Daily Archives: February 18, 2021

Techno-Censorship: The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth – John Whitehead’s Commentary Techno-Censorship: The Slippery…

Posted: February 18, 2021 at 2:44 pm

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. George Orwell

This is the slippery slope that leads to the end of free speech as we once knew it.

In a world increasingly automated and filtered through the lens of artificial intelligence, we are finding ourselves at the mercy of inflexible algorithms that dictate the boundaries of our liberties.

Once artificial intelligence becomes afully integrated part of the government bureaucracy, there will be little recourse: we will be subject to the intransigent judgments of techno-rulers.

This is how it starts.

Martin Niemllers warning about the widening net that ensnares us all still applies.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak outbecause I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak outbecause I was not a Jew.Then they came for meand there was no one left to speak for me.

In our case, however, it started with the censors who went after extremists spouting so-called hate speech, and few spoke outbecause they were not extremists and didnt want to be shamed for being perceived as politically incorrect.

Then the internet censors got involved and went after extremists spoutingdisinformation about stolen elections, the Holocaust, and Hunter Biden, and few spoke outbecause they were not extremists and didnt want to be shunned for appearing to disagree with the majority.

By the time the techno-censors went after extremists spouting misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, the censors haddeveloped a system and strategy for silencing the nonconformists. Still, few spoke out.

Eventually, we the people will be the ones in the crosshairs.

At some point or another, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes extremism, we the people mightallbe considered guilty of some thought crime or other.

When that time comes, there may be no one left to speak out or speak up in our defense.

Whatever we tolerate nowwhatever we turn a blind eye towhatever we rationalize when it is inflicted on others, whether in the name of securing racial justice or defending democracy or combatting fascism, will eventually come back to imprison us, one and all.

Watch and learn.

We should all be alarmed when prominent social media voices such asDonald Trump,Alex Jones,David IckeandRobert F. Kennedy Jr.are censored, silenced and made to disappear from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for voicing ideas that are deemed politically incorrect, hateful, dangerous or conspiratorial.

The question is not whether the content of their speech was legitimate.

The concern is what happensaftersuch prominent targets are muzzled. What happens once the corporate techno-censors turn their sights on the rest of us?

Its a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth. Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act.

We are on a fast-moving trajectory.

Already, there arecalls for the Biden administration to appoint a reality czarin order to tackle disinformation, domestic extremism and the nations so-called reality crisis.

Knowing what we know about the governments tendency to define its own reality and attach its own labels to behavior and speech that challenges its authority, this should because for alarm across the entire political spectrum.

Heres the point: you dont have to like Trump or any of the others who are being muzzled, nor do you have to agree or even sympathize with their views, but to ignore the long-term ramifications of such censorship would be dangerously nave.

As Matt Welch, writing forReason, rightly points out, Proposed changes to government policy should always be visualized with the opposing team in charge of implementation.

In other words, whatever powers you allow the government and its corporate operatives to claim now, for the sake of the greater good or because you like or trust those in charge, will eventually be abused and used against you by tyrants of your own making.

As Glenn GreenwaldwritesforThe Intercept:

The glaring fallacy that always lies at the heart of pro-censorship sentiments is the gullible, delusional belief that censorship powers will be deployed only to suppress views one dislikes, but never ones own views Facebook is not some benevolent, kind, compassionate parent or a subversive, radical actor who is going to police our discourse in order to protect the weak and marginalized or serve as a noble check on mischief by the powerful. They are almost always going to do exactly the opposite: protect the powerful from those who seek to undermine elite institutions and reject their orthodoxies. Tech giants, like all corporations, are required by law to have one overriding objective: maximizing shareholder value.They are always going to use their power to appease those they perceive wield the greatest political and economic power.

Welcome to the age of technofascism.

Clothed in tyrannical self-righteousness, technofascism is powered by technological behemoths (both corporate and governmental) working in tandem to achieve a common goal.

Thus far, the tech giants have been able to sidestep the First Amendment by virtue of their non-governmental status, but its a dubious distinction at best. Certainly, Facebook and Twitter have become the modern-day equivalents of public squares, traditional free speech forums, with the internet itself serving as a public utility.

But what does that mean for free speech online:should it be protected or regulated?

When given a choice, the government always goes for the option that expands its powers at the expense of the citizenrys. Moreover, when it comes to free speech activities, regulation is just another word for censorship.

Right now, its trendy and politically expedient to denounce, silence, shout down and shame anyone whose views challenge the prevailing norms, so the tech giants are lining up to appease their shareholders.

This is the tyranny of the majority against the minorityexactly the menace to free speech that James Madison sought to prevent when he drafted the First Amendment to the Constitutionmarching in lockstep with technofascism.

With intolerance as the new scarlet letter of our day, we now find ourselves ruled by the mob.

Those who dare to voice an opinion or use a taboo word or image that runs counter to the accepted norms are first in line to be shamed, shouted down, silenced, censored, fired, cast out and generally relegated to the dust heap of ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who are guilty of various word crimes and banished from society.

