Ukrainian journalist forced to flee following threats from far-right

An independent journalist writing about alleged links between Facebook, a local fact-checking organisation, and far-right groups has been forced to flee Kiev after receiving death threats.

Ekaterina Sergatskova, 32, a Russian-born, Ukrainian nationalised citizen, is editor of the well-regarded Zaborona publication, which focuses on matters often ignored by Ukrainian media, including nationalism and the far right.

On 3 July, Ms Sergatskova co-authored an investigation alleging links between neo-nazi groups and StopFake, a Ukrainian NGO working as a Facebook fact-checking partner.

The report detailed several instances of one of the NGO’s public faces appearing alongside musicians from Holocaust-denying, white power bands. It suggested the alleged links could have served as a reason for Facebook removing an earlier Zaborona article about far-right activist Denis Nikitin.

StopFake responded to the allegations with a statement saying it was never authorised to block materials, and rejected the associations as a pro-Russian conspiracy.

The article also brought an immediate reaction from the hard right – both publicly on social media and privately, in messages sent to the journalist.

On Saturday, Roman Skrypin, a popular, nationalist-leaning journalist, dramatically upped stakes by publishing pictures of Ms Sergatskova and her five-year-old son, together with photographs of what he believed to be her home. He accused the journalist of being an agent of the Kremlin, a description friends of the journalist dismiss as absurd.

In comments responding to Mr Skrypin’s Facebook post, users threatened all kinds of retribution, and published details of her supposed address.

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In Historic Move, North Carolina City Approves Reparations For Black Residents

In an extraordinary move, the Asheville City Council has apologized for the North Carolina city’s historic role in slavery, discrimination, and denial of basic liberties to Black residents and voted to provide reparations to them and their descendants.

The 7-0 vote came the night of July 14.

“Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today,” said Councilman Keith Young, one of two African American members of the body and the measure’s chief proponent.

“It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature.”

The unanimously passed resolution does not mandate direct payments. Instead, it will make investments in areas where Black residents face disparities.

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Coronavirus Fact-Check #6: Does wearing a mask do anything?

On May 21st, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article titled Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era, which states:

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.

And as recently as last week, Dr April Baller of World Health Organization said:

“If you do not have any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask,”

The common counter-argument to this point is that masks don’t prevent you from getting sick, but rather prevent you from spreading it if you’re infected.

However that is disputed by a paper published just last month, but based on research conducted in late 2019 (before the Covid outbreak),
which found that [my emphasis]:

Disposable medical masks are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids. There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

In fact, not only is there substantial evidence masks will not prevent you getting sick, there is some evidence they could actually be counter-productive.

A trial of cloth masks in 2015 found that:

Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in an increased risk of infection.

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The Forward reports that U.S. presidents signed secret agreements with Israel to cover up Israeli nuclear weapons

The Forward reports today that U.S. presidents have signed secret documents that “Israelis saw as an American commitment not to ask them to give up their undeclared nuclear arsenal.”

According to its website, the Forward is “the most influential nationwide Jewish media outlet today.”

When Helen Thomas asked President Obama at his first presidential press conference whether any country in the Middle East had nuclear weapons, he evaded the question (video here). Finally in 2015, in a move ignored by most U.S. media, the Pentagon finally publicly admitted that Israel has nuclear weapons.

While the Israel lobby promotes fears about a possible Iranian nuclear program (U.S, intelligence agencies have found no evidence that this exists), U.S. media and politicans turn a blind eye to Israel. Numerous groups have tried to raise the issue.

An American thinktank, Institute for Research: Middle East Policies (IRMEP) has filed a “39-page federal lawsuit challenging the secrecy of a gag order that forbids all U.S. government agency employees and contractors from discussing Israel’s nuclear weapons program.”

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