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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Privacy is Dead – Get Over It

Mass surveillance is equal to totalitarism with classic slogan of Third Reich
"if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear"

News Social Sites as intelligence collection tools Recommended Links

National Security State / Surveillance State: Review of Literature

Big Uncle is Watching You Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State
Big Brother is Watching You Search engines privacy Email Privacy Blocking Facebook Many faces of Facebook Facebook as Giant Database about Users
Nephophobia: avoiding cloud to reclaim bits of your privacy What Surveillance Valley knows about you Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Nineteen Eighty-Four Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Government security paranoia
Cyberstalking Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance The Real War on Reality How to collect and analyse your own metadata Humor Etc

"None are more enslaved than those who
falsely believe they are free."

- Goethe

It’s not so disturbing that the aggregation occurs, it’s disturbing
that people don’t seem to understand just how “public” the Internet really is.
Steve Rambam
at The Last Hope conference, 2008

"One thing I find amusing is the absolute terror of Big Brother,
when we’ve all already gone and said, ‘Cuff me,’ to Little Brother,”

-- John Arquilla, an intelligence expert
at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.


Introduction

It is important to understand that any networked computer is an insecure computer and it should be treated as such. It’s not so disturbing that that social sites, government, insurance companies, etc collect our data; it’s disturbing that people don’t seem to understand just how “public” the Internet really is and how much their personal information they volunteer. Anybody who answered honestly question about their annual income and other confidential information while registering product (Logitech like to ask this information ;-) or enrolling into some stupid social site like Facebook, is an idiot, plain and simple. And he/'she gets what they deserve. Also if after reading this individual does not suspend his/her Facebook account for at least a month to see whether he/she need it or not, he/she does not care about his privacy one bit. For anybody with IQ above 100 it is clear that Facebook does not serve any useful purpose, other then collecting information about you and reselling it to the higher bidder. That's their business model.

After revelation of Prism program, an excessive usage of cloud services from a fashionable trend instantly became an indication of a person stupidity.

Some simple common sense rules the might (or might not) protect you from "excessive" Internet/communications surveillance include:

  1. Minimize. "If you want to be truly secure, I suggest the bromide of a 19th century Boston politician, Martin Lomasney: "Never write if you [can] speak; never speak if you can nod; and never nod if you can wink..." A very tough system to break even with today's advance technology." (quote for discussion at  Schneier on Security )

  2. Do not succumb to Internet addition. There are  many things in life more pleasurable and even useful than spending hours browsing the Web.

  3. Do not leave your computers up for the night unless they are servers. Switched off computer is pretty safe if "wake-on-LAN" setting in BIOS is disabled.  The same is true with smartphones. Putting them into metal box or metal mesh box for the night like some recommend while cuts possibility for them to get a signal from the tower is probably an overkill. For laptops it's really easy to shut them for the night if you associate shut down computer with closing the lid when your laptop is connected to the power source (this is more tricky if you have a dock; then you might need to change it to "not connected to power source" and remove laptop from the dock for the night). 

  4. Always disable "wake-on-LAN" setting on your PCs. That's trivial thing but that's important. 

  5. Things that should be be discussed by phone, should never be discussed by phone. 

  6. Dilute your Internet purchase history. Use single Amazon account for the whole family or share it with a friends (that allow you to cut  the price of prime in half but exposé you to risks if you "misunderestimated" your friend or part the ways ;-).  It also enforce some discipline on your buying as you know that other people have access to the list of your purchases. In this case it is more difficult to profile single member of household as you need to make some assumption. 

  7. Filler browsing. If you are concerned the your internet browsing can get you in the  "unloyal" category of some sort  you might try to use "filler" browsing to dilute the stream of pages you requested. This trick is often used in office environment by those who like to play on the edge with enterprise security team (especially if you have nothing to do at night shift).  Using single proxy for the whole family also helps to mask your identity (actually router mask all your Web pages requests presenting them as coming from a single Internet address, not from individual (and local) addresses of computers in your household but if different computers use different browsers they might be differentiated by browser type) but proxy gives you much finer control and is not that difficult to install and use. Programmable  keyboard and some skills in programming in LUA makes injecting "politically correct searches" a trivial thing too. 

  8. Don't succumb to paranoia. Installing malware on your smartphone is an expensive operation and you generally have much higher changes to get malware from regular criminals than from the government. Especially if you install "free" applications on your smartphone. More often than not, they are not completely free and like is case of using  Facebook you trade your privacy for the access to them  ;-). Switched off cellphones or computer (with wake-up-LAN disabled) are switched off cell phones,  or computer.  There is probably not mach value in removing the battery and other "drastic" measures.

  9. If you do not want particular travel to be recorded in tiny details do not use cellphones and pay cash for gas, food, etc.  But please understand that when you cross toll bridges your number plate is recorded. So for the government there are many ways to skin the cat, even if the cat is trying to hide. 

  10. Regular simple/basic flip phone like  Samsung Gusto 3 B311 No Contract Phone (Verizon Wireless)  or ZTE Z222 Go Phone (AT&T)   is safer than smartphone as there not much memory in it to allow any hacking (typically 50 MB or less) . This is a better way to protect yourself if you are really paranoid.  Only some people like myself do not really need internet on the phone as they have tablet with G3/G4 for this purpose.  In any case your call metadata are probably as revealing as the content of your phone calls, and it is difficult to hide those.

  11. Never use Gmail/hotmail/yahoo mail for anything of the registrations and spam folder.  Get and account at one of ISPs. It will cost you around $5 a month or less.  You might also wish to obtain you won domain name. They come with email accounts and web page creation capabilities (might also be  useful if you can avoid excessive exhibitionism and limit it to quotes from sources that you like and similar things )

  12. Never store your financial information and other sensitive  files on the same computer you browse Internet. Buy additional laptop and use exclusively it for browsing  financial sites and creating your tax return (if you do it yourself). That also helps against nasty malware.  At least never use the same account -- create and strictly follow the discipline of using different accounts for you regular browsing and for your finances. That's really important.

  13. Periodically change your nicknames if you participate in some "supposedly watched by authorities" forums. Periodically change  DHCP address on your provider using  ipconfig /release or similar methods.  Nicknames that can't be easily found by Internet searches (common words, such as "high speed", "Networker", "not a new Yorker", "Symposium"  ) are better than unique one. Look at Guardian forums for inspiration ;-). You can also use VPN to mask your IP but generally your mileage can vary, as the government has tools to void this protection.

  14. Get PGP key and learn to use PGP. This is useful for separating your regular files from your "confidential" files.  If something is really confidential never store it on a networked computer.  Use paper and non-networked computer for printing it.  Some people install DOS for such purpose, but while fun to do, that's probably an overkill, unless are are into retro-computing. Non-networked means does not have any network card, or WiFi; which means old desktop computer). You will not be alone. There was a story  published in 2013 by major news agencies (see BBC version ) that Russian government bought some number  of electric typewriters for such a switch. See also discussion Soviet Spying on US Selectric Typewriters - Schneier on Security.  It might well be that on a governmental level anything secret shouldn't be prepared or communicated on electronic devices.

If you join Google or Facebook you should have no expectations of privacy

In Australia any expectations of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once people voluntarily offered data to the third party. A this is a very reasonable policy. Here is a relevant Slashdot post:

General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Robert S. Litt explained that our expectation of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once we've offered it to a third party.

Thus, sifting through third party data doesn't qualify 'on a constitutional level' as invasive to our personal privacy. This he brought to an interesting point about volunteered personal data, and social media habits. Our willingness to give our information to companies and social networking websites is baffling to the ODNI.

'Why is it that people are willing to expose large quantities of information to private parties but don't want the Government to have the same information?,' he asked."

... ... ...

While Snowden's leaks have provoked Jimmy Carter into labeling this government a sham, and void of a functioning democracy, Litt presented how these wide data collection programs are in fact valued by our government, have legal justification, and all the necessary parameters.

Litt, echoing the president and his boss James Clapper, explained thusly:

"We do not use our foreign intelligence collection capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies in order to give American companies a competitive advantage. We do not indiscriminately sweep up and store the contents of the communications of Americans, or of the citizenry of any country. We do not use our intelligence collection for the purpose of repressing the citizens of any country because of their political, religious or other beliefs. We collect metadata—information about communications—more broadly than we collect the actual content of communications, because it is less intrusive than collecting content and in fact can provide us information that helps us more narrowly focus our collection of content on appropriate targets. But it simply is not true that the United States Government is listening to everything said by every citizen of any country."

It's great that the U.S. government behaves better than corporations on privacy—too bad it trusts/subcontracts corporations to deal with that privacy—but it's an uncomfortable thing to even be in a position of having to compare the two. This is the point Litt misses, and it's not a fine one.

In a very profound way Facebook was never a "social site". It was always anti-social site. Facebook exploits people's own sense of vanity and desire to invade other people's privacy. There is no requirement to plaster your life all over the internet.

In a very profound way Facebook was never a "social site". It was always anti-social site. Facebook exploits and tries to play on people's own sense of vanity and desire to invade other people's privacy. This Facebook induced  US epidemic  of exhibitionism is really unhealthy. There is no requirement to plaster your life all over the internet.

Facebook has been a personal information sucking device since its inception. It is a toxic, faceless suburban wasteland which actually makes people more lonely (Suburbanization of Friendships and Solitude)

April 18, 2012

Facebook may be making us lonely, giving users the information age equivalent of a faceless suburban wasteland, claims the fantastic cover story of The Atlantic. Key excerpts:

We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information.

At the forefront of all this unexpectedly lonely interactivity is Facebook.

Facebook makes real relationships harder:

That one little phrase, Your real friends—so quaint, so charmingly mothering—perfectly encapsulates the anxieties that social media have produced: the fears that Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer.

Here’s why:

Our omnipresent new technologies lure us toward increasingly superficial connections at exactly the same moment that they make avoiding the mess of human interaction easy. The beauty of Facebook, the source of its power, is that it enables us to be social while sparing us the embarrassing reality of society—the accidental revelations we make at parties, the awkward pauses, the farting and the spilled drinks and the general gaucherie of face-to-face contact. Instead, we have the lovely smoothness of a seemingly social machine. Everything’s so simple: status updates, pictures, your wall.

Finally, FB fosters a retreat into narcissism:

Self-presentation on Facebook is continuous, intensely mediated, and possessed of a phony nonchalance that eliminates even the potential for spontaneity. (“Look how casually I threw up these three photos from the party at which I took 300 photos!”) Curating the exhibition of the self has become a 24/7 occupation.

Facebook users retreat from “messy” human interaction and spend too much of their time curating fantasy avatars of themselves to actually to out and meet real people:

The relentlessness is what is so new, so potentially transformative. Facebook never takes a break. We never take a break. Human beings have always created elaborate acts of self-presentation. But not all the time, not every morning, before we even pour a cup of coffee.

The always-on effects are profound:

What Facebook has revealed about human nature—and this is not a minor revelation—is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity. Solitude used to be good for self-reflection and self-reinvention. But now we are left thinking about who we are all the time, without ever really thinking about who we are. Facebook denies us a pleasure whose profundity we had underestimated: the chance to forget about ourselves for a while, the chance to disconnect.

One of the deepest and best researched meditations on FB 2012.

This is inverted totalitarism, my friend

  "As a totalitarian society, the Soviet Union valued eavesdropping and thus developed ingenious methods to accomplish it"

NSA document, cited from Soviet Spying on US Selectric Typewriters - Schneier on Security
 

In any case we should be aware that your Internet communications are under total surveillance. And that does not mean that people in hard boots will come and take you. Just realization of that this under surveillance is enough to change people behaviour. See Inverted Totalitarism:

The key ingredient of classical totalitarism is violence toward opponents. Also in all classic totalitarian states such as Nazi Germany and the USSR, the citizenry were kept mobilized to support the state. Sometimes wipe up to the state of frenzy by ideological purity campaigns or purges. Opponents were sent to concentration camps or exiled. Here the idea different: a passive but thoroughly monitored and thoroughly brainwashed populace is the goal that can be achieve with just two of three component of traditional totalitarism (ideology, propaganda and violence). Ideology and propaganda components are enough. That why the name "inverted totalitarism".

The term "liberal fascism" is also used and is a synonym, but it has "politically incorrect" flavor. The term "managed democracy" is also used, but more rarely.

It goes without saying that inverted totalitarism is much better then classic variants as close acquaintance with Gestapo or KGB is harmful for one's health. And that's what opponents of the regime faced. Here they just ignore the opponents and cut oxygen, in indirect way. Voice of opponents of the regime is just drown in the see of official propaganda and they are never invited to TV programs with significant popularity and influence on public opinion. As Orwell aptly noted "ignorance is strength" ;-). Also people who failed "loyalty test" might be simply remove from position where they can make a difference. Without too much noise. Net result is very similar, but for dissidents in case of inverted totalitarism teeth remain in place.

This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites (Web logs). That does not mean that those data are abused, but they are definitely recorded and some of them are stored for several years. In the article Edward Snowden Is Completely Wrong by Michael Hirsh and Sara Sorcher (Jun 15, 2013, NationalJournal.com) the authors warn:

Another problem for the alarmists: No evidence suggests that the worst fears of people like Snowden have ever been realized. In his interview with The Guardian, which broke the story along with The Washington Post, Snowden warned that the NSA’s accumulation of personal data

"increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody.”

In a state with no checks and balances, that is a possibility. But even the American Civil Liberties Union, which has called NSA surveillance “a stone’s throw away from an Orwellian state,” admits it knows of no cases where anything even remotely Orwellian has happened. Nor can any opponent of NSA surveillance point to a Kafkaesque Joseph K. who has appeared in an American courtroom on mysterious charges trumped up from government surveillance. Several civil-liberties advocates, asked to cite a single case of abuse of information, all paused for long seconds and could not cite any.

There is also great misunderstanding about how the NSA system works and whether such abuse could even happen in the future. It’s unclear if the government will be capable of accessing and misusing the vast array of personal data it is accumulating, as Snowden predicts. The NSA appears primarily to use computer algorithms to sift through its database for patterns that may be possible clues to terrorist plots. The government says it is not eavesdropping on our phone calls or voyeuristically reading our e-mails. Instead, it tracks the “metadata” of phone calls—whom we call and when, the duration of those conversations—and uses computer algorithms to trawl its databases for phone patterns or e-mail and search keywords that may be clues to terrorist plots. It can also map networks by linking known operatives with potential new suspects. If something stands out as suspicious, agents are still required by law to obtain a court order to look into the data they have in their storehouses. Officials must show “probable cause” and adhere to the principle of “minimization,” by which the government commits to reducing as much as possible the inadvertent vacuuming up of information on citizens instead of foreigners—the real target of the NSA’s PRISM program. The program, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, has had success. He told NBC that tracking a suspicious communication from Pakistan to a person in Colorado allowed officials to identify a terrorist cell in New York City that wanted to bomb its subway system in the fall of 2009.

Replace the word "terrorist" by the word "dissident" and you will get truer meaning of the collection and mining of metadata by three letter agencies. Here is an insightful post by Chris On February 16, 2010 ( christopherkois.com):

Today, there was an Ask Slashdot Story called: “Did We Lose the Privacy War?” In the story, the user was trying to do things like use NoScript and block Google Analytics, disabling third party cookies, and encrypting IM “to keep data-miners at bay”.

While I think some of these things are a good idea and individually protect against potential threats that may reside on the Internet, in the grand scheme of things, they do not help to protect your privacy on the Internet. The story and the comments on Slashdot that followed remind me of a great talk that was presented by Steve Rambam at the The Last Hope conference in 2008.

Steve Rambam is the Founder and CEO of Pallorium, Inc. Pallorium is a licensed Investigative Agency with offices and affiliates worldwide. In 2008, at The Last Hope conference, Steve Rambam gave a talk called “Privacy is Dead – Get Over It”. I originally heard this talk in 2008, as a podcast that is distributed on The Last Hope website.

This talk is by far one of the best talks I’ve ever heard on the topic of privacy on the Internet. The talk contains information about how an individual person’s information is retrieved, gathered, and correlated to obtain everything about an individual. Even more of a disturbing trend, the aggregation of social networking sites with other data stored by government and other private entities. It’s not so disturbing that the aggregation occurs, it’s disturbing that people don’t seem to understand just how “public” the Internet really is. The amount of information given away on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. is absolutely amazing. To top it off, an individual has no recourse against an entity collecting information about them. To quote the talk, “the genie is out of the bottle and you can’t stuff it back in.” The talk aims to spread awareness of data gathering on the Internet and how it is used in the past, present, and future.

From the talk: “This is the current state of affairs. There is no more sense of privacy. Not because it’s been ripped away from you in some Orwellian way, but because you flushed it down the toilet”. It’s not just private investigators that use this information, it’s also corporate entities that profit from your information. Take Amazon.com for example, from the talk:

“think for a second what Amazon knows about you: they know where you live, where you work, they know about your finances, they know what you like to read, what music you like to listen to, they know every interest of yours, every like, every dislike… all of things that make you, you. Essentially, they’ve got a database of everyone in America’s soul.”

Rambam points out that EBay, Paypal, and Skype (which is all one company now) have a very similar database of information. Satellite TV/Cable TV/DVR/Tivo all know what you watch on TV, and Tivo is actually selling elements of your data. Furthermore, you don’t know what they have and there is NOTHING that you can do about it.

From the talk:

“What you need to know is that these are “private” companies. Freedom of information does NOT apply. And you’re screwed 2 ways. You go to Choicepoint and you say ‘What’s in your files about me?’. ‘None of your business. It’s our business records. Tough.’ You go to the government and you say ‘This is my Freedom of Information Act request. I know you pulled a Choicepoint report on me. I want to know what was in that report.’ ‘Sorry, we can’t give it to you. It’s a private business record.’ FOIA is dead, buried. It tried to come back to life. Choicepoint hammered a big stake in it’s heart and now it’s gone…”

So, what does this all mean? This isn’t just about people or entities knowing everything there is to know about you: what you do, what you like, where you go, who you talk to, what you buy, what you are interested in buying, interests that you have, etc., etc., etc… It’s how those entities are using the data that they gather. You don’t have to be paranoid to be interested in this. Companies are profiting from the data that they are collecting on you, and you pay them for it. You are paying for their services, but they are still collecting the information and selling it to someone else. In essence, they are “double-dipping” into the profits from selling consumers a product or a service and then, aggregating the data and selling it to advertisers behind the scenes. The advertisers selling you information know more about you then you could ever imagine.

From the talk:

“If you don’t take anything else from my talk today, here’s what I need you to take away. Google is a private company that you have no control over. You have no right and no ability to influence what they gather about you and what they do with that information. And the truth is, most people when they think of Google, they think of a great utility that solved all the problems of finding things on the Internet a few years ago. … Google is photos, blogs, media … Gmail, how many people here use Gmail? … Do you know that your email is searched by bots? … How many of you know that your email is searched, indexed, and categorized? … How many of you care? None of you!

Now the same people, how many would be running out and hiring a lawyer if somebody was opening the mail at your mailbox, reading it, pasting it back shut, and putting it back in the box? Every single one of you. Much worse, but you don’t get it or you don’t care.”

One last quote from the talk that I feel really sums up all of the data collection, mining, and aggregation that many of the Internet Web Services companies do on a daily basis: This quote comes from the EFF, but is referenced in the talk: “This is analogous to AT&T listening to your phone calls all day in order to figure out what to sell you at dinner.”

Steve Rambam does a great job in conveying the current state of affairs. He states the case as to why much of this information can be used in a good way by law enforcement and private investigators to do their job efficiently, but also how the information obtained can and is being abused. The aim of the talk is to make people aware of what data is gathered, what you can do about it (which is not much), and what those entities that are gathering the information are doing with it.

The talk is just over 3 hours. The video is nice so you can see the slides, but you can always download the audio and listen to it on your portable music player.

The giant sucking sound

In his article What Surveillance Valley knows about you (Crooks and Liars) Yasha Levine noted:

Google is very secretive about the exact nature of its for-profit intel operation and how it uses the petabytes of data it collects on us every single day for financial gain. Fortunately, though, we can get a sense of the kind of info that Google and other Surveillance Valley megacorps compile on us, and the ways in which that intel might be used and abused, by looking at the business practices of the “data broker” industry.

Thanks to a series of Senate hearings, the business of data brokerage is finally being understood by consumers, but the industry got its start back in the 1970s as a direct outgrowth of the failure of telemarketing. In its early days, telemarketing had an abysmal success rate: only 2 percent of people contacted would become customers. In his book, “The Digital Perso,” Daniel J. Solove explains what happened next:

To increase the low response rate, marketers sought to sharpen their targeting techniques, which required more consumer research and an effective way to collect, store, and analyze information about consumers. The advent of the computer database gave marketers this long sought-after ability — and it launched a revolution in targeting technology.

Data brokers rushed in to fill the void. These operations pulled in information from any source they could get their hands on — voter registration, credit card transactions, product warranty information, donations to political campaigns and non-profits, court records — storing it in master databases and then analyzing it in all sorts of ways that could be useful to direct-mailing and telemarketing outfits. It wasn’t long before data brokers realized that this information could be used beyond telemarketing, and quickly evolved into a global for-profit intelligence business that serves every conceivable data and intelligence need.

Today, the industry churns somewhere around $200 billion in revenue annually. There are up to 4,000 data broker companies — some of the biggest are publicly traded — and together, they have detailed information on just about every adult in the western world.

No source of information is sacred: transaction records are bought in bulk from stores, retailers and merchants; magazine subscriptions are recorded; food and restaurant preferences are noted; public records and social networks are scoured and scraped. What kind of prescription drugs did you buy? What kind of books are you interested in? Are you a registered voter? To what non-profits do you donate? What movies do you watch? Political documentaries? Hunting reality TV shows?

That info is combined and kept up to date with address, payroll information, phone numbers, email accounts, social security numbers, vehicle registration and financial history. And all that is sliced, isolated, analyzed and mined for data about you and your habits in a million different ways.

The dossiers are not restricted to generic market segmenting categories like “Young Literati” or “Shotguns and Pickups” or “Kids & Cul-de-Sacs,” but often contain the most private and intimate details about a person’s life, all of it packaged and sold over and over again to anyone willing to pay.

Take MEDbase200, a boutique for-profit intel outfit that specializes in selling health-related consumer data. Well, until last week, the company offered its clients a list of rape victims (or “rape sufferers,” as the company calls them) at the low price of $79.00 per thousand. The company claims to have segmented this data set into hundreds of different categories, including stuff like the ailments they suffer, prescription drugs they take and their ethnicity:

These rape sufferers are family members who have reported, or have been identified as individuals affected by specific illnesses, conditions or ailments relating to rape. Medbase200 is the owner of this list. Select from families affected by over 500 different ailments, and/or who are consumers of over 200 different Rx medications. Lists can be further selected on the basis of lifestyle, ethnicity, geo, gender, and much more. Inquire today for more information.

MEDbase promptly took its “rape sufferers” list off line last week after its existence was revealed in a Senate investigation into the activities of the data-broker industry. The company pretended like the list was a huge mistake. A MEDbase rep tried convincing a Wall Street Journal reporter that its rape dossiers were just a “hypothetical list of health conditions/ailments.” The rep promised it was never sold to anyone. Yep, it was a big mistake. We can all rest easy now. Thankfully, MEDbase has hundreds of other similar dossier collections, hawking the most private and sensitive medical information.

For instance, if lists of rape victims aren’t your thing, MEDbase can sell dossiers on people suffering from anorexia, substance abuse, AIDS and HIV, Alzheimer’s Disease, Asperger Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bedwetting (Enuresis), Binge Eating Disorder, Depression, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, Homelessness, Infertility, Syphilis… the list goes on and on and on and on.

Normally, such detailed health information would fall under federal law and could not be disclosed or sold without consent. But because these data harvesters rely on indirect sources of information instead of medical records, they’re able to sidestep regulations put in place to protect the privacy of people’s health data.

MEBbase isn’t the only company exploiting these loopholes. By the industry’s own estimates, there are something like 4,000 for-profit intel companies operating in the United States. Many of them sell information that would normally be restricted under federal law. They offer all sorts of targeted dossier collections on every population segments of our society, from the affluent to the extremely vulnerable:

If you want to see how this kind of profile data can be used to scam unsuspecting individuals, look no further than a Richard Guthrie, an Iowa retiree who had his life savings siphoned out of his bank account. Their weapon of choice: databases bought from large for-profit data brokers listing retirees who entered sweepstakes and bought lottery tickets.

Here’s a 2007 New York Times story describing the racket:

Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

Data brokers argue that cases like Guthrie are an anomaly — a once-in-a-blue-moon tragedy in an industry that takes privacy and legal conduct seriously. But cases of identity thieves and sophistical con-rings obtaining data from for-profit intel businesses abound. Scammers are a lucrative source of revenue. Their money is just as good as anyone else’s. And some of the profile “products” offered by the industry seem tailored specifically to fraud use.

As Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Yves Leblanc told the New York Times: “Only one kind of customer wants to buy lists of seniors interested in lotteries and sweepstakes: criminals. If someone advertises a list by saying it contains gullible or elderly people, it’s like putting out a sign saying ‘Thieves welcome here.’”

So what is InfoUSA, exactly? What kind of company would create and sell lists customized for use by scammers and cons?

As it turns out, InfoUSA is not some fringe or shady outfit, but a hugely profitable politically connected company. InfoUSA was started by Vin Gupta in the 1970s as a basement operation hawking detailed lists of RV and mobile home dealers. The company quickly expanded into other areas and began providing business intel services to thousands of businesses. By 2000, the company raised more than $30 million in venture capital funding from major Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

By then, InfoUSA boasted of having information on 230 million consumers. A few years later, InfoUSA counted the biggest Valley companies as its clients, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL. It got involved not only in raw data and dossiers, but moved into payroll and financial, conducted polling and opinion research, partnered with CNN, vetted employees and provided customized services for law enforcement and all sorts of federal and government agencies: processing government payments, helping states locate tax cheats and even administrating President Bill Clinton “Welfare to Work” program. Which is not surprising, as Vin Gupta is a major and close political supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In 2008, Gupta was sued by InfoUSA shareholders for inappropriately using corporate funds. Shareholders accused of Gupta of illegally funneling corporate money to fund an extravagant lifestyle and curry political favor. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit questioned why Gupta used private corporate jets to fly the Clintons on personal and campaign trips, and why Gupta awarded Bill Clinton a $3.3 million consulting gig.

As a result of the scandal, InfoUSA was threatened with delisting from Nasdaq, Gupta was forced out and the company was snapped up for half a billion dollars by CCMP Capital Advisors, a major private equity firm spun off from JP Morgan in 2006. Today, InfoUSA continues to do business under the name Infogroup, and has nearly 4,000 employees working in nine countries.

As big as Infogroup is, there are dozens of other for-profit intelligence businesses that are even bigger: massive multi-national intel conglomerates with revenues in the billions of dollars. Some of them, like Lexis-Nexis and Experian, are well known, but mostly these are outfits that few Americans have heard of, with names like Epsilon, Altegrity and Acxiom.

These for-profit intel behemoths are involved in everything from debt collection to credit reports to consumer tracking to healthcare analysis, and provide all manner of tailored services to government and law enforcement around the world. For instance, Acxiom has done business with most major corporations, and boasts of intel on “500 million active consumers worldwide, with about 1,500 data points per person. That includes a majority of adults in the United States,” according to the New York Times.

This data is analyzed and sliced in increasingly sophisticated and intrusive ways to profile and predict behavior. Merchants are using it customize shopping experience— Target launched a program to figure out if a woman shopper was pregnant and when the baby would be born, “even if she didn’t want us to know.” Life insurance companies are experimenting with predictive consumer intel to estimate life expectancy and determine eligibility for life insurance policies. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are raking over this data in order to deny and challenge the medical claims of their policyholders.

Even more alarming, large employers are turning to for-profit intelligence to mine and monitor the lifestyles and habits of their workers outside the workplace. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal described how employers have partnered with health insurance companies to monitor workers for “health-adverse” behavior that could lead to higher medical expenses down the line:

Your company already knows whether you have been taking your meds, getting your teeth cleaned and going for regular medical checkups. Now some employers or their insurance companies are tracking what staffers eat, where they shop and how much weight they are putting on — and taking action to keep them in line.

But companies also have started scrutinizing employees’ other behavior more discreetly. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina recently began buying spending data on more than 3 million people in its employer group plans. If someone, say, purchases plus-size clothing, the health plan could flag him for potential obesity — and then call or send mailings offering weight-loss solutions.

…”Everybody is using these databases to sell you stuff,” says Daryl Wansink, director of health economics for the Blue Cross unit. “We happen to be trying to sell you something that can get you healthier.”

“As an employer, I want you on that medication that you need to be on,” says Julie Stone, a HR expert at Towers Watson told the Wall Street Journal.

Companies might try to frame it as a health issue. I mean, what kind of asshole could be ag caring about the wellbeing of their workers? But their ultimate concern has nothing to do with the employee health. It’s all about the brutal bottom line: keeping costs down.

An employer monitoring and controlling your activity outside of work? You don’t have to be union agitator to see the problems with this kind of mindset and where it could lead. Because there are lots of things that some employers might want to know about your personal life, and not only to “keep costs down.” It could be anything: to weed out people based on undesirable habits or discriminate against workers based on sexual orientation, regulation and political beliefs.

It’s not difficult to imagine that a large corporation facing a labor unrest or a unionization drive would be interested in proactively flagging potential troublemakers by pinpointing employees that might be sympathetic to the cause. But the technology and data is already here for wide and easy application: did a worker watch certain political documentaries, donate to environmental non-profits, join an animal rights Facebook group, tweet out support for Occupy Wall Street, subscribe to the Nation or Jacobin, buy Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”? Or maybe the worker simply rented one of Michael Moore’s films? Run your payroll through one of the massive consumer intel databases and look if there is any matchup. Bound to be plenty of unpleasant surprises for HR!

This has happened in the past, although in a cruder and more limited way. In the 1950s, for instance, some lefty intellectuals had their lefty newspapers and mags delivered to P.O. boxes instead of their home address, worrying that otherwise they’d get tagged as Commie symps. That might have worked in the past. But with the power of private intel companies, today there’s nowhere to hide.

FTC Commissioner Julie Brill has repeatedly voiced concern that unregulated data being amassed by for-profit intel companies would be used to discriminate and deny employment, and to determine consumer access to everything from credit to insurance to housing. “As Big Data algorithms become more accurate and powerful, consumers need to know a lot more about the ways in which their data is used,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

Pam Dixon, executive director of the Privacy World Forum, agrees. Dixon frequently testifies on Capitol Hill to warn about the growing danger to privacy and civil liberties posed by big data and for-profit intelligence. In Congressional testimony back in 2009, Dixon called this growing mountain of data the “modern permanent record” and explained that users of these new intel capabilities will inevitably expand to include not just marketers and law enforcement, but insurance companies, employers, landlords, schools, parents, scammers and stalkers. “The information – like credit reports – will be used to make basic decisions about the ability of individual to travel, participate in the economy, find opportunities, find places to live, purchase goods and services, and make judgments about the importance, worthiness, and interests of individuals.”


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[Jan 19, 2018] Our Potemkin Village - Antiwar.com Original

Jan 19, 2018 | original.antiwar.com

Our Potemkin Village

The empire is getting a bit tattered around the edges

by Justin Raimondo Posted on January 17, 2018 January 16, 2018 While the population of Hawaii dove under manhole covers, and #TheResistance screeched that The Orange Monster had finally done it and forced Kim Jong Un to nuke the island paradise, it took Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the levelheaded, and quite personable representative from that state, to issue a statement countermanding the "take cover" message sent out by the military earlier.

Rep. Gabbard did this within minutes, thus avoiding a major panic with potentially dangerous consequences, while the Authorities took nearly an hour to issue a retraction.

How did this happen? The Official Story is that "someone pushed the wrong button." As to the identity of this Someone, or the consequences that have befallen him or her, we hear nary a word.

This bizarre incident underscores the utter absurdity and darkness of the permanent state of emergency which we live under. For it turns out that there was no system in place capable of countermanding the emergency alert once it went out. A tacit understanding of the reality behind our military strategy: it's a suicide pact.

It also underscores the Potemkin Village aura of what is routinely referred to as our National Security Establishment: in this case, it amounted to some guy in Hawaii wearing flip flops and all too eager to go off duty and get back in the water after going through the unending drill he'd complete hundreds, probably thousands of times before.

So who was the culprit, and what happened to him? The Hawaii authorities refuse to identify him – because "he would be a pariah." Which is a military disciplinary system that has to be unique in all the world. The administrator in chief of the system, a Mr. Miyagi, explained it this way :

"Looking at the nature and cause of the error that led to those events, the deeper problem is not that someone made a mistake; it is that we made it too easy for a simple mistake to have very serious consequences. The system should have been more robust, and I will not let an individual pay for a systemic problem."

What about the individual architects of the system? You can be your bottom dollar none of them will bear any consequences for almost starting World War III. Gee, I recall an incident that occurred on September 11, 2001, in which the "defenses" we'd spent billions on simply did not function and thousands dies as a result – and not a single person was fired.

Inefficiency and outright incompetence are built into structures as large, unwieldy, and unresponsive as the American Empire, and this is what the concept of decadence really entails: the slipshod slips in, the shiny surfaces get to looking a little ramshackle, overconfidence and complacency infiltrate both leaders and led, and pretty soon you're the Austro-Hungarian Empire: big, garish, unsustainable, and basically ready to fall to pieces.

Which is not to say that the Empire is really on its last legs and will fall of its own weight – although that's entirely possible. Look at what happened to the Soviets. Yet the rulers – and inhabitants – of such empires always overestimate their strength and endurance: they live inside the bubble of their own hubris.

That popping sound you hear may augur more than anybody bargained for

A SPECIAL NOTE : My apologies for the abbreviated column, but this is being written on the fly as I get ready to travel to San Francisco to receive my fifth infusion of the anti-cancer drugs Keytruda and Alimta. I have to say I'm feeling a lot better since the treatments started, but I still have a ways to go: I'll keep you posted.

[Jan 16, 2018] Watch A Sitting Congresswoman Shred The MSM Narrative In Under A Minute

Jan 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Watch A Sitting Congresswoman Shred The MSM Narrative In Under A Minute

by Tyler Durden Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:34 155 SHARES

Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard appeared on multiple Sunday news shows a day after her state's false ICBM emergency alert sent the islands into a tense 40 minutes of panic before it was revealed to be a message sent in error, where she slammed the mainstream media's reporting on the North Korean nuclear threat, saying , "We've got to understand that North Korea is holding onto these nuclear weapons because they think it is their only protection from the United States coming in and doing to them what the United States has done to so many countries throughout history."

She further called for Trump to hold direct talks with Kim Jong Un in order to prevent the real thing from ever happening.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) Gabbard is an Army reserve officer who previously served two tours in the Middle East, including in Iraq. Image via the Ron Paul Institute

On Saturday Gabbard had immediately criticized President Trump for mishandling North Korea, taking to MSNBC to proclaim that "our leaders have failed us. Donald Trump is taking too long... he's not taking this [nuclear] threat seriously..." During Sunday interviews she elaborated on a plan of action, advising Trump to enter talks with Pyongyang which should "happen without preconditions" and that Trump should "sit across the table from Kim Jong Un" in order stamp out the climate of fear which contributed to the "unacceptable" alert issued on Saturday.

"We've got to get to the underlying issue here of why are the people of Hawaii and this country facing a nuclear threat coming from North Korea today, and what is this President doing urgently to eliminate that threat?" Gabbard said on CNN's State of the Union. She added that Pyongyang sees its nuclear weapons program as "the only deterrent against the U.S. coming in and overthrowing their regime there " after decades of the US exhibiting a pattern of regime change when dealing with rogue states, which she said makes setting up preconditions for talks a self-defeating step.

And concerning the potential for an "unintentional" nuclear war, Gabbard said, "It's not just the President making a decision to launch a nuclear weapon . It's these kinds of mistakes that we have seen happen in the past that bring us to this brink of nuclear war that could be unintentional."

The Hawaii lawmaker, who has garnered a lot of attention over her non-interventionist stance on Syria while angering establishment pundits for doing things like visiting Damascus last year on a fact-finding mission, left ABC's George Stephanopoulos visibly flustered during an interview on Sunday's "This Week" . She said:

We know that North Korea has these nuclear weapons because they see how the United States in Libya for example guaranteed Gadaffi - 'we're not going to go after you, you should get rid of your nuclear weapons.' He did, then we went and led an attack that toppled Gaddafi, launching Libya into chaos that we are still seeing the results of today. North Korea sees what we did in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, with those false reports of weapons of mass destruction. And now seeing in Iran how President Trump is decertifying a nuclear deal that prevented Iran from developing their nuclear weapons, threatening the very existence and the agreement that was made.

At this point an incredulous Stephanopoulos stopped the Congresswoman and asked, " Was it a mistake for the United States to take out Gaddafi and Hussein ?" Gabbard responded firmly with, "It was, absolutely." Apparently this was enough to end the interview as a presumably shocked Stephanopoulos had no response at that point.

For those unfamiliar, Gabbard is an Army reserve officer who previously served two tours in the Middle East, including in Iraq, and has been an outspoken critic of regime change and Washington's interventionist foreign policy.

[Jan 14, 2018] By default I block Google and its octopus of websites as third party sites on websites I visit.

Jan 14, 2018 | www.unz.com

CalDre , January 11, 2018 at 7:33 am GMT

To Moderators:

By default I block Google and its octopus of websites as third party sites on websites I visit. This list includes doubleclick.net, googlesyndication.com, google-analytics.com, googleusercontent.com, googleadservices.com, googlecode.com, gmail.com, gstatic.com, googletagmanager.com and, yes, googleapis.com.

When you do this you find that a lot of websites stop working, and proves how google (and its intelligence agency patrons) are able to egregiously violate your privacy and track you all over the internet (in addition to whatever tracking your or your friends' Android devices do).

Unfortunately this site uses googleapis.com for its comment submission. Why? There are countless ways to activate a "Reply" button without requiring Big Brother Google to monitor the event.

Please re-consider your reliance on Google to provide minor web features (new comment submission works with googleapis.com disabled but it is not possible to reply to another comment as the three options – Reply, Agree/Disagree/etc. and This Commenter links – are all non-functional without permitting Google spying).

[Jan 02, 2018] The Still-Missing Evidence of Russia-gate by Dennis J. Bernstein

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The central groupthink around Russia-gate is the still unproven claim that Russia hacked Democratic emails in 2016 and publicized them via WikiLeaks, a crucial issue that NSA experts say should be easy to prove if true, reports Dennis J. Bernstein. ..."
"... Binney: We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) published an article on this in July. First of all, if any of the data went anywhere across the fiber optic world, the NSA would know. Just inside the United States, the NSA has over a hundred tap points on the fiber lines, taking in everything. ..."
"... The other data that came out from Guccifer 2.0, a download from the DNC, has been a charade. It was a download and not a transfer across the Web. The Web won't manage such a high speed. It could not have gotten across the Atlantic at that high speed. You would have to have high capacity lines dedicated to that in order to do it. They have been playing games with us. There is no factual evidence to back up any charge of hacking here. ..."
"... Bernstein: Let me come at this from the other side. Has the United States ever tried to hack into and undermine Russian operations in this way? ..."
"... Binney: Oh, sure. We do it as much as anybody else. In the Ukraine, for example, we sponsored regime change. When someone who was pro-Soviet was elected president, we orchestrated a coup to put our man in power. ..."
"... Did the US meddle in the Russian elections that brought Yeltsin to power? ..."
"... I believe they did. We try to leverage our power and influence elections around the world. ..."
"... Binney: Yes, to defend privacy but also to defend the Constitution. Right now, our government is violating the first, fourth and fifth amendments in various ways. Mueller did it, Comey did it, they were all involved in violating the Constitution. ..."
"... Bernstein: There seems to be a new McCarthyite operation around the Russia-gate investigation. It appears that it is an attempt to justify the idea that Clinton lost because the Russians undermined the election. ..."
"... Bernstein: It was initially put out that seventeen intelligence agencies found compelling evidence that the Russians hacked into our election. You're saying it was actually selected individuals from just three agencies. Is there anything to the revelations that FBI agents talked about taking action to prevent Trump from becoming president? ..."
"... Binney: It certainly does seem that it is leaning that way, that is was all a frame-up. It is a sad time in our history, to see the government working against itself internally ..."
"... Bernstein: What concerns do you have regarding the Russia-gate investigation and the McCarthyite tactics that are being employed? ..."
"... Binney: Ultimately, my main concern is that it could lead to actual war with Russia. We should definitely not be going down that path. We need to get out of all these wars. I am also concerned about what we are doing to our own democracy. We are trampling the fundamental principles contained in the Constitution. The only way to reverse all this is to start indicting people who are participating in and managing these activities that are clearly unconstitutional. ..."
Jan 02, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

The central groupthink around Russia-gate is the still unproven claim that Russia hacked Democratic emails in 2016 and publicized them via WikiLeaks, a crucial issue that NSA experts say should be easy to prove if true, reports Dennis J. Bernstein.

A changing-places moment brought about by Russia-gate is that liberals who are usually more skeptical of U.S. intelligence agencies, especially their evidence-free claims, now question the patriotism of Americans who insist that the intelligence community supply proof to support the dangerous claims about Russian 'hacking" of Democratic emails especially when some veteran U.S. government experts say the data would be easily available if the Russians indeed were guilty.

One of those experts is William Binney, a former high-level National Security Agency intelligence official who, after his 2001 retirement, blew the whistle on the extraordinary breadth of NSA surveillance programs. His outspoken criticism of the NSA during the George W. Bush administration made him the subject of FBI investigations that included a raid on his home in 2007.

Even before Edward Snowden's NSA whistleblowing, Binney publicly revealed that NSA had access to telecommunications companies' domestic and international billing records, and that since 9/11 the agency has intercepted some 15 trillion to 20 trillion communications. Snowden has said: "I have tremendous respect for Binney, who did everything he could according to the rules."

I spoke to Binney on Dec. 28 about Russia-gate and a host of topics having to do with spying and America's expanding national security state.

Dennis Bernstein: I would like you to begin by telling us a little about your background at the NSA and how you got there.

William Binney: I was in the United States Army from 1965 to 1969. They put me in the Army Security Agency, an affiliate of the NSA. They liked the work I was doing and they put me on a priority hire in 1970. I was in the NSA for 32 years, mostly working against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. I was solving what were called "wizard puzzles," and the NSA was sometimes referred to as the "Puzzle Palace." I had to solve code systems and work on cyber systems and data systems to be able to predict in advance the "intentions and capabilities of adversaries or potential adversaries."

Bernstein: At a certain point you ran amiss of your supervisors. What did you come to understand and try to tell people that got you in dutch with your higher-ups?

Binney: By 1998-1999, the "digital issue" was basically solved. This created a problem for the upper ranks because at the time they were lobbying Congress for $3.8 billion to continue working on what we had already accomplished. That lobby was started in 1989 for a separate program called Trailblazer, which failed miserably in 2005-2006. We had to brief Congress on how we were progressing and my information ran contrary to the efforts downtown to secure more funding. And so this caused a problem internally.

We learned from some of our staff members in Congress that several of the corporations that were getting contracts from the NSA were downtown lobbying against our program in Congress. This is the military industrial complex in action. That lobby was supported by the NSA management because they just wanted more money to build a bigger empire.

But Dick Cheney, who was behind all of this, wanted it because he grew up under Nixon, who always wanted to know what his political enemies were thinking and doing. This kind of approach of bulk acquisition of everything was possible after you removed certain segments of our software and they used it against the entire digital world. Cheney wanted to know who his political enemies were and get updates about them at any time.

Bernstein: Your expertise was in the Soviet Union and so you must know a lot about bugging. Do you believe that Russia hacked and undermined our last election? Can Trump thank Russia for the result?

Binney: We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) published an article on this in July. First of all, if any of the data went anywhere across the fiber optic world, the NSA would know. Just inside the United States, the NSA has over a hundred tap points on the fiber lines, taking in everything. Mark Klein exposed some of this at the AT&T facility in San Francisco.

This is not for foreigners, by the way, this is for targeting US citizens. If they wanted only foreigners, all they would have to do was look at the transatlantic cables where they surface on the coast of the United States. But they are not there, they are distributed among the US population.

Bernstein: So if, in fact, the Russians were tapping into DNC headquarters, the NSA would absolutely know about it.

Binney: Yes, and they would also have trace routes on where they went specifically, in Russia or anywhere else. If you remember, about three or four years ago, the Chinese hacked into somewhere in the United States and our government came out and confirmed that it was the Chinese who did it, and it came from a specific military facility in Shanghai. The NSA had these trace route programs embedded by the hundreds across the US and all around the world.

The other data that came out from Guccifer 2.0, a download from the DNC, has been a charade. It was a download and not a transfer across the Web. The Web won't manage such a high speed. It could not have gotten across the Atlantic at that high speed. You would have to have high capacity lines dedicated to that in order to do it. They have been playing games with us. There is no factual evidence to back up any charge of hacking here.

Bernstein: So was this a leak by somebody at Democratic headquarters?

Binney: We don't know that for sure, either. All we know was that it was a local download. We can likely attribute it to a USB device that was physically passed along.

Bernstein: Let me come at this from the other side. Has the United States ever tried to hack into and undermine Russian operations in this way?

Binney: Oh, sure. We do it as much as anybody else. In the Ukraine, for example, we sponsored regime change. When someone who was pro-Soviet was elected president, we orchestrated a coup to put our man in power.

Then we invited the Ukraine into NATO. One of the agreements we made with the Russians when the Soviet Union fell apart was that the Ukraine would give them their nuclear weapons to manage and that we would not move NATO further east toward Russia. I think they made a big mistake when they asked Ukraine to join NATO. They should have asked Russia to join as well, making it all-inclusive. If you treat people as adversaries, they are going to act that way.

Bernstein: Did the US meddle in the Russian elections that brought Yeltsin to power?

Binney: I believe they did. We try to leverage our power and influence elections around the world.

Bernstein: What has your group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, been up to, and what has been the US government's response?

Binney: We have been discussing privacy and security with the European Union and with a number of European parliaments. Recently the Austrian supreme court ruled that the entire bulk acquisition system was unconstitutional. Everyone but the conservatives in the Austrian parliament voted that bill down, making Austria the first country there to do the right thing.

A slide from material leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the Washington Post, showing what happens when an NSA analyst "tasks" the PRISM system for information about a new surveillance target.

Bernstein: Is it your goal to defend people's privacy and their right to communicate privately?

Binney: Yes, to defend privacy but also to defend the Constitution. Right now, our government is violating the first, fourth and fifth amendments in various ways. Mueller did it, Comey did it, they were all involved in violating the Constitution.

Back in the 1990's, the idea was to make our analysts effective so that they could see threats coming before they happened and alert people to take action so that lives would be saved. What happens now is that people go out and kill someone and then the NSA and the FBI go on a forensics mission. Intelligence is supposed to tell you in advance when a crime is coming so that you can do something to avert it. They have lost that perspective.

Bernstein: They now have access to every single one of our electronic conversations, is that right? The human mind has a hard time imagining how you could contain, move and study all that information.

Binney: Basically, it is achievable because most of the processing is done by machine so it doesn't cost human energy.

Bernstein: There seems to be a new McCarthyite operation around the Russia-gate investigation. It appears that it is an attempt to justify the idea that Clinton lost because the Russians undermined the election.

Binney: I have seen no evidence at all from anybody, including the intelligence community. If you look at the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) report, they state on the first page that "We have high confidence that the Russians did this." But when you get toward the end of the report, they basically confess that "our judgment does not imply that we have evidence to back it up."

Bernstein: It was initially put out that seventeen intelligence agencies found compelling evidence that the Russians hacked into our election. You're saying it was actually selected individuals from just three agencies. Is there anything to the revelations that FBI agents talked about taking action to prevent Trump from becoming president?

Binney: It certainly does seem that it is leaning that way, that is was all a frame-up. It is a sad time in our history, to see the government working against itself internally.

Bernstein: I take it you are not a big supporter of Trump.

Binney: Well, I voted for him. I couldn't vote for a warmonger like Clinton. She wanted to see our planes shooting down Russian planes in Syria. She advocated for destabilizing Libya, for getting rid of Assad in Syria, she was a strong backer of the war in Iraq.

Bernstein: What concerns do you have regarding the Russia-gate investigation and the McCarthyite tactics that are being employed?

Binney: Ultimately, my main concern is that it could lead to actual war with Russia. We should definitely not be going down that path. We need to get out of all these wars. I am also concerned about what we are doing to our own democracy. We are trampling the fundamental principles contained in the Constitution. The only way to reverse all this is to start indicting people who are participating in and managing these activities that are clearly unconstitutional.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of "Flashpoints" on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom . You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net .

[Dec 28, 2017] How CrowdStrike placed malware in DNC hacked servers by Alex Christoforou

Highly recommended!
If this is true, then this is definitely a sophisticated false flag operation. Was malware Alperovich people injected specifically designed to implicate Russians? In other words Crowdstrike=Fancy Bear
Images removed. For full content please thee the original source
One interesting corollary of this analysis is that installing Crowdstrike software is like inviting a wolf to guard your chicken. If they are so dishonest you take enormous risks. That might be true for some other heavily advertized "intrusion prevention" toolkits. So those criminals who use mistyped popular addresses or buy Google searches to drive lemmings to their site and then flash the screen that they detected a virus on your computer a, please call provided number and for a small amount of money your virus will be removed get a new more sinister life.
I suspected many of such firms (for example ISS which was bought by IBM in 2006) to be scams long ago.
Notable quotes:
"... They found that generally, in a lot of cases, malware developers didn't care to hide the compile times and that while implausible timestamps are used, it's rare that these use dates in the future. It's possible, but unlikely that one sample would have a postdated timestamp to coincide with their visit by mere chance but seems extremely unlikely to happen with two or more samples. Considering the dates of CrowdStrike's activities at the DNC coincide with the compile dates of two out of the three pieces of malware discovered and attributed to APT-28 (the other compiled approximately 2 weeks prior to their visit), the big question is: Did CrowdStrike plant some (or all) of the APT-28 malware? ..."
"... The IP address, according to those articles, was disabled in June 2015, eleven months before the DNC emails were acquired – meaning those IP addresses, in reality, had no involvement in the alleged hacking of the DNC. ..."
"... The fact that two out of three of the Fancy Bear malware samples identified were compiled on dates within the apparent five day period CrowdStrike were apparently at the DNC seems incredibly unlikely to have occurred by mere chance. ..."
"... That all three malware samples were compiled within ten days either side of their visit – makes it clear just how questionable the Fancy Bear malware discoveries were. ..."
Dec 28, 2017 | theduran.com

Of course the DNC did not want to the FBI to investigate its "hacked servers". The plan was well underway to excuse Hillary's pathetic election defeat to Trump, and CrowdStrike would help out by planting evidence to pin on those evil "Russian hackers." Some would call this entire DNC server hack an "insurance policy."

... ... ...

[Dec 28, 2017] From Snowden To Russia-gate - The CIA And The Media

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The promotion of the alleged Russian election hacking in certain media may have grown from the successful attempts of U.S. intelligence services to limit the publication of the NSA files obtained by Edward Snowden. ..."
"... In May 2013 Edward Snowden fled to Hongkong and handed internal documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) to four journalists, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian and separately to Barton Gellman who worked for the Washington Post . ..."
"... In July 2013 the Guardian was forced by the British government to destroy its copy of the Snowden archive. ..."
"... In August 2013 Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for some $250 million. In 2012 Bezos, the founder, largest share holder and CEO of Amazon, had already a cooperation with the CIA. Together they invested in a Canadian quantum computing company. In March 2013 Amazon signed a $600 million deal to provide computing services for the CIA. ..."
"... The motivation for the Bezos and Omidyar to do this is not clear. Bezos is estimated to own a shameful $90 billion. The Washington Post buy is chump-change for him. Omidyar has a net worth of some $9.3 billion. But the use of billionaires to mask what are in fact intelligence operations is not new. The Ford Foundation has for decades been a CIA front , George Soros' Open Society foundation is one of the premier "regime change" operations, well versed in instigating "color revolutions" ..."
"... It would have been reasonable if the cooperation between those billionaires and the intelligence agencies had stopped after the NSA leaks were secured. But it seems that strong cooperation of the Bezos and Omidyar outlets with the CIA and others continue. ..."
"... The Washington Post , which has a much bigger reach, is the prime outlet for "Russia-gate", the false claims by parts of the U.S. intelligence community and the Clinton campaign, that Russia attempted to influence U.S. elections or even "colluded" with Trump. ..."
"... The revelation that the sole Russiagate "evidence" was the so-called Steele Dossier - i.e. opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign - which was used by the intelligence community to not only begin the public assertions of Trump's perfidy but to then initiate FISA approved surveillance on the Trump campaign, that is truly astonishing. Instructive then that the NY Times, Washington Post, etc have yet to acknowledge these facts to their readers, and instead have effectively doubled down on the story, insisting that the Russiagate allegations are established fact and constitute "objective reality." That suggests this fake news story will continue indefinitely. ..."
"... What we see here is these bastions of establishment thinking in the USA promoting "objective reality" as partisan - i.e. there is a Clinton reality versus a Trump reality, or a Russian reality versus a "Western" reality, facts and documentation be damned. This divorce from objectivity is a symptom of the overall decline of American institutions, an indicate a future hard, rather than soft, landing near the end of the road. ..."
Dec 28, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

The promotion of the alleged Russian election hacking in certain media may have grown from the successful attempts of U.S. intelligence services to limit the publication of the NSA files obtained by Edward Snowden.