For example, a professor at Duquesne University wasfired for using the N-word in an academic context. To get his job back, Gary Shank will have to go through diversity training and restructure his lesson plans.

This is what passes for academic freedom in America today.

If Americans dont vociferously defend the right of a minority of one to subscribe to, let alone voice, ideas and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different, then were going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals).

No matter what our numbers might be, no matter what our views might be, no matter what party we might belong to, it will not be long before we the people constitute a powerless minority in the eyes of a power-fueled fascist state driven to maintain its power at all costs.

We are almost at that point now.

The steady, pervasive censorship creep that is being inflicted on us by corporate tech giants with the blessing of the powers-that-be threatens to bring about a restructuring of reality straight out of Orwells1984, where the Ministry of Truth polices speech and ensures that facts conform to whatever version of reality the government propagandists embrace.

Orwell intended1984as a warning. Instead, it is being used as a dystopian instruction manual for socially engineering a populace that is compliant, conformist and obedient to Big Brother.

Nothing good can come from techno-censorship.

Again, to quoteGreenwald:

Censorship power, like the tech giants who now wield it, is an instrument of status quo preservation. The promise of the internet from the start was that it would be a tool of liberation, of egalitarianism, by permitting those without money and power to compete on fair terms in the information war with the most powerful governments and corporations. But just as is true of allowing the internet to be converted into a tool of coercion and mass surveillance, nothing guts that promise, that potential, likeempowering corporate overlords and unaccountable monopolists to regulate and suppress what can be heard.

As I make clear in my bookBattlefield America: The War on the American People, these internet censors are not acting in our best interests to protect us from dangerous, disinformation campaigns. Theyre laying the groundwork to preemptanydangerous ideas that might challenge the power elites stranglehold over our lives.

Therefore, it is important to recognize the thought prison that is being built around us for what it is: a prison with only one route of escapefree thinking and free speaking in the face of tyranny.

WC: 1562

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OPINION | BRADLEY GITZ: The left calls the shots – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Posted: at 2:44 pm

Perhaps the most distinctive dynamic in American politics in recent years has been the frequency and rapidity with which leftist ideas infect it.

Again and again the furthest reaches of the left come up with proposals that seem absurd upon initial inspection but soon become de rigueur on the broader left, quickly acquire mainstream respectability and then become part of an entrenched orthodoxy.

Gay marriage was opposed by a majority of the population little more than a decade ago (including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton) but now even modest expressions of skepticism can produce social ostracism and wreck careers amid accusations of "homophobia" (raising the question of how, since they were once afflicted by it, the last three presidential nominees of the Democratic Party were so effectively cured).

Claiming that gender is a consequence of anything but biology would have been taken as evidence of scientific illiteracy just a few years ago, but the man who just won a presidential election with more votes than any other in our history has now issued an executive order that would seem to require schools that receive federal funding to allow men to play on women's sports teams if they "identify" as women.

Feminists in good standing who question this are diagnosed as "transphobic" (in other words, it's no longer the guys in dresses who have the mental problems but the folks who think guys in dresses have mental problems).

The Soviet Union's tendency, in its death throes, to imprison dissidents in psychiatric hospitals thus finds an eerie echo in our radical left's use of junk psychology ("phobias") to suggest that criticism can only flow from mental disorder.

It wasn't long ago that something as absurd as the 1619 Project would have been filed alongside the Protocols of the Elders of Zion because of being filled with similarly poisonous fabrications, distortions, and unproven claims (as some of the most prominent historians of the American founding have pointed out), but it is now published by the nation's most prestigious newspaper, awarded the most prominent prize in journalism (the Pulitzer) and will soon be required reading in public school curricula throughout the land (with anyone who objects accused of trying to keep students ignorant of racism and slavery).

Lefties that would instantly (and appropriately) scream "foul" if creationism were taught in biology classes now enthusiastically encourage the leftist equivalent thereof in history classes; that multiple claims in the 1619 Project have by now been decisively refuted by people who know a lot more about American history than the project's authors matters less than that it bolsters a leftist narrative and therefore has political utility.

It seems like only yesterday that we were beginning a perhaps overdue national conversation about Confederate flags and statues in public spaces, but now suddenly find ourselves struggling to keep the names Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln on schools and streets in a way that suggests scheduling that visit to Mount Rushmore sooner rather than later.

The point is that, like the narrator in that old TV series "The Outer Limits," the radical left now firmly controls both the horizontal and the vertical and thus determines the parameters of acceptable public discourse through an ever-expanding and hyper-efficient array of awards and punishments. That in most cases radical-left positions are patently absurd, fundamentally illogical, untrue, non-falsifiable, contradictory or all of the above doesn't matter; they become the new smelly orthodoxy to which all must subscribe, or at least pretend to if they know what's good for them.

What is politically correct (required) and politically incorrect (prohibited) is determined entirely by the left and a consequence of its stranglehold over our political discourse. It isn't the logic or power of leftist ideas or narratives that leads to their imposition but the fact that it is only the left that has the power to cancel its critics and is so obviously eager to use it.

