state department news

That viral "Syrian hero boy" video you may have seen is a fake paid for by the Norwegian government

The video has been everywhere.  Even the US State Department circulated the video one of its official Twitter Accounts:

As of writing this post, this tweet hasn’t yet been removed by the State Department

So, what’s the problem with this video of a heroic Syrian kid rescuing a girl from “Assad regime sniper firing on civilians?”  It’s all fake…a propaganda video, paid for in part by NATO member Norway:

from BBC (Emphasis mine):

Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director based in Oslo, wrote a script after watching news coverage of the conflict in Syria. He says he deliberately presented the film as reality in order to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones.

“If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope,” he said. “We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator,” Klevberg said. “The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta.”

Were they comfortable making a film that potentially deceived millions of people? “I was not uncomfortable,” Klevberg said. “By publishing a clip that could appear to be authentic we hoped to take advantage of a tool that’s often used in war; make a video that claims to be real. We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war. We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video.”

In fact the film received funding from the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) and the Audio and Visual Fund from Arts Council Norway in October 2013. The filmmakers say their application for funding made clear they wanted to upload the film to the internet without making it obvious it was real or fiction. They also claim that those who financed it were aware of, and supported, these intentions.


So once the film was made, how did it go viral? “It was posted to our YouTube account a few weeks ago but the algorithm told us it was not going to trend,” Klevberg said. “So we deleted that and re-posted it.” The filmmakers say they added the word “hero” to the new headline and tried to send it out to people on Twitter to start a conversation. It was then picked up by Shaam Network, a channel that features material from the Middle East, which posted it on YouTube. Then it began to attract international attention.

Since being uploaded to YouTube on Monday the video has been watched more than five million times and inspired thousands of comments. There has been a big debate about whether it is genuine. How those viewers will react to learning that it’s a work of fiction remains to be seen. “We are really happy with the reaction,” Klevberg said. “It created a debate.”

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Look at those sentences that I highlighted.  This isn’t your average internet hoax.  This is political propaganda paid for a foreign government.  This is the kind of thing that could potentially sway a decision to go to war, to send in ground troops, to target drone strikes.  A propaganda video like this is not something that should be shrugged off.

I now have questions for the US State Department:  

  • Did they know that the video was fake when they tweeted it out?
  • Why haven’t they deleted the tweet and issued an apology for spreading propaganda?  
  • Were they involved in and way in funding or filming the video?
  • Will there be any consequences for the Norwegian government for knowingly funding a propaganda video and spreading it to NATO allies?
Hillary Clinton’s arrogance: “I didn’t have to turn over anything”

Federal law, of course, says the opposite.  The Federal Records Act, the Presidential Records Act, and the Freedom of Information Act all say she has to turn over everything from her time as Secretary of State, something she still hasn’t done.

from Daily Mail:

Hillary Clinton tersely defended her use of a private email address and secret home server today during her first national interview of the 2016 presidential campaign, declaring, ‘Everything I did was permitted.’  

Clinton said that 'people should and do trust me’ as she proclaimed that she went 'above and beyond’ in providing the State Department with 55,000 pages of her emails.

She wouldn’t talk about the allegations involving her family foundation, now ran by her daughter Chelsea and husband Bill, contending that she worked there for a short year and a half.

But Clinton said she was 'proud’ of the 'very small role’ she played in the international charity and the work that it does and said she was used to 'unsubstantiated’ rumors being spread about her family after this long in the public eye.

Clinton appeared agitated throughout most of the interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar, filmed today in Iowa City, telling her at one point, 'You know, you’re starting with so many assumptions, I never had a subpoena….again, let’s take a deep breath here’ as she defended her email practices.
'There was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate,’ she said.

She further implied that the White House knew that she did not have a State Department email address during her time in the president’s cabinet because officials knew she only carried one telephonic device.
'Now, I didn’t have to turn over anything. I chose to turn over 55,000 pages because I wanted to go above and beyond what’s expected of me,’ a visibly annoyed Clinton said.

The former secretary of state said she was under no legal 'obligation’ to turn over any of her emails, let alone ones that did not relate to national security matters.

Emails about her afternoon iced teas and her inability to work a secure fax machine - which she noted today is more difficult to work than standard devices - were at her discretion to provide, she said.

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About that “I never had a subpoena” line.  It’s just a lie, plain and simple.  In fact, Hillary Clinton was subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi in March: 


VICE News visits the factory floor of the American defense industry to learn how a twisted web of Machiavellian manufacturing strategies is keeping middle America afloat, politicians in office, and steady supply of weapons flowing to some questionable regimes.

Watch the whole thing here on VICE News.
Companies used Clinton fundraisers to lobby State Department
The nexus among private companies, Hillary Clinton’s Department of State and the Clinton family foundations is closer and more complex than even Donald Trump has claimed so far.

Among the donors to the Clinton foundations who also used Clinton-connected lobbyists at the Department of State:

• Microsoft has given between $1 million and $5 million to the foundations, as the tech giant also lobbied for visa issues, protection of critical infrastructure and cybersecurity, software industry licensing and government procurement.

• Pfizer, one of the world’s top biopharmaceutical companies, has also given between $1 million and $5 million to the foundations, while lobbying for such issues as intellectual property rights overseas and issues related to medicines in Turkey and India.

• ExxonMobil, the global oil and energy company based in Texas, gave the foundations between $1 million and $5 million. The company lobbied the Department of State for issues involving hydraulic fracturing, popularly known as fracking, oil sands and other provisions.

• The Northeast Maglev, a Washington, D.C.-based company that advocates for high-speed, magnetic levitation rail service in the U.S., donated as much as $100,000 while lobbying the Department of State to help provide support for the issue.

• Mexico TV network Azteca and its affiliates donated as much as $375,000 while lobbying for U.S. business opportunities, an education initiative involving students from the U.S., Mexico and Latin America, and other causes.

While the review did not find instances where companies received special favors, each example illustrates the unique challenge the Democratic presidential nominee would face in dealing with potential conflicts of interest if she were to win the White House.