In May 2013 Edward Snowden fled to Hongkong and handed internal documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) to four journalists, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian and separately to Barton Gellman who worked for the Washington Post . Some of those documents were published by Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian , others by Barton Gellman in the Washington Post . Several other international news site published additional material though the mass of NSA papers that Snowden allegedly acquired never saw public daylight.

In July 2013 the Guardian was forced by the British government to destroy its copy of the Snowden archive.

In August 2013 Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for some $250 million. In 2012 Bezos, the founder, largest share holder and CEO of Amazon, had already a cooperation with the CIA. Together they invested in a Canadian quantum computing company. In March 2013 Amazon signed a $600 million deal to provide computing services for the CIA.

In October 2013 Pierre Omidyar, the owner of Ebay, founded First Look Media and hired Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. The total planned investment was said to be $250 million. It took up to February 2014 until the new organization launched its first site, the Intercept . Only a few NSA stories appeared on it. The Intercept is a rather mediocre site. Its management is said to be chaotic . It publishes few stories of interests and one might ask if it ever was meant to be a serious outlet. Omidyar has worked, together with the U.S. government, to force regime change onto Ukraine. He had strong ties with the Obama administration.

Snowden had copies of some 20,000 to 58,000 NSA files . Only 1,182 have been published . Bezos and Omidyar obviously helped the NSA to keep more than 95% of the Snowden archive away from the public. The Snowden papers were practically privatized into trusted hands of Silicon Valley billionaires with ties to the various secret services and the Obama administration.

The motivation for the Bezos and Omidyar to do this is not clear. Bezos is estimated to own a shameful $90 billion. The Washington Post buy is chump-change for him. Omidyar has a net worth of some $9.3 billion. But the use of billionaires to mask what are in fact intelligence operations is not new. The Ford Foundation has for decades been a CIA front , George Soros' Open Society foundation is one of the premier "regime change" operations, well versed in instigating "color revolutions".

It would have been reasonable if the cooperation between those billionaires and the intelligence agencies had stopped after the NSA leaks were secured. But it seems that strong cooperation of the Bezos and Omidyar outlets with the CIA and others continue.

The Intercept burned a intelligence leaker, Realty Winner, who had trusted its journalists to keep her protected. It smeared the President of Syria as neo-nazi based on an (intentional?) mistranslation of one of his speeches. It additionally hired a Syrian supporter of the CIA's "regime change by Jihadis" in Syria. Despite its pretense of "fearless, adversarial journalism" it hardly deviates from U.S. policies.

The Washington Post , which has a much bigger reach, is the prime outlet for "Russia-gate", the false claims by parts of the U.S. intelligence community and the Clinton campaign, that Russia attempted to influence U.S. elections or even "colluded" with Trump.

Just today it provides two stories and one op-ed that lack any factual evidence for the anti-Russian claims made in them.

In Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options the writers insinuate that some anonymous writer who published a few pieces on Counterpunch and elsewhere was part of a Russian operation. They provide zero evidence to back that claim up. Whatever that writer wrote (see list at end) was run of the mill stuff that had little to do with the U.S. election. The piece then dives into various cyber-operations against Russia that the Obama and Trump administration have discussed.

A second story in the paper today is based on "a classified GRU report obtained by The Washington Post." It claims that the Russian military intelligence service GRU started a social media operation one day after the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was illegally removed from his office in a U.S. regime change operation . What the story lists as alleged GRU puppet postings reads like normal internet talk of people opposed to the fascist regime change in Kiev. The Washington Post leaves completely unexplained who handed it an alleged GRU report from 2014, who classified it and how, if at all, it verified its veracity. To me the piece and the assertions therein have a strong odor of bovine excrement.

An op-ed in the very same Washington Post has a similar smell. It is written by the intelligence flunkies Michael Morell and Mike Rogers. Morell had hoped to become CIA boss under a President Hillary Clinton. The op-ed (which includes a serious misunderstanding of "deterrence") asserts that Russia never stopped its cyberattacks on the United States :

Russia's information operations tactics since the election are more numerous than can be listed here . But to get a sense of the breadth of Russian activity, consider the messaging spread by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter, which cybersecurity and disinformation experts have tracked as part of the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy.

The author link to this page which claims to list Twitter hashtags that are currently used by Russian influence agents. Apparently the top issue Russia's influence agents currently promote is "#merrychristmas".


bigger

When the authors claim Russian operations are "more numerous than can be listed here" they practically admit that they have not even one plausible operation they could cite. Its simply obfuscation to justify their call for more political and military measures against Russia. This again to distract from the real reasons Clinton lost the election and to introduce a new Cold War for the benefit of weapon producers and U.S. influence in Europe.

Cont. reading: From Snowden To Russia-gate - The CIA And The Media

11:53 AM | Comments (137)

G , Dec 26, 2017 12:10:03 PM | 1

If what you allege is true about Greenwald and the Intercept, then why hasn't Snowden spoken out about it yet? Surely he would have said something about the Intercept and Greenwald keeping important stories buried by now. Yet, as far as I can tell, he has a good relationship with Greenwald. I find it hard to believe hat a man who literally gave up everything he had in life to leak important docs would remain silent for so long about a publishing cover up. I don't really like the Intercept and I think your analysis of its content is accurate, but I do find it hard to believe that the NSA docs were "bought" back by the CIA.
Ort , Dec 26, 2017 1:41:21 PM | 16
@G | 1

If what you allege is true about Greenwald and the Intercept, then why hasn't Snowden spoken out about it yet?
_____________________________________________________

My understanding is that early on, Snowden placed his trove of documents in the exclusive care of Glenn Greenwald and his associates. Although Snowden has since become a public figure in his own right, and his opinions on state-security events and issues are solicited, as far as I know Snowden has no direct responsibility for managing the material he downloaded.

I haven't followed Snowden closely enough to know how familiar he may be with the contents of the reported "20,000 to 58,000 NSA files" turned over to GG/Omidyar. Snowden presumably took pains to acquire items of interest in his cache as he accumulated classified material, but even if he has extraordinary powers of recall he may not remember precisely what remains unreleased.

FWIW, I was troubled from the first by one of the mainstays of GG's defense, or rationale, when it became clear that he was the principal, and perhaps sole, executive "curator" of the Snowden material. In order to reassure and placate nervous "patriots"-- and GG calls himself a "patriot"-- he repeatedly emphasized that great care was being taken to vet the leaked information before releasing it.

GG's role as whistleblower Snowden's enabler and facilitator was generally hailed uncritically by progressive-liberals and civil-liberties advocates, to a point where public statements that should've raised skeptical doubts and questions were generally passively accepted by complacent admirers.

Specifically, my crap detectors signaled "red alert" early on, when Greenwald (still affiliated with "The Guardian", IIRC) took great pains to announce that his team was working closely with the US/UK governments to vet and screen Snowden's material before releasing any of it; GG repeatedly asserted that he was reviewing the material with the relevant state-security agencies to ensure that none of the released material would compromise or jeopardize government operatives and/or national security.

WTF? Bad enough that Greenwald was requiring the world to exclusively trust his judgment in deciding what should be released and what shouldn't. He was also making it clear that he wasn't exactly committed to disclosing "the worst" of the material "though the heavens fall".

In effect, as GG was telling the world that he could be trusted to manage the leaked information responsibly, he was also telling the world that it simply had to trust his judgment in this crucial role.

To me, there was clearly a subliminal message for both Western authorities and the public: don't worry, we're conscientious, patriotic leak-masters. We're not going to irresponsibly disclose anything too radical, or politically/socially destabilizing.

GG and the Omidyar Group have set themselves up as an independent "brand" in the new field of whistleblower/hacker impresario and leak-broker.

Like only buying NFL-approved merchandise, or fox-approved eggs, the public is being encouraged to only buy (into) Intercept-approved Snowden Leaks™. It's a going concern, which lends itself much more to the "modified limited hangout" approach than freely tossing all the biggest eggs out of the basket.

GG found an opportunity to augment his rising career as a self-made investigative journalist and civil-liberties advocate. Now he's sitting pretty, the celebrity point man for a lucrative modified limited hangout enterprise. What is wrong with this picture?

Bart Hansen , Dec 26, 2017 1:51:59 PM | 17
#1: I suspect that Snowden needs Glenn and Laura as liaisons to the outside world.
G , Dec 26, 2017 2:05:23 PM | 18
@16 I just see no evidence of that aside from fitting the narrative of people who are convinced of a cover up in leaked docs. Moreover, there is no way Russia would continue to offer Snowden asylum if he was gov agent. I'm sure Russian intelligence did a very thorough background check on him.

@17 that's simply not true. He regularly tweets, gives online talks and publishes on his own. He has not used either Poitras or Greenwald as a means of communication for years. And he has never dropped a single hint of being disappointed or frustrated with how documents and info was published.

It just seems so implausible given the total lack of any sign of Snowden's dissatisfaction.

jayc , Dec 26, 2017 2:31:15 PM | 22
The revelation that the sole Russiagate "evidence" was the so-called Steele Dossier - i.e. opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign - which was used by the intelligence community to not only begin the public assertions of Trump's perfidy but to then initiate FISA approved surveillance on the Trump campaign, that is truly astonishing. Instructive then that the NY Times, Washington Post, etc have yet to acknowledge these facts to their readers, and instead have effectively doubled down on the story, insisting that the Russiagate allegations are established fact and constitute "objective reality." That suggests this fake news story will continue indefinitely.

What we see here is these bastions of establishment thinking in the USA promoting "objective reality" as partisan - i.e. there is a Clinton reality versus a Trump reality, or a Russian reality versus a "Western" reality, facts and documentation be damned. This divorce from objectivity is a symptom of the overall decline of American institutions, an indicate a future hard, rather than soft, landing near the end of the road.

Jen , Dec 26, 2017 2:50:16 PM | 25
G @ 1 and 18: My understanding is that Edward Snowden has been advised (warned?) by the Russian government or his lawyer in Moscow not to reveal any more than he has said so far. The asylum Moscow has offered him may be dependent on his keeping discreet. That may include not saying much about The Intercept, in case his communications are followed by the NSA or any other of the various US intel agencies which could lead to their tracking his physical movements in Russia and enable any US-connected agent or agency (including one based in Russia) to trace him, arrest him or kill him, and cover up and frame the seizure or murder in such a way as to place suspicion or blame on the Russian government or on local criminal elements in Russia.

I believe that Snowden does have a job in Russia and possibly this job does not permit him the time to say any more than what he currently tweets or says online.

There is nothing in MoA's article to suggest that Glenn Greenwald is deliberately burying stories in The Intercept. B has said that its management is chaotic which could suggest among other things that Greenwald himself is dissatisfied with its current operation.

G , Dec 26, 2017 2:57:40 PM | 26
@21 I'm not disputing that moneyed interests might have been leaned on by the CIA to stop publishing sensitive info. What I'm disputing is the idea that people like Greenwald have deliberately with-held information that is in the public interest. I doubt that, regardless of the strength of the Intercept as a publication.

@25 What interest would the Russian gov have in helping protect NSA? I assume Russia loves the idea of the US Intel agencies being embarrassed. Snowden speaks his mind about plenty of domestic and international events in US. I have never seen him act like he's being censored.

Jen , Dec 26, 2017 3:46:44 PM | 31
G @ 25: Moscow would have no interest in helping protect the NSA or any other US intel agency. The Russians would have advised Snowden not to say more than he has said so far, not because they are interested in helping the NSA but because they can only protect him as long as he is discreet and does not try to say or publish any more that would jeopardise his safety or give Washington an excuse to pressure Moscow to extradite him back to the US. That would include placing more sanctions on Russia until Snowden is given up.

There is the possibility also that Snowden trusts (or trusted) Greenwald to know what to do with the NSA documents. Perhaps that trust was naively placed - we do not know.

Red Ryder , Dec 26, 2017 3:48:47 PM | 33
b, a big exposition of facts, rich in links to more facts.

This is important material for all to understand.

Snowden is "the squirrel over there!" A distraction turned into a hope.
Compared to Assange, who is being slow-martyred in captivity, Snowden is a boy playing with gadgets.

Why did not Snowden make certain a copy of his theft went to Wikileaks? That would have been insurance.
Since he did not, it all could be just a distraction.

What is known about the Snowden affair is we received proof of what we knew. Not much else. For those who didn't know, they received news.
And ever since, the shape of things from the Deep State/Shadow Government/IC has been lies and warmongering against American freedoms and world cooperation among nations.

Fascism is corporate + the police state. The US government is a pure fascist tyranny that also protects the Empire and Global Hegemony.

We connect the dots and it's always the same picture. It was this way in the 60s,70s,80s,90s, 00s, and this forlorn decade.
Fascism more bold each decade. Billionaires and millionaires have always been in the mix.

[Dec 28, 2017] When GG acquired apparently exclusive stewardship of the Snowden trove, one of my first thoughts was, "If there's anything in Snowden's documents that contradict or cast doubt upon the official 9/11 narrative, Glenn will be careful to put it on the bottom of the pile and keep it there." I still believe this

Dec 28, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

@ WJ | 110

119

Sorry I can't help with your questions, but I concur with your hunches about the creation of Intercept.

Your reference to Intercept being set up "to block the inquiry into or exposure of special access Intel operations during or prior to 9/11 which would blow up entirely the official narrative of that epochal event" touches a nerve.

I was a regular reader and commenter at Glenn Greenwald's (GG) "Unclaimed Territory" blog, which was absorbed into the progressive-liberal lite Salon site. I even had a few brief but cordial e-mail exchanges with GG, since I diligently sent him (requested) private e-mail alerts to grammatical and syntactic errors in his prolific posts.

I sympathized with GG's early attempts to deal fairly with aggressive 9/11 Truthers monopolizing the comments; he personally moderated, and participated in, his comments threads. At first, GG's stance was "agnostic" towards 9/11 "Truther" theories, but he reasonably insisted that 9/11-related comments not be allowed to hijack every discussion.

But GG himself was not much of a 9/11 skeptic, and I soured on GG when he proved to be what I call a "Trutherphobe".

Before long, he became openly censorious and began removing both comments and commenters who insisted on mentioning 9/11, even if the 9/11 reference was germane to the topic. (Not me; I knew better than to push his buttons.) Also, GG adopted, or independently reached, what I call the "Chomsky Bubble" stance-- essentially, a sophisticated rationalization that amounts to "nothing to see here, move along."

Eventually, despite his efforts to seem nominally open-minded towards 9/11 skeptics, it became clear that to GG, pursuing 9/11 truth was both a distraction and a nuisance. 9/11 truth is simply not part of GG's agenda.

When GG acquired apparently exclusive stewardship of the Snowden trove, one of my first thoughts was, "If there's anything in Snowden's documents that contradict or cast doubt upon the official 9/11 narrative, Glenn will be careful to put it on the bottom of the pile and keep it there." I still believe this.

It's too late to blithely conclude "In short...", but all this to say that if you're correct, GG is just the person to put in charge of a modified limited hangout operation that, in part, suppresses 9/11 inquiry and truth.

[Dec 28, 2017] Was Snowden a double agent or not

Notable quotes:
"... I have always been flabbergasted about the naivety of the general public in regards to the abilities, capabilities and determination of the so called 'establishment' - aka Plutocracy, when it comes to the choice of means to achieve their psychopathic goals. What is out of reach, or undoable to those that willingly accept the death of millions of innocent people in the ME and the world over? ..."
"... The utter destruction of sovereign Nations that don't fall in line? Organizing coup d'etats like local fundraisers for soup kitchens? Looking at the track record of the American establishment, nothing, absolutely nothing is ever off the table. ..."
"... I'm always wary of talk about limited hangouts. A case can usually be made that such talk is itself intended for the same purpose - to lull the recipient into despair and passivity. ..."
"... And it WAS a secret weapon. It took a long time for this to become obvious. We see the media all along has been completely mediocre, but since it has long given wall-to-wall coverage, it never had to get very good in order to send the daily propaganda message. Come the Internet, everyone sees how sloppy the media's work is. But does this raise the quality of the media lies? It seems not - the opposite in fact, the readers get far smarter than the writers. ..."
"... The greatest trick the Devil pulled was not convincing the world he didn't exist, it was convincing the world that evil was clever, when in fact it's very mediocre. Evil performs badly. It will continue to perform badly. It can be resisted and overcome. This takes time. ..."
Dec 28, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Grieved , Dec 26, 2017 8:34:55 PM | 57

Snowden went to established journalists because he wanted the story to get out. He also wanted them to be cautious and conservative, to redact whatever seemed damaging to operations or his country.

In my opinion, what the journalists did worked. And Snowden destroyed his own access to the materials.

My guess - purely a guess - is that Snowden was, and remains, quite satisfied with what happened and what got published. He never wanted operational FACTS to get out so much as he wanted the SCALE of what the US was doing to get out. In this matter, I'd call his entire effort a tremendous success.

Snowden's face and story went around the world and shook things up. Paradigms came crashing down. In my own personal case, the Snowden material showed me the scale of US adventurism, and the vast audacity of its criminality. It made it clear, in philosophical terms rather than evidentiary terms, that 9/11 could easily be an inside job. It took a change in the paradigms of the scale of corruption to open up that possibility for me. I'm sure it's done similar things for millions of people. Snowden was one of the few events I can think of that actually played out in the mainstream before anyone figured out how to shut it down - and the genie was out of the bottle.

We don't know what we've lost by not having the missing pages released. But I find it hard to think they could change paradigms any more than has already happened. There's a diminishing return here. Wikileaks publishes troves of material, but what paradigms get changed unless it plays in the mainstream? Manning with the video of the mercs shooting the civilians was the last time this happened, I think.

When it comes to seeing what's behind the curtain - which is precisely what the information war is about - the words and the details of the stories matter far less than the way that people's thinking gets changed.

~~

At Christmas I socialized with ordinary people. I learned that they believe the Russians interfered in the US election, and planted Trump. Bummer, but on the other hand, I could talk to everyone about the NSA getting my Facebook feed or my phone data, and there's full agreement, or at least no disagreement.

Snowden went into the culture. Russiagate is still playing out, and we don't yet know who will be the big loser in the belief system of the culture. I'm still willing to bet it's the mainstream media.

~~

Putin has said that Snowden didn't reveal anything that Russian intelligence didn't already know. Russia didn't want to harbor Snowden, but the US State Department forced the issue by revoking his passport while he was in the air terminal in Russia. The current asylum granted is for a 3-year period. I see no reason to make any change in this. It will be reviewed when it expires, and if Snowden is still a stateless political refugee, which seems very likely, than I imagine it will be renewed. Russia is a nation of laws.

Russia has little to do with Snowden. And even less to do with the US elections. Russia doesn't want confrontation, between anyone. Russia wants a world of no conflict, and every action it takes pursues this end. Russia will easily forego a cheap victory in order to gain a valuable cessation of hostilities. I believe Putin when he says that who won the US election was of no great importance to Russia - they would deal with whomever was there.

It's always important to understand that Russia is not playing a zero-sum game, nor is she playing to "win" against any other nation in geopolitics. Russia wins when other nations stop fighting. The lat thing she wants to do is interfere with the internal order of other countries. But she is rooting for the orderliness of each country.

~~

Sorry such a long comment.

karlof1 , Dec 26, 2017 9:31:54 PM | 63
Grieved @57--

Thanks for your nice long comment and its excellent observations. And Happy Holidays since I haven't wished them on you yet this year!

For me, Snowden's revelations were nothing new as I had already learned about Project Echelon , which by the end of the 1980s was global girding and mostly intent on industrial espionage as this summary at the link informs:

"The ECHELON program was created in the late 1960s to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War, and was formally established in 1971.[5][6]

"By the end of the 20th century, the system referred to as "ECHELON" had allegedly evolved beyond its military and diplomatic origins, to also become ' a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications' (mass surveillance and industrial espionage)."

Indeed, the extent of Echelon was available to the public--sort of--but there were very few publications about it, although that changed as the internet grew during the 1990s. So for me, Snowden's actions becoming headline news was more important than the content of his revelations as the slumbering public got slapped upside its collective head.

Another historical factoid of interest is FDR's meeting with media CEOs a few days prior to 7 Dec 1941, of which no transcript exists to my knowledge, although what was said can be inferred by subsequent actions by all the actors involved--there was no, zero, deviation from the official government line about the Day of Infamy, which was a prelude to media portrayal on 911.

Fundamentally, the bottom line is whenever interests between national governments diverge from those of their public, governments will lie every time--those two sets of policy HRC admitted she had for public versus private consumption. Although it's too soon to be certain, it appears that the leadership of Russia and China have learned the difficult lesson that the best policy is for the national government to be in sync with the interests of its citizenry, thus the philosophical adoption of Win/Win versus the Outlaw US Empire's Zero Sum game, which forms the basis for our ongoing Hybrid Third World War.

nottheonly1 , Dec 26, 2017 9:32:22 PM | 64
Pe entities at work that are not under the control of the Russian secret services. Here is a link to an article on RT.de about US Special Forces at the Russian Border
All we can do is assume.

@karlof1 #37

My favorite pet peeve is Bernays. Even those who are aware of his deplorable actions, seldom grasp just how devastating his selling out of the human psyche to corporations and the NSA/CIA really turned out to be. The man hated the masses and short of calling them 'useless eaters', he saw them solely as means to corporate profits.
His legacy is a citizen without any other rights than that to "go shopping".

Go Ask Alice tells us the latest story about how much the surveillance has advanced. The article is about some content provider with unknown identity. The core message though is about the NSA/FBI/CIA going after anybody that comments on the internet, provided certain keywords are triggered. While that has been known since Snowden, the masses suffer from short term memory loss. Any dissent to the establishment is noted. This proves that there is no more rule of common law and nothing resembling a democracy by a far shot. A Plutocratic dictatorship determined to destroy anybody that poses a threat to its existence.

Red Ryder , Dec 26, 2017 10:43:54 PM | 69
@66
"What would be the most sinister scenario in regards to Snowden and the NSA leak?"

That General Hayden gets his wish and kills Snowden. That's the most sinister.

If you meant, intrigue, double agent or useful idiot sort of thing, well, Snowden had no intention of running to China and definitely not to Russia.
The Intel Agencies would have loved if he ran straight to Moscow. But it didn't happen. So,we sort of know he wasn't "used". He was "allowed" because they had it covered when he handed off the purloined data.

What sort of encrypted communication did he use on that trip to Hong Kong? They knew what he was doing.
They tried for it to be an out-and-out treason case. Remember that they insisted the Chinese in Beijing had it all?
They they tried to generate the same with Russia and Putin when he landed in Moscow.

I find him to be a useful tool for everyone who wants something out of his adventure. People who think he's a hero have their hero. People who want him dead probably have some contract out on him. And others want him to be returned and prosecuted like Timothy McVeigh and executed.

Grieved indicated above @57, Snowden was in our culture now. He's an asterisk. Compare him to Daniel Ellsberg. You cannot. Ellsberg forced the country against the war machine, forced the NYTimes to grow a set of balls and publish the Papers, and he won against the Deep State who tried to destroy him. All the while he stood like a man of courage and didn't scurry around and lateral the papers off. They got published. He faced down the system and won a huge First Amendment battle.

I chalk up the differences as Snowden is a kid with a keyboard. Assange and Ellsberg are men. The latter really matter. Snowden is a very light symbol, at best. He embarrassed NSA and only exists today because of Putin and Russian values.

I guess Vietnam was the great Evil, and surveillance just doesn't match up against what that charnel house of napalm, carpet bombing, white phosphorus, Agent Orange and Agent Blue, Phoenix Program assassinations became.

Ellsberg was a true hero. I named my first son after him.

Penelope , Dec 26, 2017 11:46:12 PM | 76
The original 3 TV Networks were started by Intelligence figures. When the Church Committee documented that all 3 were controlled by the Rockefellers, Senator Nelson Rockefeller was able to limit the GPO printing of the report to less than 100 copies.
Time Warner was govt & military intelligence controlled since its founding in 1923 by Henry Luce, a Yale Skull & Bones guy from an intelligence family. His father was a spy in China pretending to be a missionary.

The German journalist Udo Ulfkotte wrote a book, Bought Journalists, in which he reported that every significant European journalist functions as a CIA asset.

It became even worse during the Clinton regime when six mega-media companies were permitted to acquire 90% of the US print, TV, radio, and entertainment media, a concentration that destroyed diversity and independence. Today the media throughout the Western world serves as a Propaganda Ministry for Washington. The Western media is Washington's Ministry of Truth.

At the top it isn't the case that the CIA controls the media; rather that the board of directors is named by the banksters and mega-rich. Like all the mega-corps, they are thoroughly controlled by the Usurpers. The CIA has always been their private police force for intell & enforcement at home and abroad.

To rule a world requires control of military force, of money, information, energy, and the elimination of private property. Everything else is distraction. Probably the end of net neutrality is important. The coming global digital money is catastrophic. Agenda 21 is the global dictatorship, and is already decreasing private property-- among other things. https://geopolitics.co/2015/04/09/the-true-purpose-of-agenda-21/ I recommend the video within it.

Grieved , Dec 27, 2017 1:08:11 AM | 77
@73 Mark - I cannot understand why Snowden doesn't have another copy to give to Wikileaks.

This is a crucial point. Edward Snowden chose not to possess the files after he had handed them off to the journalists. He wiped out his copy when they started to publish them. This was a deliberate choice, and part of an entire ethical view that Snowden held of the situation he was in, and the situation he had created.

If you can't understand why he held this view, then you have to ask him, or study his words. But rest assured that he didn't simply "fail" to have a backup copy in case his journalists chickened out or sold out their commitment. He was a geek. He wasn't a journalist. He wanted sensible journalists to handle the lifetime scoop that he was holding. In my view, he made an incredibly good choice.

Put yourself in his shoes. The path he had already walked just to get those files to those real-world journalists in Hong Kong was already a thousand times longer than anything that could possibly lie in front of him. All this talk about assets - like you can keep this kind of thing going: the man lived a lifetime in a few short years and did the best thing he could ever have conceived of.

He earned the space to delete the files and sit back for a while and watch things happen. He said he wanted the public to know, and the public to discuss - if he was wrong, so be it, but it was for the public to discuss, he always said.

Everything I've written here may not be true. But if it is true, then on the basis of this narrative of events, no one has any right to ask anything more of Snowden. He was the messenger who put his body in the circuit to complete the signal. We all gained. He gained nothing, except satisfaction of mission accomplished.

For me that's where his story ends. Greenwald, Intercept, oligarchs, slavery - these are all another story, and one that I'm focused on. But I choose to honor Snowden for the bravery of what he seems to have done, and if true that achievement scored so high that no amount of falling short can diminish it.

Peter AU 1 , Dec 27, 2017 1:38:17 AM | 79
78

Snowden confirmed the NSA files held by shadow brokers as genuine. How many years after destroying his copies? Snowden worked in US intelligence, perhaps just as a geek, but I don't see him destroying the only weapon he has against them.

psychohistorian , Dec 27, 2017 2:04:04 AM | 80
@ Grieved with recent support for Snowden

I agree and thank you for your words.

I haven't read here any discussion of the movie, SNOWDEN, produced by Oliver Stone. I saw it when it first came out. Is it on Netflix or other outlets yet? As movies go it fell short of a documentary. That said, it provides yet another potential thin-edge-of-a-wedge thought for the zombies that live among us.

The neurofeedback treatment that I am up to 132 session of has healed many people like Edward Snowden (with his reported epilepsy) and I hope he gets such soon in his life; us old folks are harder to heal. One of neurofeedback earliest successes was a woman with epilepsy who after being healed went out and got a drivers license.....can't find the source but this was 30-40 years ago

I consider Snowden to be a true American patriot. The American values that I was taught are in stark contrast to those exhibited by the God of Mammon cabal in control today. I don't believe that we are a bad species but sorely misdirected by something that can be "easily" changed. Look at the progress we have made as a species. Why do we let ourselves be limited in our development by centuries old conventions about who controls the tools of finance? How many wars would there be if money was a public utility?

Wake up zombies! It is time to change the world.

Thominus , Dec 27, 2017 2:52:00 AM | 81
What more revelations of Snowden's archive could possibly make any difference? It is already basically understood that the NSA, its contractors, and 5 eyes agencies "collect it all" illegally, with no meaningful oversight, to the degree that social media became their accomplice and extension, that they abuse this power and the constitution proudly and with impunity for any purposes and justifications they see fit, and so on, and the vast majority of citizens cower, or delude themselves with some comforting trust that it won't be used against them.

It has only proven that nothing will snap the majority ignorance from its coma.
No one with any voice - even those involved seem able to comprehend how vastly and deeply this will effect the free will of people, culture, and society - for that matter how it already has progressed to do so.

In the wake of the retroactive telcom immunity (which by definition is an admission of blatant criminality and conspiracy by and between both government and telcom corporations) The Snowden revalations couldn't have been more explicit, signifiacnt, or urgent. The people did nothing. Those minor percentage of us who bother to read and understand what is happening can chatter and pontificate all we want, because the ignorant majority hasn't the interest or energy to question the status quo. (they absoloutely have not the attention span to read a single Greenwald article) So really I can understand why there is no point releaseing the rest.

Snowden was the one upholding his oath to the constitution, against whose who systematically violated it, and he is called a traitor.

As far as RussiaGate being some sort of distraction from this - no more than a distraction from any other meaningful information that SHOULD be on people's minds.

brabantian , Dec 27, 2017 4:11:38 AM | 83
Regrettably, Moon of Alabama has not spotted what all major government intelligence agencies have known for a couple of years now ... European intel agency report - 'Edward Snowden & Glenn Greenwald are CIA frauds'
...
[copy of a Veterans Today nonsense piece deleted - b.]
V. Arnold , Dec 27, 2017 4:14:20 AM | 84
Peter AU 1 | Dec 27, 2017 1:38:17 AM | 80

Snowden didn't "destroy" anything. He gave it all to Greenwald in Hong Kong.
That way, nobody could coerce or otherwise intimidate him; as there were no files in his possesion.
Snowden himself clearly stated this fact.
That he landed in Russia is entirely the fault of the U.S. government (such as it is) by cancelling Snowden's passport enroute; this becomes ancient history in today's world...

Oh mercy; this is getting just too weird and woo, woo, for this one; later will be greater...

Posted by: V. Arnold , Dec 27, 2017 4:16:44 AM | 85

Oh mercy; this is getting just too weird and woo, woo, for this one; later will be greater...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Dec 27, 2017 4:16:44 AM | 85 /div

V. Arnold , Dec 27, 2017 6:20:14 AM | 86
So, it seems Pierre Omidyar sold out Greenwald; that's just peachy...
john , Dec 27, 2017 6:40:27 AM | 87
the Snowden('snowed in') saga is yet to be written, or perhaps, like much verity, will NEVER be written. eluding the intelligence hounds for a couple of weeks while shooting a nice HD video with a couple of prominent journalists never passed my smell test...

,,,

...and what might seem a minor quibble with Grieved's:

Manning with the video of the mercs shooting the civilians was the last time this happened, I think

those weren't mercs, dude, they were US Army.

John , Dec 27, 2017 9:50:53 AM | 90
Re#56 - Grieved

I agree that the Snowden info was the paradym changer that showed to me in unmistakable imagery,
that my country was an outlaw nation hellbent on economic empire and had shifted from liberty to total
Control mechanisms.

The Snowden info together with the missing 28 pages from the 911 committee findings sent me on a
truth mission; reading everything from "CIA Rouges Killed JFK, Russ Baker's book on the Bush
family, to Fahrenheit 911.

This former Neocon keeps trying to wash himself in the pure waters of the truth but cannot wash clean his guilt
for once voting for and defending such trash.

So I continue reading sites like MOA and others seeking the truth and speaking out to those in my life.

john , Dec 27, 2017 10:11:12 AM | 91
John says:

I agree that the Snowden info was the paradym changer that showed to me in unmistakable imagery,
that my country was an outlaw nation hellbent on economic empire and had shifted from liberty to total
Control mechanisms

"Earth-shattering!" Bah! Humbug!

Penelope , Dec 27, 2017 11:09:22 AM | 95
Brabantian @ 83, Yes, the huge amount of publicity given Snowden was an obvious tip-off that he is a hoax. All other whistleblowers get no publicity at all. Plus, everything that Snowden "disclosed" was already known. Perhaps he's out there to give credibility to lies as yet untold. Already his "asylum" promotes the fiction of East vs West opposition. It is a play and we are the audience, stuck in Plato's cave.
wendy davis , Dec 27, 2017 12:00:01 PM | 98
'Snowden says he took no secret files to russia', NYSlimes 10/13

He argued that he had helped American national security by prompting a badly needed public debate about the scope of the intelligence effort. "The secret continuance of these programs represents a far greater danger than their disclosure," he said. He added that he had been more concerned that Americans had not been told about the N.S.A.'s reach than he was about any specific surveillance operation.

" So long as there's broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there's a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision," he said . "However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that's a problem. It also represents a dangerous normalization of 'governing in the dark,' where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input."
Pffffft.

Zo, will congress renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Section 702 when they're back in town?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/world/snowden-says-he-took-no-secret-files-to-russia.html

WJ , Dec 27, 2017 2:11:30 PM | 110
There's a lot going on in this post and comment thread. I have no strong opinion about the disputed status/role of either Snowden or Greenwald that are being discussed above, but I do think it very likely that the Intercept was originally started as what is often referred to (I believe following the Nixon tapes) as a "limited hangout" operation.

It was intended to "expose" certain truths the CIA/NSA knew were already implied by earlier revealed and published documents and by this means was to distract the public (as if) and journalists (all three of them) from probing more deeply into the history, scope, and current operations of these and related programs. I would not be surprised if it turned out somehow that the real objective of this was to block the inquiry into or exposure of special access Intel operations during or prior to 9/11 which would blow up entirely the official narrative of that epochal event.

But I would like to bring up one fact that bears on the ongoing discussion of Snowden and Greenwald but has not been mentioned yet (I believe) in this thread. That is the NSA's reported identification of (I believe) at least two other possible leakers or whistleblowers simultaneous with or just after Snowden. I recall there being several reports about the arrest or possible detainment of one possible leaker in particular whose identity has never (to my knowledge) come to light. Does anybody remember better than I do this intriguing but often forgot facet of the NSA / Snowden affair?

The existence, identity, and (unknown?) fate of this possible NSA leaker bears on the questions being asked above about Snowden and Greenwald in obvious ways. If there really was such a leaker or potential leaker who had at the time not yet been apprehended by the NSA, then it is at least certainly possible that Snowden's own leaks were co-opted (willingly or not) by the CIA/NSA to render the revelations of the other not-yet-identified leaker anticlimactic and redundant. In this way, it is possible that Snowden's leaks, as filtered through Greenwald, the Guardian, and the Post, were themselves a kind of limited hangout operation.

Note what they produced: Obama admitted a discussion was needed, Clapper was dutifully brought before Congress, lied to them, and was not punished at all for it, and some peripheral laws were tweaked (and then untweaked) to give the impression that something had been discovered, discussed, and addressed, with the hope that now everybody would stop thinking too much about the NSA etc. This is exactly what happened, and it's exactly what limited hangouts are designed to do.

I would be interested in hearing more information from others here about those one or two other unidentified NSA leakers. What ever happened with that story? Was the identity of both leakers ever revealed?

nottheonly1 , Dec 27, 2017 5:57:15 PM | 123
@Red Ryder #69
...

As many other here stated, what WAS revealed, to was already known to a large degree. What WAS revealed, did not stir up the public sentiment beyond a ripple. It is the absence of any whatsoever consequence to his revelations that does not make sense. For the first part, of his living here in Hawai'i and subcontractor work for the NSA via Booz Allen Hamilton, reads like a cheap version of a spy b-picture. Compared to the surrounding circumstances of Daniel Ellsberg, Snowden's story appeared to be staged - if only to me. The more became known, the less did people pay attention to Libya and Syria. The distractive value of the unfolding Snowden whistle blowing was enormous.

...

nottheonly1 , Dec 27, 2017 6:30:36 PM | 125
@Red Ryder #69
...

I have always been flabbergasted about the naivety of the general public in regards to the abilities, capabilities and determination of the so called 'establishment' - aka Plutocracy, when it comes to the choice of means to achieve their psychopathic goals. What is out of reach, or undoable to those that willingly accept the death of millions of innocent people in the ME and the world over?

The utter destruction of sovereign Nations that don't fall in line? Organizing coup d'etats like local fundraisers for soup kitchens? Looking at the track record of the American establishment, nothing, absolutely nothing is ever off the table.

A staged NSA leak story that turns out to become more inconceivable and more suspicious by the day. And it matters not. Not more than Assange spending his days in an Ecuadorian exile until the plot line demands to change.

Therefore, the most sinister scenario includes a wholly staged Snowden storyline, with the participation of Russia. This is not to say that this is the way it is, but not discounting the possibility that it could be. On more than one occasion, Russian behavior, be it either reactionary, or proactive has been inconclusive. A fool who would think that it is all just theater on the expense of millions of innocent people and humanity as a whole.

No one has ever been able to predict the future in detail. Mankind is left to make sense of the present and with constant misinformation and distraction, that appears to be impossible.

Thanks to You and the other knowledgeable commenters.

All the best for 2018.

fast freddy , Dec 27, 2017 6:44:05 PM | 126
There is a good case that both Snowjob and Assange are Limited Hangouts. Each has exposed little beyond that which was already known. Neither offers any criticism of Israel's occupation of Palestine and the Yinon Plan.

What they have done is to get the worlds' citizenry to understand that domestic surveillance is a normal condition which should be expected and accepted.

Grieved , Dec 27, 2017 7:45:07 PM | 132
@126 What they have done is to get the worlds' citizenry to understand that domestic surveillance is a normal condition which should be expected and accepted.

This could also be stated as, "What they have done is to get the worlds' citizenry to understand that domestic surveillance is a normal condition which should be expected and guarded against ."

I think the world has changed since Snowden. Within the IT community, the sense of security and its requirements has been changed. What's missing so far is a discernible response. Wait a few more short years, until Chinese computing oustrips western encryption by an order of magnitude, and sooner than that when Russian hardware and software made for the consumer market is invulnerable to NSA technology. There's no sense trying to protect oneself from NSA at present because it will only draw attention. But when the Russian kit is on the market, let's just see who in the west buys it. I predict large sales.

dh , Dec 27, 2017 7:52:50 PM | 133
@132 Didn't Kaspersky just get banned in the US?
Grieved , Dec 27, 2017 8:13:41 PM | 137
I'm always wary of talk about limited hangouts. A case can usually be made that such talk is itself intended for the same purpose - to lull the recipient into despair and passivity.

When we say that we've all been gamed by theater, it's another way of saying not to fight back. But the Devil doesn't get it all his way all the time. And the rulers of the Earth always have to work through agents, and they are so frigging human that plans often go slightly, or greatly, awry.

We see more botched conspiracy action than seems credible. So a case can be made that the carelessness itself is part of the subliminal message that resistance is futile. But is it really intentional, or is it simply making the best of a bad job? Was Kennedy really gunned down in daylight as a message to all of us that we'd better not resist, because the power was total? Or was it just the way the state criminals think, that the way to kill a president is the same playbook that always worked before, and still they botched the hit with all kinds of missed shots and clumsy actions? Their secret weapon was media complicity - this allowed a multitude of sins, and without it we'd have known 50 years ago who killed Kennedy.

And it WAS a secret weapon. It took a long time for this to become obvious. We see the media all along has been completely mediocre, but since it has long given wall-to-wall coverage, it never had to get very good in order to send the daily propaganda message. Come the Internet, everyone sees how sloppy the media's work is. But does this raise the quality of the media lies? It seems not - the opposite in fact, the readers get far smarter than the writers.

The greatest trick the Devil pulled was not convincing the world he didn't exist, it was convincing the world that evil was clever, when in fact it's very mediocre. Evil performs badly. It will continue to perform badly. It can be resisted and overcome. This takes time.

I always enjoy the words of fictional Lazarus Long: "Of course the game is rigged. But don't let that stop you playing. If you don't play, you can't win."

David Park , Dec 27, 2017 9:39:05 PM | 138
Here is my little experience with the surveillance state: I am a user of the Mathematica computer program developed and sold by Wolfram Research Inc. They have a web site for users to exchange information called Wolfram Community. It is mostly about asking and answering questions about the use of Mathematica or sharing Mathematica tricks. About a year ago a series of about half a dozen ads for programmers appeared which were clearly link to expanding the surveillance state. Here is one of them:

Programming Ad

I replied by quoting the U.S. Constitution 4th Amendment and saying "Yes it was relevant to the advertisement."

Within 10 minutes my reply was deleted. I received an email from Wolfram Research saying: "We work very hard to foster positive environment on Wolfram Community and cannot allow any discussions outside the Wolfram Community guidelines. This means discussions that stray way beyond Wolfram Technologies topics."

So what is positive about advertisements on a community forum for the surveillance state and what is negative about the 4th Amendment? And the advertisements had little direct relevance to Mathematica. But I suppose they had their reasons.

[Dec 24, 2017] Evidence of Google blacklisting of left and progressive sites continues to mount - World Socialist Web Site

Notable quotes:
"... Psychology Today ..."
"... The WSWS will continue to expose and fight Google's program of political censorship, but we need the help of our readers. Please share this article by email and social media, ..."
"... donate to the WSWS ..."
"... sign up for email updates ..."
"... The author also recommends: ..."
Dec 24, 2017 | www.wsws.org

Evidence of Google blacklisting of left and progressive sites continues to mount

By Andre Damon
8 August 2017

A growing number of leading left-wing websites have confirmed that their search traffic from Google has plunged in recent months, adding to evidence that Google, under the cover of a fraudulent campaign against fake news, is implementing a program of systematic and widespread censorship.

Truthout, a not-for-profit news website that focuses on political, social, and ecological developments from a left progressive standpoint, had its readership plunge by 35 percent since April. The Real News , a nonprofit video news and documentary service, has had its search traffic fall by 37 percent. Another site, Common Dreams , last week told the WSWS that its search traffic had fallen by up to 50 percent.

As extreme as these sudden drops in search traffic are, they do not equal the nearly 70 percent drop in traffic from Google seen by the WSWS.

"This is political censorship of the worst sort; it's just an excuse to suppress political viewpoints," said Robert Epstein, a former editor in chief of Psychology Today and noted expert on Google.

Epstein said that at this point, the question was whether the WSWS had been flagged specifically by human evaluators employed by the search giant, or whether those evaluators had influenced the Google Search engine to demote left-wing sites. "What you don't know is whether this was the human evaluators who are demoting you, or whether it was the new algorithm they are training," Epstein said.

Richard Stallman, the world-renowned technology pioneer and a leader of the free software movement, said he had read the WSWS's coverage on Google's censorship of left-wing sites. He warned about the immense control exercised by Google over the Internet, saying, "For people's main way of finding articles about a topic to be run by a giant corporation creates an obvious potential for abuse."

According to data from the search optimization tool SEMRush, search traffic to Mr. Stallman's personal website, Stallman.org, fell by 24 percent, while traffic to gnu.org, operated by the Free Software Foundation, fell 19 percent.

Eric Maas, a search engine optimization consultant working in the San Francisco Bay area, said his team has surveyed a wide range of alternative news sites affected by changes in Google's algorithms since April. "While the update may be targeting specific site functions, there is evidence that this update is promoting only large mainstream news organizations. What I find problematic with this is that it appears that some sites have been targeted and others have not."

The massive drop in search traffic to the WSWS and other left-wing sites followed the implementation of changes in Google's search evaluation protocols. In a statement issued on April 25, Ben Gomes, the company's vice president for engineering, stated that Google's update of its search engine would block access to "offensive" sites, while working to surface more "authoritative content."

In a set of guidelines issued to Google evaluators in March, the company instructed its search evaluators to flag pages returning "conspiracy theories" or "upsetting" content unless "the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint."

The WSWS will continue to expose and fight Google's program of political censorship, but we need the help of our readers. Please share this article by email and social media, donate to the WSWS , and sign up for email updates .

The author also recommends:

Google blocked every one of the WSWS's 45 top search terms
[4 August 2017]

Google's new search protocol is restricting access to 13 leading socialist, progressive and anti-war web sites
[2 August 2017]

New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites
[27 July 2017]

[Dec 24, 2017] Next Phase in Forcing Biometric Tracking on Consumers by Don Quijones

Notable quotes:
"... representations ..."
"... By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street . ..."
"... By Don Quijones ..."
"... in vitro gametogenesis ..."
Dec 24, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: Let's remember that these are not biometrics, but representations of biometrics, with varying degrees of granularity and quality. And not all metrics uniquely identify a person over their life-time; Yves points out that her gait has changed multiple times over her adult life.

By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street .

In 2018, banks in Mexico will face new regulations that will oblige them to collect biometric data (finger prints and iris scans) on all of their customers. Whenever a customer asks for a new home or car loan, cashes in a paycheck, applies for a credit card or opens a new savings account, the bank in question will have to request the customer's digital fingerprints and then match those fingerprints with data against information in the database of the National Electoral Institute.

Foreign-owned subsidiaries of global banks like BBVA and Citi are thrilled with the initiative arguing that it will help them combat identity theft. Most high street lenders in Mexico have already agreed to help build a single biometric database, says Marcos Martínez, president of Mexico's Banking Association (ABM).

The ultimate goal is to develop a unique identification system that will work alongside the government's national ID scheme, which is in the final stages of development. According to the former Secretary of Finance and Public Credit (and now presidential candidate for the governing PRI party), José Antonio Meade, by the summer of 2018 all Mexicans will have a single biometric identification number.

These developments are moving fast and quietly. And as is the case with biometric programs being tried and tested all over the world right now, from the uncharted backwaters of long-forgotten war zones to the bustling metropolises of the West or East, no one is being consulted along the way.

Most national passports these days include biometric data. Driver licenses in the US (which serve as de facto ID cards) already have them or soon will. Meanwhile, millions -- perhaps soon billions -- of people have volunteered their digital fingerprints to log into their smartphones and other digital devices. In other words, we're already giving away our most private data to work, communicate, cross borders or get on planes.

China has taken biometrics to a whole new level, using facial recognition technology to validate identities in virtually all forms of transaction, including the use of toilet paper in public bathrooms.

What sets the biometrics program in Mexico apart from what is happening in most other countries is that it is the country's financial regulators and private banks -- and not the government -- that are requiring this, though the government is not far behind. The development of a single biometrics database to be used by banks and other financial institutions raises serious questions about financial security as well as data privacy.

"Biometrics are tricky," Woodrow Hartzog, an Associate Professor of Law at Samford University told WIRED. "They can be great because they are really secure. It's hard to fake someone's ear, eye, gait, or other things that make an individual uniquely identifiable. But if a biometric is compromised, you're done. You can't get another ear."

Unfortunately, as recent data leaks have shown, most databases remain incredibly porous. In this year's hack of the U.S. consumer credit bureau Equifax , the personal data that was stolen included names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, mortgage data, and payment history data, including to utilities, wireless service providers, and the like.

This, in itself, is highly compromising data that can be of huge value in the wrong hands. But imagine what could have happened if the database had included U.S. consumers' most personal data of all -- the biological traits that make them unique?

If the United States' biggest consumer credit bureau can be hacked and key data on 143 million US consumers stolen with such apparent ease, what are the chances that a similar or even worse fate could befall Mexico's newly created biometrics data bank? It's not like Mexico is short of enterprising criminals with lots of liquid funds to hire gifted, mercenary hackers -- or pull off an inside job.

Hackers are already engineering ways to spoof biometric authentication. Researchers were able to break into Apple's Touch ID system with just a small piece of Play Doh.

The scariest thing about this mad rush by corporations, banks, credit card companies, governments and (yes!) some consumers to embrace biometrics is not the speed at which it's happening, which is scary enough, but the complete lack of public debate taking place about the thorny issues it throws up. Those include the threat it poses to privacy and anonymity, the fact that use of data about your body parts is largely unregulated (and many companies want to keep it that way), or the deceptively public nature of biometrics.

"A password is inherently private," says Alvaro Bedoya, Professor of Law at Georgetown University. "The whole point of a password is that you don't tell anyone about it. A credit card is inherently private in the sense that you only have one credit card."

Biometrics, on the other hand, are inherently public, he argues. "I do know what your ear looks like, if I meet you, and I can take a high resolution photo of it from afar," says Bedoya. "I know what your fingerprint looks like if we have a drink and you leave your fingerprints on the pint glass." And that makes them easy to hack. Or track.

But this juggernaut has now been put in motion, and it's unlikely to be stopped because the biggest benefits will be enjoyed by the governments, banks, and corporations that are busily rolling out these schemes for their own purposes. By Don Quijones .

Mark P. , December 24, 2017 at 7:37 am

Or consider DNA sampling-based biometric credentialization and put it together with possibilities of the technology of in vitro gametogenesis , which is coming down the line

'Disruptive reproductive technologies' by Cohen, Daly, Adashi
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/79fd/eca33b683e49e4bdeb898ec46ddd178a1f5b.pdf

'Babies From Skin Cells? Prospect Is Unsettling to Some Experts'
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/16/health/ivg-reproductive-technology.html

christine , December 24, 2017 at 7:52 am

Well, this isn't quite as frightening in Mexico as in other places because a large portion of the population doesn't even have bank accounts. The government tried to get them to open them and if they did, most of them were closed within a year. People don't trust banks. Much of Mexico, and not just the poor campesinos, pays in cash. I live here and my transactions are almost all in cash no official tracks, even my rent to my wealthy landlord. Many businesses/people, will not accept credit or debit cards. They don't have Smartphones either in many cases. San Miguel de Allende is putting in smart parking meters (ha, ha, ha..good luck with that) and they are having to figure out how employees who need to go downtown to Centro are going to manage without Smartphones. Mexico is more unruly for the rulers to manage than other more "civilized" places. I like it a lot for this and many other reasons.

SpringTexan , December 24, 2017 at 8:16 am

Thanks for the perspective, Christine. You are making me want to move to Mexico. :-)

QuarterBack , December 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

There is a systematic factor that is accelerating the demands on identification and authentication that is a byproduct from the double-edged sword of advancements in communications and information technology. From the earliest days of the printing press and the telegraph, these technologies have made it increasingly more possible to conduct business with people that you have never, and may never, meet. Computers and the Internet have affected a state change in commerce where it is now practical to interact with a counterparty that is not human at all.

The Internet is accelerating a 'disintermediation of everything' that will only increase the demand and importance of technologies to service identification and authentication.. identification is naming who (and now including what) is a actor in a process, and authentication is how that identification can be verified and trusted.

These concepts are not new. Early civilizations had this problem with messages carried from afar, and thence invented penned signatures, wax seals, passwords, and cyphers. Our modern Internet age has accelerated the speed and weight of reliance on theses transactions. Modern commerce has brought about technologies like biometrics and captchas.

Note that captchas are needed to address the new state change of commerce where is is necessary to discern between a human and robot. Biometrics are much more flawed and vulnerable than he marketplace comprehends, but the need for reliable machine identification and authentication is dangerously, potentially catastrophically, behind the curve. It is not hard to imagine the terrible ramifications of fly-by-wire systems responding to unauthorized control input. It is also now possible to convincingly fake human narratives, audio, and even visual representations of humans and physical events and surroundings. The level of fictional reality that can be used to control the herd, will make "fake news" look like a children's story.

oh , December 24, 2017 at 9:43 am

A few years ago I went into a USBank branch where I have an account to get a document notorized. The person who notarized my signature asked me for the fingerprint of my index finger. I felt it was unnecessay but I agreed. From that time on I've been going to the local credit union to get any document notarized.

I wonder who made these policies at USBank? Quite an invasion of one's privacy IMHO.

johnnygl , December 24, 2017 at 10:56 am

Another creepy thing usbank does is self-insures, with regard to health insurance. They collect employee premiums, and barely ever have to pay claims because they have hefty deductibles, co-insurance, and narrow networks. They had the horrible obama-care style plans BEFORE the HCA even got off the ground. And the bank gets to profit from them!

Anon , December 24, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Every employer with more than a certain amount of insurance-eligible employees (i.e. large and many medium-sized corporations) self-insures.

chuck roast , December 24, 2017 at 9:58 am

I called Fidelity a while back to clear up some financial business, and the fellow asked me if I wanted to participate in their voice recognition program whereby I would no longer need passwords. After I repacked my exploded head, I informed the poor soul that I considered the tenor of my voice to be of no concern to any corporation and to never ask me that question again.
We're doomed doomed.