The left wins because it exerts a chilling effect on ordinary citizens who don't go looking for trouble and know that the best way to avoid it is to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. It wins not through debate and persuasion but through fear.

The left's long march through the institutions was based on and confirms via its current consequences Andrew Breitbart's observation that "politics flows downstream from culture." All of the important influencers of political opinion and hence our political culture--academe, the mass media, the teachers unions and public education bureaucracy, the entertainment industry, professional sports leagues, the publishing industry, philanthropic institutions, and now the "Big Tech" that controls so much of contemporary information flow--are controlled by the left and used to propel the leftist narratives of the moment.

The ideas which most Americans are exposed to are now determined almost entirely by the left and consequently reflect left priorities and assumptions.

Americans suddenly woke up one morning and discovered that profoundly different values now ruled the day, and are baffled as to how it all happened.

And when we look at the ideas now percolating on the radical left, however loony they seem, we see what we will soon have to pretend to believe.


Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

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The remarkable diversity of Japan and its people – Nikkei Asia

Posted: at 2:44 pm

Stephen Givens is a corporate lawyer based in Tokyo.

As an American who has spent most of his life in Japan, watching America fragment over race and gender makes me grateful to be living in a country where 99% of the population could care less whether bakers should be legally compelled to bake cakes for gay weddings.

Many Americans today would say the comparison is not fair. America is diverse. Japan is homogenous. America's problems -- and its virtues -- reflect its diversity. Japan avoids the problems that come with diversity, but is one-dimensional and sheltered.

To which I want to reply, "Let me tell you about the diversity of Japan and its people!"

Yes, there are fewer black and brown faces in Japan than in America, for obvious reasons of history and geography. But the diversity of the Japanese people, from Hokkaido to the Ryukyu Islands, is, if anything, more complex and interesting.

Although the origins of the Japanese people are still shrouded in unknowns, no one doubts that Japan is the product of centuries of immigration and foreign influences that even today have not blended into a homogenous bowl of porridge.

The consecration ceremony at Todaiji Temple in Nara in 752 was attended by dignitaries from Korea and China. Japanese Buddhism, the city plan of Kyoto and the Japanese writing system all entered from abroad.

Isabella Bird and Lafcadio Hearn in the late 19th century noticed, as do the Japanese themselves, striking regional differences in customs, physiology and dialect.

The complexions of women from Akita Prefecture are said to be especially beautiful. Scholars do not agree whether this is because there is lots of snow and little sunlight in Akita, or a result of intermarriage with Russians from across the Sea of Japan.

Japan, like ancient Greece, is home to hundreds of local dialects, festivals, musical and craft traditions and cuisines, now sadly dying off with accelerating mobility, television and the internet.

And lest we forget, for most of Japan's history, diversity led not to harmony but just the opposite -- cycles of vicious clan warfare that only came to an end with national unification at the turn of the 17th century.

Japan's diversity is supported by remarkable tolerance of eccentrics and curiosity about foreign people and things.

Nobody bats an eye at trucks driven by right-wing activists blaring martial music, or girls dressed up like their favorite manga characters. Gender-bending and cross-dressing have a long and respectable history in Kabuki and its more recent offshoots like the all-female Takarazuka Revue. Foreign visitors and immigrants are treated with friendly curiosity and respect.

Eccentricity and deviation are tolerated, but against a background that understands that men and women, and people from different countries and regions, are not interchangeable, and have their own natural and normal characters. Politically incorrect stereotyping? Perhaps so.

Women are partial to sweets, and are more sensitive to cold. Men like spicy food, and have strong body odor. Single-sex schools are OK. So are girl-only group outings and men-only private clubs. The Japanese language itself codifies different vocabularies and verb endings for men and women.

So, too, regional stereotypes. People from Osaka unashamedly bargain for a lower price. People from Kyoto are aloof and unfriendly to strangers. Wakayama people are country bumpkins. Regional differences provide a rich source of humor of a kind that is now effectively outlawed in America, where diversity is celebrated but differences must go unmentioned for fear of hurting someone's feelings.

Japanese have never believed in a Higher Truth or Great Awakenings. They are rooted in the here-and-now, ordinary common sense, acceptance of human beings and knowledge as inevitably imperfect. For that reason, feelings of moral outrage and moral superiority are rare -- a good thing if diverse human beings and communities are to get along.

By contrast, Americans over their history have been attracted to high-minded, bluestocking religious and ideological movements inspired by feelings of moral outrage and superiority against their less enlightened fellow citizens. Puritanism and Evangelical Christianity cast their long shadows today. The Prohibition movement, and both sides of the abortion issue, are examples of self-righteous finger-pointing utterly baffling to most Japanese.

On a trip back to America last month, I was taken aback to see how the Great Awokening has taken hold in "progressive" enclaves like Cambridge, Massachusetts. Churches and historic mansions along Brattle Street have signed on to an updated Apostles' Creed emblazoned on placards in windows and front steps everywhere you look: "We believe: Black lives matter; No human is illegal; Love is love."

Translation: Unbelievers repent.

