a University of Cambridge-educated scholar, has been jailed for 10 years in Iran, according to the BBC.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she spoke to the Iranian government about all three people last week. “Since they were detained, the Australian Government has been pressing the Iranian Government for their release,” said Payne. “I have communicated with my Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif, many times about these cases, including through face-to-face face meetings. We met as recently as last week.”

“Our biggest motivation … is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel, and also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,” King and Firkin had written about their travels.

In July, Australia announced that it would join the U.S. and the U.K. as they monitored the Strait of Hormuz. Reported Iranian provocations involving other nations’ ships have been rampant near the Strait in recent months.

The BBC reported that U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met the Iranian ambassador and “raised serious concerns about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention,” according to the Foreign Office.

The story of King and Firkin bears similarities to another story reported by The Daily Wire in August 2018 in which a “young American couple who took a year-long bike trip around the world, believing that evil was a make-believe concept, took a fatal route in Tajikistan near the Afghan border, where alleged ISIS terrorists stabbed them to death. Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, 29, quit their jobs last year in order to make their trip.”

Austin had written:

You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.

I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own—it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.

In June 2019, the man who was the alleged ringleader in the attack on Austin and Geohegan was asked if he interacted with the tourists at the gas station they stopped at just prior to the attack, Hussein Abdusamadov replied,“Yes. I talked to them. I asked them where they were from. I asked them what nationalities they were and they told me they were Americans … They said they were Americans and laughed.” He concluded, “Americans had to be killed.” 

 

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