MtnLife , December 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

I just met a woman whose entire car (IIRC it was a CRV) was controlled by biometrics. Her thumb unlocks her doors and trunk as well as starting the car. She said she got it because her significant other wouldn't let her drive his vehicle so she made it so he couldn't drive hers. Ridiculous if you ask me. No other people can drive the car or even go get something out of it for her because there is no key . No backup way to do anything outside of the dealership.

Lord Koos , December 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm

A very bad idea if there is an emergency

Jean , December 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Or she needs valet or attended parking lot parking. How do mechanics test drive the vehicle? Oh yeah, she's now stuck at the expensive Honda dealer that'll have a special override code instead of a cheaper local garage–which by the way can be used for maintenance without invalidating the warranty.

jsn , December 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm

I'll wager all the dealer has to do to access the car is plug in a usb cable and hit a few keys. They can likely hack in remotely and probably would if the woman called with the need. I'll bet that access is "really secure" too.

paddlingwithoutboats , December 24, 2017 at 10:06 am

"The scariest thing about this mad rush by corporations, banks, credit card companies, governments and (yes!) some consumers to embrace biometrics is not the speed at which it's happening, which is scary enough, but the complete lack of public debate taking place about the thorny issues it throws up. Those include the threat it poses to privacy and anonymity, the fact that use of data about your body parts is largely unregulated (and many companies want to keep it that way), or the deceptively public nature of biometrics."

Which leads to what happens when there is a mass hack and data catastrophe of these forms of personal identification? Well, it would be so easy to implement a more/more strategy of everyone must have implants now that their birth identifiers are hacked. Line 'em up for a li'l surgery and on we go.

Jake , December 24, 2017 at 10:48 am

Signatures? How are they considered as , public or private?

Joel , December 24, 2017 at 10:48 am

The phrase I don't see mentioned here is "two factor authentication." If the fingerprint is part of two factor authentication, there is no security issue.

That is, if the fingerprint requires a password for confirmation, the same way that an ATM card requires a password, then it's simply an extra layer of security on top of the password. Used that way, it is far more secure than passwords alone.

The real concern is yet more surveillance.

grayslady , December 24, 2017 at 10:54 am

Yesterday, I watched again Citizen Four . It's a movie I think everyone should watch once a year in order to remember that personal freedom is right up there with economic well-being in importance. Biometrics is a terrifying concept that brings far fewer benefits than risks.

Joel , December 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Whenever I am about to complain about customs and immigration and security hassles at an airport I think of all the hostility Laura Poitras and other brave activists have had to endure.

Jean , December 24, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Is there some reason that people cannot copyright their personal data?

[Dec 22, 2017] Facebook Handing Over More Info To US Government This Is What Facebook Was Designed To Do Zero Hedge

Dec 22, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Every year, Facebook gets tens of thousands of requests for data from governments worldwide , including search warrants, subpoenas, or calls to restrict certain kinds of content. And, according to a new report, those requests are increasing at an alarming rate.

According to QZ.com , in the United States, the requests rose by 26% from the last six months of 2016 to the first six months of 2017, while globally, requests increased by about 21%. Since 2013, when the company first started providing data on government requests, the US number has been steadily rising - it has roughly tripled in a period of four years.

This is alarming many and causing a concern about privacy. Joe Joseph, from the Daily Sheeple , isn't sugarcoating the reality of Facebook either. "Duh. This is exactly what Facebook was designed to do," says Joseph.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MExnMcgiMk0

"You have to remember that Zuckerberg had "seed money" and that seed money came from CIA front companies that put a lot of resources into this and basically think about it as like, sowing seeds; if you will. They knew that Facebook was gonna bear fruit.

I don't think they realized just how big it would become. But I can tell you that they get so much information and intel from social media: I don't think that it would go away even if we wanted it to ."

The government keeps requesting the information, and Facebook continues to comply with the government's demands.

In the first six months of 2013, it granted the government - which includes the police - 79% of requests ("some data was produced" in these cases, the company says); in the first six months of 2017, that share rose to 85%. "We continue to carefully scrutinize each request we receive for account data -- whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere -- to make sure it is legally sufficient," Chris Sonderby, the company's general counsel, wrote in a post . "If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary."

But Joseph thinks Facebook is just trying to pacify the easily manipulated sheeple of society.

"This is pretty troubling when you think about what you put out there, what they collect, and Facebook only being one of the many avenues that they have," Joseph says.

"The United States is collecting your data. Whether you like it or not. They are scooping up everything. And they're taking it and they're storing it in their facility at Bluffdale, Utah which has the capacity at this time to store every communication on the face of this earth for the next one hundred years."

"It's unbelievable," Joseph continues. "This is stuff that is unacceptable to me, but I'm sure, to a lot of you. And these companies have really gone too far they can reconstruct your life and make anyone they want a patsy ."

[Dec 18, 2017] Gaius Publius: Explosive WikiLeaks Release Exposes Massive, Aggressive CIA Cyber Spying, Hacking Capability

Notable quotes:
"... Donald Trump is deep in the world of spooks now, the world of spies, agents and operatives. He and his inner circle have a nest of friends, but an even larger, more varied nest of enemies. As John Sevigny writes below, his enemies include not only the intel and counter-intel people, but also "Republican lawmakers, journalists, the Clintons, the Bush family, Barack Obama, the ACLU, every living Democrat and even Rand Paul." ..."
"... A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of 'Year Zero', the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed 'Vault 7.' WikiLeaks said that 'Year Zero' revealed details of the CIA's "global covert hacking program," including "weaponized exploits" used against company products including " Apple's iPhone , Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs , which are turned into covert microphones." ..."
"... According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect "audio and message traffic before encryption is applied." ..."
"... "CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update "[.] ..."
"... Do you still trust Windows Update? ..."
"... As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. ..."
"... "Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told the Huffington Post that Hastings's crash looked consistent with a car cyber attack.'" Full and fascinating article here . ..."
"... Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized "zero day" exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive. ..."
"... Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force - its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities. ..."
"... By the end of 2016, the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other "weaponized" malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified. ..."
"... I learned this when I was in my 20s. The Catholic Church was funding my early critique of American foreign aid as being imperialist. I asked whether they thought I should go into politics. They said, "No, you'd never make it". And I said, "Why?" and they said, "Well, nobody has a police record or any other dirt on you." I asked what they meant. They said, "Unless they have something over you to blackmail you with, you're not going to be able to get campaign funding. Because they believe that you might do something surprising," in other words, something they haven't asked you to do. So basically throughout politics, on both sides of the spectrum, voters have candidates who are funded by backers who have enough over them that they can always blackmail. ..."
"... The campaign to frame up and discredit Trump and his associates is characteristic of how a police state routinely operates. A national security apparatus that vacuums up all our communications and stores them for later retrieval has been utilized by political operatives to go after their enemies – and not even the President of the United States is immune. This is something that one might expect to occur in, say, Turkey, or China: that it is happening here, to the cheers of much of the media and the Democratic party, is beyond frightening. ..."
"... 4th impressions – I went looking for the "juicy bits" of interest to me – SOHO routers, small routers – sadly its just a table documenting routers sold around the world, and whether these guys have put the firmware in their Stash Repository. Original firmware, not hacked one. But the repository isn't in the vault dump, AFAIK. ..."
"... The WikiLeaks docs show that CIA has developed means to use all personal digital device microphones and cameras even when they are "off," and to send all of your files and personal data to themselves, and to send your private messages to themselves before they are encrypted. They have installed these spyware in the released version of Windows 10, and can easily install them on all common systems and devices. ..."
"... So we have a zillion ways to spy and hack and deceive and assassinate, but no control. I think this is what the military refers to as "being overtaken by events." ..."
"... My godfather was in the CIA in the late sixties and early seventies, and he said that outside of the President's pet projects there was no way to sift through and bring important information to decision makers before it made the Washington Post (he is aware of the irony) and hit the President's breakfast table. ..."
"... To what extent do these hacks represent the CIA operating within the US? To what extent is that illegal? With the democrats worshipping the IC, will anyone in an official position dare to speak out? ..."
"... Schumer said that as he understands, intelligence officials are "very upset with how [Trump] has treated them and talked about them ..."
"... The CIA's internal security is crap, too. Really a lot of people should be fired over that, as well as over Snowden's release. We didn't hear of it happening in the NSA, though I'm not sure we would have. Given Gaius's description of Trump's situation, it seems unlikely it will happen this time, either. One of my hopes for a Trump administration, as long as we're stuck with it, was a thorough cleanout of the upper echelons in the IC. It's obviously long overdue, and Obama wasn't up to it. But I used the past tense because I don't think it's going to happen. Trump seems more interested in sucking up to them, presumably so they won't kill him or his family. That being one of their options. ..."
"... "The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability ." [My emphasis]. It seems to characterize an organization that operates outside of any control and oversight – and one that is intentionally structuring itself that way. That worries me. ..."
"... It's a dangerous world out there and only our brave IC can protect us from it. Come on. Stop blaming the victim and place the blame where it belongs–our IC and MIC. I say stop feeding the beast with your loyalty to a government that has ceased to be yours. ..."
"... "These CIA revelations in conjunction with those of the NSA paints a pretty dark future for privacy and freedom. Edward Snowden made us aware of the NSA's program XKEYSCORE and PRISM which are utilized to monitor and bulk collect information from virtually any electronic device on the planet and put it into a searchable database. Now Wikileaks has published what appears to be additional Big Brother techniques used by a competing agency. Say what you want about the method of discovery, but Pandora's box has been opened." ..."
Mar 09, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
March 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. The first release of the Wikileaks Vault 7 trove has curiously gone from being a MSM lead story yesterday to a handwave today. On the one hand, anyone who was half awake during the Edward Snowden revelations knows that the NSA is in full spectrum surveillance and data storage mode, and members of the Five Eyes back-scratch each other to evade pesky domestic curbs on snooping. So the idea that the CIA (and presumably the NSA) found a way to circumvent encryption tools on smartphones, or are trying to figure out how to control cars remotely, should hardly come as a surprise.

However, at a minimum, reminding the generally complacent public that they are being spied on any time they use the Web, and increasingly the times in between, makes the officialdom Not Happy.

And if this Wikileaks claim is even halfway true, its Vault 7 publication is a big deal:

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized "zero day" exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

This is an indictment of the model of having the intelligence services rely heavily on outside contractors. It is far more difficult to control information when you have multiple organizations involved. In addition, neolibearlism posits that workers are free agents who have no loyalties save to their own bottom lines (or for oddballs, their own sense of ethics). Let us not forget that Snowden planned his career job moves , which included a stint at NSA contractor Dell, before executing his information haul at a Booz Allen site that he had targeted.

Admittedly, there are no doubt many individuals who are very dedicated to the agencies for which they work and aspire to spend most it not all of their woking lives there. But I would assume that they are a minority.

The reason outsiders can attempt to pooh-pooh the Wikileaks release is that the organization redacted sensitive information like the names of targets and attack machines. The CIA staffers who have access to the full versions of these documents as well as other major components in the hacking toolkit will be the ones who can judge how large and serious the breach really is. 1 And their incentives are to minimize it no matter what.

By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

CIA org chart from the WikiLeaks cache (click to enlarge). "The organizational chart corresponds to the material published by WikiLeaks so far. Since the organizational structure of the CIA below the level of Directorates is not public, the placement of the EDG [Engineering Development Group]and its branches is reconstructed from information contained in the documents released so far. It is intended to be used as a rough outline of the internal organization; please be aware that the reconstructed org chart is incomplete and that internal reorganizations occur frequently."

* * *

"O brave new world, that has such people in it."

Bottom line first. As you read what's below, consider:

Now the story.

WikiLeaks just dropped a huge cache of documents (the first of several promised releases), leaked from a person or people associated with the CIA in one or more capacities (examples, employee, contractor), which shows an agency out-of-control in its spying and hacking overreach. Read through to the end. If you're like me, you'll be stunned, not just about what they can do, but that they would want to do it, in some cases in direct violation of President Obama's orders. This story is bigger than anything you can imagine.

Consider this piece just an introduction, to make sure the story stays on your radar as it unfolds - and to help you identify those media figures who will try to minimize or bury it. (Unless I missed it, on MSNBC last night, for example, the first mention of this story was not Chris Hayes, not Maddow, but the Lawrence O'Donnell show, and then only to support his guest's "Russia gave us Trump" narrative. If anything, this leak suggests a much muddier picture, which I'll explore in a later piece.)

So I'll start with just a taste, a few of its many revelations, to give you, without too much time spent, the scope of the problem. Then I'll add some longer bullet-point detail, to indicate just how much of American life this revelation touches.

While the cache of documents has been vetted and redacted , it hasn't been fully explored for implications. I'll follow this story as bits and piece are added from the crowd sourced research done on the cache of information. If you wish to play along at home, the WikiLeaks torrent file is here . The torrent's passphrase is here . WikiLeaks press release is here (also reproduced below). Their FAQ is here .

Note that this release covers the years 2013–2016. As WikiLeaks says in its FAQ, "The series is the largest intelligence publication in history."

Preface - Trump and Our "Brave New World"

But first, this preface, consisting of one idea only. Donald Trump is deep in the world of spooks now, the world of spies, agents and operatives. He and his inner circle have a nest of friends, but an even larger, more varied nest of enemies. As John Sevigny writes below, his enemies include not only the intel and counter-intel people, but also "Republican lawmakers, journalists, the Clintons, the Bush family, Barack Obama, the ACLU, every living Democrat and even Rand Paul." Plus Vladimir Putin, whose relationship with Trump is just "business," an alliance of convenience, if you will.

I have zero sympathy for Donald Trump. But his world is now our world, and with both of his feet firmly planted in spook world, ours are too. He's in it to his neck, in fact, and what happens in that world will affect every one of us. He's so impossibly erratic, so impossibly unfit for his office, that everyone on the list above wants to remove him. Many of them are allied, but if they are, it's also only for convenience.

How do spooks remove the inconvenient and unfit? I leave that to your imagination;they have their ways. Whatever method they choose, however, it must be one without fingerprints - or more accurately, without their fingerprints - on it.

Which suggests two more questions. One, who will help them do it, take him down? Clearly, anyone and everyone on the list. Second, how do you bring down the president, using extra-electoral, extra-constitutional means, without bringing down the Republic? I have no answer for that.

Here's a brief look at "spook world" (my phrase, not the author's) from " The Fox Hunt " by John Sevigny:

Several times in my life – as a journalist and rambling, independent photographer - I've ended up rubbing shoulders with spooks. Long before that was a racist term, it was a catch-all to describe intelligence community people, counter intel types, and everyone working for or against them. I don't have any special insight into the current situation with Donald Trump and his battle with the IC as the intelligence community calls itself, but I can offer a few first hand observations about the labyrinth of shadows, light, reflections, paranoia, perceptions and misperceptions through which he finds himself wandering, blindly. More baffling and scary is the thought he may have no idea his ankles are already bound together in a cluster of quadruple gordian knots, the likes of which very few people ever escape.

Criminal underworlds, of which the Trump administration is just one, are terrifying and confusing places. They become far more complicated once they've been penetrated by authorities and faux-authorities who often represent competing interests, but are nearly always in it for themselves.

One big complication - and I've written about this before - is that you never know who's working for whom . Another problem is that the hierarchy of handlers, informants, assets and sources is never defined. People who believe, for example, they are CIA assets are really just being used by people who are perhaps not in the CIA at all but depend on controlling the dupe in question. It is very simple - and I have seen this happen - for the subject of an international investigation to claim that he is part of that operation. [emphasis added]

Which leads Sevigny to this observation about Trump, which I partially quoted above: "Donald Trump may be crazy, stupid, evil or all three but he knows the knives are being sharpened and there are now too many blades for him to count. The intel people are against him, as are the counter intel people. His phone conversations were almost certainly recorded by one organization or another, legal or quasi legal. His enemies include Republican lawmakers, journalists, the Clintons, the Bush family, Barack Obama, the ACLU, every living Democrat and even Rand Paul. Putin is not on his side - that's a business matter and not an alliance."

Again, this is not to defend Trump, or even to generate sympathy for him - I personally have none. It's to characterize where he is, and we are, at in this pivotal moment. Pivotal not for what they're doing, the broad intelligence community. But pivotal for what we're finding out, the extent and blatancy of the violations.

All of this creates an incredibly complex story, with only a tenth or less being covered by anything like the mainstream press. For example, the Trump-Putin tale is much more likely to be part of a much broader "international mobster" story, whose participants include not only Trump and Putin, but Wall Street (think HSBC) and major international banks, sovereign wealth funds, major hedge funds, venture capital (vulture capital) firms, international drug and other trafficking cartels, corrupt dictators and presidents around the world and much of the highest reaches of the "Davos crowd."

Much of the highest reaches of the .01 percent, in other words, all served, supported and "curated" by the various, often competing elements of the first-world military and intelligence communities. What a stew of competing and aligned interests, of marriages and divorces of convenience, all for the common currencies of money and power, all of them dealing in death .

What this new WikiLeaks revelation shows us is what just one arm of that community, the CIA, has been up to. Again, the breadth of the spying and hacking capability is beyond imagination. This is where we've come to as a nation.

What the CIA Is Up To - A Brief Sample

Now about those CIA spooks and their surprising capabilities. A number of other outlets have written up the story, but this from Zero Hedge has managed to capture the essence as well as the breadth in not too many words (emphasis mine throughout):

WikiLeaks has published what it claims is the largest ever release of confidential documents on the CIA It includes more than 8,000 documents as part of 'Vault 7', a series of leaks on the agency, which have allegedly emerged from the CIA's Center For Cyber Intelligence in Langley , and which can be seen on the org chart below, which Wikileaks also released : [org chart reproduced above]

A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of 'Year Zero', the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed 'Vault 7.' WikiLeaks said that 'Year Zero' revealed details of the CIA's "global covert hacking program," including "weaponized exploits" used against company products including " Apple's iPhone , Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs , which are turned into covert microphones."

WikiLeaks tweeted the leak, which it claims came from a network inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.

Among the more notable disclosures which, if confirmed, " would rock the technology world ", the CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect "audio and message traffic before encryption is applied."

With respect to hacked devices like you smart phone, smart TV and computer, consider the concept of putting these devices in "fake-off" mode:

Among the various techniques profiled by WikiLeaks is "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs , transforming them into covert microphones. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode , so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In 'Fake-Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As Kim Dotcom chimed in on Twitter, "CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones" and added "CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update "[.]

Do you still trust Windows Update?

About "Russia did it"

Adding to the "Russia did it" story, note this:

Another profound revelation is that the CIA can engage in "false flag" cyberattacks which portray Russia as the assailant . Discussing the CIA's Remote Devices Branch's UMBRAGE group, Wikileaks' source notes that it "collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.["]

As Kim Dotcom summarizes this finding, " CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state ."

This doesn't prove that Russia didn't do it ("it" meaning actually hacking the presidency for Trump, as opposed to providing much influence in that direction), but again, we're in spook world, with all the phrase implies. The CIA can clearly put anyone's fingerprints on any weapon they wish, and I can't imagine they're alone in that capability.

Hacking Presidential Devices?

If I were a president, I'd be concerned about this, from the WikiLeaks " Analysis " portion of the Press Release (emphasis added):

"Year Zero" documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration's commitments [that the intelligence community would reveal to device manufacturers whatever vulnerabilities it discovered]. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA's cyber arsenal are pervasive [across devices and device types] and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in "Year Zero" [that it] is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts . The CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security vulnerabilities ("zero days") possessed by the CIA[,] but if the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.

Does or did the CIA do this (hack presidential devices), or is it just capable of it? The second paragraph implies the latter. That's a discussion for another day, but I can say now that both Lawrence Wilkerson, aide to Colin Powell and a non-partisan (though an admitted Republican) expert in these matters, and William Binney, one of the triumvirate of major pre-Snowden leakers, think emphatically yes. (See Wilkerson's comments here . See Binney's comments here .)

Whether or not you believe Wilkerson and Binney, do you doubt that if our intelligence people can do something, they would balk at the deed itself, in this world of "collect it all "? If nothing else, imagine the power this kind of bugging would confer on those who do it.

The Breadth of the CIA Cyber-Hacking Scheme

But there is so much more in this Wikileaks release than suggested by the brief summary above. Here's a bullet-point overview of what we've learned so far, again via Zero Hedge:

Key Highlights from the Vault 7 release so far:

Also this scary possibility:

Journalist Michael Hastings, who in 2010 destroyed the career of General Stanley McChrystal and was hated by the military for it, was killed in 2013 in an inexplicably out-of-control car. This isn't to suggest the CIA, specifically, caused his death. It's to ask that, if these capabilities existed in 2013, what would prevent their use by elements of the military, which is, after all a death-delivery organization?

And lest you consider this last speculation just crazy talk, Richard Clarke (that Richard Clarke ) agrees: "Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told the Huffington Post that Hastings's crash looked consistent with a car cyber attack.'" Full and fascinating article here .

WiliLeaks Press Release

Here's what WikiLeaks itself says about this first document cache (again, emphasis mine):

Press Release

Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, "Year Zero", comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election .

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized "zero day" exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

"Year Zero" introduces the scope and direction of the CIA's global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of "zero day" weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force - its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other "weaponized" malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public , including whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

Once a single cyber 'weapon' is 'loose' it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that "There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of "Year Zero" goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective."

Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the "Year Zero" disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of 'armed' cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's program and how such 'weapons' should analyzed, disarmed and published.

Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in "Year Zero" for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in "Vault 7" part one ("Year Zero") already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.

Be sure to click through for the Analysis, Examples and FAQ sections as well.

"O brave new world," someone once wrote . Indeed. Brave new world, that only the brave can live in.

____

1 Mind you, the leakers may have had a comprehensive enough view to be making an accurate call. But the real point is there are no actors who will be allowed to make an independent assessment.

34 0 42 1 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Guest Post , Legal , Politics , Surveillance state , Technology and innovation on March 9, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 64 comments Code Name D , March 9, 2017 at 2:38 am

That's all I needed.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/10/fbi-chief-given-dossier-by-john-mccain-alleging-secret-trump-russia-contacts

Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump's relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant. BuzzFeed on Tuesday published the documents, which it said were "unverified and potentially unverifiable".

The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents' contents,

Emphases mine. I had been sitting on this link trying to make sense of this part. Clearly, the Trump Whitehouse has some major leaks, which the MSM is exploiting. But the start of this article suggests that para-intelligence (is that a word? Eh, it is now) was the source of the allegedly damaging info.

This is no longer about the deep-state, but a rouge state, possibly guns for higher, each having fealty to specific political interests. The CIA arsenal wasn't leaked. It was delivered.

salvo , March 9, 2017 at 3:13 am

hmm.. as far as I can see, noone seems to care here in Germany anymore about being spied on by our US friends, apart from a few alternative sources which are being accused of spreading fake news, of being anti-american, russian trolls, the matter is widely ignored

visitor , March 9, 2017 at 3:40 am

I have read a few articles about the Vault 7 leak that typically raise a few alarms I would like to comment on.

1) The fact that the

CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services

does not mean that it has broken encryption, just that it has a way to install a program at a lower level, close to the operating system, that will read messages before they are encrypted and sent by the messaging app, or just after they have been decrypted by it.

As a side note: banks have now largely introduced two-factor authentication when accessing online services. One enters username (or account number) and password; the bank site returns a code; the user must then enter this code into a smartphone app or a tiny specialized device, which computes and returns a value out of it; the user enters this last value into the entry form as a throw-away additional password, and gains access to the bank website.

I have always refused to use such methods on a smartphone and insist on getting the specialized "single-use password computer", precisely because the smartphone platform can be subverted.

2) The fact that

"Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), [ ] infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones.

is possible largely because smart TVs are designed by their manufacturers to serve as spying devices. "Weeping Angel" is not some kind of virus that turns normal devices into zombies, but a tool to take control of existing zombie devices.

The fact that smart TVs from Vizio , Samsung or LG constitute an outrageous intrusion into the privacy of their owners has been a known topic for years already.

3) The

CIA [ ] also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks

is not a "scary possibility" either; various demonstrations of such feats on Tesla , Nissan , or Chrysler vehicles have been demonstrated in the past few years.

And the consequences have already been suggested (killing people by disabling their car controls on the highway for instance).

My take on this is that we should seriously look askance not just at the shenanigans of the CIA, but at the entire "innovative technology" that is imposed upon (computerized cars) or joyfully adopted by (smartphones) consumers. Of course, most NC readers are aware of the pitfalls already, but alas not the majority of the population.

4) Finally this:

He's so impossibly erratic, so impossibly unfit for his office,

Trump is arguably unfit for office, does not have a clue about many things (such as foreign relations), but by taxing him of being "erratic" Gaius Publius shows that he still does not "get" the Donald.

Trump has a completely different modus operandi than career politicians, formed by his experience as a real-estate mogul and media star. His world has been one where one makes outrageous offers to try anchoring the negotiation before reducing one's claims - even significantly, or abruptly exiting just before an agreement to strike a deal with another party that has been lured to concessions through negotiations with the first one. NC once included a video of Trump doing an interactive A/B testing of his slogans during a campaign meeting; while changing one's slogans on the spot might seem "erratic", it is actually a very systematic market probing technique.

So stop asserting that Trump is "unpredictable" or "irrational"; this is underestimating him (a dangerous fault), as he is very consistent, though in an uncommon fashion amongst political pundits.

Yves Smith Post author , March 9, 2017 at 5:53 am

While I agree that it's worth pointing out that the CIA has not broken any of the major encryption tools, even Snowden regards being able to circumvent them as worse, since people using encryption are presumably those who feel particularly at risk and will get a false sense of security and say things or keep data on their devices that they never never would if they thought they were insecure.

Re Gaius on Trump, I agree the lady doth protest too much. But I said repeatedly that Trump would not want to be President if he understood the job. It is not like being the CEO of a private company. Trump has vastly more control over his smaller terrain in his past life than he does as President.

And Trump is no longer campaigning. No more a/b testing.

The fact is that he still does not have effective control of the Executive branch. He has lots of open positions in the political appointee slots (largely due to not having even submitted candidates!) plus has rebellion in some organizations (like folks in the EPA storing data outside the agency to prevent its destruction).

You cannot pretend that Trump's former MO is working at all well for him. And he isn't showing an ability to adapt or learn (not surprising at his age). For instance, he should have figured out by now that DC is run by lawyers, yet his team has hardly any on it. This is continuing to be a source of major self inflicted wounds.

His erraticness may be keeping his opponents off base, but it is also keeping him from advancing any of his goals.

visitor , March 9, 2017 at 6:59 am

I believe we are in agreement.

Yes, not breaking encryption is devious, as it gives a false sense of security - this is precisely why I refuse to use those supposedly secure e-banking login apps on smartphones whose system software can be subverted, and prefer those non-connected, non-reprogrammable, special-purpose password generating devices.

As for Trump being incompetent for his job, and his skills in wheeling-dealing do not carrying over usefully to conducting high political offices, that much is clear. But he is not "erratic", rather he is out of place and out of his depth.

RBHoughton , March 9, 2017 at 9:00 pm

I am writing this in the shower with a paper bag over my head and my iPhone in the microwave.

I have for years had a password-protected document on computer with all my important numbers and passwords. I have today deleted that document and reverted to a paper record.

Ivy , March 9, 2017 at 10:09 am

Please tell readers more about the following for our benefit:

"single-use password computer"

visitor , March 9, 2017 at 11:34 am

That is an example of the sort of thing I am talking about.

PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 11:35 am

I think he means a machine dedicated to high-security operations like anything financial or bill-pay. Something that is not exposed to email or web-browsing operations that happen on a casual-use computer that can easily compromise. That's not a bad way to go; it's cheaper in terms of time than the labor-intensive approaches I use, but those are a hobby more than anything else. It depends on how much you have at stake if they get your bank account or brokerage service password.

I take a few basic security measures, which would not impress the IT crowd I hang out with elsewhere, but at least would not make me a laughingstock. I run Linux and use only open-source software; run ad-blockers and script blockers; confine risky operations, which means any non-corporate or non-mainstream website to a virtual machine that is reset after each use; use separate browsers with different cookie storage policies and different accounts for different purposes. I keep a well-maintained pfSense router with a proxy server and an intrusion detection system, allowing me to segregate my secure network, home servers, guest networks, audiovisual streaming and entertainment devices, and IoT devices each on their own VLANs with appropriate ACLs between them. No device on the more-secured network is allowed out to any port without permission, and similar rules are there for the IoT devices, and the VoIP tools.

The hardware to do all of that costs at least $700, but the real expense is in the time to learn the systems properly. Of course if you use Linux, you could save that on software in a year if you are too cheap to send a contribution to the developers.

It's not perfect, because I still have computers turned on :) , but I feel a bit safer this way.

That said, absolutely nothing that I have here would last 30 milliseconds against anything the "hats" could use, if they wanted in. It would be over before it began. If I had anything to hide, really, I would have something to fear; so guess I'm OK.

jrs , March 9, 2017 at 2:36 pm

open source software often has a lot of bugs to be exploioted. Wouldn't it be easier to just do banking in person?

visitor , March 9, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Banks discourage that by

a) charging extortionate fees for "in-person" operations at the counter;

b) closing subsidiaries, thus making it tedious and time-consuming to visit a branch to perform banking operations in person;

c) eliminating the possibility to perform some or even all usual operations in any other form than online (see the advent of "Internet only" banks).

In theoretical terms, all this is called "nudging".

cfraenkel , March 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

They're key fobs handed to you by your IT dept. The code displayed changes every couple of minutes. The plus is there's nothing sent over the air. The minus is the fobs are subject to theft, and are only good for connecting to 'home'. And since they have a cost, and need to be physically handed to you, they're not good fit for most two factor login applications (ie logging into your bank account).

see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_SecurID

meme , March 9, 2017 at 3:53 am

I watched (fast forwarded through, really) Morning Joe yesterday to see what they would have to say about Wikileaks. The show mostly revolved around the health care bill and Trump's lying and tweeting about Obama wiretapping him. They gave Tim Kaine plenty of time to discuss his recent trip to London talking to "some of our allies there" saying that they are concerned that "all the intelligence agencies" say the Rooskies "cyber hacked" our election, and since it looks like we aren't doing anything when we are attacked, they KNOW we won't do anything when they are attacked. (more red baiting)

The only two mentions I saw was about Wikileaks were, first, a question asked of David Cohen, ex Deputy Director of the CIA, who refused to confirm the Wikileaks were authentic, saying whatever tools and techniques the CIA had were used against foreign persons overseas, so there is no reason to worry that your TV is looking at you. And second, Senator Tom Cotton, who didn't want to comment on the contents of Wikileaks, only saying that the CIA is a foreign intelligence service, collecting evidence on foreign targets to keep our country safe, and it does not do intelligence work domestically.

So that appears to be their story, the CIA doesn't spy on us, and they are sticking with it, probably hoping the whole Wikileaks thing just cycles out of the news.

Direction , March 9, 2017 at 4:23 am

Thanks for mentioning Hastings. His death has always been more than suspicious.

skippy , March 9, 2017 at 5:46 am

Elite risk management reduction tool goes walkabout inverting its potential ..

disheveled . love it when a plan comes together ..

james wordsworth , March 9, 2017 at 5:50 am

The unwillingness of the main stream media (so far) to really cover the Wikileaks reveal is perhaps the bigger story. This should be ongoing front page stuff .. but it is not.

As for using ZeroHedge as a source for anything, can we give that a rest. That site has become a cesspool of insanity. It used to have some good stuff. Now it is just unreadable. SAD

And yes I know the hypocrisy of slamming ZH and the MSM at the same time we live in interesting times.

Yves Smith Post author , March 9, 2017 at 7:52 am

Your remarks on ZH are an ad hominem attack and therefore a violation of site policies. The onus is on you to say what ZH got wrong and not engage in an ungrounded smear. The mainstream media often cites ZH.

NC more than just about any other finance site is loath to link to ZH precisely because it is off base or hyperventilating a not acceptably high percent of the time, and is generally wrong about the Fed (as in governance and how money works). We don't want to encourage readers to see it as reliable. However, it is good on trader gossip and mining Bloomberg data.

And I read through its summary of the Wikileaks material as used by Gaius and there was nothing wrong with it. It was careful about attributing certain claims to Wikileaks as opposed to depicting them as true.

3urypteris , March 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

My rules for reading ZH:
1- Skip every article with no picture
2- Skip every article where the picture is a graph
3- Skip every article where the picture is of a single person's face
4- Skip every afticle where the picture is a cartoon
5- Skip every article about gold, BitCoin, or high-frequency trading
6- Skip all the "Guest Posts"
7- ALWAYS click through to the source
8- NEVER read the comments

It is in my opinion a very high noise-to-signal source, but there is some there there.

sunny129 , March 9, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Finding the TRUTH is NOT that easy.

Discerning a 'news from noise' is NEVER that easy b/c it is an art, developed by years of shifting through ever increasing 'DATA information' load. This again has to be filtered and tested against one's own 'critical' thinking or reasoning! You have to give ZH, deserved credit, when they are right!

There is no longer a Black or white there, even at ZH! But it is one of the few, willing to challenge the main stream narrative 'kool aid'

TheCatSaid , March 9, 2017 at 6:14 am

In addition to the "para-intelligence" community (hat tip Code named D) there are multiple enterprises with unique areas of expertise that interface closely with the CIA The long-exposed operations, which include entrapment and blackmailing of key actors to guarantee complicity, "loyalty" and/or sealed lips, infect businesses, NGOs, law enforcement agencies, judges, politicians, and other government agencies. Equal opportunity employment for those with strong stomachs and a weak moral compass.

Romancing The Loan , March 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

Yes I can't remember where I read it but it was a tale passed around supposedly by an FBI guy that had, along with his colleagues, the job of vetting candidates for political office. They'd do their background research and pass on either a thick or thin folder full of all the compromising dirt on each potential appointee. Over time he said he was perturbed to notice a persistent pattern where the thickest folders were always the ones who got in.

nobody , March 9, 2017 at 10:10 am

Michael Hudson :

I learned this when I was in my 20s. The Catholic Church was funding my early critique of American foreign aid as being imperialist. I asked whether they thought I should go into politics. They said, "No, you'd never make it". And I said, "Why?" and they said, "Well, nobody has a police record or any other dirt on you." I asked what they meant. They said, "Unless they have something over you to blackmail you with, you're not going to be able to get campaign funding. Because they believe that you might do something surprising," in other words, something they haven't asked you to do. So basically throughout politics, on both sides of the spectrum, voters have candidates who are funded by backers who have enough over them that they can always blackmail.

craazyboy , March 9, 2017 at 8:20 am

I find the notion that my consumer electronics may be CIA microphones somewhat irritating, but my imagination quickly runs off to far worse scenarios. (although the popular phase, "You're tax dollars at work." keeps running thru my head like a earworm. And whenever I hear "conservatives" speak of their desire for "small government", usually when topics of health care, Medicare and social security come up, I can only manage a snort of incredulousness anymore)

One being malware penetrating our nuke power plants and shutting down the cooling system. Then the reactor slowly overheats over the next 3 days, goes critical, and blows the surrounding area to high heaven. We have plants all around the coast of the country and also around the Great Lakes Region – our largest fresh water store in a drought threatened future.

Then the same happening in our offensive nuke missile systems.

Some other inconvenient truths – the stuxnet virus has been redesigned. Kaspersky – premier anti malware software maker – had a variant on their corporate network for months before finally discovering it. What chance have we?

In China, hacking is becoming a consumer service industry. There are companies building high power data centers with a host of hacking tools. Anyone, including high school script kiddies, can rent time to use the sophisticated hacking tools, web search bots, and whatever, all hosted on powerful servers with high speed internet bandwidth.

Being a bit "spooked" by all this, I began to worry about my humble home computer and decided to research whatever products I could get to at least ward off annoying vandalism. Among other things, I did sign up for a VPN service. I'm looking at the control app for my VPN connection here and I see that with a simple checkbox mouse click I can make my IP address appear to be located in my choice of 40 some countries around the world. Romania is on the list!

flora , March 9, 2017 at 11:11 am

"my consumer electronics may be CIA microphones "

I haven't tested this, so can't confirm it works, but it sounds reasonable.
http://www.komando.com/tips/390304/secure-your-webcam-and-microphone-from-hackers

craazyboy , March 9, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Actually, I very much doubt that does work. The mic "pickup" would feed its analog output to a DAC (digital to analog converter) which would convert the signal to digital. This then goes to something similar to a virtual com port in the operating system. Here is where a malware program would pick it up and either create a audio file to be sent to an internet address, or stream it directly there.

The article is just plugging in a microphone at the output jack. The malware got the data long before it goes thru another DAC and analog amp to get to the speakers or output jack.

craazyboy , March 9, 2017 at 12:46 pm

s/b "plugging in a earbud at the output jack". They're confusing me too.

flora , March 9, 2017 at 2:43 pm

ah. thanks for vetting.

Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 2:53 pm

It's actually a input/output jack or, if you will, a mic/headphone jack.

Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

It depends on how it is hooked up internally. Old fashioned amateur radio headphones would disable the speakers when plugged in because the physical insertion of the plug pushed open the connection to the speakers. The jack that you plug the ear buds into might do the same, disconnecting the path between the built-in microphone and the ADC (actually it is an ADC not a DAC). The only way to know is to take it apart and see how it is connected.

Pat , March 9, 2017 at 8:27 am

The CIA is not allowed to operate in the US is also the panacea for the public. And some are buying it. Along with everyone knows they can do this is fueling the NOTHING to see here keep walking weak practically non existent coverage.

Eureka Springs , March 9, 2017 at 8:31 am

At what point do people quit negotiating in terrorism and errorism? For this is what the police, the very State itself has long been. Far beyond being illegitimate, illegal, immoral, this is a clear and ever present danger to not just it's own people, but the rule of law itself. Blanket statements like we all know this just makes the dangerously absurd normal I'll never understand that part of human nature. But hey, the TSA literally just keeps probing further each and every year. Bend over!

Trump may not be the one for the task but we the people desperately need people 'unfit', for it is the many fit who brought us to this point. His unfit nature is as refreshing on these matters in its chaotic honest disbelief as Snowden and Wiki revelations. Refreshing because it's all we've got. One doesn't have to like Trump to still see missed opportunity so many should be telling him he could be the greatest pres ever if (for two examples) he fought tirelessly for single payer and to bring down this police state rather than the EPA or public education.

This cannot stand on so many levels. Not only is the fourth amendment rendered utterly void, but even if it weren't it falls far short of the protections we deserve.

No enemy could possibly be as bad as who we are and what we allow/do among ourselves. If an election can be hacked (not saying it was by Russia).. as these and other files prove anything can and will be hacked then our system is to blame, not someone else.

What amazes me is that the spooks haven't manufactured proof needed to take Trump out of office Bonfire of The Vanities style. I'd like to think the people have moved beyond the point they would believe manufactured evidence but the Russia thing proves otherwise.

These people foment world war while probing our every move and we do nothing!

If we wait for someone fit nothing will ever change because we wait for the police/media/oligarch state to tell us who is fit.

Anon , March 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm

being "unfit" does not automatically make someone a savior.

Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 3:05 pm

But being fit by the standards of our ruling class, the "real owners" as Carlin called them is, in my book, an automatic proof that they are up to no good. Trump is not my cup of tea as a president but no one we have had in a while wasn't clearly compromised by those who fund them. Did you ever wonder why we have never had a president or even a powerful member of congress that was not totally in the tank for that little country on the Eastern Mediterranean? Or the Gulf Monarchies? Do you think that is by accident? Do you think money isn't involved? Talk about hacked elections! We should be so lucky as to have ONLY Russians attempting to affect our elections. Money is what hacks US elections and never forget that. To me it is laughable to discuss hacking the elections without discussing the real way our "democracy" is subverted–money not document leaks or voting machine hacks. It's money.

Why isn't Saudi Arabia on Trump's list? Iran that has never been involved in a terrorist act on US soil is but not Saudi Arabia? How many 911 hijackers came from Iran? If anything saves Trump from destruction by the real owners of our democracy it is his devotion to the aforementioned countries.

Allegorio , March 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm

The point again is not to remove him from office but to control him. With Trump's past you better believe the surveillance state has more than enough to remove him from office. Notice the change in his rhetoric since inauguration? More and more he is towing the establishment Republican line. Of course this depends on whether you believe Trump is a break with the past or just the best liar out there. A very unpopular establishment would be clever in promoting their agent by pretending to be against him.

Anyone who still believes that the US is a democratic republic and not a mafia state needs to stick their heads deeper into the sands. When will the low information voters and police forces on whom a real revolution depends realize this is anyone's guess. The day is getting closer especially for the younger generation. The meme among the masses is that government has always been corrupt and that this is nothing new. I do believe the level of immorality among the credentialed classes is indeed very new and has become the new normal. Generations of every man for himself capitalist philosophy undermining any sense of morality or community has finally done its work.

HBE , March 9, 2017 at 8:47 am

Go take a jaunt over to huffpo, at the time of this post there was not a single mention of vault 7 on the front page. Just a long series of anti trump administration articles.

Glad to know for sure who the true warmongers were all along.

Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

We need another Church Commission.

Eureka Springs , March 9, 2017 at 8:59 am

No.. The Church commission was a sweep it under the rug operation. It got us FISA courts. More carte blanche secrecy, not less. The commission nor the rest of the system didn't even hold violators of the time accountable.

We have files like Vault 7. Commissions rarely get in secret what we have right here before our eyes.

Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Well, how about a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Foppe , March 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Cute but the ANC lost the war by acceding to WTO entry (which "forbade" distributive politics, land/resource redistribution, nationalizations, etc.).

River , March 9, 2017 at 10:59 am

Need Langley surrounded and fired upon by tanks at this point.

Err on the side of caution.

DJG , March 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

River: Interesting historic parallel? I believe that the Ottomans got rid of the Janissaries that way, after the Janissaries had become a state within a state, by using cannons on their HQ

From Wiki entry, Janissaries:

The corps was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in the Auspicious Incident in which 6,000 or more were executed.[8]

polecat , March 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm

"Nuke it from orbit it's the only way to be sure . "

knowbuddhau , March 9, 2017 at 9:01 am

Took less than a minute to download the 513.33MB file. The passphrase is what JFK said he'd like to do to CIA: SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds.

"The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer." Henry Kissinger, 1975.

Stormcrow , March 9, 2017 at 9:35 am

Here is Raimondo's take:
Spygate
http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/03/07/spygate-americas-political-police-vs-donald-j-trump/

The campaign to frame up and discredit Trump and his associates is characteristic of how a police state routinely operates. A national security apparatus that vacuums up all our communications and stores them for later retrieval has been utilized by political operatives to go after their enemies – and not even the President of the United States is immune. This is something that one might expect to occur in, say, Turkey, or China: that it is happening here, to the cheers of much of the media and the Democratic party, is beyond frightening.

The irony is that the existence of this dangerous apparatus – which civil libertarians have warned could and probably would be used for political purposes – has been hailed by Trump and his team as a necessary and proper function of government. Indeed, Trump has called for the execution of the person who revealed the existence of this sinister engine of oppression – Edward Snowden. Absent Snowden's revelations, we would still be in the dark as to the existence and vast scope of the NSA's surveillance.

And now the monster Trump embraced in the name of "national security" has come back to bite him.

We hear all the time that what's needed is an open and impartial "investigation" of Trump's alleged "ties" to Russia. This is dangerous nonsense: does every wild-eyed accusation from embittered losers deserve a congressional committee armed with subpoena power bent on conducting an inquisition? Certainly not.

What must be investigated is the incubation of a clandestine political police force inside the national security apparatus, one that has been unleashed against Trump – and could be deployed against anyone.

This isn't about Donald Trump. It's about preserving what's left of our old republic.

Perhapps overstated but well worth pondering.

SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds. , March 9, 2017 at 10:06 am

Yeah I downloaded it the day it came out and spent an hour or so looking at it last night. First impressions – "heyyy this is like a Hackers Guide – the sort I used in the 80s, or DerEngel's Cable Modem Hacking" of the 00s.

2nd impressions – wow it really gives foundational stuff – like "Enable Debug on PolarSSL".

3rd impressions – "I could spend hours going thru this happily ".

4th impressions – I went looking for the "juicy bits" of interest to me – SOHO routers, small routers – sadly its just a table documenting routers sold around the world, and whether these guys have put the firmware in their Stash Repository. Original firmware, not hacked one. But the repository isn't in the vault dump, AFAIK.

Its quite fascinating. But trying to find the "juicy stuff" is going to be tedious. One can spend hours and hours going thru it. To speed up going thru it, I'm going to need some tech sites to say "where to go".

flora , March 9, 2017 at 11:21 am

It seems clear that Wikileaks has not and will not release actual ongoing method "how-to" info or hacking scripts. They are releasing the "whats", not the tech level detailed "hows". This seems like a sane approach to releasing the data. The release appears to be for political discussion, not for spreading the hacking tools. So I wouldn't look for "juicy bits" about detailed methodology. Just my guess.

That said, love what you're doing digging into this stuff. I look forward to a more detailed report in future. Thanks.

Sam F , March 9, 2017 at 10:10 am

Yves, I think that you much underestimate the extremity of these exposed violations of the security of freedom of expression, and of the security of private records. The WikiLeaks docs show that CIA has developed means to use all personal digital device microphones and cameras even when they are "off," and to send all of your files and personal data to themselves, and to send your private messages to themselves before they are encrypted. They have installed these spyware in the released version of Windows 10, and can easily install them on all common systems and devices.

This goes far beyond the kind of snooping that required specialized devices installed near the target, which could be controlled by warrant process. There is no control over this extreme spying. It is totalitarianism now.

This is probably the most extreme violation of the rights of citizens by a government in all of history. It is far worse than the "turnkey tyranny" against which Snowden warned, on the interception of private messages. It is tyranny itself, the death of democracy.

Outis Philalithopoulos , March 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

Your first sentence is a bit difficult to understand. If you read Yves' remarks introducing the post, she says that the revelations are "a big deal" "if the Wikileaks claim is even halfway true," while coming down hard on the MSM and others for "pooh-pooh[ing]" the story. Did you want her to add more exclamation points?

susan the other , March 9, 2017 at 10:59 am

So we have a zillion ways to spy and hack and deceive and assassinate, but no control. I think this is what the military refers to as "being overtaken by events."

It's easy to gather information; not so easy to analyze it, and somehow impossible to act on it in good faith. With all this ability to know stuff and surveil people the big question is, Why does everything seem so beyond our ability to control it?

We should know well in advance that banks will fail catastrophically; that we will indeed have sea level rise; that resources will run out; that water will be undrinkable; that people will be impossible to manipulate when panic hits – but what do we do? We play dirty tricks, spy on each other like voyeurs, and ignore the inevitable. Like the Stasi, we clearly know what happened, what is happening and what is going to happen. But we have no control.

NotTimothyGeithner , March 9, 2017 at 11:34 am

My godfather was in the CIA in the late sixties and early seventies, and he said that outside of the President's pet projects there was no way to sift through and bring important information to decision makers before it made the Washington Post (he is aware of the irony) and hit the President's breakfast table.

Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Do you mean to say that the CIA leaked like a sieve? That's my understanding of your post.

Old Jake , March 9, 2017 at 6:05 pm

AS, I would interpret it as saying that there was so much coming in it was like trying to classify snowflakes in a snowstorm. They could pick a few subject areas to look at closely but the rest just went into the files.

Leaking like a sieve is also likely, but perhaps not the main point.

Andrew , March 9, 2017 at 11:14 am

The archive appears to have been circulated among government hackers and contractors in a authorized manner

There, that looks the more likely framing considering CIA & DNI on behalf of the whole US IC seemingly fostered wide dissimilation of these tools, information. Demonstration of media control an added plus.

Cheers Yves

Stormcrow , March 9, 2017 at 11:20 am

The Empire Strikes Back

WikiLeaks Has Joined the Trump Administration
Max Boot
Foreign Policy magazine

https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/08/wikileaks-has-joined-the-trump-administration/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New+Campaign&utm_term=%2AEditors+Picks

I guess we can only expect more of this.

Todd Pierce , on the other hand, nails it. (From his Facebook page.)
The East German Stasi could only dream of the sort of surveillance the NSA and CIA do now, with just as nefarious of purposes.

lyman alpha blob , March 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

Perhaps the scare quotes around "international mobster" aren't really necessary.

In all this talk about the various factions aligned with and against Trump, that's one I haven't heard brought up by anybody. With all the cement poured in Trump's name over the years, it would be naive to think his businesses had not brushed up against organized crime at some point. Question is, whose side are they on?

JTMcPhee , March 9, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Like all the other players, the "side" they are on is them-effing-selves. And isn't that the whole problem with our misbegotten species, writ large?

Then there's this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Hzds9aGdA Maybe these people will be around and still eating after us urban insects and rodents are long gone? Or will our rulers decide no one should survive if they don't?

Skip Intro , March 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm

To what extent do these hacks represent the CIA operating within the US? To what extent is that illegal? With the democrats worshipping the IC, will anyone in an official position dare to speak out?

tegnost , March 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Well we know chuckie won't speak out..

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/312605-schumer-trump-being-really-dumb-by-going-after-intelligence-community

FTA "Schumer said that as he understands, intelligence officials are "very upset with how [Trump] has treated them and talked about them.""

Oregoncharles , March 9, 2017 at 2:17 pm

I've long thought that the reason Snowden was pursued so passionately was that he exposed the biggest, most embarrassing secret: that the National "Security" Agency's INTERNAL security was crap.

And here it is: "Wikileaks claims that the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal "

The CIA's internal security is crap, too. Really a lot of people should be fired over that, as well as over Snowden's release. We didn't hear of it happening in the NSA, though I'm not sure we would have. Given Gaius's description of Trump's situation, it seems unlikely it will happen this time, either. One of my hopes for a Trump administration, as long as we're stuck with it, was a thorough cleanout of the upper echelons in the IC. It's obviously long overdue, and Obama wasn't up to it. But I used the past tense because I don't think it's going to happen. Trump seems more interested in sucking up to them, presumably so they won't kill him or his family. That being one of their options.

Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Ah, that's the beauty of contracting it out. No one gets fired. Did anyone get fired because of Snowden? It was officially a contractor problem and since there are only a small number of contractors capable of doing the work, well you know. We can't get new ones.

tiebie66 , March 9, 2017 at 2:59 pm

What I find by far the most distressing is this: "The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability ." [My emphasis]. It seems to characterize an organization that operates outside of any control and oversight – and one that is intentionally structuring itself that way. That worries me.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Republic is lost because we didn't stand guard for it. Blaming others don't cut it either – we let it happen. And like the Germans about the Nazi atrocities, we will say that we didn't know about it.

JTMcPhee , March 9, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Hey, I didn't let it happen. Stuff that spooks and sh!tes do behind the Lycra ™ curtain happens because it is, what is the big word again, "ineluctable." Is my neighbor to blame for having his house half eaten by both kinds of termites, where the construction is such that the infestation and damage are invisible until the vast damage is done?

Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm

And just how were we supposed to stand guard against a secret and unaccountable organization that protected itself with a shield of lies? And every time some poor misfit complained about it they were told that they just didn't know the facts. If they only knew what our IC knows they would not complain.

It's a dangerous world out there and only our brave IC can protect us from it. Come on. Stop blaming the victim and place the blame where it belongs–our IC and MIC. I say stop feeding the beast with your loyalty to a government that has ceased to be yours.

Studiously avoid any military celebrations. Worship of the military is part of the problem. Remember, the people you thank for "their service" are as much victims as you are. Sadly they don't realize that their service is to a rotten empire that is not worthy of their sacrifice but every time we perform the obligatory ritual of thankfulness we participate in the lie that the service is to a democratic country instead of an undemocratic empire.

It's clearly a case of Wilfred Owen's classic "Dulce et Decorum Est". Read the poem, google it and read it. It is instructive: " you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori." Make no mistake. It is a lie and it can only be undone if we all cease to tell it.

nonsense factory , March 9, 2017 at 8:57 pm

Here's a pretty decent review of the various CIA programs revealed by Wikileaks:

http://www.libertyforjoe.com/2017/03/what-is-vault-7.html

"These CIA revelations in conjunction with those of the NSA paints a pretty dark future for privacy and freedom. Edward Snowden made us aware of the NSA's program XKEYSCORE and PRISM which are utilized to monitor and bulk collect information from virtually any electronic device on the planet and put it into a searchable database. Now Wikileaks has published what appears to be additional Big Brother techniques used by a competing agency. Say what you want about the method of discovery, but Pandora's box has been opened."

[Dec 14, 2017] Tech Giants Trying to Use WTO to Colonize Emerging Economies

Notable quotes:
"... The initiative described in this article reminds me of how the World Bank pushed hard for emerging economies to develop capital markets, for the greater good of America's investment bankers. ..."
"... By Burcu Kilic, an expert on legal, economic and political issues. Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... Today, the big tech race is for data extractivism from those yet to be 'connected' in the world – tech companies will use all their power to achieve a global regime in which small nations cannot regulate either data extraction or localisation. ..."
"... One suspects big money will be thrown at this by the leading tech giants. ..."
"... Out of idle curiosity, how could you accurately deduce my country of origin from my name? ..."
Dec 14, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

December 14, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Notice that Costa Rica is served up as an example in this article. Way back in 1997, American Express had designated Costa Rica as one of the countries it identified as sufficiently high income so as to be a target for a local currency card offered via a franchise agreement with a domestic institution (often but not always a bank). 20 years later, the Switzerland of Central America still has limited Internet connectivity, yet is precisely the sort of place that tech titans like Google would like to dominate.