As a foreigner privileged, assuming I pay my taxes and otherwise behave myself, to reside here until my body is laid to rest, I am profoundly grateful to spend my remaining days in a vibrantly diverse and pagan nation rooted in earthy common sense and forgiveness for human fallibility.

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Look who is hearting the Koo app as Twitter eats its heart out – The Times of India Blog

Posted: at 2:44 pm

Will you be my Valentine, Modiji? Waise toh I will be hearting every post that features you. Valentines Day makes most of us mushy. Thank God your government has not banned itremember that clumsy attempt by some out-of-work local politician in Maharashtra who tried and failed a few years ago? You are far more progressive and romantic by nature, Modiji we have all seen and admired your kinder, gentler side. We also wiped a tear when we watched you cry for your friend Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament this week. Pyaar-vyaar always triumphs over nafrat. Thats what these Twitter bosses have to realise. We in India are very emotional people. But when someone upsets us, we hit back hard hai, na? See how quickly Twitter fell into line, kissed and made up? It was like a lovers quarrel that was amicably patched up. Most issues in life can be amicably settled as Lataji and Sachinji and Akshayji tweeted. Amicable is a good word, and your PR people made wonderful use of it during that faltu controversy with some Barbadian entertainer whose name hardly anyone in India knows. Big big international companies and personalities are scared of India that much is certain. Look at Twitter! Quietly agreeing to pull down accounts of trouble-makers identified by your administration. Darr gaye! These firangi companies only understand tough talk and you, sir, excel at it!

Aur phir, you quickly came up with a challenge round also! What an idea, sirji Koo is a coup! No doubt about it. I am also thinking of joining Koo and chirping away. If Piyush Goyal, Ravi Shankar Prasad and other mahaan folks can abandon Twitter and start new handles on Koo, so should all other hyper-loyal patriots. Lets show those Twitter-wallas hum kisi se kam nahi! More than a million active users within days on Koo though I am still not sure how it sounds if you say, Did you Koo this morning? Or, Hey, my Koo went viral, My Koo was taken down just now, I just Koo-ed. I dunno. It sounds a little errrm obscene?

Koo needs a little getting used to. Fans of Koo (launched in March last year) insist it has a nice ring to it. My generation associates Koo with a certain Koo Stark, who shot to fame as Prince Andrews girlfriend. Randy Andy, as the tabloids dubbed him, had presented the luscious Koo (allegedly an adult films performer) a message tee shirt that read, Here comes trouble. Ummm Im not saying anything, baba

Well in the current face off, it looks like Twitter blinked, blocking 97% of handles on the government list, with due process being followed for the rest. This is a climbdown that was unexpected and inevitable given how the screws were being tightened. IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney met with Twitters Monique Meche and Jim Baker to amicably sort out the tricky issue before it escalated. Inflammatory content has been blocked for now. Lets be honest Twitter cant afford to be shut out of Indias vast market.

BJP leader Vinit Goenka had filed a petition last May asking for a mechanism to check fake news, stating that there were hundreds of fake Twitter handles and Facebook accounts in the name of famous people. Well, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde has issued notices on the matter. Mission Social Media Regulation is under way.

The implications are vast, complex and innumerable. Social media is the hungriest monster known to mankind. Insatiable too. I tweet, therefore I am is the new Descartes. If eminent people are not on some platform or other, they do not exist. Staying relevant on chosen platforms is not as easy as it looks. Twitter is ganja. Dope. Coke. Morphine. Addicts plead utter helplessness when it comes to staying away. Withdrawal symptoms start kicking in within twenty-four hours.

Twitter is intrusive, potentially dangerous and also horribly irresistible.

Tame this beast and another beast will promptly raise its ugly head! Fake news, fake accounts, fake profiles hey welcome to the Republic of Fake. Everything is kinda fake out there, anyway people, politics, policies. Choose the fake that suits you and get on with life. Go ahead and block 1,398 handles buy time, buy peace. Chances are 10,000 more will come up. Jaaney bhi do yaaron tweet and be damned. Tweet and face the consequences. Tweet and hit the headlines.

So, how about billing and Koo-ing on Valentines Day, guys? Eat your heart out, Twitter!

Views expressed above are the author's own.


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Liberal democracy will be the biggest casualty of this pandemic – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: at 2:44 pm

The biggest casualty of the lockdown will not be the closed pubs, restaurants and shops and the crippled airlines. It will not be our once-thriving musical, theatrical and sporting culture. It will not even be the wreckage of our economy. These are terrible things to behold. But the biggest casualty of all will be liberal democracy.

Liberal democracy is a remarkable but fragile achievement. It is an attempt to meet the challenge of making governments answerable to the people, while protecting personal freedom. This is hard to do. People crave security and look to the state to provide it. To do this, the state needs extensive powers over its citizens. This is why, in democracies across the world, the power of the state has continually increased. It is also why liberal democracy is the exception rather than the rule. Democracies are easily subverted and often fail.