The initiative described in this article reminds me of how the World Bank pushed hard for emerging economies to develop capital markets, for the greater good of America's investment bankers.

By Burcu Kilic, an expert on legal, economic and political issues. Originally published at openDemocracy

Today, the big tech race is for data extractivism from those yet to be 'connected' in the world – tech companies will use all their power to achieve a global regime in which small nations cannot regulate either data extraction or localisation.

n a few weeks' time, trade ministers from 164 countries will gather in Buenos Aires for the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11). US President Donald Trump in November issued fresh accusations of unfair treatment towards the US by WTO members , making it virtually impossible for trade ministers to leave the table with any agreement in substantial areas.

To avoid a 'failure ministerial," some countries see the solution as pushing governments to open a mandate to start conversations that might lead to a negotiation on binding rules for e-commerce and a declaration of the gathering as the "digital ministerial". Argentina's MC11 chair, Susana Malcorra, is actively pushing for member states to embrace e-commerce at the WTO, claiming that it is necessary to " bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots ".

It is not very clear what kind of gaps Malcorra is trying to bridge. It surely isn't the "connectivity gap" or "digital divide" that is growing between developed and developing countries, seriously impeding digital learning and knowledge in developing countries. In fact, half of humanity is not even connected to the internet, let alone positioned to develop competitive markets or bargain at a multilateral level. Negotiating binding e-commerce rules at the WTO would only widen that gap.

Dangerously, the "South Vision" of digital trade in the global trade arena is being shaped by a recent alliance of governments and well-known tech-sector lobbyists, in a group called 'Friends of E-Commerce for Development' (FED), including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, and, most recently, China. FED claims that e-commerce is a tool to drive growth, narrow the digital divide, and generate digital solutions for developing and least developed countries.

However, none of the countries in the group (apart from China) is leading or even remotely ready to be in a position to negotiate and push for binding rules on digital trade that will be favorable to them, as their economies are still far away from the technology revolution. For instance, it is perplexing that one of the most fervent defenders of FED's position is Costa Rica. The country's economy is based on the export of bananas, coffee, tropical fruits, and low-tech medical instruments, and almost half of its population is offline . Most of the countries in FED are far from being powerful enough to shift negotiations in favor of small players.

U.S.-based tech giants and Chinese Alibaba – so-called GAFA-A – dominate, by far, the future of the digital playing field, including issues such as identification and digital payments, connectivity, and the next generation of logistics solutions. In fact, there is a no-holds-barred ongoing race among these tech giants to consolidate their market share in developing economies, from the race to grow the advertising market to the race to increase online payments.

An e-commerce agenda that claims unprecedented development for the Global South is a Trojan horse move. Beginning negotiations on such topics at this stage – before governments are prepared to understand what is at stake – could lead to devastating results, accelerating liberalization and the consolidation of the power of tech giants to the detriment of local industries, consumers, and citizens. Aware of the increased disparities between North and South, and the data dominance of a tiny group of GAFA-A companies, a group of African nations issued a statement opposing the digital ambitions of the host for MC11. But the political landscape is more complex, with China, the EU, and Russia now supporting the idea of a "digital" mandate .

Repeating the Same Mistakes?

The relationships of most countries with tech companies are as imbalanced as their relationships with Big Pharma, and there are many parallels to note. Not so long ago, the countries of the Global South faced Big Pharma power in pharmaceutical markets in a similar way. Some developing countries had the same enthusiasm when they negotiated intellectual property rules for the protection of innovation and research and development costs. In reality, those countries were nothing more than users and consumers of that innovation, not the owners or creators. The lessons of negotiating trade issues that lie at the core of public interest issues – in that case, access to medicines – were costly. Human lives and fundamental rights of those who use online services should not be forgotten when addressing the increasingly worrying and unequal relationships with tech power.

The threat before our eyes is similarly complex and equally harmful to the way our societies will be shaped in the coming years. In the past, the Big Pharma race was for patent exclusivity, to eliminate local generic production and keep drug prices high. Today, the Big Tech race is for data extractivism from those who have yet to be connected in the world, and tech companies will use all the power they hold to achieve a global regime in which small nations cannot regulate either data extraction or data localization.

Big Tech is one of the most concentrated and resourceful industries of all time. The bargaining power of developing countries is minimal. Developing countries will basically be granting the right to cultivate small parcels of a land controlled by data lords -- under their rules, their mandate, and their will -- with practically no public oversight. The stakes are high. At the core of it is the race to conquer the markets of digital payments and the battle to become the platform where data flows, splitting the territory as old empires did in the past. As the Economist claimed on May 6, 2017: "Conflicts over control of oil have scarred the world for decades. No one yet worries that wars will be fought over data. But the data economy has the same potential for confrontation."

If countries from the Global South want to prepare for data wars, they should start thinking about how to reduce the control of Big Tech over -- how we communicate, shop, and learn the news -- , again, over our societies. The solution lies not in making rules for data liberalization, but in devising ways to use the law to reduce Big Tech's power and protect consumers and citizens. Finding the balance would take some time and we are going to take that time to find the right balance, we are not ready to lock the future yet.

Jef , December 14, 2017 at 11:32 am

I thought thats what the WTO is for?

Thuto , December 14, 2017 at 2:14 pm

One suspects big money will be thrown at this by the leading tech giants. To paraphrase from a comment I made recently regarding a similar topic : "with markets in the developed world pretty much sewn up by the tripartite tech overlords (google, fb and amazon), the next 3 billion users for their products/services are going to come from developing world". With this dynamic in mind, and the "constant growth" mantra humming incessantly in the background, it's easy to see how high stakes a game this is for the tech giants and how no resources will be spared to stymie any efforts at establishing a regulatory oversight framework that will protect the digital rights of citizens in the global south.

Multilateral fora like the WTO are de facto enablers for the marauding frontal attacks of transnational corporations, and it's disheartening to see that some developing nations have already nailed the digital futures of their citizens to the mast of the tech giants by joining this alliance. What's more, this signing away of their liberty will be sold to the citizenry as the best way to usher them into the brightest of all digital futures.

Mark P. , December 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm

One suspects big money will be thrown at this by the leading tech giants.

Vast sums of money are already being thrown at bringing Africa online, for better or worse. Thus, the R&D aimed at providing wireless Internet via giant drones/balloons/satellites by Google, Facebook, etc.

You're African. Possibly South African by your user name, which may explain why you're a little behind the curve, because the action is already happening, but more to the north -- and particularly in East Africa.

The big corporations -- and the tech giants are competing with the banking/credit card giants -- have noted how mobile technology leapt over the dearth of last century's telephony tech, land lines, and in turn enabled the highest adoption rates of cellphone banking in the world. (Particularly in East Africa, as I say.) The payoffs for big corporations are massive -- de facto cashless societies where the corporations control the payment systems –and the politicians are mostly cheap.

In Nigeria, the government has launched a Mastercard-branded national ID card that's also a payment card, in one swoop handing Mastercard more than 170 million potential customers, and their personal and biometric data.

In Kenya, the sums transferred by mobile money operator M-Pesa are more than 25 percent of that country's GDP.

You can see that bringing Africa online is technically a big, decade-long project. But also that the potential payoffs are vast. Though I also suspect China may come out ahead -- they're investing far more in Africa and in some areas their technology -- drones, for instance -- is already superior to what the Europeans and the American companies have.

Thuto , December 14, 2017 at 4:58 pm

Thank you Mark P.

Hoisted from a comment I made here recently: "Here in South Africa and through its Free Basics programme, facebook is jumping into bed with unsuspecting ISPs (I say unsuspecting because fb will soon be muscling in on their territory and becoming an ISP itself by provisioning bandwidth directly from its floating satellites) and circumventing net neutrality "

I'm also keenly aware of the developments in Kenya re: safaricom and Mpesa and how that has led to traditional banking via bank accounts being largely leapfrogged for those moving from being unbanked to active economic citizens requiring money transfer facilities. Given the huge succes of Mpesa, I wouldn't be surprised if a multinational tech behemoth (chinese or american) were to make a play for acquiring safaricom and positioning it as a triple-play ISP, money transfer/banking services and digital content provider (harvesting data about users habits on an unprecedented scale across multiple areas of their lives), first in Kenya then expanded throughout east, central and west africa. I must add that your statement about Nigeria puts Mark Zuckerberg's visit there a few months back into context somewhat, perhaps a reconnaissance mission of sorts.

Out of idle curiosity, how could you accurately deduce my country of origin from my name?

Mark P. , December 14, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Out of idle curiosity, how could you accurately deduce my country of origin from my name?

Though I've lived in California for decades, my mother was South African and I maintain a UK passport, having grown up in London.

Mark P. , December 14, 2017 at 3:34 pm

As you also write: "with markets in the developed world pretty much sewn up by the tripartite tech overlords (google, fb and amazon), the next 3 billion users for their products/services are going to come from developing world."

Absolutely true. This cannot be stressed enough. The tech giants know this and the race is on.

Mattski , December 14, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Been happening with food for 50 years.

[Dec 13, 2017] 'You are being programmed,' former Facebook executive warns by Rozina Sini

Dec 13, 2017 | www.bbc.com

A former Facebook executive has criticised the social network for ripping society apart during a question and answer session.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who worked as Facebook's vice president for user growth, was speaking at an event run by the Stanford Graduate School of Business on 10 November in which he described feeling "tremendous guilt' in helping the company attract two billion users.

His comments echoed remarks by Sean Parker, one of the early pioneers of Facebook, who spoke on 8 November , saying the social network provided "a dopamine hit and a social validation feedback loop, that exploited a vulnerability in human psychology."

However, coverage this week has seen thousands responding to Palihaptiya's words.

"We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works," he told the audience.

He advised people take a "hard break" from social media, describing its effect as "short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops."

'You are being programmed'

"We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection, because we get rewarded in these short term signals: Hearts, likes, thumbs up," Palihaptiya said.

"We conflate that with value and we conflate it with truth, and instead what it really is is fake, brittle popularity that's short term and leaves you even more vacant and empty before you did it.

"You don't realise it but you are being programmed."

Palihapitiya said he could not offer a solution but deals with the problem himself by not using social media anymore, something which he says has caused tension with his family and friends.

[Dec 04, 2017] The neoliberal framework in antitrust is based on pecifically its pegging competition to consumer welfare, defined as short-term price effects and as such s unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy

Notable quotes:
"... This Note argues that the current framework in antitrust-specifically its pegging competition to "consumer welfare," defined as short-term price effects-is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon's dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output. ..."
"... This Note maps out facets of Amazon's dominance. Doing so enables us to make sense of its business strategy, illuminates anticompetitive aspects of Amazon's structure and conduct, and underscores deficiencies in current doctrine. The Note closes by considering two potential regimes for addressing Amazon's power: restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : February 11, 2017 at 11:43 AM , 2017 at 11:43 AM
http://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/amazons-antitrust-paradox

January, 2017

Amazon's Antitrust Paradox
By Lina M. Khan

Abstract

Amazon is the titan of twenty-first century commerce. In addition to being a retailer, it is now a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space. Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth, it generates meager profits, choosing to price below-cost and expand widely instead. Through this strategy, the company has positioned itself at the center of e-commerce and now serves as essential infrastructure for a host of other businesses that depend upon it. Elements of the firm's structure and conduct pose anticompetitive concerns -- yet it has escaped antitrust scrutiny.

This Note argues that the current framework in antitrust-specifically its pegging competition to "consumer welfare," defined as short-term price effects-is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon's dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output.

Specifically, current doctrine underappreciates the risk of predatory pricing and how integration across distinct business lines may prove anticompetitive. These concerns are heightened in the context of online platforms for two reasons. First, the economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits, a strategy that investors have rewarded. Under these conditions, predatory pricing becomes highly rational-even as existing doctrine treats it as irrational and therefore implausible. Second, because online platforms serve as critical intermediaries, integrating across business lines positions these platforms to control the essential infrastructure on which their rivals depend. This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors.

This Note maps out facets of Amazon's dominance. Doing so enables us to make sense of its business strategy, illuminates anticompetitive aspects of Amazon's structure and conduct, and underscores deficiencies in current doctrine. The Note closes by considering two potential regimes for addressing Amazon's power: restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties.

[Dec 03, 2017] Google clearly can not be trusted

Notable quotes:
"... Also, don't use Gmail. – Google spies on everything you say. That's not really a secret. They do it to make money selling y our info to advertising. Don't be surprised if after you tell your parents the happy news that they will soon have a grandchild if every Google ad on every webpage you visit wants to sell you baby furniture and baby food and lots of other baby stuff. ..."
unz.com

Anonymous , Disclaimer November 25, 2017 at 7:52 pm GMT

@m___

Boycott Google!!!! They clearly can not be trusted. Do you want to find only the websites that Google wants you to see? Then use a Google Search engine. Don't search on Google.

-- There are other search engines out there. But some of the ones that claim to preserve your privacy from Google's ever present snooping still search on Google. They just hide your IP by searching through another website. But there are other search engines out there that offer unbiased and uncensored searching.

Also, don't use Gmail. – Google spies on everything you say. That's not really a secret. They do it to make money selling y our info to advertising. Don't be surprised if after you tell your parents the happy news that they will soon have a grandchild if every Google ad on every webpage you visit wants to sell you baby furniture and baby food and lots of other baby stuff.

Don't use Google drive or spreadsheets or docs.

-- Again, Google spies on all of this to make money for themselves by selling your secrets.

Find other video venues than YouTube.

-- You are going to have to anyways, now that Google is actively censoring the content. Clearly, if you want to see anything that Google doesn't want you to see, you are going to have to find alternatives to Youtube . and they are there.

[Dec 03, 2017] Google Facebook Are 1984 - Tax Them 'Til They Bleed by Raul Ilargi Meije

I would not put YouTube in the same set of Facebook. This is a different platform. And much more useful. IMHO no respectful person that I know uses Facebook for putting personal information on it. Only teenagers are doing that. And even among them resentment against Facebook is common.
Google with its search engine is a more dangerous beast, but there are alternatives. many people stitched for Google to other search engines. That does not give much privacy protection other then moral satisfaction, but still it is stupid just to use Big Brother search engine voluntarily if you can avoid it.
Notable quotes:
"... For Google and Facebook as the world's new major -only?!- ad agencies: Tax the heebies out of them or forbid them from running any ads at all. Why? Because they extract enormous amounts of productive capital from society. Capital they, as Varoufakis says, do not even themselves create. ..."
"... As Google, Facebook and the CIA are ever more entwined, these companies become so important to what 'the spooks' consider the interests of the nation that they will become mutually protective. And once CIA headquarters in Langley, VA, aka the aptly named "George Bush Center for Intelligence", openly as well as secretly protects you, you're pretty much set for life. A long life. ..."
"... I know, you were thinking it was 'the Russians' with a few as yet unproven bucks in Facebook ads that were threatening US and European democracies. Well, you're really going to have to think again. ..."
Nov 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Authoredr via The Automatic Earth blog,

An entire library of articles about Big Tech is coming out these days, and I find that much of it is written so well, and the ideas in them so well expressed, that I have little to add. Except, I think I may have the solution to the problems many people see. But I also have a concern that I don't see addressed, and that may well prevent that solution from being adopted. If so, we're very far away from any solution at all. And that's seriously bad news.

Let's start with a general -even 'light'- critique of social media by Claire Wardle and Hossein Derakhshan for the Guardian:

How Did The News Go 'Fake'? When The Media Went Social

Social media force us to live our lives in public , positioned centre-stage in our very own daily performances. Erving Goffman, the American sociologist, articulated the idea of "life as theatre" in his 1956 book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, and while the book was published more than half a century ago, the concept is even more relevant today. It is increasingly difficult to live a private life, in terms not just of keeping our personal data away from governments or corporations, but also of keeping our movements, interests and, most worryingly, information consumption habits from the wider world.

The social networks are engineered so that we are constantly assessing others – and being assessed ourselves. In fact our "selves" are scattered across different platforms, and our decisions, which are public or semi-public performances, are driven by our desire to make a good impression on our audiences, imagined and actual. We grudgingly accept these public performances when it comes to our travels, shopping, dating, and dining. We know the deal. The online tools that we use are free in return for us giving up our data, and we understand that they need us to publicly share our lifestyle decisions to encourage people in our network to join, connect and purchase.

But, critically, the same forces have impacted the way we consume news and information. Before our media became "social", only our closest family or friends knew what we read or watched, and if we wanted to keep our guilty pleasures secret, we could. Now, for those of us who consume news via the social networks, what we "like" and what we follow is visible to many [..] Consumption of the news has become a performance that can't be solely about seeking information or even entertainment. What we choose to "like" or follow is part of our identity, an indication of our social class and status, and most frequently our political persuasion.

That sets the scene. People sell their lives, their souls, to join a network that then sells these lives -and souls- to the highest bidder, for a profit the people themselves get nothing of. This is not some far-fetched idea. As noted further down, in terms of scale, Facebook is a present day Christianity. And these concerns are not only coming from 'concerned citizens', some of the early participants are speaking out as well. Like Facebook co-founder Sean Parker:

Facebook: God Only Knows What It's Doing To Our Children's Brains

Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, gave me a candid insider's look at how social networks purposely hook and potentially hurt our brains. Be smart: Parker's I-was-there account provides priceless perspective in the rising debate about the power and effects of the social networks, which now have scale and reach unknown in human history. [..]

"When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, 'I'm not on social media.' And I would say, 'OK. You know, you will be.' And then they would say, 'No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.' And I would say, 'We'll get you eventually.'"

"I don't know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."

"The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'" "And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you more likes and comments."

"It's a social-validation feedback loop exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology." "The inventors, creators -- it's me, it's Mark [Zuckerberg], it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people -- understood this consciously. And we did it anyway."

Early stage investor in Facebook, Roger McNamee, also has some words to add along the same lines as Parker. They make it sound like they're Frankenstein and Facebook is their monster.

How Facebook and Google Threaten Public Health – and Democracy

The term "addiction" is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2,000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing. In terms of scale, Facebook and YouTube are similar to Christianity and Islam respectively. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, 1.3 billion check in every day. More than 1.5 billion people use YouTube. Other services owned by these companies also have user populations of 1 billion or more.

Facebook and Alphabet are huge because users are willing to trade privacy and openness for "convenient and free." Content creators resisted at first, but user demand forced them to surrender control and profits to Facebook and Alphabet. The sad truth is that Facebook and Alphabet have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. They have consciously combined persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry with technology in ways that threaten public health and democracy.

The issue, however, is not social networking or search. It is advertising business models. Let me explain. From the earliest days of tabloid newspapers, publishers realized the power of exploiting human emotions. To win a battle for attention, publishers must give users "what they want," content that appeals to emotions, rather than intellect. Substance cannot compete with sensation, which must be amplified constantly, lest consumers get distracted and move on. "If it bleeds, it leads" has guided editorial choices for more than 150 years, but has only become a threat to society in the past decade, since the introduction of smartphones.

Media delivery platforms like newspapers, television, books, and even computers are persuasive, but people only engage with them for a few hours each day and every person receives the same content. Today's battle for attention is not a fair fight. Every competitor exploits the same techniques, but Facebook and Alphabet have prohibitive advantages: personalization and smartphones. Unlike older media, Facebook and Alphabet know essentially everything about their users, tracking them everywhere they go on the web and often beyond.

By making every experience free and easy, Facebook and Alphabet became gatekeepers on the internet, giving them levels of control and profitability previously unknown in media. They exploit data to customize each user's experience and siphon profits from content creators. Thanks to smartphones, the battle for attention now takes place on a single platform that is available every waking moment. Competitors to Facebook and Alphabet do not have a prayer.

Facebook and Alphabet monetize content through advertising that is targeted more precisely than has ever been possible before . The platforms create "filter bubbles" around each user, confirming pre-existing beliefs and often creating the illusion that everyone shares the same views. Platforms do this because it is profitable. The downside of filter bubbles is that beliefs become more rigid and extreme. Users are less open to new ideas and even to facts.

Of the millions of pieces of content that Facebook can show each user at a given time, they choose the handful most likely to maximize profits. If it were not for the advertising business model, Facebook might choose content that informs, inspires, or enriches users. Instead, the user experience on Facebook is dominated by appeals to fear and anger. This would be bad enough, but reality is worse.

And in a Daily Mail article, McNamee's ideas are taken a mile or so further. Goebbels, Bernays, fear, anger, personalization, civility.

Early Facebook Investor Compares The Social Network To Nazi Propaganda

Facebook officials have been compared to the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels by a former investor. Roger McNamee also likened the company's methods to those of Edward Bernays, the 'father of public' relations who promoted smoking for women. Mr McNamee, who made a fortune backing the social network in its infancy, has spoken out about his concern about the techniques the tech giants use to engage users and advertisers. [..] the former investor said everyone was now 'in one degree or another addicted' to the site while he feared the platform was causing people to swap real relationships for phoney ones.

And he likened the techniques of the company to Mr Bernays and Hitler's public relations minister. 'In order to maintain your attention they have taken all the techniques of Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels, and all of the other people from the world of persuasion, and all the big ad agencies, and they've mapped it onto an all day product with highly personalised information in order to addict you,' Mr McNamee told The Telegraph. Mr McNamee said Facebook was creating a culture of 'fear and anger'. 'We have lowered the civil discourse, people have become less civil to each other..'

He said the tech giant had 'weaponised' the First Amendment to 'essentially absolve themselves of responsibility'. He added: 'I say this as somebody who was there at the beginning.' Mr McNamee's comments come as a further blow to Facebook as just last month former employee Justin Rosenstein spoke out about his concerns. Mr Rosenstein, the Facebook engineer who built a prototype of the network's 'like' button, called the creation the 'bright dings of pseudo-pleasure'. He said he was forced to limit his own use of the social network because he was worried about the impact it had on him.

As for the economic, not the societal or personal, effects of social media, Yanis Varoufakis had this to say a few weeks ago:

Capitalism Is Ending Because It Has Made Itself Obsolete – Varoufakis

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed capitalism is coming to an end because it is making itself obsolete. The former economics professor told an audience at University College London that the rise of giant technology corporations and artificial intelligence will cause the current economic system to undermine itself. Mr Varoufakis said companies such as Google and Facebook, for the first time ever, are having their capital bought and produced by consumers.

"Firstly the technologies were funded by some government grant; secondly every time you search for something on Google, you contribute to Google's capital," he said. "And who gets the returns from capital? Google, not you. "So now there is no doubt capital is being socially produced, and the returns are being privatised . This with artificial intelligence is going to be the end of capitalism."

Ergo, as people sell their lives and their souls to Facebook and Alphabet, they sell their economies along with them.

That's what that means. And you were just checking what your friends were doing. Or, that's what you thought you were doing.

The solution to all these pains is, likely unintentionally, provided by Umair Haque's critique of economics. It's interesting to see how the topics 'blend', 'intertwine'.

How Economics Failed the Economy

When, in the 1930s, the great economist Simon Kuznets created GDP, he deliberately left two industries out of this then novel, revolutionary idea of a national income : finance and advertising. [..] Kuznets logic was simple, and it was not mere opinion, but analytical fact: finance and advertising don't create new value , they only allocate, or distribute existing value in the same way that a loan to buy a television isn't the television, or an ad for healthcare isn't healthcare. They are only means to goods, not goods themselves. Now we come to two tragedies of history.

What happened next is that Congress laughed, as Congresses do, ignored Kuznets, and included advertising and finance anyways for political reasons -after all, bigger, to the politicians mind, has always been better, and therefore, a bigger national income must have been better. Right? Let's think about it. Today, something very curious has taken place.

If we do what Kuznets originally suggested, and subtract finance and advertising from GDP, what does that picture -a picture of the economy as it actually is reveal? Well, since the lion's share of growth, more than 50% every year, comes from finance and advertising -whether via Facebook or Google or Wall St and hedge funds and so on- we would immediately see that the economic growth that the US has chased so desperately, so furiously, never actually existed at all.

Growth itself has only been an illusion, a trick of numbers, generated by including what should have been left out in the first place. If we subtracted allocative industries from GDP, we'd see that economic growth is in fact below population growth, and has been for a very long time now, probably since the 1980s and in that way, the US economy has been stagnant, which is (surprise) what everyday life feels like. Feels like.

Economic indicators do not anymore tell us a realistic, worthwhile, and accurate story about the truth of the economy, and they never did -only, for a while, the trick convinced us that reality wasn't. Today, that trick is over, and economies grow , but people's lives, their well-being, incomes, and wealth, do not, and that, of course, is why extremism is sweeping the globe. Perhaps now you begin to see why the two have grown divorced from one another: economics failed the economy.

Now let us go one step, then two steps, further. Finance and advertising are no longer merely allocative industries today. They are now extractive industries. That is, they internalize value from society, and shift costs onto society, all the while creating no value themselves.

The story is easiest to understand via Facebook's example: it makes its users sadder, lonelier, and unhappier, and also corrodes democracy in spectacular and catastrophic ways. There is not a single upside of any kind that is discernible -and yet, all the above is counted as a benefit, not a cost, in national income, so the economy can thus grow, even while a society of miserable people are being manipulated by foreign actors into destroying their own democracy. Pretty neat, huh?

It was BECAUSE finance and advertising were counted as creative, productive, when they were only allocative, distributive that they soon became extractive. After all, if we had said from the beginning that these industries do not count, perhaps they would not have needed to maximize profits (or for VCs to pour money into them, and so on) endlessly to count more. But we didn't.

And so soon, they had no choice but to become extractive: chasing more and more profits, to juice up the illusion of growth, and soon enough, these industries began to eat the economy whole, because of course, as Kuznets observed, they allocate everything else in the economy, and therefore, they control it.

Thus, the truly creative, productive, life-giving parts of the economy shrank in relative, and even in absolute terms, as they were taken apart, strip-mined, and consumed in order to feed the predatory parts of the economy , which do not expand human potential. The economy did eat itself, just as Marx had supposed – only the reason was not something inherent in it, but a choice, a mistake, a tragedy.

[..] Life is not flourishing, growing, or developing in a single way that I or even you can readily identify or name. And yet, the economy appears to be growing, because purely allocative and distributive enterprises like Uber, Facebook, credit rating agencies, endless nameless hedge funds, shady personal info brokers, and so on, which fail to contribute positively to human life in any discernible way whatsoever, are all counted as beneficial. Do you see the absurdity of it?

[..] It's not a coincidence that the good has failed to grow, nor is it an act of the gods. It was a choice. A simple cause-effect relationship, of a society tricking itself into desperately pretending it was growing, versus truly growing. Remember not subtracting finance and advertising from GDP, to create the illusion of growth? Had America not done that, then perhaps it might have had to work hard to find ways to genuinely, authentically, meaningfully grow, instead of taken the easy way out, only to end up stagnating today, and unable to really even figure out why yet.

Industries that are not productive, but instead only extract money from society, need to be taxed so heavily they have trouble surviving. If that doesn't happen, your economy will never thrive, or even survive. The whole service economy fata morgana must be thrown as far away as we can throw it. Economies must produce real, tangible things, or they die.

For the finance industry this means: tax the sh*t out of any transactions they engage in. Want to make money on complex derivatives? We'll take 75+%. Upfront. And no, you can't take your company overseas. Don't even try.

For Uber and Airbnb it means pay taxes up the wazoo, either as a company or as individual home slash car owners. Uber and Airbnb take huge amounts of money out of local economies, societies, communities, which is nonsense, unnecessary and detrimental. Every city can set up its own local car- or home rental schemes. Their profits should stay within the community, and be invested in it.

For Google and Facebook as the world's new major -only?!- ad agencies: Tax the heebies out of them or forbid them from running any ads at all. Why? Because they extract enormous amounts of productive capital from society. Capital they, as Varoufakis says, do not even themselves create.

YOU are creating the capital, and YOU then must pay for access to the capital created.

Yeah, it feels like you can just hook up and look at what your friends are doing, but the price extracted from you, your friends, and your community is so high you would never volunteer to pay for it if you had any idea.

The one thing that I don't see anyone address, and that might prevent these pretty straightforward "tax-them-til they-bleed!" answers to the threat of New Big Tech, is that Facebook, Alphabet et al have built a very strong relationship with various intelligence communities. And then you have Goebbels and Bernays in the service of the CIA.

As Google, Facebook and the CIA are ever more entwined, these companies become so important to what 'the spooks' consider the interests of the nation that they will become mutually protective. And once CIA headquarters in Langley, VA, aka the aptly named "George Bush Center for Intelligence", openly as well as secretly protects you, you're pretty much set for life. A long life.

Next up: they'll be taking over entire economies, societies. This is happening as we speak . I know, you were thinking it was 'the Russians' with a few as yet unproven bucks in Facebook ads that were threatening US and European democracies. Well, you're really going to have to think again.

The world has never seen such technologies. It has never seen such intensity, depth of, or such dependence on, information. We are simply not prepared for any of this. But we need to learn fast, or become patsies and slaves in a full blown 1984 style piece of absurd theater. Our politicians are AWOL and MIA for all of it, they have no idea what to say or think, they don't understand what Google or bitcoin or Uber really mean.

In the meantime, we know one thing we can do, and we can justify doing it through the concept of non-productive and extractive industries. That is, tax them till they bleed.

That we would hit the finance industry with that as well is a welcome bonus. Long overdue. We need productive economies or we're done. And Facebook and Alphabet -and Goldman Sachs- don't produce d*ck all.

When you think about it, the only growth that's left in the US economy is that of companies spying on American citizens. Well, that and Europeans. China has banned Facebook and Google. Why do you think they have? Because Google and Facebook ARE 1984, that's why. And if there's going to be a Big Brother in the Middle Kingdom, it's not going to be Silicon Valley.

[Dec 01, 2017] NSA hacks system administrators, new leak reveals

Highly recommended!
"I hunt sysadm" policy is the most realosnableif you you want to get into some coporate netwrok. So republication of this three years old post is just a reminder. Any sysadmin that access corporates netwrok not from a dedicated computer using VPN (corporate laptop) is engangering the corporation. As simple as that. The level of non-professionalism demonstrated by Hillary Clinton IT staff suggests that this can be a problem in government too. After all Snowden documents now are studied by all major intelligence agencies of the world.
This also outlines the main danger of "shadow It".
Notable quotes:
"... Journalist Ryan Gallagher reported that Edward Snowden , a former sys admin for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, provided The Intercept with the internal documents, including one from 2012 that's bluntly titled "I hunt sys admins." ..."
"... "Who better to target than the person that already has the 'keys to the kingdom'?" ..."
"... "They were written by an NSA official involved in the agency's effort to break into foreign network routers, the devices that connect computer networks and transport data across the Internet," ..."
"... "By infiltrating the computers of system administrators who work for foreign phone and Internet companies, the NSA can gain access to the calls and emails that flow over their networks." ..."
"... The latest leak suggests that some NSA analysts took a much different approach when tasked with trying to collect signals intelligence that otherwise might not be easily available. According to the posts, the author advocated for a technique that involves identifying the IP address used by the network's sys admin, then scouring other NSA tools to see what online accounts used those addresses to log-in. Then by using a ..."
"... that tricks targets into installing malware by being misdirected to fake Facebook servers, the intelligence analyst can hope that the sys admin's computer is sufficiently compromised and exploited. ..."
"... Once the NSA has access to the same machine a sys admin does, American spies can mine for a trove of possibly invaluable information, including maps of entire networks, log-in credentials, lists of customers and other details about how systems are wired. In turn, the NSA has found yet another way to, in theory, watch over all traffic on a targeted network. ..."
"... "Up front, sys admins generally are not my end target. My end target is the extremist/terrorist or government official that happens to be using the network some admin takes care of," the NSA employee says in the documents. ..."
"... "A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights." ..."
"... Coincidentally, outgoing-NSA Director Keith Alexander said last year that he was working on drastically cutting the number of sys admins at that agency by upwards of 90 percent - but didn't say it was because they could be exploited by similar tactics waged by adversarial intelligence groups. ..."
Mar 21, 2014 | news.slashdot.org

In its quest to take down suspected terrorists and criminals abroad, the United States National Security Agency has adopted the practice of hacking the system administrators that oversee private computer networks, new documents reveal.

In its quest to take down suspected terrorists and criminals abroad, the United States National Security Agency has adopted the practice of hacking the system administrators that oversee private computer networks, new documents reveal.

The Intercept has published a handful of leaked screenshots taken from an internal NSA message board where one spy agency specialist spoke extensively about compromising not the computers of specific targets, but rather the machines of the system administrators who control entire networks.

Journalist Ryan Gallagher reported that Edward Snowden, a former sys admin for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, provided The Intercept with the internal documents, including one from 2012 that's bluntly titled "I hunt sys admins."

According to the posts - some labeled "top secret" - NSA staffers should not shy away from hacking sys admins: a successful offensive mission waged against an IT professional with extensive access to a privileged network could provide the NSA with unfettered capabilities, the analyst acknowledged.

"Who better to target than the person that already has the 'keys to the kingdom'?" one of the posts reads.

"They were written by an NSA official involved in the agency's effort to break into foreign network routers, the devices that connect computer networks and transport data across the Internet," Gallagher wrote for the article published late Thursday. "By infiltrating the computers of system administrators who work for foreign phone and Internet companies, the NSA can gain access to the calls and emails that flow over their networks."

Since last June, classified NSA materials taken by Snowden and provided to certain journalists have exposed an increasing number of previously-secret surveillance operations that range from purposely degrading international encryption standards and implanting malware in targeted machines, to tapping into fiber-optic cables that transfer internet traffic and even vacuuming up data as its moved into servers in a decrypted state.

The latest leak suggests that some NSA analysts took a much different approach when tasked with trying to collect signals intelligence that otherwise might not be easily available. According to the posts, the author advocated for a technique that involves identifying the IP address used by the network's sys admin, then scouring other NSA tools to see what online accounts used those addresses to log-in. Then by using a previously-disclosed NSA tool that tricks targets into installing malware by being misdirected to fake Facebook servers, the intelligence analyst can hope that the sys admin's computer is sufficiently compromised and exploited.

Once the NSA has access to the same machine a sys admin does, American spies can mine for a trove of possibly invaluable information, including maps of entire networks, log-in credentials, lists of customers and other details about how systems are wired. In turn, the NSA has found yet another way to, in theory, watch over all traffic on a targeted network.

"Up front, sys admins generally are not my end target. My end target is the extremist/terrorist or government official that happens to be using the network some admin takes care of," the NSA employee says in the documents.

When reached for comment by The Intercept, NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines said that, "A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights."

Coincidentally, outgoing-NSA Director Keith Alexander said last year that he was working on drastically cutting the number of sys admins at that agency by upwards of 90 percent - but didn't say it was because they could be exploited by similar tactics waged by adversarial intelligence groups. Gen. Alexander's decision came just weeks after Snowden - previously one of around 1,000 sys admins working on the NSA's networks, according to Reuters - walked away from his role managing those networks with a trove of classified information.

[Nov 30, 2017] How Facebook and Google threaten public health and democracy by Roger McNamee

Notable quotes:
"... In an interview this week with Axios, Facebook's original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children. ..."
"... The term "addiction" is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2,000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing. ..."
"... From the earliest days of tabloid newspapers, publishers realized the power of exploiting human emotions. To win a battle for attention, publishers must give users "what they want," content that appeals to emotions, rather than intellect. Substance cannot compete with sensation, which must be amplified constantly, lest consumers get distracted and move on. ..."
"... Roger McNamee is Managing Director at Elevation Partners and an early stage investor in Google and Facebook. ..."
Nov 30, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

In an interview this week with Axios, Facebook's original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children.

This admission, by one of the architects of Facebook, comes on the heels of last week's hearings by Congressional committees about Russian interference in the 2016 election, where the general counsels of Facebook, Alphabet (parent of Google and YouTube), and Twitter attempted to deflect responsibility for manipulation of their platforms.

The term "addiction" is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2,000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing.

In terms of scale, Facebook and YouTube are similar to Christianity and Islam respectively. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, 1.3 billion check in every day. More than 1.5 billion people use YouTube. Other services owned by these companies also have user populations of 1 billion or more.

Facebook and Alphabet are huge because users are willing to trade privacy and openness for "convenient and free." Content creators resisted at first, but user demand forced them to surrender control and profits to Facebook and Alphabet.

The sad truth is that Facebook and Alphabet have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. They have consciously combined persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry with technology in ways that threaten public health and democracy. The issue, however, is not social networking or search. It is advertising business models. Let me explain.

From the earliest days of tabloid newspapers, publishers realized the power of exploiting human emotions. To win a battle for attention, publishers must give users "what they want," content that appeals to emotions, rather than intellect. Substance cannot compete with sensation, which must be amplified constantly, lest consumers get distracted and move on.

"If it bleeds, it leads" has guided editorial choices for more than 150 years, but has only become a threat to society in the past decade, since the introduction of smartphones. Media delivery platforms like newspapers, television, books, and even computers are persuasive, but people only engage with them for a few hours each day and every person receives the same content.

Today's battle for attention is not a fair fight. Every competitor exploits the same techniques, but Facebook and Alphabet have prohibitive advantages: personalization and smartphones. Unlike older media, Facebook and Alphabet know essentially everything about their users, tracking them everywhere they go on the web and often beyond.

By making every experience free and easy, Facebook and Alphabet became gatekeepers on the internet, giving them levels of control and profitability previously unknown in media. They exploit data to customize each user's experience and siphon profits from content creators. Thanks to smartphones, the battle for attention now takes place on a single platform that is available every waking moment. Competitors to Facebook and Alphabet do not have a prayer.

Facebook and Alphabet monetize content through advertising that is targeted more precisely than has ever been possible before. The platforms create "filter bubbles" around each user, confirming pre-existing beliefs and often creating the illusion that everyone shares the same views. Platforms do this because it is profitable. The downside of filter bubbles is that beliefs become more rigid and extreme. Users are less open to new ideas and even to facts.

Of the millions of pieces of content that Facebook can show each user at a given time, they choose the handful most likely to maximize profits. If it were not for the advertising business model, Facebook might choose content that informs, inspires, or enriches users. Instead, the user experience on Facebook is dominated by appeals to fear and anger. This would be bad enough, but reality is worse.

Any advertiser can get access to any Facebook user over unsupervised, automated systems. Five million advertisers do so every month. The Russians took advantage of this first to sow discord among Americans and then to interfere in the 2016 election. Other bad actors exploited Facebook in other areas. One company surveilled protest groups and marketed that data to police departments.

Financial institutions were investigated for using Facebook advertising tools to discriminate on the basis of race. Facebook is not the only problem. Alphabet provides Chromebooks to elementary schools with the objective of capturing the attention, and perhaps even behavioral data, about children. At the same time, Alphabet's YouTube Kids is a site filled with inappropriate content that creates addiction in children far too young to resist.

While optimizing for profit is understandable and generally appropriate, Facebook and Alphabet have caused harm that requires serious discussion and remediation.

Facebook and Alphabet assert they are not media companies and therefore are not responsible for what third parties do on their platforms. While that position might be reasonable from start-ups, it is not appropriate from companies who control seven of the top 10 platforms on the internet and exhibit the behaviors of monopolies.

Society regulates products that create addiction. We have laws to prevent discrimination and election manipulation. None of these regulations and laws has yet been applied to Facebook and Google . The time has come.

Roger McNamee is Managing Director at Elevation Partners and an early stage investor in Google and Facebook.

[Nov 30, 2017] How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy by Roger McNamee

Nov 30, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

In an interview this week with Axios, Facebook's original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children.

This admission, by one of the architects of Facebook, comes on the heels of last week's hearings by Congressional committees about Russian interference in the 2016 election, where the general counsels of Facebook, Alphabet (parent of Google and YouTube), and Twitter attempted to deflect responsibility for manipulation of their platforms.

The term "addiction" is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2,000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing.

In terms of scale, Facebook and YouTube are similar to Christianity and Islam respectively. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, 1.3 billion check in every day. More than 1.5 billion people use YouTube. Other services owned by these companies also have user populations of 1 billion or more.

Facebook and Alphabet are huge because users are willing to trade privacy and openness for "convenient and free." Content creators resisted at first, but user demand forced them to surrender control and profits to Facebook and Alphabet.

The sad truth is that Facebook and Alphabet have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. They have consciously combined persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry with technology in ways that threaten public health and democracy. The issue, however, is not social networking or search. It is advertising business models. Let me explain.

From the earliest days of tabloid newspapers, publishers realized the power of exploiting human emotions. To win a battle for attention, publishers must give users "what they want," content that appeals to emotions, rather than intellect. Substance cannot compete with sensation, which must be amplified constantly, lest consumers get distracted and move on.

"If it bleeds, it leads" has guided editorial choices for more than 150 years, but has only become a threat to society in the past decade, since the introduction of smartphones. Media delivery platforms like newspapers, television, books, and even computers are persuasive, but people only engage with them for a few hours each day and every person receives the same content.

Today's battle for attention is not a fair fight. Every competitor exploits the same techniques, but Facebook and Alphabet have prohibitive advantages: personalization and smartphones. Unlike older media, Facebook and Alphabet know essentially everything about their users, tracking them everywhere they go on the web and often beyond.

By making every experience free and easy, Facebook and Alphabet became gatekeepers on the internet, giving them levels of control and profitability previously unknown in media. They exploit data to customize each user's experience and siphon profits from content creators. Thanks to smartphones, the battle for attention now takes place on a single platform that is available every waking moment. Competitors to Facebook and Alphabet do not have a prayer.

Facebook and Alphabet monetize content through advertising that is targeted more precisely than has ever been possible before. The platforms create "filter bubbles" around each user, confirming pre-existing beliefs and often creating the illusion that everyone shares the same views. Platforms do this because it is profitable. The downside of filter bubbles is that beliefs become more rigid and extreme. Users are less open to new ideas and even to facts.

Of the millions of pieces of content that Facebook can show each user at a given time, they choose the handful most likely to maximize profits. If it were not for the advertising business model, Facebook might choose content that informs, inspires, or enriches users. Instead, the user experience on Facebook is dominated by appeals to fear and anger. This would be bad enough, but reality is worse.

Any advertiser can get access to any Facebook user over unsupervised, automated systems. Five million advertisers do so every month. The Russians took advantage of this first to sow discord among Americans and then to interfere in the 2016 election. Other bad actors exploited Facebook in other areas. One company surveilled protest groups and marketed that data to police departments.

Financial institutions were investigated for using Facebook advertising tools to discriminate on the basis of race. Facebook is not the only problem. Alphabet provides Chromebooks to elementary schools with the objective of capturing the attention, and perhaps even behavioral data, about children. At the same time, Alphabet's YouTube Kids is a site filled with inappropriate content that creates addiction in children far too young to resist.

While optimizing for profit is understandable and generally appropriate, Facebook and Alphabet have caused harm that requires serious discussion and remediation.

Facebook and Alphabet assert they are not media companies and therefore are not responsible for what third parties do on their platforms. While that position might be reasonable from start-ups, it is not appropriate from companies who control seven of the top 10 platforms on the internet and exhibit the behaviors of monopolies.

Society regulates products that create addiction. We have laws to prevent discrimination and election manipulation. None of these regulations and laws has yet been applied to Facebook and Google . The time has come.

Roger McNamee is Managing Director at Elevation Partners and an early stage investor in Google and Facebook.

[Nov 29, 2017] Google clearly can not be trusted

Anonymous , Disclaimer November 25, 2017 at 7:52 pm GMT

@m___

Boycott Google!!!! They clearly can not be trusted. Do you want to find only the websites that Google wants you to see? Then use a Google Search engine. Don't search on Google.

-- There are other search engines out there. But some of the ones that claim to preserve your privacy from Google's ever present snooping still search on Google. They just hide your IP by searching through another website. But there are other search engines out there that offer unbiased and uncensored searching.

Also, don't use Gmail. – Google spies on everything you say. That's not really a secret. They do it to make money selling y our info to advertising. Don't be surprised if after you tell your parents the happy news that they will soon have a grandchild if every Google ad on every webpage you visit wants to sell you baby furniture and baby food and lots of other baby stuff.

Don't use Google drive or spreadsheets or docs.

-- Again, Google spies on all of this to make money for themselves by selling your secrets.

Find other video venues than YouTube.

-- You are going to have to anyways, now that Google is actively censoring the content. Clearly, if you want to see anything that Google doesn't want you to see, you are going to have to find alternatives to Youtube . and they are there.

[Nov 22, 2017] MoA - Google Does Evil

Notable quotes:
"... Up to about 2006 or 2007 Google ..."
"... Google's algorithms now amount to censorship. Since August it downgrades websites that offer alternative views to the left of the pack. Searches that earlier led to the World Socialist Web Site or to Media Matters no longer show these sites, or show them way down the result pages. Traffic to these sites collapsed. ..."
"... Google has become a prime cooperator and contractor for U.S. intelligence services. The private data it collects from it users is fed the dark-site's databases. ..."
"... Since its beginning Google had some intimate connections with U.S. intelligence services (Long read: part 1 , part 2 ). The relation is a two way street. Google Earth and its map products were, for example, originally created by U.S. intelligence services . They were given to Google for practically nothing. Google makes profits from advertisements within those products. It is providing special versions back to the intelligence people. One can only speculate how much of its user data comes with those versions. ..."
"... Google, Twitter, Facebook -- these companies may never have been entirely neutral and non-partisan in the past, but we now know that they are most certainly not. They may not be wholly enthusiastic about filtering content, but it is clear they are now under great political pressure to do so. ..."
"... Google is pure propaganda, deepstate tool. ..."
"... Given how the Democratic Party actually blocks change, I consider them to be nothing more than controlled opposition. There is solid bi-partisan ("establishment") agreement on certain issues (not a complete list): ..."
Nov 22, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Up to about 2006 or 2007 Google provided an excellent search engine. It then started to prioritize and present more general results even where one searched for very specific information. It became cumbersome to search for and find details. The situation has since further deteriorated.

The Google News search is now completely useless. It delivers the main stream media trash without showing divergent views or opinions. What is the use of a search result page that links to twenty sites with the same slightly rewritten Associated Press story?

Google's algorithms now amount to censorship. Since August it downgrades websites that offer alternative views to the left of the pack. Searches that earlier led to the World Socialist Web Site or to Media Matters no longer show these sites, or show them way down the result pages. Traffic to these sites collapsed.

This week Google announced that it will censor RT.com , the website of the international Russian TV station: Google will 'de-rank' RT articles to make them harder to find – Eric Schmidt . Schmidt, the CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet , claims that he is "very strongly not in favor of censorship." That is a laughable. Intentional downgrading a website that has relevant content IS censorship. Down-ranking means that less people will find and come to the site. Its content will have less viewers. It will be censored out of the public perception.

The original Google algorithm used the number of links to one site as a measure for its relevance. It was reasonable. In 2004 Google's founder proclaimed :

"Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see."

Back then the motto of Google was "Don't be evil". When its new parent company Alphabet was launched that motto was discarded .

Google has become a prime cooperator and contractor for U.S. intelligence services. The private data it collects from it users is fed the dark-site's databases.

But its new evilness is not restricted to data. The company ran a campaign against homeless people near its headquarter in Venice California ( video ). Google conspired with other tech-giants to keep the wages of its engineers down.

Since its beginning Google had some intimate connections with U.S. intelligence services (Long read: part 1 , part 2 ). The relation is a two way street. Google Earth and its map products were, for example, originally created by U.S. intelligence services . They were given to Google for practically nothing. Google makes profits from advertisements within those products. It is providing special versions back to the intelligence people. One can only speculate how much of its user data comes with those versions.

Google 's smartphone operation system Android collects users' locations even when location services are disabled . There is no technical reason to do such. There is no reasonable explanation from Google why it does so.

Google early on sold out to the Democrats. Eric Schmidt is a Clinton/Obama acolyte. During the Obama administration Goggle's staff had at least 427 meetings at the White House . Emails from the letterbox of Clinton advisor Podesta, published by Wikileaks, show how Schmidt offered to promote Clinton even a year before she launched her campaign. Google paid staff helped her to organize.

Maybe Google was just buying goodwill with the White House to protect itself against the various anti-trust lawsuits it is engulfed in. It will do anything to avoid regulation of its monopolistic position and to protect its highly profitable business.

It is now, like other internet companies, under pressure to support the war party in creating a new Cold War with Russia. The "de-ranking" of RT.com show that it is willing to do so. It is degrading the quality of its product in exchange for political good-will from warmongers.

The best and most benign search engine available now is DuckDuckGo . Its quality is as good as Google's once was.

I recommend to use it as the standard and to avoid Google and its products wherever possible.

It is evil.

Posted by b on November 22, 2017 at 01:02 PM | Permalink

Jeff | Nov 22, 2017 1:07:25 PM | 1

I use Quant as search engine, and avoid Google as much as possible.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 22, 2017 1:36:43 PM | 2

I now use yandex for all things political. Duckduck go is also censored. A subject I was researching in 2013 no longer appears in duckduckgo search results.
Two hours of searching using every search term I could think of produced nothing. On yandex, first search term, first page, third result brought up reference to the Australian court case I was looking for and had previously researched on duckduckgo. On looking into it, I found some changes were made in duckduckgo sometime in 2014.

Colin | Nov 22, 2017 1:55:45 PM | 3

Google, Twitter, Facebook -- these companies may never have been entirely neutral and non-partisan in the past, but we now know that they are most certainly not. They may not be wholly enthusiastic about filtering content, but it is clear they are now under great political pressure to do so.
xor | Nov 22, 2017 2:11:03 PM | 4
I've been using DuckDuckGo for a couple of years now and it's quite good. It's mainly focussed on English sites (my impression at least) but has less robots that track websites so updates are slightly less frequent. I've tried to shun Google products as much as I can which is not easy (even MoA uses Google's recaptcha). These are:

The problem is Wikipedia also has been suffering from the same bias and censership illness as Google. Wikipedia for one can not be consulted for something that's remotely related to politics. Whenever you correct an article or add something very touchy even when there is undesputed evidence from let's say Wikileaks, the Wikipedia gate keepers delete it with a comment like "if it's not in a NYT article, Guardian or other MSM you can't add it".

Mina | Nov 22, 2017 2:27:02 PM | 9
What about epic browser?
Anonymous | Nov 22, 2017 2:29:24 PM | 10
Google's Eric Schmidt, arbiter of news, has long history with Obama & Clinton
http://world.news.digitaltippingpoint.com/news/googles-eric-schmidt-arbiter-of-news-has-long-history-with-obama-clinton

Google is pure propaganda, deepstate tool. RT / Sputnik is only the beginning in this attack on freedom of speech.

Jackrabbit | Nov 22, 2017 2:30:54 PM | 11
Other recommendations:

>> Firefox web browser
They just released a new version, "Firefox Quantum", that is about as fast as Chrome.

Also: use Noscript and Privacy Badger addons

>> Keepass to save passwords. Keep the password database on a thumb drive for added safety.

Temporarily Sane | Nov 22, 2017 2:33:45 PM | 12
@1 Jeff

Qwant = Bing (Microsoft)

Duck Duck Go and Startpage (if you want Google results) are the way to go.

Peter AU 1 | Nov 22, 2017 2:36:46 PM | 13
Thought I had corrected typos @2 before posting...

I had been using yandex browser for most things as I find it better to use than firefox, but a couple of months back found I could not post comments to the likes of MoA, so use firefox for the blogs, with duckduckgo to look up non political stuff like gardening, and yandex for most everything else.

Anonymous | Nov 22, 2017 2:48:40 PM | 14
VPN also.

I don't think we are far off where people will get punished by law for their views and/or blogs like these will get shut down.
That there is already illegal spying by western states on people like us is also on going no doubt about it.

Jackrabbit | Nov 22, 2017 2:49:35 PM | 15
b: Google early on sold out to the Democrats.

Given how the Democratic Party actually blocks change, I consider them to be nothing more than controlled opposition. There is solid bi-partisan ("establishment") agreement on certain issues (not a complete list):

>> pervasive surveillance ("If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear") ;

>> propaganda (MSM fake news is OK; what YOU say will get close examination) ;

>> militarism (laud the police/military at every opportunity - these heroes can do no wrong, even when their commanders order them to do so) ;

>> Israel ;

>> corporate welfare and "trickle-down" economics (despite it's having been debunked).

[Nov 11, 2017] Why You Should NEVER Buy an Amazon Echo or Even Get Near One

Nov 11, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

flora , November 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

A lot of people seem to think that because they aren't doing anything wrong now, that today's innocent behavior will still be seen as innocent 10 or 15 years from now.

Just imagine what some future Sen. Joe McCarthy could do with these stored conversations and meta data, say 15 years from now, if the political winds shift again. Imagine some future blowhard, publicity seeking politician whipping up a hysteria for political purposes, destroying careers of people in the process. Imagine "Are you now, or have you every been a member of a club that read and discussed book X ?" for example. Today's perfectly innocent actions being twisted to fit a narrative for political gain years from now. It's not paranoia to consider the possibility.

Keeping Echo and its like out of the house could be considered an insurance practice against future political opportunists, imo.

D , November 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

I think we should all let it really sink in that people are perfectly happy giving up their privacy. All this talk about people not realizing that they are is naive, they just don't care. much like they just can't bothered to go vote.

You're kidding right? No one I know is, and there've been numerous commenters on this site who've noted they aren't. So all of us are nobodies? You've taken an actual count? You think all of the horrid toys recording children to cloud databases is okay? And what about those millions who have no internet access, you've asked them, or are they not worthy of any consideration?

Lastly, as someone who's never used Amazon, Facebook, or Google services, outside of using Google search in the early 2000's, I'm quite sick of being potentially pulled into someone else's willful giveaway of my private information, conversation, or photograph. I was more than disturbed to find some idiot behind the counter using his Alexa at a store I visited. People have a right to give up their own information, but no right whatsoever to give up someone else's without informed consent.

[Nov 11, 2017] Why You Should NEVER Buy an Amazon Echo or Even Get Near One

Nov 11, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

flora , November 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

A lot of people seem to think that because they aren't doing anything wrong now, that today's innocent behavior will still be seen as innocent 10 or 15 years from now.

Just imagine what some future Sen. Joe McCarthy could do with these stored conversations and meta data, say 15 years from now, if the political winds shift again. Imagine some future blowhard, publicity seeking politician whipping up a hysteria for political purposes, destroying careers of people in the process. Imagine "Are you now, or have you every been a member of a club that read and discussed book X ?" for example. Today's perfectly innocent actions being twisted to fit a narrative for political gain years from now. It's not paranoia to consider the possibility.

Keeping Echo and its like out of the house could be considered an insurance practice against future political opportunists, imo.

D , November 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

I think we should all let it really sink in that people are perfectly happy giving up their privacy. All this talk about people not realizing that they are is naive, they just don't care. much like they just can't bothered to go vote.

You're kidding right? No one I know is, and there've been numerous commenters on this site who've noted they aren't. So all of us are nobodies? You've taken an actual count? You think all of the horrid toys recording children to cloud databases is okay? And what about those millions who have no internet access, you've asked them, or are they not worthy of any consideration?

Lastly, as someone who's never used Amazon, Facebook, or Google services, outside of using Google search in the early 2000's, I'm quite sick of being potentially pulled into someone else's willful giveaway of my private information, conversation, or photograph. I was more than disturbed to find some idiot behind the counter using his Alexa at a store I visited. People have a right to give up their own information, but no right whatsoever to give up someone else's without informed consent.

[Nov 10, 2017] Why You Should NEVER Buy an Amazon Echo or Even Get Near One

Notable quotes:
"... What bothers me is articles in mainstream media sources that assume that most people own and use these devices. Most people I know (and I'm not an old codger) either can't afford, don't want to waste time or are afraid of this junk. ..."
"... The mainstream media has long been entangled with tech monopolies, providing their every 'innovation' with not just a sheen of legitimacy, but an aura of inevitability. ..."
"... The fact that Twitter has hit something of a wall in terms of active users and that its influence on anything is far from established is never mentioned. And as this site has thoroughly investigated, the same combination of tech-ignorance and PR leg work continues to dominate coverage of Uber. ..."
"... The people I know who use it the most and with the least critical of an eye are those who didn't grow up with it – people in their 30s-40s. ..."
"... The younger ones, for whom smartphones were a fact of life rather than some new thing that appeared in a blaze of publicity, are more literate in both their uses and their more sinister significance. ..."
"... Then there's cost. A true stateful packet inspection firewall with separate DMZ implemented in stand-alone hardware is impractical and expensive for a typical user. ..."
"... The ShieldsUP! site might be of help to some commentators and is easy to use to test your firewall- https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2 ..."
"... By Any Means Necessary ..."
"... by the late cold war, the US had the ability to transmit fake radio conversations from surveillance aircraft using voices constructed from the content of previous intercepts. ..."
"... A couple of very old data points to flesh this out more. Two decades ago I read that mobs like the US State Department would play classic music at meetings so that the old laser-detecting vibrations-to-record-voices trick would not work but that probably does not work any more. ..."
"... Likewise with 'smart' TVs. Why aren't there closing cases, drapes, and other furniture for the niche consumer who wants them? There is nothing inherently attractive about a blank LCD screen. ..."
"... phone cases with small sliding doors over the rear camera ..."
"... While the article is written with respect to surveillance's impact on the individual it is important to note that the new technology here is the aggregation of surveillance onto crowds. The individual is less important than the group. Manage the group and the individual is easy. ..."
"... We also own and use cell phones and laptops that have the same functions, with no more compunction. I'm sure there are people and settings for which this warning is appropriate, but I'm personally unconcerned. Certainly any technology can be misused, but this one is pretty far down my list of worries. ..."
"... Frankly, whatever expectation of privacy you have in your daily life is unwarranted. The genie is out of the bottle -- and it's sitting in your car, your purse, on the shelf, in your 'smart' TV etc. I believe we have to adapt, each in our own way and in accordance with our degree of paranoia, because none of this is going away. Just because you don't invite Alexa into you home doesn't mean her cousins aren't going to drop by. ..."
"... Frankly, whatever expectation of privacy you have in your daily life is unwarranted. The genie is out of the bottle -- and it's sitting in your car, your purse, on the shelf, in your 'smart' TV etc. ..."
"... The problem is really one of data retention; as usual there is no reason for a voice assistant to run in some megacorp's private cloud. We all have hefty computers at home more than capable of running these things and keeping the whole thing private – the voice data, the request, etc. ..."
"... No relatively advanced nation state with a decent-sized security state apparatus is going to allow a native high tech firm to flourish without a heavily deal of cooperation. ..."
"... Hell, in most cases in the U.S. it is the defensive industry since the end of WW2 that is a key player in terms of early rounds of funding and forming links to corporate research centers & university researchers. ..."
"... As far as I'm concerned, Amazon and Google ARE (at least a part of) the state security apparatus. Links between the NSA and Google have been well-established, and Amazon is a CIA contractor. ..."
"... When he was approached by family for advice on which of these devices to buy, he flat out told them they are all generally equal [for personal use], the question is who do you want to collect your data? ..."
"... Actually, I wonder if it would be useful to buy one under your name, and then play a pre-recorded message next to it over and over again just for the purposes of spoofing or giving bad data to Google/Amazon/NSA/etc. as a counter-survellience measure. This way, if you are an activist or protester, you can give them a steady stream of bad or useless data in whatever file they have collected on you to make your "profile" extremely inaccurate. ..."
"... Two, if you have my skillset and want to know if Echo is transmitting data to Amazon at any given time, do a packet capture on your network and find out. You won't see what's being sent because it's encrypted obviously, but you can see how much data is being sent, which is enough to know if the Echo is sending all the sounds it hears. It is not. ..."
"... Well if you consider that when I launch this page, 25 trackers attempt to launch and follow my browsing then it is not just Amazon who are playing this game ..."
Nov 09, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Enrique Bermudez , , November 9, 2017 at 6:30 am

"Don't buy the stupid Alexa/google assistant/etc" is a take of such obviousness that I wonder why it even needs to be made.

Why anyone would want one of these things if not a brain-dead marketing slave is completely beyond me. What exactly can it do that you can't do more or less just as easily from a smartphone or PC? I hate smartphones but obviously have one because of the potential uses in terms of having internet access in your pocket if away from home, etc etc. Alexa is in your home only. Where you have a PC.

How is Alexa better than just going to one's laptop and entering a search query? Isn't, clearly. Can be much more precise with the computer.

Reminds me of last year's tech crap marketing gimmick – the smart watch. Which, uh, does what your phone (that you need to have to make the smart watch work) does but not as well and on a microscopic screen.

Or crap gimmick prior – Windows 8. Yaaay! No more need for a mouse and keyboard! Can do everything (with far less precision) via a touch-screen! Except a mouse/keyboard setup will always work 100x better.

fajensen , , November 9, 2017 at 6:46 am

It needs to be made because 24/7 surveillance is being integrated into products that one does not specifically buy from Google/Apple/Amazon.

Sonos One, an internet loudspeaker / sound system that one uses with services like Spotify, for example, comes with voice control now ( https://www.hifiklubben.se/streaming/sonos/sonos-one-tradlos-hogtalare )

The "smart" digital plague will spread to the entire product range, one suspect. Can one maybe dodge for another 10 years by buying Now -- perhaps -- OTOH maybe "They" can update the thing remotely and suddenly those CIA ghouls are inside of my bedroom!

The "voice activated" business models needs to go the way of the 3D Television!

Bugs Bunny , , November 9, 2017 at 8:23 am

What bothers me is articles in mainstream media sources that assume that most people own and use these devices. Most people I know (and I'm not an old codger) either can't afford, don't want to waste time or are afraid of this junk.

That said, my bourgeois American friends are all fully equipped with all the latest Apple products even if they don't know what they need them for. Which means that the devices get passed on to their kids and then they spend all their time playing mindless games and watching weird Youtube video on it. The old Macs pile up in a closet and the Apple TV sits disused next to the flat screen.

tempestteacup , , November 9, 2017 at 3:06 pm

The mainstream media has long been entangled with tech monopolies, providing their every 'innovation' with not just a sheen of legitimacy, but an aura of inevitability. Here is the execrable Suzanne Moore in yesterday's Guardian, in an article that was actually about something entirely different (chaos in the Tory Party):

As someone who once got a driving licence when they really shouldn't have, I am looking forward to driverless cars. It's a shame a lot of people will lose their livelihoods, but, hey ho, that's the future. In fact, it feels a lot like the present. We currently have a driverless government. No one is in control – but nor is there a robotic system effective enough to govern us.

Some of it could be explained as common or garden ignorance of what technology does, its possibilities and how it actually operates. Some because columnists love invoking poorly understood subjects that provide a platform for aggrandising visions of the future. But I remember, too, that a few years ago marked a perceptible shift not just to reliance on Twitter utterances for reportage but the characterising of what was said there as a significant source of public opinion. Suddenly, it was all over the place – number of retweets, trending hashtags, sick burns. The fact that Twitter has hit something of a wall in terms of active users and that its influence on anything is far from established is never mentioned. And as this site has thoroughly investigated, the same combination of tech-ignorance and PR leg work continues to dominate coverage of Uber.

I'll leave my tinfoil hat in its bandbox and allow others to infer why exactly this might be so. From personal experience, which includes quite a lot of contact with people in their late teens and early 20s, the ubiquity of these technologies is well overstated. It may even be the case that social media have already peaked in their present form.

The people I know who use it the most and with the least critical of an eye are those who didn't grow up with it – people in their 30s-40s.

The younger ones, for whom smartphones were a fact of life rather than some new thing that appeared in a blaze of publicity, are more literate in both their uses and their more sinister significance.

Wisdom Seeker , , November 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm

re: "articles in mainstream media sources that assume that most people own and use these devices" That's done on purpose, part of the social conditioning done by the media, on behalf of their customers, the advertisers. I'm not an Ayn Rand fan, but this process of media manipulation was described in The Fountainhead (1943).

MarkE , , November 9, 2017 at 10:04 am

Agree. The triviality of the benefits of this new technology is mind-blowing compared with the price in privacy. My rules for living with technology:

– assume that anything you say over the phone or transmit over the internet has been broadcast,

– use all the other privacy measures you can – tape over the camera, disable microphones and Bluetooth, etc

– if it's not worth reading the fine print before you press "accept" it's not worth having – do nothing through the Cloud

– stay at least two generations behind the latest release for anything

– someone else can pay the higher price, work out the bugs and find the privacy landmines

Notorious P.A.T. , , November 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm

a brain-dead marketing slave

Oh, please. Many people just like to have the "latest thing." Many others perceive devices like this as labor-saving machines, whether they really are or not. Don't be so condescending.

Octopii , , November 9, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I used to work in home technology in a very wealthy market, and my clients were eager for voice control. We could wire the house to the teeth, sell all kinds of very nifty touchscreens and ipad apps and remote controls (with racks of electronics at the head end). Shortly after the Echo was released I came upon the lady of one house listening to music from it in the kitchen. What she said is seared into my memory as something so shocking that I had to reevaluate the profession I'd been in for fifteen years. She loved the thing. It was so easy – just say "play ____" and that is it.

Their audio system was a marvel, one of the best sounding houses I've ever done. She didn't care, didn't care to use it. Reduced friction is the most important thing. That is why people buy these devices. They're inexpensive and they're easy.

It's like candy – the sweetness masks the hazard.

jrs , , November 9, 2017 at 4:41 pm

"What exactly can it do that you can't do more or less just as easily from a smartphone or PC?"

yes and the spying can be done by a smartphone too, and a PC (well to a limited degree with the PC I guess, not many PCs with voice recognition as far as I know,)

Ook , , November 9, 2017 at 8:38 pm

Actually, I don't know of many PCs without voice recognition, and this goes back 10 years or so.

jackiebass , , November 9, 2017 at 6:51 am

Devises like an iPad or cell phone that does a voice search can also do this. When you purchase technology you are giving up your privacy. even if you don't you can be tracked by computer controlled cameras with scanners. I believe Britain is ahead of the US in public surveillance. I think they are actually the test ground that will later be implemented in the US. Like in Orwell's 1984 big brother is always watching. I've read this book 3 times and probably will reread it again in the near future.

Yves Smith Post author , , November 9, 2017 at 7:15 am

I don't own any of those either. And with the Echo you are allowing much greater intrusion, since while TPTB can activate your phone/voice activated cell as a listening device, the Echo is on by default all the time.

jrs , , November 9, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Yes, they are universally surveiling your driving as well if they want to, tracking your vehicle multiple times as you cross town. Whether everyone is important enough to get this treatment or only activists depends I guess. And you can't opt out of that just by not buying something. Don't buy a car? Oh maybe, if we assume they aren't watching public transit, which I'm sure they are some.

cnchal , , November 9, 2017 at 6:58 am

Alexa – fuck off. A gibberish generator is called for, to piss into Bezos cloud.

Michael Fiorillo , , November 9, 2017 at 7:35 am

Indeed, everyone's default program should be "Contaminate the data!"

PDB , , November 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Either that or tell your Echo about how great Trump is.

QuarterBack , , November 9, 2017 at 7:36 am

As these spy technologies become more and more ubiquitous and capable, I am actually less worried about what various nation states may be using them for than what nefarious man on the street players might be able to accomplish by leveraging bits of this very powerful, expanding, and largely unprotected ecosystem.

For every James Bond or 1984 scenario, there are thousands of potential applications for conmen, stalkers, insider traders, jealous spouses, off-the-reservation Deputy Sheriffs, sociopathic pranksters, and on and on. Like it or not, this genie has left the bottle and is here to stay. As a society, we need to get smart fast about the power and very real threats that this infrastructure makes possible. If we don't start focusing significant attention on how to mitigate these threats, we will experience and very painful period while the inmates run the asylum.

Troutwaxer , , November 9, 2017 at 10:15 pm

"The street finds it's own uses for things." – William Gibson

Wade Riddick , , November 9, 2017 at 7:42 am

Apple was confronted with the same problem in facial recognition for the iPhone X but – like the fingerprints – the facial data is stored on the user's device, processed by local AI (the Bionic CPU) and never sent to Apple – which is marginally better.

You have the same problem with On-Star in your car and the new internet connected TVs. Most computers have mics too.

The more IoT they throw at things, the more points of failure there are from Russian hackers to EMP. There needs to be backup manual on/off and operations designed into everything. I grew up coding and there's no way I let coders steer my car.

I also grew up the son of a prosecutor. No way I tell someone what I had for lunch or where I'm going.

The 'sharing economy' boils down to a loss of property rights. The right of ownership is the right to exclude someone else from using your property and the socialists in corporate America don't want you telling them they can't have access to your stuff.

The real issue here isn't just theft; it's also trespass. What happens when people start planting evidence of contraband on these systems now that we can fake people's voices with all these samples?

How long will it be before we leap from fake news to fake evidence?

"Alexa, how do you weaponize anthrax?"

Left in Wisconsin , , November 9, 2017 at 11:01 am

I think it's a comment about the ability of products you ostensibly own to spy on you and share information with our corporate overlords without your consent. Granted socialism is a term variously defined by different people but I'm not sure this fits the anyone's definition. Unless, like some, one thinks fascists are socialists.

Wisdom Seeker , , November 9, 2017 at 3:35 pm

"socialists in corporate America"

Not the same kind of socialism that most here conceive of. But read that in the mindset of, say, banking policy before/after the Great Recession ("privatize the gains and socialize the losses"), Google ("all of society's data belong to us"), or any of the various cartels ("let's rewrite the tax code again for our benefit at society's expense") and you understand that what he means is that the corporate "socialists" want society/government to give them more more more.

Wade Riddick , , November 9, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Thanks for defending me! You're right. I was pointing out the socialization of risk.

After some reflection, I would also place this issue in the broader context of the wars of enclosure, given the recent anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. We've lost the forest. Now we're literally losing our homes from the inside out, from forged foreclosure docs to eavesdropping from inside the house. (Except the landlord doesn't even need the eaves for eavesdropping anymore.)

As the immortal bards of the internet might phrase it, All your Cheezeburgers is ours.

Trjckster , , November 9, 2017 at 7:48 am

For accuracy I need to clarify this quote from CNET:

Amazon Echo is always listening. From the moment you wake up Echo to the end of your command, your voice is recorded and transcribed.

Echo may always to listening, but that doesn't mean it is always recording and sending audio to Amazon, the key phrase not covered is "the moment you wake up Echo". The "wake word" used to trigger an Echo (or Siri/Cortana/Google) is a critical design limitation that these assistants have to work around, as for responsiveness/accuracy the voice recognition needs to be done on the device itself. This is why the "wake word" is limited to one or a small set of words (Alexa/Echo/Computer), as detecting it is quite difficult to do on simple hardware locally and quickly.

Now, this doesn't rule out the Echo just sending audio all the time, but it would be consume a lot of bandwidth/storage/processing to do so, making it impractical to do so on a large scale and easily noticeable. I could imagine the NSA/CIA having a backdoor to do so (on individual devices) but not doing so all the time.

Yves Smith Post author , , November 9, 2017 at 8:15 am

Please re-read what I wrote.

First, voice does not take much bandwidth. These devices are in homes with friggin' Netflix or Google Prime streaming accounts, and you can still do other stuff like have your kids do their homework on the Internet at the same time. There's no bandwidth constraint here.

Second, my issue isn't Amazon. My issue is what we know from Snowden, that pretty much all Internet-enabled devices with a camera or a mike are able to spy on you. They can be turned on without you knowing it even when they appear to be off. Here you have Echo-Google Home which is on all the time, listening all the time, and Snowden made clear what the NSA wants is total data capture. IMHO is is incredibly naive to think they won't do that.

Odysseus , , November 9, 2017 at 10:46 am

There's no bandwidth constraint here.

Yes, but just because something is possible doesn't mean it's mandatory. Batman was just a movie. The capability to drill down and spot check people of interest is different than the capability to run large scale correlation across geographically large territories, or even target city blocks.

Home networks can be air gapped and firewalled in ways that ensure that you control what gets out. That's harder to do for things like cell phones, which is why Snowden had to take more extreme measures there. Alexa devices don't yet come with an integrated cell phone.

There are some serious privacy implications, but they're a step or two further way from immediate real world implementations.

https://www.wired.com/story/the-first-alexa-phone-gets-amazon-even-closer-to-total-domination/

Clive , , November 9, 2017 at 11:18 am

Firstly, the unshakable faith I see that people have in their tech is startling. Firewalls are most definitely not infallible because testing their implementations and configurations is such a lengthy process which most people have neither the time nor the skill to conduct properly. Most of us just accept the out of the box settings and leave it at that.

Then there's cost. A true stateful packet inspection firewall with separate DMZ implemented in stand-alone hardware is impractical and expensive for a typical user. So while anorak-wearing tech-savvy people might consider it, the vast majority of Echo / Google Home / Siri users definitely would not. I'm a bit of an anorak so could do all the things I've mentioned in terms of having the requisite knowledge, but there are way, way too many taxes on my time already to make me set aside the mental and time requirements this would entail. Not least because you have to keep testing at regular intervals just in case some update or behind-your-back policy changes got done by your ISP or O/S vendor as part of, ironically, security patches. You can't merely set it up and then leave it alone from there on in.

Finally, all firewalls are a compromise between allowing necessary access to the outside world and cutting off things you don't want to get through. There's no getting around this. So there's no magic bullet. What you can do is reduce the attack surfaces. Echo et al are a big screaming "aim here" sign.

The Rev Kev , , November 9, 2017 at 6:15 pm

The ShieldsUP! site might be of help to some commentators and is easy to use to test your firewall- https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2

Joel , , November 9, 2017 at 2:31 pm

The point isn't that the NSA can or will spy on *everyone* just that can and do spy on *anyone.*

Mike , , November 9, 2017 at 7:53 am

I wonder about the future of this voice technology and responses to it.

1. If someone records enough samples of my voice (like when I answer telemarketing calls), can that person fool the bank software and log in as me?

2. Can there be an app that puts some voice emulator on my device, to then transmit a created voice to Amazon or Google? And could that made-up voice be changed every so often? (I guess I would need to tell Amazon/Google "just got a house sitter, work with that person." )

JeffC , , November 9, 2017 at 9:13 am

On question #1: William Burrows 2001 book By Any Means Necessary on the history of cold war surveillance flights near to and over the USSR mentions that by the late cold war, the US had the ability to transmit fake radio conversations from surveillance aircraft using voices constructed from the content of previous intercepts.

As a signal-processing engineer myself, I don't find the capability at all surprising. From a technical point of view, it's close to obvious. What is perhaps more surprising is this capability being mentioned in an unclassified publication. Apparently the censors thought it obvious as well.

Hunkerin' Down , , November 9, 2017 at 8:05 pm

Call me circumspect, or various other words. I don't answer calls from unknown numbers, and screen the known numbers to let the other person speak first, in part to assess if it is a live person whose voice I recognize. I assume that any caller may record my voice, and that more recording means more opportunity to manipulate digital capture records to deploy in any number of auto-response scenarios to my detriment. That only covers my abode. Then I need to be concerned about being out among 'em. Casual conversations anywhere could lead to unwanted consequences.

Now I need to get to work on that Faraday wardrobe.

David , , November 9, 2017 at 8:09 am

The "spooky technologies" you mention are indeed decades old. Essentially, for example, if you want to have a private meeting in any confined space with a window, you need not only to leave all electronic gadgets outside (that probably includes Apple Watches) but pull the curtains or otherwise find a way of stopping the glass pane from vibrating to the sound of your voice. And never sit with your computer in a position from which the screen is visible, even from a long distance.

As usual, it will be less the technologies themselves than the clever ideas for misusing them that are the problem. And if history is any guide, we have no idea, at the moment, what they will be. But what's already clear is that real-time monitoring of the movements, speech and even emotions of citizens by any reasonably advanced state is not that far away.

The Rev Kev , , November 9, 2017 at 6:35 pm

A couple of very old data points to flesh this out more. Two decades ago I read that mobs like the US State Department would play classic music at meetings so that the old laser-detecting vibrations-to-record-voices trick would not work but that probably does not work any more.

And for never sitting with your computer in a position from which the screen is visible, well, years ago I read that you can have a van parked nearby that would hone in on the radiation that your monitor would give off. Using that info, it would then in real time reconstruct exactly what you are seeing on your own screen.

These days those seem almost quaint now. These days you would probably have someone from a three-letter agency sit in his office and say Siri/Alexa/Echo give us a transcript of everything said in Frank's home and include whatever passwords he says and then sit down and watch a mirror image of Frank's computer monitor on a corner of his own.

A few years ago a journalist reporting on mobs like these watched as the article she was composing was being deleted right in front of her. She wistfully wondered if the person that was deleting her work at least liked what they read first.

rcd , , November 9, 2017 at 8:09 am

About a year ago, my husband and I were working at home and happened to discuss the problems we were having with our washer/dryer. Within 10 minutes, on the home page of a.n. other financial blog, an ad appeared in the r/h margin advertising .washer/dryers.

cocomaan , , November 9, 2017 at 8:12 am

I purposely destroyed the mics on the laptops in my house and have a separate peripheral mic I hook in if I need to talk to someone. Otherwise cell phones are kept in a separate room from my wife and I and tape over all the webcams.

What I really want to do is get a dedicated microwave to put our phones in at night as a faraday cage. Need to find some space to do that.

I know some people that have an Echo in their bedroom. Bizarre. But like self driving cars, all it will take is one incident of creepiness for the market to start to turn the other way. Amazon better behave itself.

Yves Smith Post author , , November 9, 2017 at 8:21 am

Is there an easy way to disable the mics in the laptops? I need to do that.

They sell phone Faraday sleeves on the Internet. You can test if they really work by trying to call your phone. I plan to get one. They have bigger sizes for tablets and laptops, and IIRC even a backpack.

likbez, November 9, 2017 at 11:31 pm

A drop of glue can help and is much simpler ;-). Without air flow sensitivity of the mic drops dramatically. In most cases collection of metadata (your calls, browsing history, email headers, etc) is enough for you already to be like a bug under the microscope.

The recording of conversations, unless you are a high value target, is completely redundant.

cocomaan , , November 9, 2017 at 8:33 am

There are ways to disable onboard mics through your settings. However, given what Snowden is saying about remote access, all the backdoors in major operating systems probably means someone can turn them back on without much effort.

Given how crappy most onboard mics are on laptops and the like, you might as well just shred them anyway. They are usually located next to the webcam inside a tiny hole. I just took an unbent paperclip, shoved it in there, and scratched around. I did this and tested the mic in the settings until it didn't register my voice.

There's probably more graceful ways to do it but that's how I handle things, hah! Next up will be my mini faraday cages, thanks for the recc.

The Rev Kev , , November 9, 2017 at 8:49 am

I don't think that there are any good answers here. Consider, Mark Zuckerberg who can afford to spend billions on his own computer security but still tapes over his laptop's camera and mics as revealed in a candid foto ( https://www.hackread.com/mark-zuckerbergs-laptop-cam-tape/ ) taken last year. The future seemed so simple in Star Trek when you would talk to the computer from any part of the ship – even though it was foreseen that sometimes there might be problems ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVA5HSE6igQ ). It was also clear here that your personal logs were your own and that they could be only accessed for vital reasons.

These smart devices like Alexa and Echo are like those smart TVs that not only have an inbuilt microphone (always on) and an internal camera filming what is in front of the TV but also having face recognition technology built in and all connected to servers. It creeps me out thinking about having one that could not only record your private conversations with your wife but would put them through truth-lie algorithms to tell when you lie. If hacked, it takes blackmail to a whole other level. That anecdote by rcd confirmed my worst suspicions. As far as those devices are concerned, not with this little black duck!

lb , , November 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

Technologies can be surreptitiously remotely enabled/manipulated on any device with some way in (probably via networking, possibly via the same listening system with different cues -- imagine your TV saying a secret code word to Alexa to put it in permanent-recording mode). This sort of use has been OK'd by the courts under warrant, sometimes, in cars via OnStar, et al. Whenever you disable a technology in the software menu of the device, there is the possibility of someone else re-enabling it (or the software ignoring your request) without your consent or awareness.

As a security researcher I've wanted to see a movement for DIY hardware toggles for sensitive components in a device. It should be possible to sever signals to/from any such component, or better, to de-power the component without compromising device integrity/stability. Any camera, microphone or biometric scanner is obviously sensitive. Any component of telephony, from cellular to wi-fi (those things announce your presence to the world as they 'scan', constantly, and can be responsive when the device is off!) to near-field communication is sensitive. You (should) want a physical airplane-mode toggle, not just a software configuration option that you're supposed to trust. This needs to apply to all of the devices in one's life and all of the components. As we enumerate the bits on a phone, the same logic must apply to a car (how many of us know how many microphones are there and where?). And we should expect vendors to make this impossible (out of apathy or out of defense of their own ability to listen). Maybe some vendors could court the security-minded and work to provide physically-auditable toggles but I doubt any market-based solution would solve this problem much.

(Asofyet I haven't seen a lot of movement on the DIY toggle front though maybe I've missed an example. I'm not a good person to start the work as I have a reverse midas touch with hardware hacking).

Knowing the possibility of a device lying to its user as to the disabling of snooping technology (or the possibility that something else was physically installed to spy), Bunnie and Snowden wrote guides for detecting that signaling is in use regardless of software settings, as a manual for journalists and others worried about it. Start here and search for more: https://www.pubpub.org/pub/direct-radio-introspection . I think those guys also talk about mitigation in newer work.

Just my two cents as to where a gap exists. Hopefully I'm not now on a !@#$list of the surveillance state just for thinking this aloud

FluffytheObeseCat , , November 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

All our electronic appliances are wide open by default, and I don't know why that fact is not addressed in the aftermarket. The total absence of aftermarket hard switches, camera covers, apertures, etc. is freakishly weird. It has been obvious for years that there is a small, but potentially profitable market for such items. It's as if the home 'window treatments' business were suddenly eradicated. As if shades and curtains simply didn't exist.

I do not understand why cell phone cases with small sliding doors over the rear camera aren't part of every major vendors product line up. Yet, there is no 'Speck' or 'Kate Spade' branded phone case on the market that allows the owner to cover even one camera.

Likewise with 'smart' TVs. Why aren't there closing cases, drapes, and other furniture for the niche consumer who wants them? There is nothing inherently attractive about a blank LCD screen. Hiding it behind a mahogany door seems more normal than not (particularly in an era when the wealthy hide their refrigerators and dishwashers behind cabinetry that matches the shelving). I truly remember more closed cases for TVs 20 years ago, when you needed a great cabinet to hold a 20" deep CRT in the living room. Shutters or doors on the central space of the 'entertainment center' armoire were common then.

Grebo , , November 9, 2017 at 7:53 pm

phone cases with small sliding doors over the rear camera

I used to have a Nokia which had a large sliding door over the camera. Opening it would activate the camera without having to fumble with any buttons or slidey icons. The shutter was a tactile button on the side too. Great for capturing fleeting moments as it would be ready to go in half a second. They won't do it now because it would make the phone too fat.

Carolinian , , November 9, 2017 at 8:14 am

One could point out that Snowden also did things like put mobile phones in the microwave (Faraday cage) and advised taking the battery out of cellphones, including the dumb kind, when not in use. And while not many of us have Echo–one hopes–we almost all have computers which are surveillance engines of the finest kind.

To me Echo is just another one of Bezos' dumb ideas to go with drone deliveries and no checkout retail stores. The haystack problem suggests electronic surveillance isn't all it's cracked up to be and these capabilities somehow fail to prevent domestic terrorism, mass shootings and all the other horrors that go on.

ambrit , , November 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

The other social cost of this, mentioned in passing, is the drive of corporations to get rid of even more workers. Out of work phone call centre people need to eat too. Unlike the promises during the original industrial revolutions, there seem not to be compensating forms of employment being promised or created to 'take up the slack' of the displaced workers.
Jackpot City, here we come!

jCandlish , , November 9, 2017 at 8:34 am

While the article is written with respect to surveillance's impact on the individual it is important to note that the new technology here is the aggregation of surveillance onto crowds. The individual is less important than the group. Manage the group and the individual is easy.

QuarterBack , , November 9, 2017 at 9:34 am

This reminds me of a long running (half) joke idea i had for a business plan. The premise is to perform various actions that will attract your street address to direct mail campaigns, then when your (snail mail) mailbox gets bombarded by junk mail, you can just sell the inbound stream to recycling plants. $$$ Whatcha think?

Doctor Duck , , November 9, 2017 at 8:48 am

I don't see a need per se for the Echo Dot we own, but it does provide some utility and (more often) amusement. And I realize that this is a species of "if you have nothing to hide ", but honestly, there's nothing said in its presence that could be remotely considered dangerous, incriminating or embarrassing.

We also own and use cell phones and laptops that have the same functions, with no more compunction. I'm sure there are people and settings for which this warning is appropriate, but I'm personally unconcerned. Certainly any technology can be misused, but this one is pretty far down my list of worries.

Frankly, whatever expectation of privacy you have in your daily life is unwarranted. The genie is out of the bottle -- and it's sitting in your car, your purse, on the shelf, in your 'smart' TV etc. I believe we have to adapt, each in our own way and in accordance with our degree of paranoia, because none of this is going away. Just because you don't invite Alexa into you home doesn't mean her cousins aren't going to drop by.

tegnost , , November 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

" Frankly, whatever expectation of privacy you have in your daily life is unwarranted. The genie is out of the bottle -- and it's sitting in your car, your purse, on the shelf, in your 'smart' TV etc. "

So there's no alternative, then? Of course I have a flip phone, listen to football on the the old combo cassette/radio "boom box", You are describing the state of affairs for my wealthier friends, however, and agree that those of you who feel confident enough in your circumstances to feel there is nothing you do that needs to be hidden, I'd say you and they are cognitively captured by faith in tech, but all that tech money comes from people who don't respect the need for privacy such as yourself. I'd say the genie is in fact out of the bottle and his name is donald trump, if I had a dime for every time I heard a techie or mba say "there's going to be winner's and loser's, with the tacit assumption being there will be a lot more losers than winners, and the tech/mba guys will always be the winners somehow this phrase that was once so popular has disappeared down the memory hole because the tech/mba crowd who are so intent on screwing everyone else because tina actually found themselves to be the losers. Whoocoodanode. Anecdotally and slightly off topic, a friend was attacked yesterday in seattle by one of the ubiquitous homeless people armed with a knife ("huge box cutter, didn't think you could buy one that big") in an upscale neighborhood. Luckily his car door was still open and he was able to get back in and lock the doors while the guy laid waste to his paint job. Picture these homeless people (who it doesn't really need to be pointed out don't have smart tv, iphone 10x, or modern equipment on their 72 pinto or winnebago) start to get together because they truly have nothing else to lose to the bezos of the world and start to attack you in your pseudo safe environment. When there are roving bands of these people you'll wish the donald was your biggest problem. So I've got a right back atcha, whatever expectation of safety and security you have is wildly misguided The genie has a message for you, we live a rapaciously greedy, stratified, and mean spirited country, and you'll get what you deserve, good and hard.
http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/000/299/691/1a4.jpg

JDHE , , November 9, 2017 at 10:20 am

Sounds like the "I don't see race" solution to electronic privacy invasion. Equally naive and regressive.

lyman alpha blob , , November 9, 2017 at 1:52 pm

there's nothing said in its presence that could be remotely considered dangerous, incriminating or embarrassing.

So presumably you are able to see into the future to know who will be in charge of deciding what exactly is considered dangerous, incriminating or embarrassing? Quite a gift you have

Scylla , , November 9, 2017 at 9:14 am

Not that anyone here is contemplating murder, but this is relevant to the conversation, I am sure: Amazon gives up Echo data to police in murder investigation

Eclair , , November 9, 2017 at 10:04 am

Not to make light of the intrusion problems posed by owning smart phones, smart TV's and laptops with cameras and microphones (I, too, have been rattled by seeing ads on websites for objects or conditions that I and my spouse had been discussing a day earlier), but I would be more likely to purchase a voice-activated command system that had a male persona; I would love to call out, lazily, "Ralph (or 'Bob' or 'James'), shut the friggin' cupboard doors and chill a glass of Pinot Grigio to exactly 51 degrees."

saurabh , , November 9, 2017 at 10:19 am

The problem is really one of data retention; as usual there is no reason for a voice assistant to run in some megacorp's private cloud. We all have hefty computers at home more than capable of running these things and keeping the whole thing private – the voice data, the request, etc.

It would not be hard to organize a free software project to make an Alexa quality voice assistant that you can run on a private computer; with an internet connection you can even run a client to it from your phone.

This is the only way to freedom from the surveillance system; the alternative is simply refusing the technology. However, so far we have really failed at delivering good free software in these areas (voice commands and also mobile phones in general); we have no one to blame but ourselves for this. Passively hoping the megacorps will behave morally seems to not be working.

Craig H. , , November 9, 2017 at 10:22 am

"This call is being recorded for quality control purposes."

Yesterday my fidelity service rep invited me to have my voice print archived so that they could save me the inconvenience of having to provide those security details like my mom's maiden name and the street I grew up on. Our conversation was less than ten minutes at that point and he had a desktop widget running that told him they had collected sufficient voice data on me to do this.

I opted out.

"for quality control purposes" = "for quality control purposes and whatever the NSA and CIA see fit to do with it"

Dita , , November 9, 2017 at 10:54 am

Disturbing, to say the least, and kind of puts Amazon's commitment to hire military personnel in a[n even more] sinister light. Amazon is closely associating itself with the military because grateful patriotism, even as it takes losses to destroy other businesses. Huh.
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171109005408/en/

MG , , November 9, 2017 at 7:09 pm

No relatively advanced nation state with a decent-sized security state apparatus is going to allow a native high tech firm to flourish without a heavily deal of cooperation.

Hell, in most cases in the U.S. it is the defensive industry since the end of WW2 that is a key player in terms of early rounds of funding and forming links to corporate research centers & university researchers.

Just look at the role DARPA has played already in driverless technology. Their fingerprints are all over it and it is easily found in the public domain.

TruNorth , , November 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

I'd like to add this bit of info to this commentary FYI it is a hot subject in my neck of the woods.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2014/12/12/state-settles-smart-meter-debate/20343257/

XXYY , , November 9, 2017 at 11:40 am

The good discussion in this article is just one facet of a much larger change to our society. In the old days, the presumption was that everything one did was private unless specific steps were taken to make it public, perhaps holding a press conference, or doing it in the middle of a busy street or a public square.

More recently, this has changed. Now, the presumption must be that everything one does is public, unless specific steps are taken to make it private. (I won't presume to outline the steps one needs to take for privacy, since this changes every day. A general statement would be that much of the privacy invasion is technological, and the older the technology one surrounds oneself with is, the less likely one is to have one's activities publicized.)

It's hard to overstate the impact of this change, and everyone, including individuals all the way up to very large businesses, is obviously still grappling with it. It's hard to say overall whether this change is a good or a bad thing, but there is clearly no rolling back the clock.

foghorn longhorn , , November 9, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Way back in 81, I hired on as a residential telephone tech for GTE. They actually had a document called "The Telephoneman Oath" that all employees were required to read and sign. It specifically said that all conversations you heard while testing lines were private and confidential. Period. If you divulged to anyone any conversation you would be summarily terminated. Period. If you heard a convo about say a plot to kill somebody and you notified your boss or the authorities, terminated. Period. No exceptions. My how times have changed.

Bobby Gladd , , November 9, 2017 at 12:26 pm

See The AI Now 2017 Report. " (pdf)

I've apprised them of this post.

readerOfTeaLeaves , , November 9, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Looks like my minuscule investment in the Fundraiser category of 'More Meetups', along with that mutual investment of so many other NCers, is already beginning to pay out phenomenal dividends. Thanks to all ;-)

annenigma , , November 9, 2017 at 12:42 pm

About 3 years ago when I moved back to my state, I went to a credit union to open a checking account. I favor credit unions over banks, but lately I've noticed some of them are getting a lot more commercialized as they merge and grow.

Anyway, I was told I had to wait to set it up with the branch manager who was at lunch. When she returned and was entering my information on her computer, some red text caught my eye even though the screen was mostly angled away from me so I couldn't actually read it. To me it suggested some kind of alert or cue for something important, who knows. It did serve to alert my own curiosity.

Then in the process of setting up the account, out of the blue the manager asked me about my pets. Since I don't have any, that conversation should have been very brief but somehow she managed to prolong it somehow, maybe asking why not but I forget now. That would be the kind of question that would immediately start people talking, but it came out so awkwardly in the timing that I got the impression it wasn't social as much a business related. At any rate, it did eliciting more conversation from me other than the brief but relevant answers I gave her for my account information.

Before I left, I also noticed a box directly in front of me on her desk. It caught my eye because it was placed near the edge, not set back closer to her but I really didn't give it any more attention other than that. But combined with the pet questioning and red text, I later wondered if my voice had been recorded for some kind of security program.

Naturally they'd only get a voice recording when they could capture someone's natural voice in a relaxed conversation, such as about beloved pets. After all, if you're not aware you're being recorded, you don't get tense vocal cords or try too hard to enunciate. Plus it's only for security reasons, right? So why tell us? The things they do for security has to be secret, otherwise it's not secure!

But my suspicious mind thinks that whenever valuable personal identifiers are collected by any business or government entity for any reason, and certainly when it's incentivized or written into the fine print of Patriot Act type laws, it ends up in Utah repository.

COLLECT IT ALL is not just a conspiracy theory anymore.

Or am I just being paranoid?

geoff , , November 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm

" Apart from the creepy crawley ‎surveillance aspect (and Google/Amazon bother me far more than the state security apparatus " (Clive, from the original article.)

As far as I'm concerned, Amazon and Google ARE (at least a part of) the state security apparatus. Links between the NSA and Google have been well-established, and Amazon is a CIA contractor.

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/6/nsa-chief-google.html
http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2014/07/how-cia-partnered-amazon-and-changed-intelligence/88555/

(Hope that's not too many links!)

Lee , , November 9, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Live interview re this topic and more. Interview will be archived at the site soon. https://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2017/11/08/graphic-novel-explores-the-history-of-drone-warfare/

Also, Krasny interviewed Snowden last night from the Curran theater in SF. I assume this will also become available on their archive. https://sfcurran.com/the-currant/interviews/

Host: Michael Krasny
NOVEMBER 9, 2017
SHARE
Episode airs November 9, 2017 at 9:30 AM
Investigative journalist Pratap Chatterjee and editorial cartoonist Khalil Bendib present a history of drone warfare and mass surveillance in "VERAX," a graphic novel. The first half of the book profiles famous whistleblowers like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. In the second half, Chatterjee investigates the murky background of drone warfare and its ethical implications. We talk to both authors about their new book and unexpected approach.

Guests:
Khalil Bendib, editorial cartoonist and graphic novelist; co-creator, "VERAX: The True History of Whistleblowers, Drone Warfare and Mass Surveillance"; co-host, "Voices of the Middle East"

Pratap Chatterjee, executive director, CorpWatch; co-author, "VERAX: The True History of Whistleblowers, Drone Warfare, and Mass Surveillance"

eYelladog , , November 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

I have a friend who works with C-Suite types in tech from major companies (sorry, I won't name names or companies). These people he works with on his account have basically told him that Amazon has hit a homerun with Echo based on its mic and how it can single out a voice in a crowd. Everybody else is playing catch up on Alexa just like they are playing catch up on AWS. This was over a year ago.

When he was approached by family for advice on which of these devices to buy, he flat out told them they are all generally equal [for personal use], the question is who do you want to collect your data?

Hepativore , , November 9, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Actually, I wonder if it would be useful to buy one under your name, and then play a pre-recorded message next to it over and over again just for the purposes of spoofing or giving bad data to Google/Amazon/NSA/etc. as a counter-survellience measure. This way, if you are an activist or protester, you can give them a steady stream of bad or useless data in whatever file they have collected on you to make your "profile" extremely inaccurate.

Bryan , , November 9, 2017 at 3:36 pm

I work in info security. I have an Echo, though admittedly not in my bedroom. I think your threat model is wrong, for a couple of reasons. One, the Echo's ability to distinguish voices isn't what you're portraying. Anyone in the house (or people on TV, in a few infamous cases) can in fact order from Amazon using the account linked to the Echo via smartphone app.

Two, if you have my skillset and want to know if Echo is transmitting data to Amazon at any given time, do a packet capture on your network and find out. You won't see what's being sent because it's encrypted obviously, but you can see how much data is being sent, which is enough to know if the Echo is sending all the sounds it hears. It is not.

Of course that could be a capability that has to be turned on remotely. But because the Echo has to be connected to a wifi network that people like me can sniff, the NSA/FBI/whatever would be taking the chance in doing that that the person under surveillance will immediately know based on the amount of data being sent spiking.

There's no such chance with a cellphone. What's more, my cellphone is not a fat cylinder I leave in my living room all day; it goes with me. What's more than that, to listen in on it the government would have to work with Verizon, a company we know is slavishly supine to their every whim and has been for a couple of generations, and not Amazon, a company where they might bump up against all sorts of inconvenient technolibertarians who'd be outraged at the concept.

Can the NSA listen to me on my Echo should I ever come to their attention? I'd assume yes. Would they ever given all their other options? Can't see why.

likbez , November 10, 2017 at 12:37 am
Thank you for your post !

Excessive paranoia is as counterproductive as excessive negligence as for your Internet and phone communications privacy.

Of course that could be a capability that has to be turned on remotely. But because the Echo has to be connected to a wifi network that people like me can sniff, the NSA/FBI/whatever would be taking the chance in doing that that the person under surveillance will immediately know based on the amount of data being sent spiking.

While the reality can be a little bit more complex (buffering and shadowing can be used to hide traffic) the fact of any "rogue" transmission of large amount of data allow rather simple detection (to say nothing about possibility of setting a "honeypot") actually is a valuable inoculation from excessive "they listen to my mic and watch me on my camera" paranoia.

People whose conversations and electronic communications are really interesting to authorities (like foreign diplomats. mafia bosses, etc ) are by-and-large aware about this is and take various kinds of countermeasures. This defense-offence game is centuries old.

It is important to understand that even without listening to any conversation, your electronic communications footprint produces enough information to make any retired STASI operative blue from envy. Any additional "intrusive" monitoring (for example, recording and transcribing your conversations) has it costs and excessive monitoring is counterproductive as it hide tiny useful signal in the huge amount of "noise". So your conclusion is a valuable one and well worth repeating:

Can the NSA listen to me on my Echo should I ever come to their attention? I'd assume yes. Would they ever given all their other options? Can't see why.

The truth is that for them because of "other options" it does not make much sense to listen to any conversations or watch your surroundings on video to monitor you very closely.

johnnyb , , November 9, 2017 at 4:04 pm

I do not have an echo but I do have the amazon app on my android phone. I am getting paranoid. When my family and I speak of something at the dinner table the next day my Amazon account will suggest related items for purchase. Once or twice, ok, it's random. It is not random after months of me noticing this. I was speaking with a colleague about an amazon business account and I – 30 min later – received an email from Amazon asking if I was interested in an Amazon business account. The app is listening. I'm sure of it.

Propertius , , November 9, 2017 at 5:18 pm

There have been confirmed cases of Alexa responding to strangers' voices: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tv-news-anchors-report-accidentally-sets-off-viewers-amazons-echo-dots/

This is also true for Siri, with some pretty scary consequences:

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2016/09/22/siri-opens-smart-lock-to-let-neighbor-walk-into-a-locked-house/

I would never have one of these bloody things in my house.

Eureka Springs , , November 9, 2017 at 8:01 pm

I'm reminded of discussions here on NC about the energy used per bitcoin and I wonder how much energy used per bitperson snoop might be? I bet it's a shockingly high number. What a waste.

catsick , , November 9, 2017 at 9:16 pm

Well if you consider that when I launch this page, 25 trackers attempt to launch and follow my browsing then it is not just Amazon who are playing this game

[Nov 10, 2017] Yves Smith

Nov 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Post author , November 10, 2017 at 1:20 am

I don't buy that. Although my professional life is on the Web via my expressing my views on the site, my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible as for most people. For instance, I do such a huge amount of Web surfing for professional reasons you'd be hard pressed to identify what was personal in that.

likbez , November 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Thank you for your comment. It is awaiting moderation. Click here to learn more about our moderation process and comments policies.

"my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible"

Not true. It is readily assessable. For example, looking for medical information (WebMD, etc), drugs, watching movies, sport sites, music sites that you visit, porno sites for males, set of your posts, shopping at Amazon, reviews, if any, etc usually are very informative as for your "personal life".

Social sites on which person posts represent so called "set of active sites set". The mere fact that a person posts on Naked Capitalism on a recurrent basis represents what it is called a "signature" -- which means that some subset of person interests can be extrapolated from the interests of other visitors to the same site. This "preference" can be correlated with your others postings, vocabulary that you use in them, "trigger phases" ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/homeland-security-manual_n_1299908.html ), their frequency and other similar "markers".

All this helps to create your "Web profile" which includes your education level, set of hobbies, political views, medical problems, personal problems, financial problems, etc. Tell me now that your personal life is not accessible.

Each Web site from the point of view of Web log analysis has a certain "attributes" and the level of "affinity" to similar sites which often link to this site (for example for naked capitalism Alexa lists wolfstreet.com, economicoutlook.net, cepr.net, truthdig.com and mishtalk.com as "similar")

If you visit set of "affiliated sites" that increases probability that you belong to certain social strata, or share certain interests/views.

Look at https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/nakedcapitalism.com for the set of metrics computed.

All that means that for any person the history of Web activities for a year or more allows to create Web profile (or dossier, if you wish) in which professional interests and personal interests somewhat overlap (especially if you work from home), but some (or even large) part of them still can be distinguished.

You can actually create you own Web profile yourself installing Web proxy and using some scripts like AWstats. That's a very interesting and educational exercise. Of course, if you a programmer you can write your own scripts or enhance existing to get more information. But in any case just looking at your one year Web stats you probably will be surprised how much of your "personal interests" can be deduced from this profile. First of all just the list of sites you visit recurrently creates a certain profile. Also from them you can calculate certain integral metrics, for example something like "index of loyalty/political correctness" (I heard that China is doing or planning to do something along those lines).

Also "professional interests" related Web surfing of not, there are certain "outliers sites" that you visit and certain "trigger sites/pages" which allow to narrow the set of your personal "trait" visible in your Web profile. Which, among other things, can help to identify you on other devices even if you do not login to any sites.

Bulk of surfing can be discarded, but just timestamps give quite a bit information about your personal life, about how you plan you day, etc. If for example a person usually spend 10 hours a day surfing the Web that fact alone is an important part of the Web profile characterizing the person as "Web junky".

Which usually tells a lot about this particular person personal life and even allows to deduce some personal traits.

Outliers, sites not commonly visited by similar surfers, might be even more interesting.

Also interesting is how your Web browsing "footprint" evolves from one month to another.

For example set of sites that there were prominent in the past disappeared from your Web profile might suggest that a certain problem is solved, or put on backburner, etc. And many other things along those lines.

[Nov 10, 2017] What part of your personal life can be deduced from your Web logs

Nov 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

likbez , November 9, 2017 at 11:31 pm

A drop of glue can help and is much simpler ;-). Without air flow sensitivity of the mic drops dramatically.

In most cases collection of metadata (your calls, browsing history, email headers, etc) is enough for you already to be like a bug under the microscope.

The recording of conversations, unless you are high value target, is completely redundant.

Yves Smith Post author , November 10, 2017 at 1:20 am

I don't buy that. Although my professional life is on the Web via my expressing my views on the site, my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible as for most people. For instance, I do such a huge amount of Web surfing for professional reasons you'd be hard pressed to identify what was personal in that.

likbez , November 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

"my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible"

Not true. It is readily assessable. For example, looking for medical information (WebMD, etc), drugs, watching movies, sport sites, music sites that you visit, porno sites for males, set of your posts, shopping at Amazon, reviews, if any, etc usually are very informative as for your "personal life".

Social sites on which person posts represent so called "set of active sites set". The mere fact that a person posts on Naked Capitalism on a recurrent basis represents what it is called a "signature" -- which means that some subset of person interests can be extrapolated from the interests of other visitors to the same site. This "preference" can be correlated with your others postings, vocabulary that you use in them, "trigger phases" ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/homeland-security-manual_n_1299908.html ), their frequency and other similar "markers".

All this helps to create your "Web profile" which includes your education level, set of hobbies, political views, medical problems, personal problems, financial problems, etc. Tell me now that your personal life is not accessible.

Each Web site from the point of view of Web log analysis has a certain "attributes" and the level of "affinity" to similar sites which often link to this site (for example for naked capitalism Alexa lists wolfstreet.com, economicoutlook.net, cepr.net, truthdig.com and mishtalk.com as "similar")

If you visit set of "affiliated sites" that increases probability that you belong to certain social strata, or share certain interests/views.

Look at https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/nakedcapitalism.com for the set of metrics computed.

All that means that for any person the history of Web activities for a year or more allows to create Web profile (or dossier, if you wish) in which professional interests and personal interests somewhat overlap (especially if you work from home), but some (or even large) part of them still can be distinguished.

You can actually create you own Web profile yourself installing Web proxy and using some scripts like AWstats. That's a very interesting and educational exercise. Of course, if you a programmer you can write your own scripts or enhance existing to get more information. But in any case just looking at your one year Web stats you probably will be surprised how much of your "personal interests" can be deduced from this profile. First of all just the list of sites you visit recurrently creates a certain profile. Also from them you can calculate certain integral metrics, for example something like "index of loyalty/political correctness" (I heard that China is doing or planning to do something along those lines).