What makes us a free society is that, although the state has vast powers, there are conventional limits on what it can do with them. The limits are conventional because they do not depend on our laws but on our attitudes. There are islands of human life which are our own, a personal space into which the state should not intrude without some altogether exceptional justification.

Liberal democracy breaks down when frightened majorities demand mass coercion of their fellow citizens, and call for our personal spaces to be invaded. These demands are invariably based on what people conceive to be the public good. They all assert that despotism is in the public interest.

The problem is perfectly encapsulated in a recent interview with Professor Neil Ferguson, whose projections were used to justify the first lockdown last March. Before that, as Prof Ferguson related in that interview, Sage had concluded that the Chinese lockdown had worked but was out of the question in Europe. Its a communist, one-party state, we said. We couldnt get away with it in Europe, we thought. And then Italy did it. And we realised we could If China had not done it, the year would have been very different.

China is not a liberal democracy. It is a totalitarian state. It treats human beings as so many tools of state policy. There is no personal space which the state cannot invade at will. Liberal democracies have good reasons of political morality for not wishing to be like China. Considering this issue only in terms of whether lockdowns are effective against pandemics, and whether governments can "get away with it", serves to reduce liberty from a major principle to a mere question of expediency.

We have to assume, since the Government took his advice, that ministers agreed with Prof Ferguson. Certainly that was the position of the senior minister who recently told me that liberal democracy was an unsuitable model for dealing with a pandemic. Something more Napoleonic was needed, said he.

Many people believe that it is OK to be like China for a time, because when the crisis ends we can go back to being like Britain again. These people are making a serious mistake. We cannot switch in and out of totalitarianism at will. Because a free society is a question of attitude, it is dead once the attitude changes.

A society in which oppressive control of every detail of our lives is unthinkable except when it is thought to be a good idea, is not free. It is not free while the controls are in place. And it is not free after they are lifted, because the new attitude will allow the same thing to happen again whenever there is enough public support.

Covid-19 is not unique. There will be other epidemics. Some will be worse. Other issues will pose similar dilemmas, from terrorism and climate change at one extreme to obesity and censorship of politically incorrect opinion at the other. A threshold has now been crossed. A big taboo has gone. Other governments will say that the only question that matters is whether it works and whether they can get away with it. In a world ruled by the empire of fear, the answer will usually be yes.

We already have a striking example. The vaccine, which was supposed to make the lockdown unnecessary, has become a reason for keeping it in force. Because there is now an exit route, we are told that it doesnt matter how far away it is.

Infections, hospitalisations and deaths are plunging, but millions who are at virtually no risk are being kept in house imprisonment. This is being done mainly because a selective regime of controls would be too difficult for the state to enforce. Coercion quickly becomes an object in itself.

Liberty is not an absolute value but it is a critically important one. Of all freedoms, the freedom to interact with other human beings is perhaps the most valuable. It is a basic human need, the essential condition of human happiness and creativity.

I do not doubt that there are extreme situations in which oppressive controls over our daily lives may be necessary and justified: an imminent threat of invasion, for example, or a violent general insurrection. Some health crises may qualify, such as a major epidemic of smallpox (case mortality about 30 per cent) or Ebola (about 50 per cent).

Covid-19 is serious, but it is not in that category or even close. It is well within the range of perils which we have always had to live with, and always will. According to government figures, more than 99 per cent of people who get Covid survive. The great majority will not even get seriously ill. The average age at which people die of Covid-19 is 82, which is close to the average age at which people die anyway.

The Prime Minister claims to believe in liberty and to find the current measures distasteful. Actions speak louder than words, and I am afraid that I do not believe him. He is too much of a populist to go against public sentiment. He lacks the moral and political stature to lead opinion rather than follow it.

I hope that I am wrong about this. But we shall soon know. In the next week Boris Johnson has an opportunity to show that he has some principles after all.

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Disney’s newest platform gives people access to hidden places in Disney World and Disneyland – SFGate

Posted: at 2:44 pm

When someone told Disneyland Editor Julie Tremaine the official Disney Parks TikTok was worth checking out, she was skeptical. But, she caught a glimpse of something she'd been dreaming about for years: the secret suite inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.

Access like this to the suite hasnt been available before this. Its very rarely accessible to the public save for a handful of invitation-only tours there are rumors Disney has turned down upwards of $40,000 for just one night in the room

The video convinced her that unlike the corporate and polished Disney content on other platforms, the Disney Parks TikTok is doing something very different.


Disneyland finally reopens huge, long-empty Rainforest Cafe as Star Wars store. The over-the-top jungle is a natural fit for the space. Read more.

Disney drops trailer for live-action Cruella film starring Emma Stone. The film is set to release May 28. Read more.

'Wizard of Oz' remake planned with 'Watchmen' director. New Line said it will be a fresh take and a reimagining of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Read more.

Disneyland recalls 1,400 employees as dining and events return to California Adventure. In March, the park will offer an all new, limited-time ticketed experience focusing on food and wine. Read more.

'So inappropriate': This Calif. man is calling out some of Disney's politically incorrect videos. Jack Plotnick is editing himself into old Disney videos from the 1960s and adding commentary, akin to Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Read more.

Dispatches from Disneyland is curated by Jasmine Garnett and Disneyland editor Julie Tremaine. Contact Garnett atJasmine.Garnett@sfgate.comor Tremaine atJulie.Tremaine@sfgate.com.

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How to Win at Blackjack – Best Blackjack Strategies and Tips – BestUSCasinos.org

Posted: at 2:41 pm

Most gamblers and casino players spend their entire life looking for a way to win when the answer is right in front of them. Blackjack is one of the best choices for gamblers who are willing to do what it takes to win.

Learning how to be a winning blackjack player is 100% possible. This makes it special in comparison to other casino games because most of them cant be beaten.

In this article, youre going to learn step by step how you can be a winning blackjack player. Be prepared for hard work, but you can do it.

Playing winning blackjack requires doing many things correct, but one thing is more important than anything else. To be a winning blackjack player, you have to play every hand the right way.

The number of possible hands you can have and the card the dealer shows is limited. It might seem like there are 1,000s of combinations, but in truth, there are only a few dozen. This is because theres no difference between having a ten, jack, queen, or king in your hand.

Also, theres no difference between a 5 and 7, a 4 and 8, a 3 and 9, or a 2 and 10 through king. All of these hands form a hard 12, so they all need to be played the same way.

The correct way to play is a mathematical equation. Each total you have with the card that the dealer is showing has one way to play that has the highest rate of return. If you dont play each hand this way, youre not winning as much as you can.

You dont have to worry about running the math on each hand, but you do have to make sure you know what the math says. You can learn what the best play is for each blackjack hand when you use a strategy card.

Now you know the importance of playing every blackjack hand the right way and how to do it, the next step is learning how to use the rules at the table to your advantage. Every blackjack rule does one of two things. The rules either help you win more or make you lose more.

One blackjack rule stands above the rest. If you make a mistake with this rule youre never going to be a winning blackjack player. You cant ever play blackjack at a table that pays 6 to 5 for a blackjack. This rule kills your profits.

Other rules that you should look for include tables that offer surrender, being able to double down after splitting a pair and the dealer stands on a soft 17.

The final thing you can do when you play blackjack in a land based casino is to use a trick to offset your losses. This is a simple trick that anyone can use.

Get a membership in the rewards club that is offered by the casino, so you get casino comps when you play blackjack.

Whether you play blackjack in land based casinos or online at one of the best mobile casino apps, the rules are important. The blackjack table with the best set of rules is always going to give you the best chance to win.

Its easier to find blackjack tables with good sets of rules when you play in mobile and online casinos. This doesnt mean that you cant find good rule sets in land based casinos, but each individual casino has a limited number of tables. You can access 100s of casinos online and on your mobile device quickly.

Online blackjack play offers some advantages and some disadvantages when compared to land based blackjack.

The main advantage beyond finding good games easier is that you can get a bonus at some casinos. You also have control over how fast or slow you play. Most online and mobile blackjack tables have lower table minimums than land based tables, so you can risk less and play longer.

On the other hand, online and mobile blackjack eliminates the ability to use advantage play like card counting. How fast you play can also be a disadvantage. When you play too fast, you risk more money, and without an edge, this means that youre going to lose more money.

When you play every blackjack hand the best way and only play at tables that have good rules you get the highest return that you can. But even when you do everything right, the casino still has a small house edge. And with a small edge, youre still losing money.

But there are a few special strategies that you can use to turn the small edge around and play with an advantage over the casino. Card counting is the best advantage play method you can use when you play blackjack.

Most blackjack players dont even try to count cards because they think that its going to be too hard. But you dont have to be a genius to use card counting. You can start with a simple system that you can learn to use quickly.

I recommend learning about the ace five count. This system only uses the aces and fives, and is easy to track. More importantly, this system gives you the confidence you need to start using a more advanced card counting system.

A beginning counting system can give you a small edge, but if you want to win as much as you possibly can, you eventually need to move up to an advanced system. The good news is that if you can win using a simple system, its easy to advance to a more profitable system.

The only differences between a simple blackjack counting system and an advanced system is that you track more cards, and in some systems, you have to make a simple conversion from the running count to the true count.

Nothing about blackjack counting is too hard to learn. You simply learn how the system youre using works and then practice until you can do it perfectly.

The most commonly used counting system is called hi lo or high low. Its easy to keep track of the count and is a powerful system. The only downside is that this system requires a conversion. This isnt the end of the world, but it is an extra step.

If you want to use a system that doesnt require a conversion and is almost as powerful as the hi lo, you can use either the knock out system, called KO, or the red seven system.

Before getting into the meat of this section, you should know that the things in this section arent something to focus on until you become a winning card counter. Card counting is the best blackjack advantage play, and thats where you need to focus until youre winning.

Just like counting, these techniques only work when you play blackjack in land based casinos. They dont work when you play online or mobile blackjack.

The first advanced technique is called hole carding. This is a technique that you can use with some dealers. Some blackjack dealers are lazy when they deal the cards and let you see a flash of the value of cards. This can be particularly profitable when you see the value of the dealers face down card.