Also "professional interests" related Web surfing of not, there are certain "outliers sites" that you visit and certain "trigger sites/pages" which allow to narrow the set of your personal "trait" visible in your Web profile. Which, among other things, can help to identify you on other devices even if you do not login to any sites.

Bulk of surfing can be discarded, but just timestamps give quite a bit information about your personal life, about how you plan you day, etc. If for example a person usually spend 10 hours a day surfing the Web that fact alone is an important part of the Web profile characterizing the person as "Web junky".

Which usually tells a lot about this particular person personal life and even allows to deduce some personal traits.

Outliers, sites not commonly visited by similar surfers, might be even more interesting.

Also interesting is how your Web browsing "footprint" evolves from one month to another.

For example, if set of sites that there were prominent in the past disappeared from your Web profile, that might suggest that a certain problem is solved, or put on backburner, etc. And many other things along those lines.

fajensen , November 10, 2017 at 2:23 pm

No. There isn't an easy way. If you can find the actual microphone opening you can carefully fill the microphone with a solvent based glue using a syringe and a needle. One does not want to break it, because maybe the OS/drivers checks for the presence of the physical device and then there is an error code logged and one is tagged. Disabling the microphone is not always very practical. On MacBook Pros, at least one mike is under the left loudspeaker grid and one cannot get at it without disassembly.

Then the question is, is this the only one? There could be several, they are so cheap and small. Some might be "secret sauce", perhaps used for making certain vendors video call application superior to the others, and not visible to the OS in the normal way.

The loudspeakers -- are also microphones; if there is something going on where the audio system tracks the voltage applied to the speakers, maybe to shape / improve the sound, perhaps that signal is available to the CPU somehow and can be recovered. There are other embedded devices that can be made to work like microphones. Accelerometers used to protect the hard disk when one drops the laptop and the WiFi signals themselves, which can be used for RADAR-like surveillance and maybe audio extraction too. Currently, this is only for people with nation-state tools and hacking capability.

If the opposition is the common crook looking for insider information or a stalker, then it might be OK with disabling the regular microphone.

Nation States or Rogue Law Enforcement . One can pretty much forget about it! In that situation one should not be near anything electronic at all when discussing serious things, and one should take care to not be visible on cameras. Computers are good a lip-reading too.

There is a book, "Cryptoguide for Journalists", sadly in Danish Only but the authors does link to tools that are English and probably useful, the EFF has something similar in English:

EFF -> https://ssd.eff.org
UK Info (nerdy!) -> https://securityinabox.org/en/
links to tools -> http://www.journalismfund.eu/sites/default/files/Digital%20Security_0.pdf
Book Info -> https://www.cryptoguide.dk/english

lb , November 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

Technologies can be surreptitiously remotely enabled/manipulated on any device with some way in (probably via networking, possibly via the same listening system with different cues -- imagine your TV saying a secret code word to Alexa to put it in permanent-recording mode). This sort of use has been OK'd by the courts under warrant, sometimes, in cars via OnStar, et al. Whenever you disable a technology in the software menu of the device, there is the possibility of someone else re-enabling it (or the software ignoring your request) without your consent or awareness.

As a security researcher I've wanted to see a movement for DIY hardware toggles for sensitive components in a device. It should be possible to sever signals to/from any such component, or better, to de-power the component without compromising device integrity/stability. Any camera, microphone or biometric scanner is obviously sensitive. Any component of telephony, from cellular to wi-fi (those things announce your presence to the world as they 'scan', constantly, and can be responsive when the device is off!) to near-field communication is sensitive. You (should) want a physical airplane-mode toggle, not just a software configuration option that you're supposed to trust. This needs to apply to all of the devices in one's life and all of the components. As we enumerate the bits on a phone, the same logic must apply to a car (how many of us know how many microphones are there and where?). And we should expect vendors to make this impossible (out of apathy or out of defense of their own ability to listen). Maybe some vendors could court the security-minded and work to provide physically-auditable toggles but I doubt any market-based solution would solve this problem much.

(Asofyet I haven't seen a lot of movement on the DIY toggle front though maybe I've missed an example. I'm not a good person to start the work as I have a reverse midas touch with hardware hacking).

Knowing the possibility of a device lying to its user as to the disabling of snooping technology (or the possibility that something else was physically installed to spy), Bunnie and Snowden wrote guides for detecting that signaling is in use regardless of software settings, as a manual for journalists and others worried about it. Start here and search for more: https://www.pubpub.org/pub/direct-radio-introspection . I think those guys also talk about mitigation in newer work.

Just my two cents as to where a gap exists. Hopefully I'm not now on a !@#$list of the surveillance state just for thinking this aloud

[Nov 10, 2017] What part of your personal life can be deduced from your Web logs

Nov 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

likbez , November 9, 2017 at 11:31 pm

A drop of glue can help and is much simpler ;-). Without air flow sensitivity of the mic drops dramatically.

In most cases collection of metadata (your calls, browsing history, email headers, etc) is enough for you already to be like a bug under the microscope.

The recording of conversations, unless you are high value target, is completely redundant.

Yves Smith Post author , November 10, 2017 at 1:20 am

I don't buy that. Although my professional life is on the Web via my expressing my views on the site, my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible as for most people. For instance, I do such a huge amount of Web surfing for professional reasons you'd be hard pressed to identify what was personal in that.

likbez , November 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

"my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible"

Not true. It is readily assessable. For example, looking for medical information (WebMD, etc), drugs, watching movies, sport sites, music sites that you visit, porno sites for males, set of your posts, shopping at Amazon, reviews, if any, etc usually are very informative as for your "personal life".

Social sites on which person posts represent so called "set of active sites set". The mere fact that a person posts on Naked Capitalism on a recurrent basis represents what it is called a "signature" -- which means that some subset of person interests can be extrapolated from the interests of other visitors to the same site. This "preference" can be correlated with your others postings, vocabulary that you use in them, "trigger phases" ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/homeland-security-manual_n_1299908.html ), their frequency and other similar "markers".

All this helps to create your "Web profile" which includes your education level, set of hobbies, political views, medical problems, personal problems, financial problems, etc. Tell me now that your personal life is not accessible.

Each Web site from the point of view of Web log analysis has a certain "attributes" and the level of "affinity" to similar sites which often link to this site (for example for naked capitalism Alexa lists wolfstreet.com, economicoutlook.net, cepr.net, truthdig.com and mishtalk.com as "similar")

If you visit set of "affiliated sites" that increases probability that you belong to certain social strata, or share certain interests/views.

Look at https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/nakedcapitalism.com for the set of metrics computed.

All that means that for any person the history of Web activities for a year or more allows to create Web profile (or dossier, if you wish) in which professional interests and personal interests somewhat overlap (especially if you work from home), but some (or even large) part of them still can be distinguished.

You can actually create you own Web profile yourself installing Web proxy and using some scripts like AWstats. That's a very interesting and educational exercise. Of course, if you a programmer you can write your own scripts or enhance existing to get more information. But in any case just looking at your one year Web stats you probably will be surprised how much of your "personal interests" can be deduced from this profile. First of all just the list of sites you visit recurrently creates a certain profile. Also from them you can calculate certain integral metrics, for example something like "index of loyalty/political correctness" (I heard that China is doing or planning to do something along those lines).

Also "professional interests" related Web surfing of not, there are certain "outliers sites" that you visit and certain "trigger sites/pages" which allow to narrow the set of your personal "trait" visible in your Web profile. Which, among other things, can help to identify you on other devices even if you do not login to any sites.

Bulk of surfing can be discarded, but just timestamps give quite a bit information about your personal life, about how you plan you day, etc. If for example a person usually spend 10 hours a day surfing the Web that fact alone is an important part of the Web profile characterizing the person as "Web junky".

Which usually tells a lot about this particular person personal life and even allows to deduce some personal traits.

Outliers, sites not commonly visited by similar surfers, might be even more interesting.

Also interesting is how your Web browsing "footprint" evolves from one month to another.

For example, if set of sites that there were prominent in the past disappeared from your Web profile, that might suggest that a certain problem is solved, or put on backburner, etc. And many other things along those lines.

fajensen , November 10, 2017 at 2:23 pm

No. There isn't an easy way. If you can find the actual microphone opening you can carefully fill the microphone with a solvent based glue using a syringe and a needle. One does not want to break it, because maybe the OS/drivers checks for the presence of the physical device and then there is an error code logged and one is tagged. Disabling the microphone is not always very practical. On MacBook Pros, at least one mike is under the left loudspeaker grid and one cannot get at it without disassembly.

Then the question is, is this the only one? There could be several, they are so cheap and small. Some might be "secret sauce", perhaps used for making certain vendors video call application superior to the others, and not visible to the OS in the normal way.

The loudspeakers -- are also microphones; if there is something going on where the audio system tracks the voltage applied to the speakers, maybe to shape / improve the sound, perhaps that signal is available to the CPU somehow and can be recovered. There are other embedded devices that can be made to work like microphones. Accelerometers used to protect the hard disk when one drops the laptop and the WiFi signals themselves, which can be used for RADAR-like surveillance and maybe audio extraction too. Currently, this is only for people with nation-state tools and hacking capability.

If the opposition is the common crook looking for insider information or a stalker, then it might be OK with disabling the regular microphone.

Nation States or Rogue Law Enforcement . One can pretty much forget about it! In that situation one should not be near anything electronic at all when discussing serious things, and one should take care to not be visible on cameras. Computers are good a lip-reading too.

There is a book, "Cryptoguide for Journalists", sadly in Danish Only but the authors does link to tools that are English and probably useful, the EFF has something similar in English:

EFF -> https://ssd.eff.org
UK Info (nerdy!) -> https://securityinabox.org/en/
links to tools -> http://www.journalismfund.eu/sites/default/files/Digital%20Security_0.pdf
Book Info -> https://www.cryptoguide.dk/english

lb , November 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

Technologies can be surreptitiously remotely enabled/manipulated on any device with some way in (probably via networking, possibly via the same listening system with different cues -- imagine your TV saying a secret code word to Alexa to put it in permanent-recording mode). This sort of use has been OK'd by the courts under warrant, sometimes, in cars via OnStar, et al. Whenever you disable a technology in the software menu of the device, there is the possibility of someone else re-enabling it (or the software ignoring your request) without your consent or awareness.

As a security researcher I've wanted to see a movement for DIY hardware toggles for sensitive components in a device. It should be possible to sever signals to/from any such component, or better, to de-power the component without compromising device integrity/stability. Any camera, microphone or biometric scanner is obviously sensitive. Any component of telephony, from cellular to wi-fi (those things announce your presence to the world as they 'scan', constantly, and can be responsive when the device is off!) to near-field communication is sensitive. You (should) want a physical airplane-mode toggle, not just a software configuration option that you're supposed to trust. This needs to apply to all of the devices in one's life and all of the components. As we enumerate the bits on a phone, the same logic must apply to a car (how many of us know how many microphones are there and where?). And we should expect vendors to make this impossible (out of apathy or out of defense of their own ability to listen). Maybe some vendors could court the security-minded and work to provide physically-auditable toggles but I doubt any market-based solution would solve this problem much.

(Asofyet I haven't seen a lot of movement on the DIY toggle front though maybe I've missed an example. I'm not a good person to start the work as I have a reverse midas touch with hardware hacking).

Knowing the possibility of a device lying to its user as to the disabling of snooping technology (or the possibility that something else was physically installed to spy), Bunnie and Snowden wrote guides for detecting that signaling is in use regardless of software settings, as a manual for journalists and others worried about it. Start here and search for more: https://www.pubpub.org/pub/direct-radio-introspection . I think those guys also talk about mitigation in newer work.

Just my two cents as to where a gap exists. Hopefully I'm not now on a !@#$list of the surveillance state just for thinking this aloud

[Nov 10, 2017] Yves Smith

Nov 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Post author , November 10, 2017 at 1:20 am

I don't buy that. Although my professional life is on the Web via my expressing my views on the site, my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible as for most people. For instance, I do such a huge amount of Web surfing for professional reasons you'd be hard pressed to identify what was personal in that.

likbez , November 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Thank you for your comment. It is awaiting moderation. Click here to learn more about our moderation process and comments policies.

"my personal life isn't anywhere near as readily accessible"

Not true. It is readily assessable. For example, looking for medical information (WebMD, etc), drugs, watching movies, sport sites, music sites that you visit, porno sites for males, set of your posts, shopping at Amazon, reviews, if any, etc usually are very informative as for your "personal life".

Social sites on which person posts represent so called "set of active sites set". The mere fact that a person posts on Naked Capitalism on a recurrent basis represents what it is called a "signature" -- which means that some subset of person interests can be extrapolated from the interests of other visitors to the same site. This "preference" can be correlated with your others postings, vocabulary that you use in them, "trigger phases" ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/homeland-security-manual_n_1299908.html ), their frequency and other similar "markers".

All this helps to create your "Web profile" which includes your education level, set of hobbies, political views, medical problems, personal problems, financial problems, etc. Tell me now that your personal life is not accessible.

Each Web site from the point of view of Web log analysis has a certain "attributes" and the level of "affinity" to similar sites which often link to this site (for example for naked capitalism Alexa lists wolfstreet.com, economicoutlook.net, cepr.net, truthdig.com and mishtalk.com as "similar")

If you visit set of "affiliated sites" that increases probability that you belong to certain social strata, or share certain interests/views.

Look at https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/nakedcapitalism.com for the set of metrics computed.

All that means that for any person the history of Web activities for a year or more allows to create Web profile (or dossier, if you wish) in which professional interests and personal interests somewhat overlap (especially if you work from home), but some (or even large) part of them still can be distinguished.

You can actually create you own Web profile yourself installing Web proxy and using some scripts like AWstats. That's a very interesting and educational exercise. Of course, if you a programmer you can write your own scripts or enhance existing to get more information. But in any case just looking at your one year Web stats you probably will be surprised how much of your "personal interests" can be deduced from this profile. First of all just the list of sites you visit recurrently creates a certain profile. Also from them you can calculate certain integral metrics, for example something like "index of loyalty/political correctness" (I heard that China is doing or planning to do something along those lines).

Also "professional interests" related Web surfing of not, there are certain "outliers sites" that you visit and certain "trigger sites/pages" which allow to narrow the set of your personal "trait" visible in your Web profile. Which, among other things, can help to identify you on other devices even if you do not login to any sites.

Bulk of surfing can be discarded, but just timestamps give quite a bit information about your personal life, about how you plan you day, etc. If for example a person usually spend 10 hours a day surfing the Web that fact alone is an important part of the Web profile characterizing the person as "Web junky".

Which usually tells a lot about this particular person personal life and even allows to deduce some personal traits.

Outliers, sites not commonly visited by similar surfers, might be even more interesting.

Also interesting is how your Web browsing "footprint" evolves from one month to another.

For example set of sites that there were prominent in the past disappeared from your Web profile might suggest that a certain problem is solved, or put on backburner, etc. And many other things along those lines.

[Nov 08, 2017] Learning to Love McCarthyism by Robert Parry

Highly recommended!
Russiagate witch hunt is destroying CIA franchise in Facebook and Twitter, which were used by many Russians and Eastern Europeans in general.
One telling sign of the national security state is "demonizing enemies of the state" including using neo-McCarthyism methods, typically for Russiagate.
In the beginning, "Russiagate" was about alleged actions by Russian secret services. Evidence for these allegations has never emerged, and it seems that the Russiagate conspiracy theorists largely gave up on this part (they still sometimes write about it as if it was an established fact, but since the only thing in support of it they can adduce is the canard about the 17 intelligence services, it probably is not that interesting any more).
Now, they have dropped the mask, and the object of their hatred are openly all Russian people, as the new Undermensch. If these people and US MSM recognized the reality that they are now a particularly rabid part of the xenophobic far right in the United States
Notable quotes:
"... Buried in the story's "jump" is the acknowledgement that Milner's "companies sold those holdings several years ago." But such is the anti-Russia madness gripping the Establishment of Washington and New York that any contact with any Russian constitutes a scandal worthy of front-page coverage. On Monday, The Washington Post published a page-one article entitled, "9 in Trump's orbit had contacts with Russians." ..."
"... The anti-Russian madness has reached such extremes that even when you say something that's obviously true – but that RT, the Russian television network, also reported – you are attacked for spreading "Russian propaganda." ..."
"... We saw that when former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile disclosed in her new book that she considered the possibility of replacing Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket after Clinton's public fainting spell and worries about her health. ..."
"... In other words, the go-to excuse for everything these days is to blame the Russians and smear anyone who says anything – no matter how true – if it also was reported on RT. ..."
"... The CIA has an entire bureaucracy dedicated to propaganda and disinformation, with some of those efforts farmed out to newer entities such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). NATO has a special command in Latvia that undertakes "strategic communications." ..."
"... Israel is another skilled player in this field, tapping into its supporters around the world to harass people who criticize the Zionist project. Indeed, since the 1980s, Israel has pioneered many of the tactics of computer spying and sabotage that were adopted and expanded by America's National Security Agency, explaining why the Obama administration teamed up with Israel in a scheme to plant malicious code into Iranian centrifuges to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. ..."
"... And, if you're really concerned about foreign interference in U.S. elections and policies, there's the remarkable influence of Israel and its perceived ability to effect the defeat of almost any politician who deviates from what the Israeli government wants, going back at least to the 1980s when Sen. Chuck Percy and Rep. Paul Findley were among the political casualties after pursuing contacts with the Palestinians. ..."
"... The answer seems to be the widespread hatred for President Trump combined with vested interests in favor of whipping up the New Cold War. That is a goal valued by both the Military-Industrial Complex, which sees trillions of dollars in strategic weapons systems in the future, and the neoconservatives, who view Russia as a threat to their "regime change" agendas for Syria and Iran. ..."
"... After all, if Russia and its independent-minded President Putin can be beaten back and beaten down, then a big obstacle to the neocon/Israeli goal of expanding the Mideast wars will be removed. ..."
"... Right now, the neocons are openly lusting for a "regime change" in Moscow despite the obvious risks that such turmoil in a nuclear-armed country might create, including the possibility that Putin would be succeeded not by some compliant Western client like the late Boris Yeltsin but by an extreme nationalist who might consider launching a nuclear strike to protect the honor of Mother Russia. ..."
"... The likely outcome from the anti-Russian show trials on Capitol Hill is that technology giants will bow to the bipartisan demand for new algorithms and other methods for stigmatizing, marginalizing and eliminating information that challenges the mainstream storylines in the cause of fighting "Russian propaganda." ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
"... witch hunt by congressional Democrats, working with the intelligence agencies and leading media outlets, to legitimize censorship and attack free speech on the Internet. ..."
"... The aim of this campaign is to claim that social conflict within the United States arises not from the scale of social inequality in America, greater than in any other country in the developed world, but rather from the actions of "outside agitators" working in the service of the Kremlin. ..."
"... The McCarthyite witch hunts of the 1950s sought to suppress left-wing thought and label all forms of dissent as illegitimate and treasonous. Those who led them worked to purge left-wing opinion from Hollywood, the trade unions and the universities. ..."
"... Likewise, the new McCarthyism is aimed at creating a political climate in which left-wing organizations and figures are demonized as agents of the Kremlin who are essentially engaged in treasonous activity deserving of criminal prosecution. ..."
"... Danny there was a time not to long ago, I would have said of how we are 'moving towards' to us becoming a police state, well instead replace that prediction of 'moving towards' to the stark reality to be described as 'that now we are', and there you will have it that we have finally arrived to becoming a full blown 'police state'. ..."
"... Thanks to Mr. Parry for this very fair and complete review of the latest attempts to generate a fake foreign enemy. The tyrant over a democracy must generate fake foreign enemies to pose falsely as a protector, so as to demand domestic power and accuse his opponents of disloyalty, as Aristotle and Plato warned thousands of years ago. ..."
"... The insanity of the entire "Russian hacking" narrative has been revealed over and over, including this past weekend when +/-100 Clinton loyalists published a screed on Medium saying Donna Brazile had been taken in by Russian propaganda. ..."
"... I have come to expect just about anything when it comes to Russia-Gate, but I was taken aback by the Hillary bots' accusation that videos of Hillary stumbling and others showing her apparently having a fit of some kind and also needing to be helped up the steps to someone's house -- which were taken by Americans and shown by Americans and seen by millions of shocked Americans -- were driven by Russia-Gate. ..."
"... Now, since the extremist xenophobic idea that contact with *any* Russians is a scandal has taken hold in the United States, people are probably not too eager to mention these contacts in these atmosphere of extreme xenophobic anti-Russian hatred in today's United States. Furthermore, people who have contact with large numbers of people probably really have difficulties remembering and listing these all. ..."
"... Their contacts are with Russian business and maybe the Russian mob, not the Russian state. There is really not question that Trump and his cronies are crooks, but they are crooks in the US and in all the other countries where they do business, not just Russia. I'm sure Mueller will be able to tie Trump directly to some of the sleeze. But there is no evidence that the Russian government is involved in any of it. "Russia-gate" implies Russian government involvement, not just random Russians. There is no evidence of that and moreover the logic is against. ..."
"... Mr. Cash . I think George Papadopoulis, Trump's young Aide, was an inside mole for neocon pro-Israel interests. Those interests needed to knock the unreliable President Trump out of the way to get the "system" back where it belonged – in their pocket. Papadopoulis, on his own, was rummaging around making Trump/Russian connections that finally ended with the the William (Richard?) Browder (well-known Washington DC neocon)/Natalia Veselnitskaya/Donald Trump, Jr. fiasco. The Trumps knew nothing of those negotiations, and young Trump left when he realized Natalia was only interested in Americans being allowed to adopt Russian children again and had no dirt on Hillary. ..."
"... It was never my impression that Cold War liberals opposed McCarthy or the anti-Communist witch hunt. Where they didn't gleefully join in, they watched quietly from the sidelines while the American left was eviscerated, jailed, driven from public life. Then the liberals stepped in when it was clear things were going a little too far and just as the steam had run out of McCarthy's slander machine. ..."
"... At that point figures like Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy found the path clear for their brand of political stagecraft. They were imperialists to a man, something they proved abundantly when given the chance. Liberals supplanted the left in U.S. life- in the unions, the teaching profession, publishing and every other field where criticism of the Cold War and the enduring prevalence of worker solidarity across international lines threatened the new order. ..."
"... The book concludes that by equating dissent with disloyalty, promoting guilt by association, and personally commanding loyalty programs, ""Truman and his advisors employed all the political and programmatic techniques that in later years were to become associated with the broad phenomenon of McCarthyism."" ..."
"... Formed by Google in June 2015 with Eliot Higgins of the Atlantic Council's Bellingcat as a founding member, the "First Draft" coalition includes all the usual mainstream media "partners" in "regime change" war propaganda: the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, the UK Guardian and Telegraph, BBC News, the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Research Lab and Kiev-based Stopfake. ..."
"... In the beginning, "Russiagate" was about alleged actions by Russian secret services. Evidence for these allegations has never emerged, and it seems that the Russiagate conspiracy theorists largely gave up on this part (they still sometimes write about it as if it was an established fact, but since the only thing in support of it they can adduce is the canard about the 17 intelligence services, it probably is not that interesting any more) ..."
"... Now, they have dropped the mask, and the object of their hatred are openly all Russian people, anyone who is "Russian linked" by ever having logged in to social networks from Russia or using Cyrillic letters. If these people and their media at least recognized the reality that they are now a particularly rabid part of the xenophobic far right in the United States ..."
"... The interview of Roger Waters on RT is one of the best I have seen in a long while. I wish some other artists get the courage to raise their voices. The link to the Roger Waters interview is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7jcvfbLoIA This Roger Waters interview is worth watching. ..."
"... It would seem that everyone on the US telivision , newspaper and internet news has mastered the art of hand over mouth , gasp and looking horrified every time Russia is mentioned. It looks to me that the US is in the middle of another of it´s mid life crises. Panic reigns supreme every where. If it was not so sad it would be funny. i was born in the 1940s and remember the McCarthy witch hunts and the daily shower of people jumping out of windows as a result of it. ..."
"... In The Fifties (1993), American journalist and historian David Halberstam addressed the noxious effect of McCarthyism: "McCarthy's carnival like four year spree of accusation charges, and threats touched something deep in the American body politic, something that lasted long after his own recklessness, carelessness and boozing ended his career in shame." (page 53) ..."
"... Halberstam specifically discussed how readily the so-called "free" press acquiesced to McCarthy's masquerading: "The real scandal in all this was the behavior of the members of the Washington press corps, who, more often than not, knew better. They were delighted to be a part of his traveling road show, chronicling each charge and then moving on to the next town, instead of bothering to stay behind and follow up. They had little interest in reporting how careless McCarthy was or how little it all meant to him." (page 55) ..."
"... Why have they not investigated James Comey? Why has the MSM instead created a Russian Boogeyman? Why was he invited to testify about the Russian connection but never cross examined about his own influence? Why is the clearest reason for election meddling by James Comey not even spoken of by the MSM? This is because the MSM does not want to cover events as they happened but wants to recreate a alternate reality suitable to themselves which serves their interests and convinces us that the MSM has no part at all in downplaying the involvement of themselves in the election but wants to create a foreign enemy to blame. ..."
Nov 08, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Special Report: Many American liberals who once denounced McCarthyism as evil are now learning to love the ugly tactic when it can be used to advance the Russia-gate "scandal" and silence dissent, reports Robert Parry.

The New York Times has finally detected some modern-day McCarthyism, but not in the anti-Russia hysteria that the newspaper has fueled for several years amid the smearing of American skeptics as "useful idiots" and the like. No, the Times editors are accusing a Long Island Republican of McCarthyism for linking his Democratic rival to "New York City special interest groups." As the Times laments, "It's the old guilt by association."

Yet, the Times sees no McCarthyism in the frenzy of Russia-bashing and guilt by association for any American who can be linked even indirectly to any Russian who might have some ill-defined links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Monday, in the same edition that expressed editorial outrage over that Long Island political ad's McCarthyism, the Times ran two front-page articles under the headline: "A Complex Paper Trail: Blurring Kremlin's Ties to Key U.S. Businesses."

The two subheads read: " Shipping Firm Links Commerce Chief to Putin 'Cronies' " and " Millions in Facebook Shares Rooted in Russian Cash ." The latter story, which meshes nicely with the current U.S. political pressure on Facebook and Twitter to get in line behind the New Cold War against Russia, cites investments by Russian Yuri Milner that date back to the start of the decade.

Buried in the story's "jump" is the acknowledgement that Milner's "companies sold those holdings several years ago." But such is the anti-Russia madness gripping the Establishment of Washington and New York that any contact with any Russian constitutes a scandal worthy of front-page coverage. On Monday, The Washington Post published a page-one article entitled, "9 in Trump's orbit had contacts with Russians."

The anti-Russian madness has reached such extremes that even when you say something that's obviously true – but that RT, the Russian television network, also reported – you are attacked for spreading "Russian propaganda."

We saw that when former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile disclosed in her new book that she considered the possibility of replacing Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket after Clinton's public fainting spell and worries about her health.

Though there was a video of Clinton's collapse on Sept. 11, 2016, followed by her departure from the campaign trail to fight pneumonia – not to mention her earlier scare with blood clots – the response from a group of 100 Clinton supporters was to question Brazile's patriotism: "It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponents about our candidate's health."

In other words, the go-to excuse for everything these days is to blame the Russians and smear anyone who says anything – no matter how true – if it also was reported on RT.

Pressing the Tech Companies

Just as Sen. Joe McCarthy liked to haul suspected "communists" and "fellow-travelers" before his committee in the 1950s, the New McCarthyism has its own witch-hunt hearings, such as last week's Senate grilling of executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google for supposedly allowing Russians to have input into the Internet's social networks. Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google hauled before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism on Oct. 31, 2017. Trying to appease Congress and fend off threats of government regulation, the rich tech companies displayed their eagerness to eradicate any Russian taint.

Twitter's general counsel Sean J. Edgett told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism that Twitter adopted an "expansive approach to defining what qualifies as a Russian-linked account."

Edgett said the criteria included "whether the account was created in Russia, whether the user registered the account with a Russian phone carrier or a Russian email address, whether the user's display name contains Cyrillic characters, whether the user frequently Tweets in Russian, and whether the user has logged in from any Russian IP address, even a single time. We considered an account to be Russian-linked if it had even one of the relevant criteria."

The trouble with Twitter's methodology was that none of those criteria would connect an account to the Russian government, let alone Russian intelligence or some Kremlin-controlled "troll farm." But the criteria could capture individual Russians with no link to the Kremlin as well as people who weren't Russian at all, including, say, American or European visitors to Russia who logged onto Twitter through a Moscow hotel.

Also left unsaid is that Russians are not the only national group that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. It is considered a standard script for writing in Belarus, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbo-Croatia and Ukraine. So, for instance, a Ukrainian using the Cyrillic alphabet could end up falling into the category of "Russian-linked" even if he or she hated Putin.

Twitter's attorney also said the company conducted a separate analysis from information provided by unidentified "third party sources" who pointed toward accounts supposedly controlled by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), totaling 2,752 accounts. The IRA is typically described in the U.S. press as a "troll farm" which employs tech-savvy employees who combat news and opinions that are hostile to Russia and the Russian government. But exactly how those specific accounts were traced back to this organization was not made clear.

And, to put that number in some perspective, Twitter claims 330 million active monthly users, which makes the 2,752 accounts less than 0.001 percent of the total.

The Trouble with 'Trolling'

While the Russia-gate investigation has sought to portray the IRA effort as exotic and somehow unique to Russia, the strategy is followed by any number of governments, political movements and corporations – sometimes using enthusiastic volunteers but often employing professionals skilled at challenging critical information or at least muddying the waters.

Those of us who operate on the Internet are familiar with harassment from "trolls" who may use access to "comment" sections to inject propaganda and disinformation to sow confusion, to cause disruption, or to discredit the site by promoting ugly opinions and nutty conspiracy theories.

As annoying as this "trolling" is, it's just a modern version of more traditional strategies used by powerful entities for generations – hiring public-relations specialists, lobbyists, lawyers and supposedly impartial "activists" to burnish images, fend off negative news and intimidate nosy investigators. In this competition, modern Russia is both a late-comer and a piker.

The U.S. government fields legions of publicists, propagandists, paid journalists, psy-ops specialists , contractors and non-governmental organizations to promote Washington's positions and undermine rivals through information warfare.

The CIA has an entire bureaucracy dedicated to propaganda and disinformation, with some of those efforts farmed out to newer entities such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). NATO has a special command in Latvia that undertakes "strategic communications."

Israel is another skilled player in this field, tapping into its supporters around the world to harass people who criticize the Zionist project. Indeed, since the 1980s, Israel has pioneered many of the tactics of computer spying and sabotage that were adopted and expanded by America's National Security Agency, explaining why the Obama administration teamed up with Israel in a scheme to plant malicious code into Iranian centrifuges to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.

It's also ironic that the U.S. government touted social media as a great benefit in advancing so-called "color revolutions" aimed at "regime change" in troublesome countries. For instance, when the "green revolution" was underway in Iran in 2009 after the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Obama administration asked Twitter to postpone scheduled maintenance so the street protesters could continue using the platform to organize against Ahmadinejad and to distribute their side of the story to the outside world.

During the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, Facebook, Twitter and Skype won praise as a means of organizing mass demonstrations to destabilize governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Back then, the U.S. government denounced any attempts to throttle these social media platforms and the free flow of information that they permitted as proof of dictatorship.

Social media also was a favorite of the U.S. government in Ukraine in 2013-14 when the Maidan protests exploited these platforms to help destabilize and ultimately overthrow the elected government of Ukraine, the key event that launched the New Cold War with Russia.

Swinging the Social Media Club

The truth is that, in those instances, the U.S. governments and its agencies were eagerly exploiting the platforms to advance Washington's geopolitical agenda by disseminating American propaganda and deploying U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations, which taught activists how to use social media to advance "regime change" scenarios.

A White Helmets volunteer pointing to the aftermath of a military attack.

While these uprisings were sold to Western audiences as genuine outpourings of public anger – and there surely was some of that – the protests also benefited from U.S. funding and expertise. In particular, NED and USAID provided money, equipment and training for anti-government operatives challenging regimes in U.S. disfavor.

One of the most successful of these propaganda operations occurred in Syria where anti-government rebels operating in areas controlled by Al Qaeda and its fellow Islamic militants used social media to get their messaging to Western mainstream journalists who couldn't enter those sectors without fear of beheading.

Since the rebels' goal of overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad meshed with the objectives of the U.S. government and its allies in Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Western journalists uncritically accepted the words and images provided by Al Qaeda's collaborators.

The success of this propaganda was so extraordinary that the White Helmets, a "civil defense" group that worked in Al Qaeda territory, became the go-to source for dramatic video and even was awarded the short-documentary Oscar for an info-mercial produced for Netflix – despite evidence that the White Helmets were staging some of the scenes for propaganda purposes.

Indeed, one argument for believing that Putin and the Kremlin might have "meddled" in last year's U.S. election is that they could have felt it was time to give the United States a taste of its own medicine.

After all, the United States intervened in the 1996 Russian election to ensure the continued rule of the corrupt and pliable Boris Yeltsin. And there were the U.S.-backed street protests in Moscow against the 2011 and 2012 elections in which Putin strengthened his political mandate. Those protests earned the "color" designation the "snow revolution."

However, whatever Russia may or may not have done before last year's U.S. election, the Russia-gate investigations have always sought to exaggerate the impact of that alleged "meddling" and molded the narrative to whatever weak evidence was available.

The original storyline was that Putin authorized the "hacking" of Democratic emails as part of a "disinformation" operation to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy and to help elect Donald Trump – although no hard evidence has been presented to establish that Putin gave such an order or that Russia "hacked" the emails. WikiLeaks has repeatedly denied getting the emails from Russia, which also denies any meddling.

Further, the emails were not "disinformation"; they were both real and, in many cases, newsworthy. The DNC emails provided evidence that the DNC unethically tilted the playing field in favor of Clinton and against Sen. Bernie Sanders, a point that Brazile also discovered in reviewing staffing and financing relationships that Clinton had with the DNC under the prior chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The purloined emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta revealed the contents of Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street (information that she was trying to hide from voters) and pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

A Manchurian Candidate?

Still, the original narrative was that Putin wanted his Manchurian Candidate (Trump) in the White House and took the extraordinary risk of infuriating the odds-on favorite (Clinton) by releasing the emails even though they appeared unlikely to prevent Clinton's victory. So, there was always that logical gap in the Russia-gate theory.

Since then, however, the U.S. mainstream narrative has shifted, in part, because the evidence of Russian election "meddling" was so shaky. Under intense congressional pressure to find something, Facebook reported $100,000 in allegedly "Russian-linked" ads purchased in 2015-17, but noted that only 44 percent were bought before the election. So, not only was the "Russian-linked" pebble tiny – compared to Facebook's annual revenue of $27 billion – but more than half of the pebble was tossed into this very large lake after Clinton had already lost.

So, the storyline was transformed into some vague Russian scheme to exacerbate social tensions in the United States by taking different sides of hot-button issues, such as police brutality against blacks. The New York Times reported that one of these "Russian-linked" pages featured photos of cute puppies , which the Times speculated must have had some evil purpose although it was hard to fathom. (Oh, those devious Russians!).

The estimate of how many Americans may have seen one of these "Russian-linked" ads also keeps growing, now up to as many as 126 million or about one-third of the U.S. population. Of course, the way the Internet works – with any item possibly going viral – you might as well say the ads could have reached billions of people.

Whenever I write an article or send out a Tweet, I too could be reaching 126 million or even billions of people, but the reality is that I'd be lucky if the number were in the thousands. But amid the Russia-gate frenzy, no exaggeration is too outlandish or too extreme.

Another odd element of Russia-gate is that the intensity of this investigation is disproportionate to the lack of interest shown toward far better documented cases of actual foreign-government interference in American elections and policymaking.

For instance, the major U.S. media long ignored the extremely well-documented case of Richard Nixon colluding with South Vietnamese officials to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War peace talks to gain an advantage for Nixon in the 1968 election. That important chapter of history only gained The New York Times' seal of approval earlier this year after the Times had dismissed the earlier volumes of evidence as "rumors."

In the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan's team – especially his campaign director William Casey in collaboration with Israel and Iran – appeared to have gone behind President Jimmy Carter's back to undercut Carter's negotiations to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran and essentially doom Carter's reelection hopes.

There were a couple of dozen witnesses to that scheme who spoke with me and other investigative journalists – as well as documentary evidence showing that President Reagan did authorize secret arms shipments to Iran via Israel shortly after the hostages were freed during Reagan's inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981.

However, since Vice President (later President) George H.W. Bush, who was implicated in the scheme, was well-liked on both sides of the aisle and because Reagan had become a Republican icon, the October Surprise case of 1980 was pooh-poohed by the major media and dismissed by a congressional investigation in the early 1990s. Despite the extraordinary number of witnesses and supporting documents, Wikipedia listed the scandal as a "conspiracy theory."

Israeli Influence

And, if you're really concerned about foreign interference in U.S. elections and policies, there's the remarkable influence of Israel and its perceived ability to effect the defeat of almost any politician who deviates from what the Israeli government wants, going back at least to the 1980s when Sen. Chuck Percy and Rep. Paul Findley were among the political casualties after pursuing contacts with the Palestinians.

If anyone doubts how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to pull the strings of U.S. politicians, just watch one of his record-tying three addresses to joint sessions of Congress and count how often Republicans and Democrats jump to their feet in enthusiastic applause. (The only other foreign leader to get the joint-session honor three times was Great Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill.)

So, what makes Russia-gate different from the other cases? Did Putin conspire with Trump to extend a bloody war as Nixon did with the South Vietnamese leaders? Did Putin lengthen the captivity of U.S. hostages to give Trump a political edge? Did Putin manipulate U.S. policy in the Middle East to entice President George W. Bush to invade Iraq and set the region ablaze, as Israel's Netanyahu did? Is Putin even now pushing for wider Mideast wars, as Netanyahu is?

Indeed, one point that's never addressed in any serious way is why is the U.S. so angry with Russia while these other cases, in which U.S. interests were clearly damaged and American democracy compromised, were treated largely as non-stories.

Why is Russia-gate a big deal while the other cases weren't? Why are opposite rules in play now – with Democrats, many Republicans and the major news media flogging fragile "links," needling what little evidence there is, and assuming the worst rather than insisting that only perfect evidence and perfect witnesses be accepted as in the earlier cases?

The answer seems to be the widespread hatred for President Trump combined with vested interests in favor of whipping up the New Cold War. That is a goal valued by both the Military-Industrial Complex, which sees trillions of dollars in strategic weapons systems in the future, and the neoconservatives, who view Russia as a threat to their "regime change" agendas for Syria and Iran.

After all, if Russia and its independent-minded President Putin can be beaten back and beaten down, then a big obstacle to the neocon/Israeli goal of expanding the Mideast wars will be removed.

Right now, the neocons are openly lusting for a "regime change" in Moscow despite the obvious risks that such turmoil in a nuclear-armed country might create, including the possibility that Putin would be succeeded not by some compliant Western client like the late Boris Yeltsin but by an extreme nationalist who might consider launching a nuclear strike to protect the honor of Mother Russia.

The Democrats, the liberals and even many progressives justify their collusion with the neocons by the need to remove Trump by any means necessary and "stop fascism." But their contempt for Trump and their exaggeration of the "Hitler" threat that this incompetent buffoon supposedly poses have blinded them to the extraordinary risks attendant to their course of action and how they are playing into the hands of the war-hungry neocons.

A Smokescreen for Repression

There also seems to be little or no concern that the Establishment is using Russia-gate as a smokescreen for clamping down on independent media sites on the Internet. Traditional supporters of civil liberties have looked the other way as the rights of people associated with the Trump campaign have been trampled and journalists who simply question the State Department's narratives on, say, Syria and Ukraine are denounced as "Moscow stooges" and "useful idiots."

The likely outcome from the anti-Russian show trials on Capitol Hill is that technology giants will bow to the bipartisan demand for new algorithms and other methods for stigmatizing, marginalizing and eliminating information that challenges the mainstream storylines in the cause of fighting "Russian propaganda."

The warning from powerful senators was crystal clear. "I don't think you get it," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, warned social media executives last week. "You bear this responsibility. You created these platforms, and now they are being misused. And you have to be the ones who do something about it. Or we will."

As this authoritarian if not totalitarian future looms and as the dangers of nuclear annihilation from an intentional or unintentional nuclear war with Russia grow, many people who should know better are caught up in the Russia-gate frenzy.

I used to think that liberals and progressives opposed McCarthyism because they regarded it as a grave threat to freedom of thought and to genuine democracy, but now it appears that they have learned to love McCarthyism except, of course, when it rears its ugly head in some Long Island political ad criticizing New York City.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

Joe Tedesky , November 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm

I watched the C-Span 'Russian/2016 Election Investigation Hearings' in horror, as each congressperson grilled the Hi-Tech executives in a way to suggest that our First Amendment Rights are now on life support, and our Congress is ready to pull the plug at any moment. I thought, of how this wasn't the America I was brought up to believe in. So as I have reached the age in life where nothing should surprise me, I realize now how fragile our Rights are, in this warring nation that calls itself America.

When it comes to Israel I have two names, Jonathan Pollard & the USS Liberty, and with that, that is enough said.

Danny Weil , November 6, 2017 at 6:33 pm

This week's congressional hearings on "extremist content" on the Internet mark a new stage in the McCarthyite witch hunt by congressional Democrats, working with the intelligence agencies and leading media outlets, to legitimize censorship and attack free speech on the Internet.

One after another, congressmen and senators goaded representatives of Google, Twitter and Facebook to admit that their platforms were used to sow "social divisions" and "extremist" political opinions. The aim of this campaign is to claim that social conflict within the United States arises not from the scale of social inequality in America, greater than in any other country in the developed world, but rather from the actions of "outside agitators" working in the service of the Kremlin.

The hearings revolved around claims that Russia sought to "weaponize" the Internet by harnessing social anger within the United States. "Russia," said Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, promoted "discord in the US by inflaming passions on a range of divisive issues." It sought to "mobilize real Americans to sign online petitions and join rallies and protests."

The McCarthyite witch hunts of the 1950s sought to suppress left-wing thought and label all forms of dissent as illegitimate and treasonous. Those who led them worked to purge left-wing opinion from Hollywood, the trade unions and the universities.

Likewise, the new McCarthyism is aimed at creating a political climate in which left-wing organizations and figures are demonized as agents of the Kremlin who are essentially engaged in treasonous activity deserving of criminal prosecution.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/03/pers-n03.html

Joe Tedesky , November 7, 2017 at 12:32 am

Thanks for the informative link Danny.

Watching this Orwellian tragedy play out in our American society, where our Congress is insisting that disclaimers and restrictions be placed upon suspicious adbuys and editorial essays, is counterintuitive to what we Americans were brought up to belief. Why, all my life teachers, and adults, would warn us students of reading the news to not to believe everything we read as pure fact, but to research a subject before coming to a conclusion toward your accepting an opinion to wit. And with these warnings of avoiding us being suckered into a wrong belief, we were told that this was the price we were required to pay for having a free press society. This freedom of speech was, and has always been the bedrock of our hopes and wishes for our belief in the American Dream.

Danny there was a time not to long ago, I would have said of how we are 'moving towards' to us becoming a police state, well instead replace that prediction of 'moving towards' to the stark reality to be described as 'that now we are', and there you will have it that we have finally arrived to becoming a full blown 'police state'. Little by little, and especially since 911 one by one our civil liberties were taken away. Here again our freedom of speech is being destroyed, and with this America is now where Germany had been in the mid-thirties. America's own guilty conscience is rapidly doing some physiological projections onto their imaginary villain Russia.

All I keep hearing is my dear sweet mother lecturing me on how one lie always leads to another lie until the truth will finally jump up and bite you in the ass, and think to myself of how wise my mother had been with her young girl Southside philosophy. May you Rest In Peace Mum.

Martin , November 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Yankees chicks are coming home to roost. So many peoples rights and lives had to be extinguished for Americans to have the illusion of pursuing their happiness, well, what goes around comes around.

Gregory Herr , November 7, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Gee wiz Adam Schiff you make it sound as if signing petitions and rallying to causes and civil protests are unamerican or something. And Russians on the internet are harnessing social anger! Pathetic. These jerks who would have us believe they are interested in "saving" democracy or stopping fascism have sure got it backward.

Geoffrey de Galles , November 8, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Joe, Allow me please, respectfully, to add Mordecai Vanunu -- Israel's own Daniel Ellsberg -- to your two names.

Erik G , November 6, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Thanks to Mr. Parry for this very fair and complete review of the latest attempts to generate a fake foreign enemy. The tyrant over a democracy must generate fake foreign enemies to pose falsely as a protector, so as to demand domestic power and accuse his opponents of disloyalty, as Aristotle and Plato warned thousands of years ago.

It is especially significant that the zionists are the sole beneficiaries of this scam as well as the primary sponsors of the DNC, hoping to attack Russia and Iran to support Israeli land thefts in the Mideast. It is well established that zionists control US mass media, which never examine the central issue of our times, the corruption of democracy by the zionist/MIC/WallSt influence upon the US government and mass media. Russia-gate is in fact a coverup for Israel-gate.

Those who would like to petition the NYT to make Robert Parry their senior editor may do so here:
https://www.change.org/p/new-york-times-bring-a-new-editor-to-the-new-york-times?recruiter=72650402&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink
While Mr. Parry may prefer independence, and we all know the NYT ownership makes it unlikely, and the NYT may try to ignore it, it is instructive to them that intelligent readers know better journalism when they see it. A petition demonstrates the concerns of a far larger number of potential or lost subscribers.

mike k , November 6, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Why did we ever believe that the democrat party was a defender of free speech? These bought and paid for tools of the economic elites are only interested in serving their masters with slavish devotion. Selfishness and immorality are their stock in trade; betraying the public their real intention.

Cratylus , November 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Great essay.

But one disagreement. I may agree with Trump on very, very few things, among them getting rid of the horrible TPP, one cornerstone of Hillary's pivot; meeting with Putin in Hamburg; the Lavrov-Tillerson arranged cease-fire in SE Syria; the termination of the CIA's support for anti-Assad jihadis in Syria; a second meeting with Putin at the ASEAN conference this week; and in general the idea of "getting along with Russia" (a biggie) which Russia-gate is slowing to a crawl as designed by the neocons.

But Trump as an "incompetent buffoon" is a stretch albeit de rigueur on the pages of the NYT, the programs of NPR and in all "respectable" precincts. Trump won the presidency for god's sake – something that eluded the 17 other GOP primary candidates, some of them considered very"smart" and Bernie and Jill, and in the past, Ralph Nader and Ron Paul – and the supposedly "very smart" Hillary for which we should be eternally grateful. "Incompetent" hardly seems accurate. The respectable commentariat has continually underestimated Trump. We should heed Putin who marveled at Trump's seemingly impossible victory.

Bill Cash , November 6, 2017 at 4:13 pm

How do you explain all the connections between Trump acolytes and Russia and their lying about it. I think they've all lied about their contacts. Why would they do that?I lived through the real McCarthyism and, so far, this isn't close to what happened then.

Bill , November 6, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Probably because they are corruptly involved. Thing is, the higher priority is to avoid another decades-long cold war risking nuclear war. Do you remember how many close calls we had in the last one?

I'm more suspicious of Trump than most here, but even I think we need some priorities. Far more extensive corruption of a similar variety keeps occurring and no one cares, as Mr. Parry points out here yet again.

As for McCarthyism, whatever the current severity, the result is unfolding as a new campaign against dissenting voices on the internet. That's supremely not-okay with me.

Gregory Herr , November 7, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Right. Just because we don't yet have another fulll-fledged HUAC happening doesn't mean severe perils aren't attached to this new McCarthyism. Censorship of dissent is supremely not-okay with me as well.

Elizabeth Burton , November 6, 2017 at 4:58 pm

That class of people lie as a matter of course; it's standard procedure. If you exacerbate it by adding on the anti-Russia hysteria that was spewed out by the Democrats before the ink was dry on the ballots, what possible reason would they have for being truthful?

The insanity of the entire "Russian hacking" narrative has been revealed over and over, including this past weekend when +/-100 Clinton loyalists published a screed on Medium saying Donna Brazile had been taken in by Russian propaganda.

Litchfield , November 6, 2017 at 7:10 pm

I have come to expect just about anything when it comes to Russia-Gate, but I was taken aback by the Hillary bots' accusation that videos of Hillary stumbling and others showing her apparently having a fit of some kind and also needing to be helped up the steps to someone's house -- which were taken by Americans and shown by Americans and seen by millions of shocked Americans -- were driven by Russia-Gate.

Obviously, Brazile, like millions of voters, saw these films and made appropriate inferences: that Hillary's basic health and stamina were a question mark. Of course, Hillary also offered Americans nothing in her campaign rhetoric. She came across as the mother-in-law from hell.

Was it also a Russia-Gate initiative when Hillary hid from her supporters on election night and let Podesta face the screaming sobbing supporters? Too much spiked vodka or something? Our political stage in the USA is a madhouse.

Adrian Engler , November 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm

These people probably have "connections" with a relatively large number of people, and only very small fraction of the people they have contact with are probably Russians. Now, since the extremist xenophobic idea that contact with *any* Russians is a scandal has taken hold in the United States, people are probably not too eager to mention these contacts in these atmosphere of extreme xenophobic anti-Russian hatred in today's United States. Furthermore, people who have contact with large numbers of people probably really have difficulties remembering and listing these all.

Today's political atmosphere in the United States probably has a lot in common with the Soviet Union. There, people got in trouble if they had contacts with people from Western, capitalist countries – and if they were asked and did not mention these contacts in order to avoid problems, they could get in trouble even more.

I think it is absolutely clear that no one who takes part in this hateful anti-Russian campaign can pretend to be liberal or progressive. The kind of society these xenophobes who detest pluralism and accuse everyone who has opinions outside the mainstream of being a foreign agent is absolutely abhorrent, in my view.

Leslie F , November 6, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Their contacts are with Russian business and maybe the Russian mob, not the Russian state. There is really not question that Trump and his cronies are crooks, but they are crooks in the US and in all the other countries where they do business, not just Russia. I'm sure Mueller will be able to tie Trump directly to some of the sleeze. But there is no evidence that the Russian government is involved in any of it. "Russia-gate" implies Russian government involvement, not just random Russians. There is no evidence of that and moreover the logic is against.

occupy on , November 7, 2017 at 12:47 am

Mr. Cash . I think George Papadopoulis, Trump's young Aide, was an inside mole for neocon pro-Israel interests. Those interests needed to knock the unreliable President Trump out of the way to get the "system" back where it belonged – in their pocket. Papadopoulis, on his own, was rummaging around making Trump/Russian connections that finally ended with the the William (Richard?) Browder (well-known Washington DC neocon)/Natalia Veselnitskaya/Donald Trump, Jr. fiasco. The Trumps knew nothing of those negotiations, and young Trump left when he realized Natalia was only interested in Americans being allowed to adopt Russian children again and had no dirt on Hillary.

In the meantime, Trump Jr. was connected with an evil Russian (Natalia), William Browder was able to link the neocon-hated Trump Sr with neocon-hated, evil Russians (who currently have a warrant out for Browder's arrest on a 15 [or 50?] million dollar tax evasion charge), and neocons have a good chance of claiming victory out of chaos (as is their style and was their intent for the Middle East [not Washington DC!] in the neocon Project For a New American Century – 1998). Clinton may have lost power in Washington DC, but Clinton-supporting neocons may not have – thanks to George Papadopoulis. We shall see. Something tells me the best is yet to come out of the Mueller Investigations.

Roy G Biv , November 7, 2017 at 2:03 pm

You are seeing it clearly Bill. This site was once a go-to-source for investigative journalism. Now it is a place for opinion screeds, mostly with head buried in the sand about the blatant Russian manipulation of the 2016 election. The dominant gang of posters here squash any dissent and dissenting comments usually get deleted within a day. I don't understand why and how it came to be so, but the hysterical labeling of Comey/Mueller investigations as McCarthyism by Parry has ruined his sterling reputation for me.

Stygg , November 7, 2017 at 2:24 pm

If this "Russian manipulation" was as blatant as everyone keeps telling me, how come it's all based on ridiculous BS instead of evidence? Where's the beef?

anon , November 7, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Unable to substantiate anything you say nor argue against anything said here, you disgrace yourself. Do you think anyone is fooled by your repeated lie that you are a disaffected former supporter of this site? And you made the "Stygg" reply above.

Tom Hall , November 6, 2017 at 4:46 pm

It was never my impression that Cold War liberals opposed McCarthy or the anti-Communist witch hunt. Where they didn't gleefully join in, they watched quietly from the sidelines while the American left was eviscerated, jailed, driven from public life. Then the liberals stepped in when it was clear things were going a little too far and just as the steam had run out of McCarthy's slander machine.

At that point figures like Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy found the path clear for their brand of political stagecraft. They were imperialists to a man, something they proved abundantly when given the chance. Liberals supplanted the left in U.S. life- in the unions, the teaching profession, publishing and every other field where criticism of the Cold War and the enduring prevalence of worker solidarity across international lines threatened the new order.