Another advanced technique is called shuffle tracking. When the blackjack game is hand shuffled, you might be able to track where sections of good cards are located. This lets you bet more when the best cards are likely to be dealt.

The final advanced blackjack technique is ace sequencing. By keeping track of where aces are placed in the discard pile and the order theyre in, you might be able to predict when aces are going to be dealt.

Its going to be hard, but if you do things the right way, you can be a winning blackjack player. You have to do several things the right way 100% of the time. This is challenging, but with enough knowledge and practice, you can do everything you need to do to win.

You cant afford to play blackjack at a table with poor rules, whether you play land based blackjack or real money online blackjack. And you need to learn exactly how to play every hand you play a certain way. You cant afford to guess or make a mistake.

When you do these things, it puts you in a position to start using advantage blackjack techniques that deliver long range profits.

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Are you better Suited to Gala Casino’s Table Games or Slot Games? – Critical Blast

Posted: at 2:41 pm

Feeling like you need some gala experience to relax and have fun playing slots and card games? Sign up for an account at Gala Casino. Its name says it allthis is a place to loosen up as you play exciting video slots, jackpots and table games like roulette and poker.

For the best experience, consider specializing in either slots or table games. You can always both types of games. But find out which category suits you better below.

#1: You Like Simple GamesSlots

So, you love to play simple mobile games like Candy Crush Saga, Sudoku and Mini Metro? Youll love slots. These arcade-style games feature a video screen that does most of the work. Your only job is to place a bet and press Play.

Depending on your bet size, a slot game can take anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes. Then the video screen stops to show you whether youve won or lost. With todays video slots, the chances are much high.

The games feature higher payout rates than the classic slots designed before 2005. Whats more, they have loads of in-game features like bonus rounds and free spins, which ensures you win something even though its just free spins.

#2: You Like to Stay in ControlTable Games

When playing slots, RNG software does most of the work. Some people like it that way. If you prefer to play more involving games, however, then you should check out the table section of Gala Casino. Also, read a review of the website at bestonlinecasinos.org.uk. This will help you understand everything about the operator before you create an account.

Gala Casino is one of the biggest gambling brands in the UK. As a result, it offers nearly every table game in the world. The best part: you can play these games against RNG software or with real human players. RNG Software is great when you want to play a game like roulette or blackjack quickly.

But if you want a social experience and are in no rush, try out live casino games. With poker, roulette and even blackjack, you can participate in tournaments featuring hundreds of players. Depending on the number of people involved, you can see and interact with your competitors.

#3: You Dream of Becoming a Millionaire OvernightSlots

One of the beauties of playing slots is that they can make your wildest dreams come true. Jon Heywood, a British soldier best amplifies this statement. At 26, the Afghanistan veteran was dealing with an ailing father and being broke.

Then one day in 2015, he got onto his favorite casino to play Mega Moolah, a progressive slot that pays out from 10 to millions of pounds. After betting 25p, Heywood hit the games jackpot worth 13.2 million, instantly setting a Guinness World Record for the biggest amount of money won at an online slot machine.

Needless to say, Heywood got his sick father the treatment he deserved, bought a Bentley Continental and turned his life around. Heywood aside, over a dozen more people have won over 1 million from online slot, including a new record of 18.9M set in 2018.

#4: You Believe in LuckBoth

Almost all casino games at Gala Casino are based on pure chance. The degree of luck differs, though. For slots, youre 100% assured the likelihood of winning or losing is based on luck. With table games, the dependance on luck varies from one game to another.

Take Texas Holdem as an example. You receive random cards from a dealer or a shuffling machine. For this reason, you can be lucky and get a pair of aces. Or you could be unlucky and receive a pair of two-value cards. Without considering all other cards, a pair of aces wins always.

Fortunately, Texas Holdem isnt a game of two cards alone. Your opponent could get a pair of aces while you have a pair of two-value cards. But since they dont know your hand, you could bluff by increasing the stakes and force them to fold (concede). In that case, you would win with a lesser hand.

#5: You Like Skill-based GamesTable Games

Theres a reason why millennials prefer table games to slots. Poker, blackjack and baccarat are the closest things to skill-based games they can find at Gala Casino. Texas Holdem, in particular, is so reliant on skill that a New York-based court once dismissed a case because it didnt believe the game should ever have been categorized as a game of luck.

As we mentioned earlier, Texas Holdem relies on luck to a small extent. But its more reliant on skills. Thats why some people win consistently while others lose even when they have better hands. The best poker players in the world win high-level televised tournaments every year, winning millions of dollars in the process.

#6: You Love Social GamesLive Casino

Do you avoid online casinos because you would rather play games with real players? You should check out todays online casinos. A decade ago, it was fair to stick to land-based casinos because of their social atmosphere.

But in 2021, you dont need to leave your house to play a few hands of blackjack with a human dealer. Instead, you need to check out the live casino section of Gala Casino and choose your favorite blackjack variant.