So it's no surprise that liberalism is the rallying point for a new wave of repression. The dangerous buffoon currently occupying the White House stands as a perfect foil to the phony indignation of the liberal leadership- Schumer, Pelosi et al.. The jerk was made to order, and they mean to dump him as their ideological forebears unloaded old Tail Gunner Joe. In fact, Trump is so odious, the Democrats, their media colleagues and major elements of the national security state believe that bringing down the bozo can be made to look like a triumph of democracy. Of course, by then dissent will have been stamped out far more efficiently than Trump and his half-assed cohorts could have achieved. And it will be done in the name of restoring sanity, honoring the constitution, and protecting everyone from the Russians. I was born in the fifties, and it looks like I'm going to die in the fifties.

Danny Weil , November 6, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Truman started it. And he used it very well.

THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE AND ORIGINS OF ""McCARTHYISM
By Richard M. Freeland

This book argues that Truman used anti-Communist scare tactics to force Congress to implement his plans for multilateral free trade and specifically to pass the Marshall Plan. This is a sound emphasis, but other elements of postwar anti-Communist campaigns are neglected, especially anti-labor legislation; and Freeland attributes to Truman a ""go-soft"" attitude toward the Soviets, which is certainly not proven by the fact that he restrained the ultras Forrestal, Kennan, and Byrnes -- indeed, some of Freeland's own citations confirm Truman's violent anti-Soviet spirit.

The book concludes that by equating dissent with disloyalty, promoting guilt by association, and personally commanding loyalty programs, ""Truman and his advisors employed all the political and programmatic techniques that in later years were to become associated with the broad phenomenon of McCarthyism."" Freeland's revisionism is confined and conservative: he deems the Soviets most responsible for the Cold War and implies that ""subversion"" was in fact a menace.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/richard-m-freeland/the-truman-doctrine-and-origins-of-mccarthyism/

Howard Mettee , November 6, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Bob,

You are one of the very few critical journalists today willing to print objective measures of the truth, while the MSM spins out of control under the guise of "protecting America" (and their vital sources), while at the same time actually undermining the very principles of a working democracy they sanctimoniously pretend to defend. It makes me nostalgic for the McCarthy era, when we could safely satirize the Army-McCarthy Hearings (unless you were a witness!). I offer the following as a retrospective of a lost era.:

Top-Ten Criteria for being a Putin Stooge, and a Chance at Winning A One Way Lottery Ticket:to the Gala Gitmo Hotel:
:
(1) Reading Consortium News, Truth Dig, The Real News Network, RT and Al Jeziera
(2) Drinking Starbucks and vodka at the Russian Tea Room with Russian tourists (with an embedded FSS agent) in NYC.
(3) Meeting suspicious tour guides in Red Square who accept dollars for their historical jokes.
(4) Claiming to catch a cell phone photo of the Putin limousine passing through the Kremlin Tower gate.
(4) Starting a joint venture with a Russian trading partner who sells grain to feed Putin's stable of stallions. .
(5) Catching the flu while being sneezed upon in Niagara Falls by a Russian violinist.
(6) Finding the hidden jewels in the Twelfth Chair were nothing but cut glass.
(7) Reading War and Peace on the Brighton Beach ferry.
(8) Playing the iPod version of Rachmaninoff's "Vespers" through ear buds while attending mass in Dallas, TX..
(9) Water skiing on the Potomac flying a pennant saying "Wasn't Boris Good Enough?"
(10) Having audibly chuckled even once at items (1) – (9). Thanks Bob, Please don't let up!

Lisa , November 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Howard,

I chuckled loudly more than once – but luckily, no one heard me! No witnesses! So you are acquainted with the masterpiece "12 chairs"? Very suspicious.

David G , November 6, 2017 at 8:42 pm

I've heard that's Mel Brooks favorite among his own movies.

David G , November 6, 2017 at 8:48 pm

I always find it exasperating when I have to remind the waiter at the diner to bring Russian dressing along with the reuben sandwich, but these days I wonder if my loyalty is being tested.

Dave P. , November 6, 2017 at 10:27 pm

David G –

They will change the name of dressing very soon. Remember 2003 when French refused to endorse the invasion of Iraq. I think they unofficially changed the name of "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries".

It is just the start. The whole History is being rewritten – in compliance with Zionist Ideology. Those evil Russkies will be shown as they are!

Elizabeth Burton , November 6, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Clearly, since I've published one book by a Russian, one by a now-deceased US ex-pat living in Russia, and have our catalog made available in Russia via our international distributor, I am a traitor to the US. If you add in my staunch resistance to the whole Russiagate narrative AND the fact I post links to stories in RT America, I'm doomed.

I wish I could think I'm being wholly sarcastic.

Danny Weil , November 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm

You are not alone. Many of us live outside the open air prison and feel the same way

Abe , November 6, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Robert Parry has described "the New McCarthyism" having "its own witch-hunt hearings". In fact "last week's Senate grilling of executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google" was merely an exercise in political theatre because all three entities already belong to the "First Draft" coalition:

http://fortune.com/2016/09/13/facebook-twitter-join-first-draft-coalition/

Formed by Google in June 2015 with Eliot Higgins of the Atlantic Council's Bellingcat as a founding member, the "First Draft" coalition includes all the usual mainstream media "partners" in "regime change" war propaganda: the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, the UK Guardian and Telegraph, BBC News, the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Research Lab and Kiev-based Stopfake.

In a remarkable post-truth declaration, the "First Draft" coalition insists that members will "work together to tackle common issues, including ways to streamline the verification process".

In the "post-truth" regime of US and NATO hybrid warfare, the deliberate distortion of truth and facts is called "verification".

The Washington Post / PropOrNot imbroglio, and "First Draft" coalition "partner" organizations' zeal to "verify" US intelligence-backed fake news claims about Russian hacking of the US presidential election, reveal the "post-truth" mission of this new Google-backed hybrid war propaganda alliance.

Abe , November 6, 2017 at 5:45 pm

The Russia-gate "witch-hunt" has graduated from McCarthyism to full Monty Pythonism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3jt5ibfRzw

Dan Kuhn , November 6, 2017 at 6:41 pm

You get the gold star for best comment today.

Abe , November 7, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Hysterical demonization of Russia escalated dramatically after Russia thwarted the Israeli-Saudi-US plan to dismember the Syrian state.

With the rollback of ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorist proxy forces in Syria, and the failure of Kurdish separatist efforts in Iraq, Israel plans to launch military attacks against southern Lebanon and Syria.

South Front has presented a cogent and fairly detailed analysis of Israel's upcoming war in southern Lebanon.

Conspicuously absent from the South Front analysis is any discussion of the Israeli planned assault on Syria, or possible responses to the conflict from the United States or Russia.

Israeli propaganda preparations for attack are already in high gear. Unfortunately, sober heads are in perilously short supply in Israel and the U.S., so the prognosis can hardly be optimistic.

"Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

Over time, IDF's military effectiveness had declined. [ ] In the Second Lebanon War of 2006 due to the overwhelming numerical superiority in men and equipment the IDF managed to occupy key strong points but failed to inflict a decisive defeat on Hezbollah. The frequency of attacks in Israeli territory was not reduced; the units of the IDF became bogged down in the fighting in the settlements and suffered significant losses. There now exists considerable political pressure to reassert IDF's lost military dominance and, despite the complexity and unpredictability of the situation we may assume the future conflict will feature only two sides, IDF and Hezbollah. Based on the bellicose statements of the leadership of the Jewish state, the fighting will be initiated by Israel.

"The operation will begin with a massive evacuation of residents from the settlements in the north and centre of Israel. Since Hezbollah has agents within the IDF, it will not be possible to keep secret the concentration of troops on the border and a mass evacuation of civilians. Hezbollah units will will be ordered to occupy a prepared defensive position and simultaneously open fire on places were IDF units are concentrated. The civilian population of southern Lebanon will most likely be evacuated. IDF will launch massive bombing causing great damage to the social infrastructure and some damage to Hezbollah's military infrastructure, but without destroying the carefully protected and camouflaged rocket launchers and launch sites.

"Hezbollah control and communications systems have elements of redundancy. Consequently, regardless of the use of specialized precision-guided munitions, the command posts and electronic warfare systems will not be paralysed, maintaining communications including through the use of fibre-optic communications means. IDF discovered that the movement has such equipment during the 2006 war. Smaller units will operate independently, working with open communication channels, using the pre-defined call signs and codes.

"Israeli troops will then cross the border of Lebanon, despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, beginning a ground operation with the involvement of a greater number of units than in the 2006 war. The IDF troops will occupy commanding heights and begin to prepare for assaults on settlements and actions in the tunnels. The Israelis do not score a quick victory as they suffer heavy losses in built-up areas. The need to secure occupied territory with patrols and checkpoints will cause further losses.

"The fact that Israel itself started the war and caused damage to the civilian infrastructure, allows the leadership of the movement to use its missile arsenal on Israeli cities. While Israel's missile defence systems can successfully intercept the launched missiles, there are not enough of them to blunt the bombardment. The civilian evacuation paralyzes life in the country. As soon IDF's Iron Dome and other medium-range systems are spent on short-range Hezbollah rockets, the bombardment of Israel with long-range missiles may commence. Hezbollah's Iranian solid-fuel rockets do not require much time to prepare for launch and may target the entire territory of Israel, causing further losses.

"It is difficult to assess the duration of actions of this war. One thing that seems certain is that Israel shouldn't count on its rapid conclusion, similar to last September's exercises. Hezbollah units are stronger and more capable than during the 2006 war, despite the fact that they are fighting in Syria and suffered losses there.

"Conclusions

"The combination of large-scale exercises and bellicose rhetoric is intended to muster Israeli public support for the aggression against Hezbollah by convincing the public the victory would be swift and bloodless. Instead of restraint based on a sober assessment of relative capabilities, Israeli leaders appear to be in a state of blood lust. In contrast, the Hezbollah has thus far demonstrated restraint and diplomacy.

"Underestimating the adversary is always the first step towards a defeat. Such mistakes are paid for with soldiers' blood and commanders' careers. The latest IDF exercises suggest Israeli leaders underestimate the opponent and, more importantly, consider them to be quite dumb. In reality, Hezbollah units will not cross the border. There is no need to provoke the already too nervous neighbor and to suffer losses solely to plant a flag and photograph it for their leader. For Hezbollah, it is easier and safer when the Israeli soldiers come to them. According to the IDF soldiers who served in Gaza and southern Lebanon, it is easier to operate on the plains of Gaza than the mountainous terrain of southern Lebanon. This is a problem for armoured vehicles fighting for control of heights, tunnels, and settlements, where they are exposed to anti-armor weapons.

"While the Israeli establishment is in a state of patriotic frenzy, it would be a good time for them to turn to the wisdom of their ancestors. After all, as the old Jewish proverb says: 'War is a big swamp, easy to go into but hard to get out'."

Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War
https://southfront.org/israeli-defense-forces-military-capabilities-scenarios-for-the-third-lebanon-war/

Realist , November 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Yes, the latest "big fish" outed yesterday as an agent of the Kremlin was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce (Wilbur Ross) who was discovered to hold stock in a shipping company that does business with a Russian petrochemical company (Sibur) whose owners include Vladimir Putin's son-in-law (Kirill Shamalov). Obviously the orders flow directly from Putin to Shamalov to Sibur to the shipping company to Ross to Trump, all to the detriment of American citizens.

From RT (another tainted source!): "US Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. has a stake in a shipping firm that receives millions of dollars a year in revenue from a company whose key owners include Russian President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law and a Russian tycoon sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as a member of Putin's inner circle," says the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the main publisher of the Paradise Papers. After the report was published, some US lawmakers accused Ross of misleading Congress during his confirmation hearings." Don't go mistaking the "International Consortium of Investigative Journalists for "Consortium News." These guys are dedicated witch hunters, searching for anyone with six degrees of separation to Vladimir Putin and his grand plan to thwart the United States and effect regime change within its borders.

In a clear attempt to weasel out of his traitorous transgression, Ross stated "In a separate interview with CNBC, that Sibur [which is NOT the company he owned stock in] was not subject to US sanctions." 'A company not under sanction is just like any other company, period. It was a normal commercial relationship and one that I had nothing to do with the creation of, and do not know the shareholders who were apparently sanctioned at some later point in time,' he said." Since when can we start allowing excuses like that? Not knowing that someone holds stock in a company that does business with a company in which you own stock may at some later point in time become sanctioned by the all-wise and all-good American federal government?

I can't wait till they make the first Ben Stiller comedy based on this fiasco twenty years from now. It will be hilarious slap-stick, maybe titled "Can You Believe these Mother Fockers?" President Chelea Clinton of our great and noble idiocracy will throw out the first witch on opening day of the movie.

Danny Weil , November 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Let's be honest. Most Americans think McCarthy is a retail store. No education. And they think Russia is the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Trump is in Japan to start war with N. Korea to hide the blemishes or the canker on his ass. America is rapidly collapsing.

Adrian Engler , November 6, 2017 at 6:34 pm

In the beginning, "Russiagate" was about alleged actions by Russian secret services. Evidence for these allegations has never emerged, and it seems that the Russiagate conspiracy theorists largely gave up on this part (they still sometimes write about it as if it was an established fact, but since the only thing in support of it they can adduce is the canard about the 17 intelligence services, it probably is not that interesting any more).

Now, they have dropped the mask, and the object of their hatred are openly all Russian people, anyone who is "Russian linked" by ever having logged in to social networks from Russia or using Cyrillic letters. If these people and their media at least recognized the reality that they are now a particularly rabid part of the xenophobic far right in the United States

But when people daily spew hate against anything and anyone "Russia linked" and still don't recognize that they have gone over to the far right and even claim they are liberal or progressive, this is completely absurd.

McCarthyism, as terrible as it was, at least originally was motivated by hatred against a certain political ideology that also had its bad sides. But today's Russiagate peddlers clearly are motivated by hatred against a certain ethnicity, a certain country, and a certain language. I don't think there is any way to avoid the conclusion that with their hatred against anyone who is "Russia linked", they have become right-wing extremists.

Litchfield , November 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm

"Israel is another skilled player in this field, tapping into its supporters around the world to harass people who criticize the Zionist project."

Yes, very well organized.
In fact virtually every synagogue is a center for organizing people to harass others who are exercising their First Amendment rights to diseminate information about Israel's occupation of Palestine. The link below is to a protest and really, personal attack, against a Unitarian minister in Marblehead, Mass., for daring to screen the film ""The Occupation of the American Mind, Israel's Public Relations War in the United States." In other words, for daring to provide an dissenting opinion and, simply, to tell the truth. Ironic is that the protesters' comment actually reinforce the basic message of the film.
No other views on Israel will be allowed to enter the public for a good airing and discussion and debate. The truth about the illegal Israeli occupation will be shouted down, and those who try to provide information to the public on this subject will be vilified as "anti-semites." Kudos to this minister for screening the film.

http://www.salemnews.com/news/local_news/screening-of-film-sparks-protest-in-marblehead/article_0b075cbc-c2ae-5d46-916a-24eed79d30cd.html

http://cdn.field59.com/SALEMNEWS/ebb60114f782c4213f068bf0a39a4a46451ed871_fl9-360p.mp4

Abe , November 7, 2017 at 1:03 am

The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel's Public Relations War in the United States (2016) examines pro-Israel Hasbara propaganda efforts within the U.S.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD7mOyfclIk

This important documentary, narrated by Roger waters, exposes how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel Lobby join forces to shape American media coverage in Israel's favor.

Documentary producer Sut Jhally is professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, and a leading scholar on advertising, public relations, and political propaganda. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation, a documentary film company that looks at issues related to U.S. media and public attitudes.

Jhally is the producer and director of dozens of documentaries about U.S. politics and media culture, including Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land: U.S. Media & the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.

The Occupation of the American Mind provides a sweeping analysis of Israel's decades-long battle for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American people – a battle that has only intensified over the past few years in the face of widening international condemnation of Israel's increasingly right-wing policies.

Dave P. , November 7, 2017 at 2:45 am

Abe –

The interview of Roger Waters on RT is one of the best I have seen in a long while. I wish some other artists get the courage to raise their voices. The link to the Roger Waters interview is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7jcvfbLoIA This Roger Waters interview is worth watching.

Dan Kuhn , November 6, 2017 at 6:57 pm

It would seem that everyone on the US telivision , newspaper and internet news has mastered the art of hand over mouth , gasp and looking horrified every time Russia is mentioned. It looks to me that the US is in the middle of another of it´s mid life crises. Panic reigns supreme every where. If it was not so sad it would be funny. i was born in the 1940s and remember the McCarthy witch hunts and the daily shower of people jumping out of windows as a result of it.

As a Canadian I could not get over, even though I was just a teenager back then, just how a people in a supposedly advanced country could be so collectively paniced. I think back then it was just a scam to get rid of unions and any kind of collective action against the owners of the country, and this time around I think it is just a continuation of that scam, to frighten people into subservience to the police state. I heard a women on TV today commenting on the Texas masscre, she said " The devil never sleeps", well in the USA the 1/10 of 1% never sleeps when it comes to more control, more pwoer and more wealth, in fact I think they are after the very last shekle still left in the pockets of the bottom 99.9 % of the population. Those evil Russians are just a ploy in the scam.

Litchfield , November 6, 2017 at 6:58 pm

"The Democrats, the liberals and even many progressives justify their collusion with the neocons by the need to remove Trump by any means necessary and "stop fascism." But their contempt for Trump and their exaggeration of the "Hitler" threat that this incompetent buffoon supposedly poses have blinded them to the extraordinary risks attendant to their course of action and how they are playing into the hands of the war-hungry neocons."

And they are driving more and more actual and potential Dem Party members away in droves, further weakening the party and depriving it of its most intelligent members. Any non-senile person knows that this is all BS and these people are not only turning their backs on the Dem Party but I think many of them are being driven to the right by their disgust with this circus and the exposure of the party's critical weaknesses and derangement.

Paolo , November 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm

You correctly write that "the United States intervened in the 1996 Russian election to ensure the continued rule of the corrupt and pliable Boris Yeltsin". The irony is that a few years later Yeltsin chose Putin as his successor, and presumably the 'mericans gave him a hand to win his first term.
How extremely sad it is to see the USA going totally nuts.

Abe , November 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm

In The Fifties (1993), American journalist and historian David Halberstam addressed the noxious effect of McCarthyism: "McCarthy's carnival like four year spree of accusation charges, and threats touched something deep in the American body politic, something that lasted long after his own recklessness, carelessness and boozing ended his career in shame." (page 53)

Halberstam specifically discussed how readily the so-called "free" press acquiesced to McCarthy's masquerading: "The real scandal in all this was the behavior of the members of the Washington press corps, who, more often than not, knew better. They were delighted to be a part of his traveling road show, chronicling each charge and then moving on to the next town, instead of bothering to stay behind and follow up. They had little interest in reporting how careless McCarthy was or how little it all meant to him." (page 55)

Abe , November 6, 2017 at 9:15 pm

On March 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow and a news team at CBS produced a half-hour See It Now special titled "A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy".

Murrow interspersed his own comments and clarifications into a damaging series of film clips from McCarthy's speeches. He ended the broadcast with a warning:

"As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves–as indeed we are–the defenders of freedom, what's left of it, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies, and whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create the situation of fear; he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right: 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.'"

CBS reported that of the 12,000 phone calls received within 24 hours of the broadcast, positive responses to the program outnumbered negative 15 to 1. McCarthy's favorable rating in the Gallup Poll dropped and was never to rise again.

Gary , November 6, 2017 at 11:34 pm

Sad to see so many hypocrites here espousing freedom from McCarthyism while they continue to vote for capitalist candidates year in year out. Think about the fact that in 2010 when Citizens United managed to get the Supreme Court to certify corporations as people the fear among many was that this would open US company subsidiaries to be infiltrated by foreign money. I guess it is happening in spades with collusion between Russian money & Trump's organization along with Facebook, Twitter & many others. How Mr. Parry can maintain that this parallels the 1950s anti-communist crusade is quite ingenuous. When libertarians, the likes of Bannon, Mercer, Trump et al, with their "destruction of the administrative state" credo are compared to the US communists of the 50s we know progressives have become about as disoriented as can be.

geeyp , November 7, 2017 at 3:30 am

I guess these "Paradise Papers" were released just yesterday, i.e., Sunday the 5th. Somehow I didn't get to it.

john wilson , November 7, 2017 at 6:01 am

So it looks like Hillary will be crossing Putin off her Xmas card list this year! I sometimes wonder if all we posters on here and other similar sites are on a list somewhere and when the day of reckoning comes, the list will be produced and we will have to account for our treasonous behaviour? Of course, one man's treason is another man's truth. I suppose in the end it boils down to the power thing. If you have a perceived enemy you can claim the need for an army. If you have an army you have power and with that power you can dispose of anyone who disagrees with you simply by calling them the enemy.

Lisa , November 7, 2017 at 9:38 am

John, your post made me wonder whether I would be on a list of traitors. I've written three posts, starting yesterday, and tried to explain something about the background of Yuri Milner, mentioned in the article. After "your comment has been posted, thank you" nothing has appeared on this thread.
Well, once more: Milner is known to me as a well-educated physicist from Moscow State University, and the co-founder and financier of The Breakthrough Prize, handing out yearly awards to promising scientists, with a much larger sum than the humble Nobel Prize. The awarding ceremony is held in December in Silicon Valley.

john wilson , November 7, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Hi Lisa, I have just looked up Milner on Wiki and he appears to be into everything including investment in internet companies. He is the co-founder of the "break through prize" that you mention and seems to have backed face book and twitter in their start up. I don't see why you posts haven't appeared as anyone can look Milner up on Wiki and elsewhere in great detail. You don't say where you have tried to post, but I would have thought on this site you would have no trouble whatever. If you have watched the last episode of 'cross talk' on RT you will see that anyone who as ever mentioned Russia in a public place is regarded as some kind of traitor. I guess you and me are due for rendition anytime now!! LOL

Lisa , November 7, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Hi John,
Naturally I had been trying to post on this site. First I tried three times in the comment space below all other posts, and they never went through. Only when I posted a reply to someone else's comment, my reply appeared. Maybe some technical problem on the site.

My motive was to show that Milner is doing worthwhile things with his millions, even if he is an "evil Russian oligarch". The mentioned prize has its own website: breakthroughprize.org. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is a board member.

The prize is certainly a "Putin conspiracy", as it has links to Russia. (sarc)

Zachary Smith , November 7, 2017 at 8:05 pm

Maybe some technical problem on the site.

Possibly that's the case. Disappearing-forever posts happen to me from time to time. For at least a while afterwards I cut/paste what I'm about to attempt to "post" to a WORD file before hitting the "post comment" button.

In any event, avoid links whenever possible. By cut/pasting the exact title of the piece you're using as a reference, others can quickly locate it themselves without a link.

K , November 7, 2017 at 9:44 am

I'm a lifelong Democrat. I was a Bernie supporter. But logic dictates my thinking. The Russia nonsense is cover for Hillary's loss and a convenient hammer with which to attack Trump. Not biting. Bill Maher is fixated on this. The Rob Reiner crowd is an embarrassment. The whole thing is embarrassing. The media is inept. Very bizarre times.

Patricia Schaefer , November 7, 2017 at 10:14 am

Excellent article which should shed light on the misunderstandings manifested to manipulate and censor Americans. Personally, it's ludicrous to imply that Russia was the primary reason I could not vote for Hillary. My interest in Twitter peaked when Sidney Blumenthal's name popped up selling arms in Libya. He was on The Clinton Foundation's Payroll for $120K, while the Obama Administration specifically told HRC Sidney Blumenthal was not to work for the State Department.

Further research showed Chris Stevens had no knowledge of Sidney Blumenthal selling arms in Libya. Hillary NEVER even gave Chris Stevens, a candidate with an outstanding background for diplomatic relations in the Middle East, her email. Chris Stevens possessed a Law Degree in International Trade, and had previously worked for Senator Lugar (R). Senator Lugar had warned HRC not to co-mingle State Department business with The Clinton Foundation.

To add salt to the wound Hillary choose to put a third rate security firm in Libya, changing firms a couple of short weeks before the bombing. I think she anticipated the bombing, remarking "What difference does it make? " at the congressional hearings.

If you remember Guccifer (that hacker) he said he'd hacked both Hillary and Sidney Blumenthal. He also said he found Sidney Blumenthal's account more interesting.

That's just one reason why I started surfing the internet. Sidney Blumenthal was a name that hung in the cobwebs of my memory, and I wanted to know what this scum-job of a journalist was doing!

Then there was Clinton Cash, BoysonTheTracks, Clinton Chronicles, the outrageous audacity of the Democrats Superdelegates voting before a single primary ballot had been cast, MSM bias to Hillary, Kathy Shelton's video "I thought you should know." and maybe around September 2016, wondering what dirty things Hillary had done with Russia since 1993?

So I guess it's true. In the end after witnessing what has transpired since the election I would not vote for Hillary because she'd rather risk WWIII, than have the TRUTH come out why she lost.

Gary , November 7, 2017 at 3:16 pm

After living in Europe much of the last three years we've recently returned to the U.S. I must say that life here feels very much like I'm living within a strange Absurdist theatre play of some sort (not that Europe is vastly better). Truth, meaning, rationality, mean absolutely nothing at this juncture here in the United States. Reality has been turned on its head. The only difference between our political parties runs along identity politics lines: "do you prefer your drone strikes, illegal invasions, regime change black-ops, economic warfare and massive government spying 'with' or 'without' gender specific bathrooms?" MSM refer to this situation as "democracy" while of course any thinking person knows we are actually living within a totalitarian nightmare. Theatre of the Absurd as a way of life. I must admit it feels pretty creepy being home again.

Realist , November 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Should this give us hope? https://sputniknews.com/us/201711071058899018-trump-cia-meet-whistleblower-russian-hacking/ Trump ordered Pompeo to meet with Binney of VIPS re "Russian hacking." Is it time for the absurd Russia-gate narrative to finally be publicly deconstructed? Or is that asking too much?

Skip Scott , November 8, 2017 at 9:04 am

I wish it wasn't asking too much, but I suspect it is. If the NYT was reporting it, I'd feel better about our chances. But the Deep State controls the narrative, and thus controls Pompeo, Trump's order notwithstanding. I hope I'm wrong.

Dave P. , November 7, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Yes Joe. It is rather painful to watch as you said this Orwellian Tragedy playing out in the Country which has just about become a police state. For those of us who grew up admiring the Western Civilization starting with the Greeks and Romans, and then for its institutions enshrining Individual Rights; and its scientific, literary, and cultural achievements, it is as if it still happening in some dream, though it has been coming for some time now – more than two decades now at least. The System was not perfect but I think that it was good as it could get. The system had been in decline for four decades or so now.

From Robert Parry's article:

"The warning from powerful senators was crystal clear. "I don't think you get it," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, warned social media executives last week. "You bear this responsibility. You created these platforms, and now they are being misused. And you have to be the ones who do something about it. Or we will."

Diane Feinstein's multi-billionaire husband was implicated in those Loan and Savings scandals of Reagan and G.H.W. Bush Era and in many other financial scandals later on but Law did not touch him. He has a dual residency in Israel. These are very corrupt people.

Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Perle, Nulad-Kagan clan, Kristol, Gaffney . . . the list goes on; add Netanyahu to it. In the Hollywood Harvey Weinstein, Rob Reiner. and the rest . . . In Finance and wall Street characters like Sandy Weiss and the gang. The Media and TV is directly or indirectly owned and controlled by "The Chosen People". So, where would you put the blame for all what is going on in this country, and all this chaos, death, and destruction going on in ME and many countries in Africa.

Any body who points out their role in it or utters a word of criticism of Israel is immediately called an anti-semite. Just to tell my own connections, my wife youngest sister is married to person who is Jewish (non-practicing). In all the relatives we have, they are closest to us for more than thirty five years now. They are those transgender common restroom liberals, but we have many common views and interests. In life, I have never differentiated people based on their ethnic or racial backgrounds; you look at the principles they stand for.

As I see it, this era of Russia-Gate and witch hunt is hundred times worse than McCarthy era. It seems irreversible. There is no one in the political establishment or elsewhere in Media or academia left for regeneration of the "Body Politic". In fact, what we are witnessing here is much worse than it was in the Soviet Union. It is complete degeneration of political leadership in this country. It extends to Media and other institutions as well. People in Soviet Union did not believe the lies they were told by the government there. And there arose writers like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Soviet Union. What is left here now except are these few websites?

Maedhros , November 7, 2017 at 4:27 pm

If there is evidence, you should be able to provide some so that readers can analyze and discuss it. Exactly what evidence has been provided that the Russian government manipulated the 2016 election?

CitizenOne , November 7, 2017 at 10:42 pm

Robert Parry You Nailed It!!!

I need to do a little research to see how far back you used the term "New McCarthyism" to describe the next cold war with Russia. It was about the same time the first allegations of a Trump-Russia conspiracy was floated by the MSM. I do not pretend to know how much airtime they spent covering their coverup for all that the MSM did to profit from SuperPacs. They have webed a weave that conspires to conceive to the tunes of billions of dollars spent to reprieve their intent to deceive us and distract us away from their investment in Donald Trump which was the real influence in the public spaces to gain mega profits from extorting the SuperPacs into spending their dollars to defeat the trumped up candidate they created and boosted. One has to look no further than the Main Stream Press (MSM) to find the guilty party with motive and opportunity to cash in on a candidacy which if not for the money motive would not pass any test of journalistic integrity but would make money for the Media.

The Russian Boogeyman was created shortly after the election and is an obvious attempt to shield and defend the actions of the MSM which was the real fake news covered in the nightly news leading up to the election which sought to get money rather than present the facts.

This is an example of how much power and influence the MSM has on us all to be able to upend a National election and turn around and blame some foreign Devil for the results of an election.

The Russians had little to do with Trumps election. The MSM had everything to do with it. They cast blame on the Russians and in so doing create a new Cold War which suits the power establishment and suitably diverts all of our attention away from their machinations to influence the last presidential election.

Win Win. More Nuclear Weapons and more money for the MIC and more money for all of the corporations who would profit from a new Cold War.

Profit in times of deceit make more money from those who cheat.

CitizenOne , November 7, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Things not talked about:

1. James Comey and his very real influence on the election has never entered the media space for an instant. It has gone down the collective memory hole. That silence has been deafening because he was the person who against DOJ advice reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton and the Servergate investigation after it had been closed by the FBI just days before the election.

The silence of the media on the influence on the election by the reopening of James Comey's Servergate investigation and how the mass media press coverage implicating Hillary Clinton (again) in supposed crimes (which never resulted in an indictment) influenced the National Election in ways that have never been examined by the MSM is a nail in the coffin of media impartiality.

Why have they not investigated James Comey? Why has the MSM instead created a Russian Boogeyman? Why was he invited to testify about the Russian connection but never cross examined about his own influence? Why is the clearest reason for election meddling by James Comey not even spoken of by the MSM? This is because the MSM does not want to cover events as they happened but wants to recreate a alternate reality suitable to themselves which serves their interests and convinces us that the MSM has no part at all in downplaying the involvement of themselves in the election but wants to create a foreign enemy to blame.

It serves many interests. The MSM lies to all of us for the benefit of the MIC. It serves to support White House which will deliver maximum investments in the Defense Industry. It does this by creating a foreign enemy which they create for us to fear and be afraid of.

It is obvious to everyone with a clear eyed history of how the last election went down and how the MSM and the government later played upon our fears to grab more cash have cashed in under the present administration.

It is up to us to elect leaders who will reject this manipulation by the media and who will not be cowed by the establishment. We have the power enshrined in our Constitution to elect leaders who will pave the path forward to a better future.

Those future leaders will have to do battle with a media infrastructure that serves the power structure and conspires to deceive us all.

Jessica K , November 8, 2017 at 9:43 am

Clear critical thinking must accompany free speech, however, and irrationality seems to have beset Americans, too stuck in the mud of identity politics. Can they get out? I have hopes that a push is coming from the new multipolar world Xi and Putin are advocating, as well as others (but not the George Soros NWO variety). The big bully American government, actually ruled by oligarchy, has not been serving its regular folks well, so things are falling apart. Seems like the sex scandals, political scandals especially of the Democrat brand, money scandals are unraveling to expose underlying societal sickness in the Disunited States of America.

It is interesting that this purge shakeup in Saudi Arabia is happening in 2017, one hundred years since the shakeup in Russia, the Bolshevik Revolution. So shake-ups are happening everywhere. I think a pattern is emerging of major changes in world events. Just yesterday I read that because "Russia-gate" isn't working well, senators are looking to start a "China-gate", for evidence of Trump collusion with Chinese oligarchs. Ludicrous. As Seer once said, "The Empire in panic mode".

Patricia, thanks for the info on Sid Blumenthal, HRC and the selling of arms from Libya to ME jihadists, which seems to exonerate Chris Stevens from those dirty deeds and lays blame squarely at Blumenthal's and Clinton's doorstep; changes my thinking. And thanks to Robert Parry for continuing to push back at the participation of MSM and government players in the Orwellian masquerade being pulled on the sheeple.

Truther , November 8, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Just the facts for those of you who have minds still open. suggest you bookmark it quickly as the moderator will delete it within the hour.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/a-timeline-of-the-trump-russia-scandal-w511067

[Nov 01, 2017] Don't feed the beast. Duckduckgo is a good alternative to Google. And Facebook and Twitter's revenues are advertisement based

To abandon Amazon is unrealistic, but to control what you are buying (in view that all purchases goes into your Dossier) is probably the necessary precaution.
Google as a search engine deteriorated (Any search engine based on advertizing revenue is promoting spyware. and Google is especially bad in this respect due to its dominant position-- those guy pay Google and push themselves to the top of searches) , and alternative are not much worse, if not batter. It might make sense to change engine periodically, not to stick to a single one.
Facebook is intelligence collection company that masquerade itself as social site. So anybody who use Facebook is actually making creation of a comprehensive dossier on him/her much easier. You contacts are especially important. Same is true for Gmail and hotmail.
Notable quotes:
"... From the beginning of Zuckerberg's empire, I thought Facebook was an idiotic excuse to get people involved in trivia, even the name turned me off. ..."
Nov 01, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

geeyp, November 1, 2017 at 7:18 am

I would like to posit that we stop with the Googling on the internet. I have never "Googled" ever. Oh sure, Google is involved with connecting you when you might click on some links. That you seemingly can't avoid. I also don't Face or Twitter. If everyone could avoid doing that now, perhaps we could show our disdain with these entities acquiescing to Feinstein, et. al. I am so fed up with the Clinton crime family getting away with almost as much as the George H.W. crime family.

Skip Scott , November 1, 2017 at 8:46 am

geeyp-

That is a very good suggestion. Don't feed the beast. Duckduckgo is a good alternative to google. And facebook and twitter's revenues are add based, so don't go there either, as they have been shown to be caving to TPTB. Amazon is also one to avoid for Bezo's links to the CIA.

Jessica K , November 1, 2017 at 9:55 am

From the beginning of Zuckerberg's empire, I thought Facebook was an idiotic excuse to get people involved in trivia, even the name turned me off.

Now, Twitter is planning extending tweets to 280 characters, as if 140 is not bad enough. Unfortunately, Twitter can work to tell lies as well as push back on lies, same for Facebook and Google.

Seriously, this society has become unglued and as Lois says, "It ain't a pretty sight". Bad choices are leading to the American empire's downfall.

There's an interesting article from a week ago on Zero Hedge, "China's Rise, America's Fall", about China's launch of the petroyuan and other countries' desire to get off of dollar dominance.

Has a graph showing empire dominance from Portugal in 15th century, then Netherlands followed by Spain, then France, Great Britain, and finally the American empire, poised to be replaced by China.

[Oct 30, 2017] Could Papadopoulos case be an entrapment ? This "Russian professor" looks exactly like the heroes of Nigerian spam letters

Entrapment is as old as civilization. "In criminal law, entrapment is a practice whereby a law enforcement agent induces a person to commit a criminal offence that the person would have otherwise been unlikely or unwilling to commit. [1] It "is the conception and planning of an offence by an officer, and his procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion or fraud of the officer." [2] "
Previously I thought that members of Hillary entourage were complete idiots both as for computer security and generally security wise. Now it looks like Trump entourage have has the same problem: many of they were idiots.
In "After Snowden" world anybody who wants to communicate with a unknown foreign person via Facebook of Twitter on issues of any political significance is an idiot. Because chances of hoax, provocation of in case of Trump team "false flag operation" are nearly 100%. This way you can implicate anybody in Russian ties: hire a hoaxer and ask him to pretend that he is Russian. To simp0lify the matter ask him to use Skype to communicate with the target. Send a couple of incriminating emails. Any of Nigerian spammers can be used for this purpose. They are already trained. Rinse and repeat.
So how we can be sure that this idiot Papadopoulos was not set up? BTW he ws born in 1987 -- so he just out of the college (graduated in 2009). What does he know about foreign policy?He never has been an ambassador to an important country, words in State Depertment, or servers as a senior fellow in some research institution which study those issues. (he was "unpaid intern" in Hudson institute" in 2011) What foreign policy advisor role for such a guy ? He looks like a huckster to me.
Of cause Kieren McCarth in her joy over the development is unable to contemplate this question.
Notable quotes:
"... Papadopoulos has been assisting Mueller's special inquiry for several months, but word of this cooperation only emerged today when his guilty plea to making false statements to the FBI was unsealed. ..."
"... he used Facebook Messenger and Skype to communicate with a Russian government agent, called "the Professor," who promised to provide damaging information on the Clinton campaign. Emails, no less. ..."
"... the Professor showed interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS only after learning of his role." ..."
"... And then there is extensive evidence -- confirmed by Papadopoulos -- that he acted as a go-between for the Trump campaign and the Russian government, including being supplied with damaging information on the Clinton campaign. ..."
"... There are also emails from other Trump campaign staff -- so far unnamed -- that show explicit efforts to work with Russians in gathering damaging information on the real-estate tycoon's political rival. In other words, efforts to engage a foreign power to swing a US presidential election. ..."
"... For one, using Facebook to carry out highly dubious and potentially illegal activity is not a good idea. This is a social network that periodically changes account settings to keep up the pretense that it's not gathering and selling every snippet of information it can get out of you. Anything you say on Facebook may go straight down a pipe to the NSA and a database searchable by the FBI. It's called Section 702 . ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | www.theregister.co.uk
Originally from: Manafort, Stone, Trump, Papadopoulos, Kushner, Mueller, Russia All the tech angles in one place • The Register By Kieren McCarthy

Former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos -- no, not that one -- has been turned by ex-FBI director Robert Mueller as part of the latter's investigation into Trump campaign team members. Mueller is probing allegations of obstruction of justice, money laundering and other financial crimes, and collusion with Russian government agents seeking to meddle with last year's US presidential election.

Papadopoulos has been assisting Mueller's special inquiry for several months, but word of this cooperation only emerged today when his guilty plea to making false statements to the FBI was unsealed.

Coincidentally, Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort surrendered himself this morning to Mueller at his nearest FBI office, as requested, to answer allegations ranging from making false statements to acting as a foreign agent.

Ex-Trump campaign official Rick Gates, also accused of conspiracy and money laundering, handed himself in today, too. The indictment against the pair is here , and both deny any wrongdoing.

Among the wealth of details in Papadopoulos' 14-page statement [PDF] is the fact that he used Facebook Messenger and Skype to communicate with a Russian government agent, called "the Professor," who promised to provide damaging information on the Clinton campaign. Emails, no less.

"This isn't like he [the Professor]'s messaging me while I'm in April with Trump," Papadopoulos told the FBI. "I wasn't even on the Trump team." Except he was on the team in April 2016. The Feds noted in their court paperwork: "Defendant PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor for the first time on or about March 14, 2016, after defendant PAPADOPOULOS had already learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the Campaign; the Professor showed interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS only after learning of his role."

And then there is extensive evidence -- confirmed by Papadopoulos -- that he acted as a go-between for the Trump campaign and the Russian government, including being supplied with damaging information on the Clinton campaign.

There are also emails from other Trump campaign staff -- so far unnamed -- that show explicit efforts to work with Russians in gathering damaging information on the real-estate tycoon's political rival. In other words, efforts to engage a foreign power to swing a US presidential election.

But let's take a quick look at Facebook.

For one, using Facebook to carry out highly dubious and potentially illegal activity is not a good idea. This is a social network that periodically changes account settings to keep up the pretense that it's not gathering and selling every snippet of information it can get out of you. Anything you say on Facebook may go straight down a pipe to the NSA and a database searchable by the FBI. It's called Section 702 .

Papadopoulos is obviously not a man well versed in spy craft. Something that becomes more apparent when it's revealed the day after he was pulled in for questioning, he deleted his entire Facebook account and started a new one. He also tried changing his phone number to sidestep the Feds.

You can just imagine Mueller's team at their morning meeting: so how did the Papadopoulos interview go yesterday? Well, this morning he deleted his Facebook account. Great, now we know where to look.
... ... ...

[Oct 29, 2017] In Facebook We Antitrust by Patricia J. Williams

The author presentation of Facebook social effects is somewhat hysteric and lacks depth, but still mining data on two billion people is probably the moment when quantity turns into quality. For many people usage of Facebook is the symbol of being stupid. But other are too stupid to notice that they are being used. The same actually is true for Goggle.
Still, those in intelligence agencies who financed Facebook can now be proud.
Notable quotes:
"... Online organizers, who arguably have more awareness of the problems with Facebook, are equally committed to sticking with it, because "that's where the people are." To imagine fixing the democracy-distorting effects of Facebook's power, you have to be able to see beyond its boundaries, to a world where how we learn, play, and socialize isn't structured by the Lawnmower Man and surveillance capitalism. And I fear that our ability to imagine that world is rapidly fading ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.thenation.com

On June 27, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, announced that "the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people!" It took the platform a little more than eight years to reach 1 billion users, and then less than five years to reach the second billion. Close to two-thirds of users visit the site at least once a day. There is no other human entity on earth as big as Facebook -- no country, no business, no single religious denomination.

We have to trust Facebook when its spokespeople say they are not abusing these powers to the benefit of any partisan cause. While the company has tried to downplay its ability to influence political choices, internal documents obtained by The Australian revealed that Facebook routinely tells advertisers that it knows exactly which buttons they should press to sell their products to impressionable young people. We should assume the same is true for other audiences. Don't forget, dear reader, especially if -- as is more than likely -- you are reading this article on Facebook right now: You are not Facebook's customer; you are its product. Facebook's only true constituency is its millions of advertisers.

... ... ...

Indeed, it is becoming more clear with each passing day that operatives tied to Russia used Facebook to insinuate themselves into the 2016 election, by creating fake accounts and group pages, pumping up false news stories, and targeting tens of millions of users with ads designed to sow division and affect their inclination to vote. Because Facebook's algorithms are tuned to optimize "engagement," meaning the amount of time its users spend on the site, such inflammatory content was catnip. But the Russia-Trump connection is not the central question to focus on when it comes to Facebook's power; it's just the tipping point that is causing many people to pay attention at last.

You can't solve a problem if you can't even name it, and we're just beginning to find words to adequately describe the issues raised by Facebook and other dominant tech platforms like Google and Amazon. In a very important article in The Yale Law Journal, "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," Lina Khan of the Open Markets Institute notes that, while Amazon has lowered prices for consumers across many market categories, it has also abused its monopoly power in numerous ways. For example, it has mined internal data on the usage of its Amazon Web Services platform to figure out which tech start-ups were taking off and thus gain an insider's advantage on investment decisions. It has also created copycat products under the AmazonBasics label to directly compete with outside retailers by using internal data about the best-selling products on the site. Third-party sellers who use Amazon's delivery service do better in search results. Likewise, Google has used its dominant position as the main place that people go to search for information to sometimes favor its own content, such as travel-booking services and restaurant recommendations.

Since Facebook is currently a de facto social utility, it's tempting to propose that it be regulated, perhaps in a manner similar to the ways that the government has regulated telecommunications companies. For example, as Harold Feld of Public Knowledge has argued, Facebook could be required to show that it is not discriminating against particular classes of users or individuals when it comes to who it allows on the platform or how they're permitted to use it. Thus, when Facebook fires up its voter megaphone, the company could be required to show technical auditors that it is indeed being used in a neutral way. Likewise, when Google or Amazon exploit their market dominance in Web searches to privilege their own products, an antitrust case could be made that they're unfairly rigging the marketplace.

It's hard to see where the political will to explore these sorts of remedies is going to come from. Most of my liberal friends, confronted by the evidence that Facebook was used to meddle in the election, still can't find the energy to quit or stop using the platform. Online organizers, who arguably have more awareness of the problems with Facebook, are equally committed to sticking with it, because "that's where the people are." To imagine fixing the democracy-distorting effects of Facebook's power, you have to be able to see beyond its boundaries, to a world where how we learn, play, and socialize isn't structured by the Lawnmower Man and surveillance capitalism. And I fear that our ability to imagine that world is rapidly fading.

Patricia J. Williams is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University School of Law and a columnist for The Nation.

[Oct 24, 2017] The Weinstein story was suppressed by Hollywood, using its legal and financial muscle to keep a lid on it until now. But there are also power centres in the US government that can dictate to Hollywood: the Pentagon and the CIA

Oct 24, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Warren , October 22, 2017 at 4:37 am

Al Jazeera English
Published on 22 Oct 2017
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The Weinstein story was suppressed by Hollywood, using its legal and financial muscle to keep a lid on it – until now. But there are also power centres in the US government that can dictate to Hollywood: the Pentagon and the CIA

Patient Observer , October 22, 2017 at 7:51 am
What did Weinstein do to get thrown under the bus by his peers? Just on general principles, it could be surmised that this basically a turf war among the Hollywood power elites that went nuclear on Weinstein. When one scumbag accuses another scumbag of being a scumbag, there is more to the story than feigned moral outrage.
yalensis , October 22, 2017 at 11:55 am
When I first heard about the Hollywood scandal, I was confused for a minute, thinking, "Weinstein is so gay,why would he harrass women?"
And then I realized that I was confusing Harvey Weinstein with Harvey Fierstein!

[Oct 23, 2017] Why Trump Is Releasing the JFK Files by Adrienne LaFrance

Looks like Atlantic honchos are really worrying at the possibility of the release of the JFK assassination documents. I like the line "One, that the press is "the enemy of the American people" working in cahoots with the deep state, and, two, by lending credibility to the idea that the official story of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect."
Notable quotes:
"... The phrase "conspiracy theory" was invented by the CIA to cover up what they were doing. It shouldn't take much smarts to see that LHO was just a patsy. ..."
"... Here's a smarts question for you: did Bush try to launch a rightwing military coup in the USA, yes or no? ..."
"... I don't think there's any doubt that the CIA has and had assets in the media who did and do perpetuate disinformation and distraction. ..."
"... Of course they've tried to hide the fact, but the Church Committee hearings on the plots and assassinations and other criminal behavior by The Agency back in the 1950s and 1960s exposed all sorts of similar schemes. ..."
Oct 22, 2017 | www.theatlantic.com
Trump tweeted Saturday morning, "I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened."

Trump's announcement came a day after his longtime confidant Roger Stone went on Infowars , a radio show and website known for spreading conspiracy theories, and announced that Trump would not block the release of the documents, which are set to be issued by the National Archives in the coming days. Earlier that day, Politico Magazine had published an in-depth piece saying that Trump would likely block the release of the files.

Here's the thing that happens, apparently, when a conspiracy theorist becomes president of the United States: The lines between decision and reaction blur. The American people are accustomed to public officials spinning their way through public office. No president has been truly forthcoming with the electorate. Many have misled the American people.

... ... ...

Regardless of the files, though, Trump's attention to them is a window into how he wants to be seen. In one dashed-off tweet, Trump positions himself as doing something noble -- advocating for transparency, against the warnings of the intelligence community -- while feeding at least two major conspiracies. One, that the press is "the enemy of the American people" working in cahoots with the deep state, and, two, by lending credibility to the idea that the official story of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect.

"The best conspiracy theories have all the trappings of a classic underdog story," wrote Rob Brotherton in his book, Suspicious Minds . "We want to see top dogs taken down a peg; we want the downtrodden underdog to triumph. And when it comes to conspiracy theories, unfair disadvantage is par for the course

Nikolas Bourbaki SatanicPanic , October 22, 2017 5:36 PM

The best initial attitude to have is one of skepticism...not only of conspiracy theories but of denials of conspiracy theories. Until, that is, definitive evidence is revealed. You are a fool to believe in conspiracy theories without credible evidence You are also a fool for denying them without evidence. The fact is that we know through credible records including the CIA's own internal records that they have been involved with many conspiracies with foreign militias, dictatorships, corporations, thugs, gangsters and assassins. You are a damn fool not to take an allegation seriously and to blanket dismiss new allegations unless proven false. In fact, the CIA had (has?) a campaign to discredit any criticism of its policies as "conspiracy theory". Gaslighting is a common tool they have used against anyone who dares critiques or questions them.

24AheadDotCom SatanicPanic , October 22, 2017 10:37 PM

The phrase "conspiracy theory" was invented by the CIA to cover up what they were doing. It shouldn't take much smarts to see that LHO was just a patsy.

Here's a smarts question for you: did Bush try to launch a rightwing military coup in the USA, yes or no?

David Ticas Polite Democrat , October 22, 2017 1:32 PM

The files were due to be released on this day after 25 years. In 1992, after the movie JFK came out, people were intrigued and wanted the files released. The president ordered them sealed for another 25 years (Oct 2017) and President Trump happens to be President. He will release the files, if no conspiracy there, we will FINALLY get the transparency we the people have been asking for. Nothing more, nothing less.

Richard Turnbull David Ticas , October 22, 2017 1:50 PM

How exactly will the files show there was "no conspiracy there"? Do you expect somehow the files will erase the numerous eyewitness accounts of shots from in front of the motorcade?

Johnny Burnette Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 3:02 PM

Not only that, but the Parkland doctors said JFK's wounds ran contrary to what the Warren Report concluded. And the only doctor who saw both the assassination, the Parkland Hospital work, and the Bethesda autopsy, Dr. Burkley, was never consulted by the Warren Commission, and when asked later whether he thought shots may have hit Kennedy from more than one direction, replied: "I don't care to comment on that."

Richard Turnbull Johnny Burnette , October 22, 2017 5:44 PM

That's exactly why Vincent Bugliosi buried "What the Parkland Doctors Saw" as Endnote 404 on a CD-ROM accompanying his part of the coverup.

Johnny Burnette Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 7:20 PM

Bugliosi was intellectually dishonest in his massive tome. He hid inconvenient facts in order to push his agenda; i.e. that a lone gunman did all of the work alone. Serious scholars like Newman and DiEugenio have revealed his omissions for all to see.

Liars N. Fools , October 22, 2017 3:52 PM

I can't say for sure how the Clintons did it, but we should recall that Bill met JFK in 1963 and used that opportunity to plant a miniature tracking device. Hillary, using one of her witch spells, then met Bill earlier than officially recorded, and the two of them recruited Oswald and Ruby, with the help of Soviet agents using Vince Foster as a temporal go-between. Foster killed himself over his guilt in the assasination. They were desperate to get Hillary elected to stop the release of the files, but of course they failed. Now we will get another reason to lock her up. I have no proof but know this in my heart to be true.

Richard Turnbull Liars N. Fools , October 22, 2017 4:42 PM

They would have had to recruit Jack Ruby from organized crime --- see Who Was Jack Ruby? by Scripps-Howard White House correspondent Seth Kantor for more on "the mob's front man when they moved into Dallas."

Edit: Kantor was previously a reporter in Dallas-Ft. Worth and before that, a veteran of Guadalcanal --- he played a key role in testifying that Jack Ruby, who he knew well, was at Parkland Hospital while JFK was in Trauma Room One, which Ruby denied. The circumstances indicate a strong possibility Ruby planted the so-called "Magic Bullet" on an unattended stretcher.

@disqus_hbolPDDKSP , October 22, 2017 2:53 PM

The lame stream news media are forever searching for ways to attack Trump. You'd think he would get some credit for releasing the 3,000 documents. But no, once again he has ulterior motives.

I remember Walter Cronkite saying that it's difficult for people to come to the conclusion that one man could have affected history to the extent that Oswald did.

Richard Turnbull @disqus_hbolPDDKSP , October 22, 2017 6:08 PM

That's a fine thought, but has nothing to do with an actual murder case in which Oswald is supposed to have killed Patrolman Tippit and then President Kennedy, despite not one single shred of concrete, credible evidence tying him to either of the weapons supposedly used. In fact, even worse, the weapon or weapons used don't even consistently show up in the chain-of-custody by the Dallas police, bullets don't match, wounds are seen by attending physicians which had to be fired from the front, etc.