The website provides blackjack variants like Royale blackjack, Lounge blackjack and Grand Blackjack. They all follow the same rules of blackjack, except they differ in betting limits and the number of players per session.

#7: You have no FavoritesBoth

Specialization is a great thing when trying to win casino games consistently. But if you only visit casinos to have fun, theres no point of limiting yourself to one type of games. Casinos allow you to play all their games, anyway.

So, test various video slots. Then move over to jackpots, video poker and live casino games depending on what you want to play. The goal is to have fun, so enjoy all types of games as much as possible.

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Michigan casino revenues bouncing back with record-breaking online gambling launch – WSYM-TV

Posted: at 2:41 pm

Michigan casino revenues are bouncing back from pandemic lows thanks to online sportsbooks and gaming options launched in late January.

There was already hundreds of millions of dollars being gambled here in Michigan every year. It was just being gambled illegally without any protections for people. And now when you make a bet on the Lions or, unfortunately, on the Spartans like I did last night your money can go towards our schools, towards firefighters that have gotten cancer, said state Sen. Curtis Hertel, of East Lansing.

Online and retail sportsbooks across the state brought in $150 million in just 10 days. Bets made after the Jan. 22 launch date yielded almost $112,000 in state tax revenue for the month of January. Online casino gaming like poker and blackjack yielded $4.4 million in state tax revenue.

The launch of online gambling has also been an opportunity for poker buddies to keep the game going under the pandemic.

Its given a lot of my friends that I would typically play with a reprieve from just the lockdown. Its been a welcomed addition to our personal lives, online poker player JR Miller said.

Miller and his friends are among the millions of Michiganders flocking to online casinos for table favorites like poker and blackjack as well as sports betting.

I have a couple of friends who have won a lot of money. Theyve been doing a lot of side bets more bets on games, golfers, and you know whatever they can bet, Miller said.

For Miller online gambling requires a certain level of restraint.

Its the dynamic of any time you get into a situation where youre betting. Its understanding theres got to be a limit that you have, unless you have unlimited resources, and then being able to ride out the ebbs and flows of winning and losing in any kind of sports betting or poker or whatever it is, Miller said.

Which is something the legislators who supported making online gambling legal here also thought about.

The gambling hotline numbers are required to be on all the apps while theyre going. So, if you feel like you have a gambling problem, we want people to call but people are taking advantage of it in a responsible way, Hertel said.

Richard Kalm of the Michigan Gaming Control Board says internet gaming operations are off to a good start. The taxes and payments from these services are expected to provide funding for K-12 students, the states tribal communities, and the state firefighters cancer presumption fund.

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UFC chief Dana White says he is a degenerate gambler and admits losing staggering $1million boxing bet – The Sun

Posted: at 2:41 pm

DANA WHITE said he is a 'degenerate gambler' and admitted to losing a staggering $1million boxing bet once.

The UFC boss is a notorious blackjack player but opened up on his love for betting on sports.


Things did not go so well for him in 2007, though, when he lost $1m after Jermain Taylor was knocked out by Kelly Pavlik.

White told ESPN: Oh my god. What was the kids name? Jermain Taylor.

"And who did he fight? I know this for the ass-whooping I took. He fought the tall, lanky, white kid from Ohio, Kelly Pavlik.

"I bet $1million on Taylor and he got destroyed.

"It was the first time I ever bet $1 million dollars because I was so confident Taylor was going to win that fight."

White grew up in Boston but in the early 90s he left for Las Vegas after a run-in with crime boss Whitey Bulger.

Living in Sin City, where he later became UFC president, was how his love for betting started.

White said: Id say its about time. I like it. Its obviously a thing people love to do.


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"It makes whatever youre watching a lot more fun, a lot more interesting, so Ive always been for it. But Im from Vegas.

I play table games too much. Im a degenerate if youre not getting it. Im a degenerate, yes. I love to gamble."

Astonishingly, White has been banned from the Palms Casino Resort TWICE due to the success of his blackjack playing.

The first occasion in 2012, saw White retaliate by refusing to put on UFC events at the casino, where The Ultimate Fighter bouts had been staged.

But under new owners, the promoter was invited back in 2014.

It did not lost long, however, as between March 1 and May 21, White claimed to have won $2MILLION.

He found himself again barred from betting there, but this time he was awarded a BELT for being the 'undisputed blackjack champion'.

His childhood friends Frank and Lorenzo Feritta bought the UFC in 2001, and White was immediately named the promotion's president.

The Feritta brothers sold the UFC for $4.4BILLION to entertainment company WME-IMG in 2016.

White, who stayed on as president, is said to have pocketed $360m after the sale due to his shares in the company, according to Darren Rovell.

The promoter, who has an estimated net worth of $500m, denied in a 2014 Las Vegas Review-Journal interview that he had a gambling problem.

He said: Has it affected my personal life? Has it affected my professional life? Have I lost all my money?

"Theres nothing negative about what Ive been doing lately.

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UFC chief Dana White says he is a degenerate gambler and admits losing staggering $1million boxing bet - The Sun

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