"How could Oswald shoot Kennedy in the front from the back?" is one reductio of the Warren Commission fantasies, which is why they assiduously avoided calling scores of eyewitnesses of the assassination to testify, and mucked up the autopsy evidence. I mean, their whole "case" amounted to "Well, Oswald was a communist" (not correct) "who hated Kennedy" (wrong again!) "and killed a policeman" (this is completely bogus, with key Tippit-killing witness Helen Markham described by a WC attorney as a "crackpot" among other problems) and "Oswald was at the Texas School Book Depository" (True, he worked there in a job arranged by Ruth Paine) "so he must have shot JFK" ---

(Wrong, the eyewitness testimony --- see The Girl on the Stairs: My Search for a Missing Witness to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Barry Ernest, for example -- places him in the "wrong place" to have shot anyone down in the motorcade from the sixth floor, and that's just the first major problem, it would take too long to recount them all, as in HUNDREDS OF PAGES, so that's just a few hints about what faces anyone investigating and/or reading about the JFK assassination, as well as the murders of Tippit and Oswald, or Jack Ruby's extensive ties as an organized crime factotum in Dallas and Cuba. Yes, Cuba.

David Ticas , October 22, 2017 1:26 PM

Adrienne Lagrange, being the highly intellectual you try and portray. Why don't you see that by writing this negative story about President Trump you not only make yourself sound foolish, but you push neutral people to the President's side. Why do you think former President Bush came out after 9 years of silence to condemn "conspiracy theorist" days before President Trump announced the release of the JFK files? President Bush sr WAS involved with the CIA in Texas during the JFK assasination in 1963. Obviously, he does not want the truth to come out and so he got out in front of story to discredit what the files will show. Corruption is common in the U.S Government, President Trump is dismantling this corruption a little bit at a time. This is only the beginning.

Qoquaq En Transic Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 1:33 PM

I don't think Bush's "role" is really necessarily in question.

Frankly, even with the documents coming out (IF they actually do, and IF we actually get them all) I doubt the truth will be really revealed.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 1:40 PM

What more do you need? The JFK literature is voluminous, and maybe you need to actually try to read some of the key source material and critics and go from there.

Try reading Accessories after the Fact by Sylvia Meagher or On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, or Plausible Denial by Mark Lane. If you have the time to deal with over 1200 pages about the JFK assassination, read Vincent Bugliosi's Reclaiming History , and THEN read the ferocious debunkings of Bugliosi available online.

N.B. Some of the most important discussions in Bugliosi's massive tome are in the Endnotes, especially but not only "What the Parkland Doctors Saw." Conspiracy of Silence by Parkland M.D. Dr. Charles Crenshaw is another useful text, as is Mafia Kingfish by John Davis.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 6:21 PM

Ok: my honest opinion is that you can't summarize anything as complex as the planning, execution, and subsequent coverup of the JFK assassination (including extensive use of media assets for DECADES afterward) in anything short of a manuscript of hundreds of pages, and many of the best work is already available, "just google it" ---but again, you have to be willing to read those hundreds of pages with some sense of other background facts about the Cold War and spy agencies.

This is one of the most intricate and far reaching events or set of interconnected events in modern history --- just take a look at the "tags" on the front page of kennedysandking.com and you'll see what I mean.

On the only occasion in which I had time in tutorials with Chomsky, I asked him first about his views on the nexus of players at 544 Camp Street. That question and his answer might not even make much sense to you without extensive background reading. Sorry, but that's just the facts.

Qoquaq En Transic Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 7:08 PM

I truly understand your point regarding the complexity of the issue and I apologize for my earlier comment.

I'm aware of the massive inconsistencies in the examination of his body, how it was "handled", "magic bullets", and lots of other stuff I once knew but have forgotten. There's a LOT of stuff, that's for sure.

I'm also very aware of how certain agencies (especially intel agencies) operate. Their allegience to the truth is suspect at best.

I guess I was asking for was something like "It was basically an effort by (a list such as... certain elements in the FBI/CIA/NSA/government... and/or foreign governments... and/or the Mafia... or Cuba... or it was basically a coup driven by the MIC... (which I think it was) or whatever combination it may be)." Basically the 100k foot view, a very simplistic view. And I realize my opinion is not _nearly_ as informed as yours.

But that would certainly open up much noise from people like that moron I blocked earlier. And certainly no one needs more of that....

I'll check out the links. Thanks.

By the way... I met Jim Marrs twice when I lived in Texas, actually around a campfire. It was interesting meeting him, and he was a very interesting man regarding the JFK assassination. I didn't know he passed, apparently quite recently.

I hope these documents get released and I hope they answer a lot of the open questions still remaining.

truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:10 PM

JFK was murdered by the CIA.....he wanted to "to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds"......he fired Allen Dulles. Dulles was one of seven commissioners of the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy..oh and he had no problem murdering people....

This Trump?

Who hasn't even been a republican since 1999?

2008 Trump: 'I Support Hillary; I Think She's Fantastic' - YouTube
▶ 2:00
https://www.youtube.com/wat...

Aug 15, 2016 - Uploaded by The PolitiStickGet More PolitiStick Read: http://PolitiStick.com Like: https://www.facebook.com/Po...

Richard Turnbull truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 10:01 PM

Correction: "rogue elements" of the CIA with some complicity by very high-level officials.

Иван truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:23 PM

I don't believe a single word from a politician. They are professional liars. It's their job to lie and spin webs of deception. I watch and judge them by their actions.

truthynesslover Иван , October 22, 2017 6:27 PM

1.JFK fired Dulles and top generals. He was pulling out of Vietnam and working secretly to make a deal with Castro..

2.Trump wasnt even a republican....and ran against Bush and the GOP...

Trump in 1999: GOP is 'just too crazy' | MSNBC

▶ 6:42

www.msnbc.com/.../trump-in-... ...

Aug 17, 2015The last time Donald Trump was on 'Meet the Press' he announced he was quitting the GOP. Plus, Trump .

Иван truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:33 PM

I couldn't care less what color orange TrumPutin wears. He declared war on corporate media and that is good enough for me. I don't support him because of his position on Snowden but I agree with him on many issues.

JFK was a naive fool. He moved against forces he did not fully understand. I don't blame him for trying. He was a patriot.

truthynesslover Иван , October 22, 2017 6:41 PM

Trump may be a baboon but he made the right enemies....the DNC ad GOP and neocons all hate him.

Those forces JFK tried to reign in are in complete control today. Trump threw them through a loop.......

Ayna Иван , October 22, 2017 7:35 PM

But some politicians lie more than others. That's why Madame Never President became Madame Never President.

Иван , October 22, 2017 4:12 PM

Atantuc reasserting it's superior newsmaking capabilities with click-bait headlines, unsupported assumptions and trolling. Well done. You fall below tabloid, yellow journalism.

basarov , October 22, 2017 3:15 PM

LOL---americans are little antagonistic children that prefer lies to truth...see comments below! and are gullible enough to believe anything told them...who needs conspiracy theories when people are so stupid...everyone in Europe understood that americans were idiots when they accepted the impossible claim that 1 shooter killed JFK...and now they are more stupid believing that 1 gambler shot 500 people in las vegas...a nation of dimwits

Richard Turnbull basarov , October 22, 2017 4:49 PM

The American public had to wait TWELVE YEARS to see the Zapruder film of the assassination, showing the effect of the kill shot from in front of the motorcade. But by the time Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane had become a best seller a few years after the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission's hearings and exhibits were published (with no index --- it was left to United Nations-employed scientist Sylvia Meagher to assemble that, which spurred critics of the WC fantasies and outright lies to expose the multiple flaws and fallacies in the first "official investigation," i.e., the first attempted coverup) the credibility of the Krazy Kid Oswald nonsense was already held in disrepute by informed observers.

The article above can't whitewash the mainstream media's role in the coverup, of course --- search "Operation Mockingbird" or "Walter Sheridan and the Garrison investigation" or " Jim Di Eugenio critique of Phil Shenon's JFK books" etc,

Иван basarov , October 22, 2017 6:14 PM

If you like conspiracy theories, there were claims that Soviets did it.

and please ease up on anti-Americanism.

Johnny Burnette Иван , October 22, 2017 8:42 PM

Any claims that the Soviets or Cubans did it have been thoroughly debunked. It was an American domestic coup. If you believe the Warren Commission, I've got Indian treaties to show you.

Michael Kosanovich basarov , October 22, 2017 3:22 PM

No one has presented evidence that there was another shooter. Clint Black, the secret service agent at the scene adamantly say's no other gunshots from the grassy knoll area. Simply no proof. As for the Vegas shooting as well.

Johnny Burnette Michael Kosanovich , October 22, 2017 4:00 PM

I disagree with your faith-based following of Bugliosi. I think Dr. Cyril Wecht blows Bugliosi out of the water, from a forensics standpoint.
https://www.youtube.com/wat...

This guy debunks Bugliosi's position too: https://www.youtube.com/wat...

As for the Vegas guy? Yeah, he did it alone. That's pretty much in the forensics bag.

wmlady Johnny Burnette , October 22, 2017 4:49 PM

I agree with you about Bugliosi and Wecht. Wecht pokes sufficient holes in the pristine "magic bullet" theory that it's simply unbelievable.

Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:03 PM

See the book Reclaiming Parkland for an extended dismantling of Bugliosi's Reclaiming History, or just search "critical reviews of Bugliosi's JFK assassination book." It's an embarrassment that Bugliosi wrote such fine books on the Simpson case and on the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision, but was apparently either blackmailed into writing obvious lies or somehow convinced himself "no one with sufficient familiarity with the JFK assassination in the requisite granular detail will ever read my book and expose my silly attempts to distort the historical record." It took enormous chutzpah on his part to title the book "Reclaiming History."

Search "Reclaiming History? Or Re-framing Oswald?" at reclaiminghistory.org , which has links to a series of reviews of Bugliosi, none of which you will ever see discussed on CNN or any other corporate mass media outlet. Instead, without bothering to read the book much less deal with hundreds and hundreds of footnotes and "Endnotes," some of bear on crucial points about the JFK assassination (such as "What the Parkland Doctors Saw" ---see the Endnotes from 404-408} the corporate media is happy to perpetuate as best they can the "one lone nut with no ties to the CIA killed two days later by another lone nut with no relevant ties to the mob" confabulations.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:23 PM

"Reclaiming Parkland" is not one I've read, but I will. I don't think there's any doubt that the CIA has and had assets in the media who did and do perpetuate disinformation and distraction.

Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:31 PM

Of course they've tried to hide the fact, but the Church Committee hearings on the plots and assassinations and other criminal behavior by The Agency back in the 1950s and 1960s exposed all sorts of similar schemes.

Search "MKUltra" and "Operation Artichoke" or just "The CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald" and you can run across all sorts of interesting facts. not wild speculation, but facts, some of it from CIA documents etc. etc.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 6:02 PM

I did manage to slog through Newman's "Oswald and the CIA"

Johnny Burnette wmlady , October 22, 2017 8:44 PM

Newman did his homework. He has combed through the declassified records and published his findings on Oswald and the CIA, and on what really happened in Vietnam.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:34 PM

I have read about Bolden.

In my view the Miami and Chicago plans being aborted make the existence of multiple shooters in Dallas-- such as Files -- more believable; the conspirators were simply not going to miss another chance. Interestingly, Files himself says his superior told him the Dallas plot was supposed to be called off, but they ignored the order.

wmlady Guest , October 22, 2017 3:09 PM

Did you know that Gerald Posner, who wrote the definitive book concluding that Oswald acted alone ("Case Closed"), is fully in favor of releasing the remainder of the documents -- in agreement with Pres. Trump's friend Roger Stone, who is a "conspiracy theorist"?

Did you know that the original "conspiracy theorist" -- the late Mark Lane -- was a leftist and ardent supporter of JFK?

For the educated, this is about transparency, not ignorance.

Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:06 PM

Posner? Are you posting this as some kind of joke? Posner fabricated, altered, distorted evidence on practically EVERY key point about the supposed role of Oswald, and totally ignored all the revelations about Oswald's connections which exposed the role he played as an intelligence agency asset.
Try reading some "critical reviews" of Case Closed, they are devastating and some are maliciously funny, as well.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:29 PM

I was being sarcastic. I was pointing out that if a guy like Posner is in favor of releasing the rest of the documents, it's a non-controversial issue.

Michael Kosanovich wmlady , October 22, 2017 3:36 PM

I can promise you this; Vincent Buglioti wrote THEE masterpiece. Reclaiming history, The JFK assassination. 1612 pages, twenty year's of research, and he embarrassed every other JFK assassination writer' I've read Posner's book. Very well researched. But truthfully, it cannot compare to Bugliotis " opus"

Richard Turnbull Michael Kosanovich , October 22, 2017 5:15 PM

Get real --- Bugliosi has been thoroughly debunked. One of his favorite tricks is to partially quote the FBI reports from Sibert and O'Neill out-of-context and ignore contradictory witness testimony from witnesses (and there were dozens) not called to testify before the Warren Commission. His book (and yes, I read ALL of it but with the advantage of having ALSO read the WC report (the 26 volumes in large part, although not the part where they had dental x-rays from Jack Ruby's mother --- I kid you not --- so much as the inadvertently revelatory portions) as well as dozens and dozens of other books on the assassination, so I could immediately spot some of Bugliosi's howlers) is considered essentially a fraud on the public by informed critics of the JFK assassination.

Maud Pie , October 22, 2017 2:38 PM

"Conspiracy theories are a way to stand up, through disbelief, against the powerful. Those who spread conspiracy theories in earnest are, whether they mean to or not, partaking in an act of defiance against established institutions as much as they are questioning accepted truths."

I disagree. Conspiracy theories are a way for the ignorant and stupid to delude themselves that they are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong. Conspiracy theories provide a way of feeling smart and shrewd without bothering with all that evidence and logic stuff.

Richard Turnbull Maud Pie , October 22, 2017 2:49 PM

Your comment makes no sense, since there are political assassinations like that of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, for example, which have been both officially and "unofficially" found to be the result of conspiracies. The House Select Committee on Assassinations is one "official theory" that posits a conspiracy in the killing of President Kennedy. You could also search "The Lincoln Conspiracy the book" and read that. In fact, you don't have any idea at all about any of this, do you? You're just parroting some supposed sage advice from the usual suspects.

Maud Pie Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 2:59 PM

Learn to read. I didn't say conspiracies never exist, My remarks were addressed to conspiracy "theories" not supported by evidence and logic.

Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 1:30 PM

"[L]ending credibility to the idea that the official story (sic) of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect" is the incontrovertible fact that there are multiple "official stories," and at least one of them posits the probability of a conspiracy behind JFK's assassination.

Since Oswald cannot even be tied to the supposed murder weapon by a credible chain-of-evidence, nor placed in the so-called "sniper's nest" at the time shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, nor be credibly rigged up as the killer of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, it is hardly surprising that anyone stuck trying to defend the relentlessly debunked Warren Commission fantasies about the JFK-Tippit-Oswald murders is up against equally relentless debunking right up to today.

See jfkfacts.org , Jefferson Morley's website and kennedysandking.com for various paths into the maze.

julianpenrod , October 22, 2017 7:31 PM

A fact that the Democratic Party toadies try to push is that Trump does not tell the truth.

He says things that are at variance with the claims the "press" try to toss at the people, but that doesn't make them untrue.

The "press" was determined to tell people that the U.S.S. Maine was sunk by Spain, even though it made no sense for them to be engage in aggressive actions that the New York Journal claimed would then escalate into overt military action. If they felt that way, they would have acted militarily from the start. Morons never questioned this and the U.S. easily entered war with Spain. Even though the explosion on the Maine seems to have been the result of a carelessly disposed of cigar.

Similarly with R.M.S. Lusitania. Imbeciles wouldn't ask why the Germans would engage in something like murdering innocent civilians on an ocean liner if they wanted war. Why not just carry out an invasion or declare war? Only now it's being admitted that Lusitania was illegally carrying war supplies and ammunition from the U.S. to the Allies, making it a legitimate target. Indeed, it is not necessarily proved that it actually carried civilian passengers.

Similarly for the claims the the U.S. spied on the USSY with U-2 spy planes. The same with the failure of the government and the "press" to admit the suspicious nature of claims of the "Gulf of Tonkin Incident".

The fact is, Trump and others in the Republican Party have said many things that the "press" denied, only to have the "press" shown to be lying later.

Hillary Clinton supporters were carrying out acts of violence after the election in Trump's name to try to undermine him. Germany didn't pay its agreed upon amount for the maintenance of NATO. Obama did bug Trump's campaign headquarters. Puerto Rico's sorry condition is the result of massive corruption in its government. There are many women who, as Trump asserted, will let a man with money and power take liberties. In fact, climate isn't changing. "Climate" is the massive, interconnected, self regulating system comprised of things like land, ocean, sky, solar energy, life. Land, ocean, solar energy, life are no different from fifty years ago. Only the weather is changing, and that is caused by chemtrails, the program of doping the air with weather modification chemicals from high flying jets, producing long, non dissipating vapor lanes that stretch from horizon to horizon and can last for an hour or more. Stop chemtrails and everything will return to normal.

Todd Akin was criticized for saying that, in "legitimate rape" women's bodies will fight being impregnated. Democratic Party followers insisted Akin was saying rape was legal. He was referring to rapes that actually occurred, not lies that many women do lodge against rich and powerful men to get money.

J. Edgar Hoover said that "civil rights" marches and such were tools of the Kremlin to try to undermine democracy. In their desperate attempt to rescue the claim that the Russians interfered with the 2016 election, none other than The Atlantic has taken up Hoover's insistence that such demonstrations were a means used by the USSR to try to destroy democracy. And the dullards of the Democratic Party's target audience won't realize they are now agreeing with the Republicans.

Trump and the politicians come from rarefied levels that know facts that government and the "press" lies to the public about. One fact, that there may be actual sections of government, or "government", that act independently of any rules and can even roll over the rest of "government". "Government" is just a sleazy swindle to make the rich richer. No one controls them! Not even elections! They publish fake "vote tallies", then put who they want in. Trump speaks of the Deep State of power mongering going on behind the scenes. Hillary Clinton operated her own shadow government with a system of unregistered servers only one of which has been acknowledged. It's been suspected for a long time that the "intelligence network" acted solely on its own recognizance, answerable to no one. Questions Trump raises can point people to the truth.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 2:40 PM

"My" research? Look, just GO ONLINE to another website like JFKfacts.org or kennedysand king.com , or search "James Di Eugenio on the JFK assassination," I have read around 150 books and articles and much of the Warren Report (the volumes not the summary) and the House Select Committee hearings reports, but compared to "serious researchers" I am a dilletante. Besides, you really NEED to study this either for yourself as a kind of "research project" or if possible, in a university level course environment.

There are THOUSANDS of really interesting books about aspects of the JFK assassination --- search "Reclaiming Parkland" by Di Eugenio and go from there, whatever.

Follow the links, and expect it to take many many hours to get the beginning of an understanding.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 2:54 PM

Ok, why don't you at least realize it's FAR more complex than any possible "avionics system," it's something akin to people on Quora asking me to "summarize Hamlet," or "summarize King Lear." It's just absurd. Besides which, the subject matter is far too important for anyone to take their views from a few summarized paragraphs, whether about Hamlet or Lear or the JFK assassination.

So yeah, I did "research" and I think the facts speak for themselves, as you would learn by delving into the posts at jfkfacts.org or kennedysandking.com , or reading Plausible Denial by Mark Lane. The thing is, it's one of the most complicated interlocking sets of topics in modern history, not something that can be scrawled on a postcard.

[Oct 22, 2017] Silicon Valley is not your friend by Dan Crawford

Notable quotes:
"... Growth becomes the overriding motivation -- something treasured for its own sake, not for anything it brings to the world. Facebook and Google can point to a greater utility that comes from being the central repository of all people, all information, but such market dominance has obvious drawbacks, and not just the lack of competition. As we've seen, the extreme concentration of wealth and power is a threat to our democracy by making some people and companies unaccountable. ..."
"... Out of curiosity, the other day I searched "cellphones" on Google. Before finding even a mildly questioning article about cellphones, I paged down through ads for phones and lists of phones for sale, guides to buying phones and maps with directions to stores that sell phones, some 20 results in total. Somewhere, a pair of idealistic former graduate students must be saying: "See! I told you so!" ..."
Oct 20, 2017 | angrybearblog.com
Vis New York Times

Growth becomes the overriding motivation -- something treasured for its own sake, not for anything it brings to the world. Facebook and Google can point to a greater utility that comes from being the central repository of all people, all information, but such market dominance has obvious drawbacks, and not just the lack of competition. As we've seen, the extreme concentration of wealth and power is a threat to our democracy by making some people and companies unaccountable.

In addition to their power, tech companies have a tool that other powerful industries don't: the generally benign feelings of the public. To oppose Silicon Valley can appear to be opposing progress, even if progress has been defined as online monopolies; propaganda that distorts elections; driverless cars and trucks that threaten to erase the jobs of millions of people; the Uberization of work life, where each of us must fend for ourselves in a pitiless market.

As is becoming obvious, these companies do deserve the benefit of the doubt. We need greater regulation, even if it impedes the introduction of new services. If we can't stop their proposals -- if we can't say that driverless cars may not be a worthy goal, to give just one example -- then are we in control of our society? We need to break up these online monopolies because if a few people make the decisions about how we communicate, shop, learn the news, again, do we control our own society?

Out of curiosity, the other day I searched "cellphones" on Google. Before finding even a mildly questioning article about cellphones, I paged down through ads for phones and lists of phones for sale, guides to buying phones and maps with directions to stores that sell phones, some 20 results in total. Somewhere, a pair of idealistic former graduate students must be saying: "See! I told you so!"

[Oct 22, 2017] What Facebook Did to American Democracy by Alexis C. Madrigal

The danger is that intelligence agencies cause Facebook to influence elections.
Notable quotes:
"... Fowler told Rosen that it was "even possible that Facebook is completely responsible" for the youth voter increase. And because a higher proportion of young people vote Democratic than the general population, the net effect of Facebook's GOTV effort would have been to help the Dems. ..."
"... In June 2014, Harvard Law scholar Jonathan Zittrain wrote an essay in New Republic ..."
"... But the point isn't that a Republican beat a Democrat. The point is that the very roots of the electoral system -- the news people see, the events they think happened, the information they digest -- had been destabilized. ..."
"... Chaos Monkeys ..."
"... The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn't just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of "dark ads." ..."
"... Update: After publication, Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, sent an email describing some of the work that Facebook is doing in response to the problems during the election. They include new software and processes "to stop the spread of misinformation , click-bait and other problematic content on Facebook." ..."
"... "The truth is we've learned things since the election, and we take our responsibility to protect the community of people who use Facebook seriously. As a result, we've launched a company-wide effort to improve the integrity of information on our service," he wrote. "It's already translated into new products, new protections, and the commitment of thousands of new people to enforce our policies and standards... We know there is a lot more work to do, but I've never seen this company more engaged on a single challenge since I joined almost 10 years ago." ..."
Oct 22, 2017 | www.theatlantic.com

And why it was so hard to see it coming In the media world, as in so many other realms, there is a sharp discontinuity in the timeline: before the 2016 election, and after.

Things we thought we understood -- narratives, data, software, news events -- have had to be reinterpreted in light of Donald Trump's surprising win as well as the continuing questions about the role that misinformation and disinformation played in his election.

Tech journalists covering Facebook had a duty to cover what was happening before, during, and after the election. Reporters tried to see past their often liberal political orientations and the unprecedented actions of Donald Trump to see how 2016 was playing out on the internet. Every component of the chaotic digital campaign has been reported on, here at The Atlantic , and elsewhere: Facebook's enormous distribution power for political information, rapacious partisanship reinforced by distinct media information spheres, the increasing scourge of "viral" hoaxes and other kinds of misinformation that could propagate through those networks, and the Russian information ops agency.

But no one delivered the synthesis that could have tied together all these disparate threads. It's not that this hypothetical perfect story would have changed the outcome of the election. The real problem -- for all political stripes -- is understanding the set of conditions that led to Trump's victory. The informational underpinnings of democracy have eroded, and no one has explained precisely how.

* * *

We've known since at least 2012 that Facebook was a powerful, non-neutral force in electoral politics. In that year, a combined University of California, San Diego and Facebook research team led by James Fowler published a study in Nature , which argued that Facebook's "I Voted" button had driven a small but measurable increase in turnout, primarily among young people.

Rebecca Rosen's 2012 story, " Did Facebook Give Democrats the Upper Hand? " relied on new research from Fowler, et al., about the presidential election that year. Again, the conclusion of their work was that Facebook's get-out-the-vote message could have driven a substantial chunk of the increase in youth voter participation in the 2012 general election. Fowler told Rosen that it was "even possible that Facebook is completely responsible" for the youth voter increase. And because a higher proportion of young people vote Democratic than the general population, the net effect of Facebook's GOTV effort would have been to help the Dems.

The potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade.

The research showed that a small design change by Facebook could have electoral repercussions, especially with America's electoral-college format in which a few hotly contested states have a disproportionate impact on the national outcome. And the pro-liberal effect it implied became enshrined as an axiom of how campaign staffers, reporters, and academics viewed social media.

In June 2014, Harvard Law scholar Jonathan Zittrain wrote an essay in New Republic called, " Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out ," in which he called attention to the possibility of Facebook selectively depressing voter turnout. (He also suggested that Facebook be seen as an "information fiduciary," charged with certain special roles and responsibilities because it controls so much personal data.)

In late 2014, The Daily Dot called attention to an obscure Facebook-produced case study on how strategists defeated a statewide measure in Florida by relentlessly focusing Facebook ads on Broward and Dade counties, Democratic strongholds. Working with a tiny budget that would have allowed them to send a single mailer to just 150,000 households, the digital-advertising firm Chong and Koster was able to obtain remarkable results. "Where the Facebook ads appeared, we did almost 20 percentage points better than where they didn't," testified a leader of the firm. "Within that area, the people who saw the ads were 17 percent more likely to vote our way than the people who didn't. Within that group, the people who voted the way we wanted them to, when asked why, often cited the messages they learned from the Facebook ads."

In April 2016, Rob Meyer published " How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election " after a company meeting in which some employees apparently put the stopping-Trump question to Mark Zuckerberg. Based on Fowler's research, Meyer reimagined Zittrain's hypothetical as a direct Facebook intervention to depress turnout among non-college graduates, who leaned Trump as a whole.

Facebook, of course, said it would never do such a thing. "Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that supporting civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community," a spokesperson said. "We as a company are neutral -- we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote."

They wouldn't do it intentionally, at least.

As all these examples show, though, the potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade before Donald Trump was elected. But rather than focusing specifically on the integrity of elections, most writers -- myself included , some observers like Sasha Issenberg , Zeynep Tufekci , and Daniel Kreiss excepted -- bundled electoral problems inside other, broader concerns like privacy , surveillance , tech ideology , media-industry competition , or the psychological effects of social media .

From the system's perspective, success is correctly predicting what you'll like, comment on, or share.

The same was true even of people inside Facebook. "If you'd come to me in 2012, when the last presidential election was raging and we were cooking up ever more complicated ways to monetize Facebook data, and told me that Russian agents in the Kremlin's employ would be buying Facebook ads to subvert American democracy, I'd have asked where your tin-foil hat was," wrote Antonio García Martínez, who managed ad targeting for Facebook back then. "And yet, now we live in that otherworldly political reality."

Not to excuse us, but this was back on the Old Earth, too, when electoral politics was not the thing that every single person talked about all the time. There were other important dynamics to Facebook's growing power that needed to be covered.

* * *

Facebook's draw is its ability to give you what you want. Like a page, get more of that page's posts; like a story, get more stories like that; interact with a person, get more of their updates. The way Facebook determines the ranking of the News Feed is the probability that you'll like, comment on, or share a story. Shares are worth more than comments, which are both worth more than likes, but in all cases, the more likely you are to interact with a post, the higher up it will show in your News Feed. Two thousand kinds of data (or "features" in the industry parlance) get smelted in Facebook's machine-learning system to make those predictions.

What's crucial to understand is that, from the system's perspective, success is correctly predicting what you'll like, comment on, or share. That's what matters. People call this "engagement." There are other factors, as Slate' s Will Oremus noted in this rare story about the News Feed ranking team . But who knows how much weight they actually receive and for how long as the system evolves. For example, one change that Facebook highlighted to Oremus in early 2016 -- taking into account how long people look at a story, even if they don't click it -- was subsequently dismissed by Lars Backstrom, the VP of engineering in charge of News Feed ranking , as a "noisy" signal that's also "biased in a few ways" making it "hard to use" in a May 2017 technical talk.

Facebook's engineers do not want to introduce noise into the system. Because the News Feed, this machine for generating engagement, is Facebook's most important technical system. Their success predicting what you'll like is why users spend an average of more than 50 minutes a day on the site, and why even the former creator of the "like" button worries about how well the site captures attention. News Feed works really well.

If every News Feed is different, how can anyone understand what other people are seeing and responding to?

But as far as " personalized newspapers " go, this one's editorial sensibilities are limited. Most people are far less likely to engage with viewpoints that they find confusing, annoying, incorrect, or abhorrent. And this is true not just in politics, but the broader culture.

That this could be a problem was apparent to many. Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble, which came out in the summer of 2011, became the most widely cited distillation of the effects Facebook and other internet platforms could have on public discourse.

Pariser began the book research when he noticed conservative people, whom he'd befriended on the platform despite his left-leaning politics, had disappeared from his News Feed. "I was still clicking my progressive friends' links more than my conservative friends' -- and links to the latest Lady Gaga videos more than either," he wrote. "So no conservative links for me."

Through the book, he traces the many potential problems that the "personalization" of media might bring. Most germane to this discussion, he raised the point that if every one of the billion News Feeds is different, how can anyone understand what other people are seeing and responding to?

"The most serious political problem posed by filter bubbles is that they make it increasingly difficult to have a public argument. As the number of different segments and messages increases, it becomes harder and harder for the campaigns to track who's saying what to whom," Pariser wrote. "How does a [political] campaign know what its opponent is saying if ads are only targeted to white Jewish men between 28 and 34 who have expressed a fondness for U2 on Facebook and who donated to Barack Obama's campaign?"

This did, indeed, become an enormous problem. When I was editor in chief of Fusion , we set about trying to track the "digital campaign" with several dedicated people. What we quickly realized was that there was both too much data -- the noisiness of all the different posts by the various candidates and their associates -- as well as too little. Targeting made tracking the actual messaging that the campaigns were paying for impossible to track. On Facebook, the campaigns could show ads only to the people they targeted. We couldn't actually see the messages that were actually reaching people in battleground areas. From the outside, it was a technical impossibility to know what ads were running on Facebook, one that the company had fought to keep intact .

Across the landscape, it began to dawn on people: Damn, Facebook owns us .

Pariser suggests in his book, "one simple solution to this problem would simply be to require campaigns to immediately disclose all of their online advertising materials and to whom each ad is targeted." Which could happen in future campaigns .

Imagine if this had happened in 2016. If there were data sets of all the ads that the campaigns and others had run, we'd know a lot more about what actually happened last year. The Filter Bubble is obviously prescient work, but there was one thing that Pariser and most other people did not foresee. And that's that Facebook became completely dominant as a media distributor.

* * *

About two years after Pariser published his book, Facebook took over the news-media ecosystem. They've never publicly admitted it, but in late 2013, they began to serve ads inviting users to "like" media pages. This caused a massive increase in the amount of traffic that Facebook sent to media companies. At The Atlantic and other publishers across the media landscape, it was like a tide was carrying us to new traffic records. Without hiring anyone else, without changing strategy or tactics, without publishing more, suddenly everything was easier.

While traffic to The Atlantic from Facebook.com increased, at the time, most of the new traffic did not look like it was coming from Facebook within The Atlantic 's analytics. It showed up as "direct/bookmarked" or some variation, depending on the software. It looked like what I called "dark social" back in 2012. But as BuzzFeed 's Charlie Warzel pointed out at the time , and as I came to believe, it was primarily Facebook traffic in disguise. Between August and October of 2013, BuzzFeed 's "partner network" of hundreds of websites saw a jump in traffic from Facebook of 69 percent.

At The Atlantic, we ran a series of experiments that showed, pretty definitively from our perspective, that most of the stuff that looked like "dark social" was, in fact, traffic coming from within Facebook's mobile app. Across the landscape, it began to dawn on people who thought about these kinds of things: Damn, Facebook owns us . They had taken over media distribution.

Why? This is a best guess, proffered by Robinson Meyer as it was happening : Facebook wanted to crush Twitter, which had drawn a disproportionate share of media and media-figure attention. Just as Instagram borrowed Snapchat's "Stories" to help crush the site's growth, Facebook decided it needed to own "news" to take the wind out of the newly IPO'd Twitter.

The first sign that this new system had some kinks came with " Upworthy -style " headlines. (And you'll never guess what happened next!) Things didn't just go kind of viral, they went ViralNova , a site which, like Upworthy itself , Facebook eventually smacked down . Many of the new sites had, like Upworthy , which was cofounded by Pariser, a progressive bent.

Less noticed was that a right-wing media was developing in opposition to and alongside these left-leaning sites. "By 2014, the outlines of the Facebook-native hard-right voice and grievance spectrum were there," The New York Times ' media and tech writer John Herrman told me, "and I tricked myself into thinking they were a reaction/counterpart to the wave of soft progressive/inspirational content that had just crested. It ended up a Reaction in a much bigger and destabilizing sense."

The other sign of algorithmic trouble was the wild swings that Facebook Video underwent. In the early days, just about any old video was likely to generate many, many, many views. The numbers were insane in the early days. Just as an example, a Fortune article noted that BuzzFeed 's video views "grew 80-fold in a year, reaching more than 500 million in April." Suddenly, all kinds of video -- good, bad, and ugly -- were doing 1-2-3 million views.

As with news, Facebook's video push was a direct assault on a competitor, YouTube . Videos changed the dynamics of the News Feed for individuals, for media companies, and for anyone trying to understand what the hell was going on.

Individuals were suddenly inundated with video. Media companies, despite no business model, were forced to crank out video somehow or risk their pages/brands losing relevance as video posts crowded others out.

And on top of all that, scholars and industry observers were used to looking at what was happening in articles to understand how information was flowing. Now, by far the most viewed media objects on Facebook, and therefore on the internet, were videos without transcripts or centralized repositories. In the early days, many successful videos were just "freebooted" (i.e., stolen) videos from other places or reposts. All of which served to confuse and obfuscate the transport mechanisms for information and ideas on Facebook.

Through this messy, chaotic, dynamic situation, a new media rose up through the Facebook burst to occupy the big filter bubbles. On the right, Breitbart is the center of a new conservative network. A study of 1.25 million election news articles found "a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world."

Breitbart , of course, also lent Steve Bannon, its chief, to the Trump campaign, creating another feedback loop between the candidate and a rabid partisan press. Through 2015, Breitbart went from a medium-sized site with a small Facebook page of 100,000 likes into a powerful force shaping the election with almost 1.5 million likes. In the key metric for Facebook's News Feed, its posts got 886,000 interactions from Facebook users in January. By July, Breitbart had surpassed The New York Times ' main account in interactions. By December, it was doing 10 million interactions per month, about 50 percent of Fox News, which had 11.5 million likes on its main page. Breitbart 's audience was hyper-engaged.

There is no precise equivalent to the Breitbart phenomenon on the left. Rather the big news organizations are classified as center-left, basically, with fringier left-wing sites showing far smaller followings than Breitbart on the right.

And this new, hyperpartisan media created the perfect conditions for another dynamic that influenced the 2016 election, the rise of fake news.

Sites by partisan attention ( Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, and Ethan Zuckerman )

* * *

In a December 2015 article for BuzzFeed , Joseph Bernstein argued that " the dark forces of the internet became a counterculture ." He called it "Chanterculture" after the trolls who gathered at the meme-creating, often-racist 4chan message board. Others ended up calling it the "alt-right." This culture combined a bunch of people who loved to perpetuate hoaxes with angry Gamergaters with "free-speech" advocates like Milo Yiannopoulos with honest-to-God neo-Nazis and white supremacists. And these people loved Donald Trump.

"This year Chanterculture found its true hero, who makes it plain that what we're seeing is a genuine movement: the current master of American resentment, Donald Trump," Bernstein wrote. "Everywhere you look on 'politically incorrect' subforums and random chans, he looms."

When you combine hyper-partisan media with a group of people who love to clown "normies," you end up with things like Pizzagate , a patently ridiculous and widely debunked conspiracy theory that held there was a child-pedophilia ring linked to Hillary Clinton somehow. It was just the most bizarre thing in the entire world. And many of the figures in Bernstein's story were all over it, including several who the current president has consorted with on social media.

But Pizzagate was but the most Pynchonian of all the crazy misinformation and hoaxes that spread in the run-up to the election.

BuzzFeed , deeply attuned to the flows of the social web, was all over the story through reporter Craig Silverman. His best-known analysis happened after the election, when he showed that "in the final three months of the U.S. presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election-news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as The New York Times , The Washington Post , The Huffington Post , NBC News, and others."

But he also tracked fake news before the election , as did other outlets such as The Washington Post, including showing that Facebook's "Trending" algorithm regularly promoted fake news. By September of 2016, even the Pope himself was talking about fake news, by which we mean actual hoaxes or lies perpetuated by a variety of actors.

The fake news generated a ton of engagement, which meant that it spread far and wide.

The longevity of Snopes shows that hoaxes are nothing new to the internet. Already in January 2015 , Robinson Meyer reported about how Facebook was " cracking down on the fake news stories that plague News Feeds everywhere ."

What made the election cycle different was that all of these changes to the information ecosystem had made it possible to develop weird businesses around fake news. Some random website posting aggregated news about the election could not drive a lot of traffic. But some random website announcing that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump definitely could . The fake news generated a ton of engagement, which meant that it spread far and wide.

A few days before the election Silverman and fellow BuzzFeed contributor Lawrence Alexander traced 100 pro–Donald Trump sites to a town of 45,000 in Macedonia . Some teens there realized they could make money off the election, and just like that, became a node in the information network that helped Trump beat Clinton.

Whatever weird thing you imagine might happen, something weirder probably did happen. Reporters tried to keep up, but it was too strange. As Max Read put it in New York Magazine , Facebook is "like a four-dimensional object, we catch slices of it when it passes through the three-dimensional world we recognize." No one can quite wrap their heads around what this thing has become, or all the things this thing has become.

"Not even President-Pope-Viceroy Zuckerberg himself seemed prepared for the role Facebook has played in global politics this past year," Read wrote.

And we haven't even gotten to the Russians.

* * *

Russia's disinformation campaigns are well known. During his reporting for a story in The New York Times Magazine , Adrian Chen sat across the street from the headquarters of the Internet Research Agency, watching workaday Russian agents/internet trolls head inside. He heard how the place had "industrialized the art of trolling" from a former employee. "Management was obsessed with statistics -- page views, number of posts, a blog's place on LiveJournal's traffic charts -- and team leaders compelled hard work through a system of bonuses and fines," he wrote. Of course they wanted to maximize engagement, too!

There were reports that Russian trolls were commenting on American news sites . There were many, many reports of Russia's propaganda offensive in Ukraine. Ukrainian journalists run a website dedicated to cataloging these disinformation attempts called StopFake . It has hundreds of posts reaching back into 2014.

The influence campaign just happened on Facebook without anyone noticing.

A Guardian reporter who looked into Russian military doctrine around information war found a handbook that described how it might work. "The deployment of information weapons, [the book] suggests, 'acts like an invisible radiation' upon its targets: 'The population doesn't even feel it is being acted upon. So the state doesn't switch on its self-defense mechanisms,'" wrote Peter Pomerantsev.

As more details about the Russian disinformation campaign come to the surface through Facebook's continued digging, it's fair to say that it's not just the state that did not switch on its self-defense mechanisms. The influence campaign just happened on Facebook without anyone noticing.

As many people have noted, the 3,000 ads that have been linked to Russia are a drop in the bucket, even if they did reach millions of people. The real game is simply that Russian operatives created pages that reached people "organically," as the saying goes. Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, pulled data on the six publicly known Russia-linked Facebook pages . He found that their posts had been shared 340 million times . And those were six of 470 pages that Facebook has linked to Russian operatives. You're probably talking billions of shares, with who knows how many views, and with what kind of specific targeting.

The Russians are good at engagement! Yet, before the U.S. election, even after Hillary Clinton and intelligence agencies fingered Russian intelligence meddling in the election, even after news reports suggested that a disinformation campaign was afoot , nothing about the actual operations on Facebook came out.

In the aftermath of these discoveries, three Facebook security researchers, Jen Weedon, William Nuland, and Alex Stamos, released a white paper called Information Operations and Facebook . "We have had to expand our security focus from traditional abusive behavior, such as account hacking, malware, spam, and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people," they wrote.

"These social platforms are all invented by very liberal people. And we figure out how to use it to push conservative values."

One key theme of the paper is that they were used to dealing with economic actors, who responded to costs and incentives. When it comes to Russian operatives paid to Facebook, those constraints no longer hold. "The area of information operations does provide a unique challenge," they wrote, "in that those sponsoring such operations are often not constrained by per-unit economic realities in the same way as spammers and click fraudsters, which increases the complexity of deterrence." They were not expecting that.

Add everything up. The chaos of a billion-person platform that competitively dominated media distribution. The known electoral efficacy of Facebook. The wild fake news and misinformation rampaging across the internet generally and Facebook specifically. The Russian info operations. All of these things were known.

And yet no one could quite put it all together: The dominant social network had altered the information and persuasion environment of the election beyond recognition while taking a very big chunk of the estimated $1.4 billion worth of digital advertising purchased during the election. There were hundreds of millions of dollars of dark ads doing their work. Fake news all over the place. Macedonian teens campaigning for Trump. Ragingly partisan media infospheres serving up only the news you wanted to hear. Who could believe anything? What room was there for policy positions when all this stuff was eating up News Feed space? Who the hell knew what was going on?

As late as August 20, 2016 , the The Washington Post could say this of the campaigns:

Hillary Clinton is running arguably the most digital presidential campaign in U.S. history. Donald Trump is running one of the most analog campaigns in recent memory. The Clinton team is bent on finding more effective ways to identify supporters and ensure they cast ballots; Trump is, famously and unapologetically, sticking to a 1980s-era focus on courting attention and voters via television.

Just a week earlier, Trump's campaign had hired Cambridge Analytica. Soon, they'd ramped up to $70 million a month in Facebook advertising spending. And the next thing you knew, Brad Parscale, Trump's digital director, is doing the postmortem rounds talking up his win .

"These social platforms are all invented by very liberal people on the west and east coasts," Parscale said. "And we figure out how to use it to push conservative values. I don't think they thought that would ever happen."

And that was part of the media's problem, too.

* * *

Before Trump's election, the impact of internet technology generally and Facebook specifically was seen as favoring Democrats. Even a TechCrunch critique of Rosen's 2012 article about Facebook's electoral power argued, "the internet inherently advantages liberals because, on average, their greater psychological embrace of disruption leads to more innovation (after all, nearly every major digital breakthrough, from online fundraising to the use of big data, was pioneered by Democrats)."

Certainly, the Obama tech team that I profiled in 2012 thought this was the case. Of course, social media would benefit the (youthful, diverse, internet-savvy) left. And the political bent of just about all Silicon Valley companies runs Democratic . For all the talk about Facebook employees embedding with the Trump campaign , the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, sat with the Obama tech team on Election Day 2012.

In June 2015, The New York Times ran an article about Republicans trying to ramp up their digital campaigns that began like this: "The criticism after the 2012 presidential election was swift and harsh: Democrats were light-years ahead of Republicans when it came to digital strategy and tactics, and Republicans had serious work to do on the technology front if they ever hoped to win back the White House."

"Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power."

It cited Sasha Issenberg, the most astute reporter on political technology. "The Republicans have a particular challenge," Issenberg said, "which is, in these areas they don't have many people with either the hard skills or the experience to go out and take on this type of work."

University of North Carolina journalism professor Daniel Kreiss wrote a whole (good) book, Prototype Politics , showing that Democrats had an incredible personnel advantage. " Drawing on an innovative data set of the professional careers of 629 staffers working in technology on presidential campaigns from 2004 to 2012 and data from interviews with more than 60 party and campaign staffers," Kriess wrote, "the book details how and explains why the Democrats have invested more in technology, attracted staffers with specialized expertise to work in electoral politics, and founded an array of firms and organizations to diffuse technological innovations down ballot and across election cycles."

Which is to say: It's not that no journalists, internet-focused lawyers, or technologists saw Facebook's looming electoral presence -- it was undeniable -- but all the evidence pointed to the structural change benefitting Democrats. And let's just state the obvious: Most reporters and professors are probably about as liberal as your standard Silicon Valley technologist, so this conclusion fit into the comfort zone of those in the field.

By late October, the role that Facebook might be playing in the Trump campaign -- and more broadly -- was emerging. Joshua Green and Issenberg reported a long feature on the data operation then in motion . The Trump campaign was working to suppress "idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans," and they'd be doing it with targeted, "dark" Facebook ads. These ads are only visible to the buyer, the ad recipients, and Facebook. No one who hasn't been targeted by then can see them. How was anyone supposed to know what was going on, when the key campaign terrain was literally invisible to outside observers?

Steve Bannon was confident in the operation. "I wouldn't have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn't known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine," Bannon told them. "Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power."

The very roots of the electoral system had been destabilized.

Issenberg and Green called it "an odd gambit" which had "no scientific basis." Then again, Trump's whole campaign had seemed like an odd gambit with no scientific basis. The conventional wisdom was that Trump was going to lose and lose badly. In the days before the election, The Huffington Post 's data team had Clinton's election probability at 98.3 percent. A member of the team, Ryan Grim, went after Nate Silver for his more conservative probability of 64.7 percent, accusing him of skewing his data for "punditry" reasons. Grim ended his post on the topic, "If you want to put your faith in the numbers, you can relax. She's got this."

Narrator: She did not have this.

But the point isn't that a Republican beat a Democrat. The point is that the very roots of the electoral system -- the news people see, the events they think happened, the information they digest -- had been destabilized.

In the middle of the summer of the election, the former Facebook ad-targeting product manager, Antonio García Martínez, released an autobiography called Chaos Monkeys . He called his colleagues "chaos monkeys," messing with industry after industry in their company-creating fervor. "The question for society," he wrote, "is whether it can survive these entrepreneurial chaos monkeys intact, and at what human cost." This is the real epitaph of the election.

The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn't just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of "dark ads."

The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook. And so, during the most significant shift in the technology of politics since the television, the first draft of history is filled with undecipherable whorls and empty pages. Meanwhile, the 2018 midterms loom.

Update: After publication, Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, sent an email describing some of the work that Facebook is doing in response to the problems during the election. They include new software and processes "to stop the spread of misinformation , click-bait and other problematic content on Facebook."

"The truth is we've learned things since the election, and we take our responsibility to protect the community of people who use Facebook seriously. As a result, we've launched a company-wide effort to improve the integrity of information on our service," he wrote. "It's already translated into new products, new protections, and the commitment of thousands of new people to enforce our policies and standards... We know there is a lot more work to do, but I've never seen this company more engaged on a single challenge since I joined almost 10 years ago."

[Oct 19, 2017] Privacy is dead Get over it by Paul Croke

Mar 24, 2015 | baltimorepostexaminer.com
In the days before cellular communications were well on their way to being the dominant form of personal electronic communication, the Federal Communications Commission had strict regulatory control governing third party monitoring of telephone conversations. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies were the only branches of government which could legally tap phones, and these only with a court order.

Into the ether

But cellular communications, being radio transmissions, had no such official protection. And the Internet, either carried by cable or through wireless data transmission, is still baffling government regulatory agencies as to whether they have any jurisdiction over Net use or Internet service providers.

So although we got along pretty well with the status quo regarding personal privacy from the government for 200 years or so, the explosive growth of the Internet and the many, many ways we usually unwittingly expose our private affairs to Big Business and the government has raced toward the formation of behemoths of so-called Big Data.

Big Data is a catchall term which includes the collection of personal, business and government information that has brought us to a point beyond the extremely pessimistic dreams of George Orwell.

Exposure of the willing

Millions spill the most intimate details of their lives on Facebook. Their photo posts to Instagram may contain geolocational tags. Hackers have figured out how to use the front facing cameras on laptops to catch their owners' parading by in various states of undress. Illicit credit card readers are inserted into gas station swipers, recording hundreds of card numbers and passwords, then removed, numbers collected, then sold to brokers, or fences, who resell them to the usual suspects. There are even butt swipers, devices that scan back pockets and purses to read your credit card card info.

internet-of-thingsGoogle reads your email and if you mention a brand name for a product or an item you're thinking of buying, the next search you make Google throws up ads for that product or its competitors.

But we're just now on the brink of a yawning chasm. Be prepared to take the leap into the new age of No Privacy, courtesy of the coming ubiquity of the Internet of things. Not only will your remaining privacy be rendered a dead letter, but the very definition of privacy is about to change.

The Internet of things is already here in nascent form, from smart cars to smart refrigerators to smart thermostats to home security monitors which know when you're home and when you're not, what room you're in and what you're doing there.

Death by a thousand cuts

We're no strangers in the past century to technological advances that change our lives. We've also witnessed how the pace of technological change accelerates. And these changes, in their turn, have not only altered our lives, but each has affected them faster and has been more keenly felt by society.

1373563853701.cachedBut previous changes have been mostly incremental, a rapidly moving series of small steps that affect one portion of our lives. These include instant phone calls or texts to anyone on the planet, email, cloud storage of personal or business data, the latter facilitating group work on projects or reports.

But still a measure of personal privacy was maintained, depending a lot on how much you were willing to share using that cunning new app or seductive new Internet-connected device.

But the sheer volume of small personal habits and activities added up over time, allowing government and business to put the pieces together to form quite an accurate, and highly detailed, snapshot of you, your spending habits, your circle of friends, your politics etc.

Your life, exposed

But with the Internet of things, these sketches of you will turn into full-fledged portraits. No longer will one device or app do its one trick to change your life, such as storage in the cloud of personal data, or online banking or Internet shopping. The sheer number of embedded sensors in your house and car, the latter long legally protected as bastions of privacy, will reveal every detail of your private life. The Internet of things will affect not just one facet of your life, such as industry, commerce or politics, it will completely rewrite the definition of personal privacy.

[Oct 18, 2017] Spy Schools How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities by Nick Roll

Notable quotes:
"... Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ..."
"... The Boston Globe ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers. ..."
"... It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc. ..."
"... When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies." ..."
"... Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious. ..."
"... For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially. ..."
"... Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery. ..."
"... Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath. ..."
www.chronicle.com
October 3, 2017

The CIA Within Academe 21 Comments

Book documents how foreign and domestic intelligence agencies use -- and perhaps exploit -- higher education and academe for spy operations.
Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think it's not happening in the lab or classroom as well.

In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ( Henry Holt and Company ), investigative journalist Daniel Golden explores the fraught -- and sometimes exploitative -- relationship between higher education and intelligence services, both foreign and domestic. Chapters explore various case studies of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation using the open and collaborative nature of higher education to their advantage, as well as foreign governments infiltrating the U.S. via education.

"It's pretty widespread, and I'd say it's most prevalent at research universities," Golden, an editor at ProPublica and an alumnus of The Boston Globe 's "Spotlight" team, told Inside Higher Ed . "The foreign intelligence services have the interest and the opportunity to learn cutting-edge, Pentagon-funded or government-funded research."

Golden, who has also covered higher education for The Wall Street Journal , previously wrote about the intersection of wealth and admissions in his 2006 book The Price of Admission .

Each of the case studies in Spy Schools , which goes on sale Oct. 10, is critical. One could read the chapters on the Chinese government's interest in U.S. research universities as hawkish, but then turn to the next chapter on Harvard's relationship with the CIA and read it as critical of the American intelligence establishment as well.

"People of one political persuasion might focus on [the chapters regarding] foreign espionage; people of another political persuasion might focus on domestic espionage," Golden said. "I try to follow where the facts lead."

Perhaps the most prestigious institution Golden examines is Harvard University, probing its cozy relationship with the CIA. (While Harvard has recently come under scrutiny for its relationship with the agency after it withdrew an invitation for Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow -- after the agency objected to her appointment -- this book was written before the Manning incident, which occurred in September.) The university, which has had varying degrees of closeness and coldness with the CIA over the years, currently allows the agency to send officers to the midcareer program at the Kennedy School of Government while continuing to act undercover, with the school's knowledge. When the officers apply -- often with fudged credentials that are part of their CIA cover -- the university doesn't know they're CIA agents, but once they're in, Golden writes, Harvard allows them to tell the university that they're undercover. Their fellow students, however -- often high-profile or soon-to-be-high-profile actors in the world of international diplomacy -- are kept in the dark.

"Kenneth Moskow is one of a long line of CIA officers who have enrolled undercover at the Kennedy School, generally with Harvard's knowledge and approval, gaining access to up-and-comers worldwide," Golden writes. "For four decades the CIA and Harvard have concealed this practice, which raises larger questions about academic boundaries, the integrity of class discussions and student interactions, and whether an American university has a responsibility to accommodate U.S. intelligence."

But the CIA isn't the only intelligence group operating at Harvard. Golden notes Russian spies have enrolled at the Kennedy School, although without Harvard's knowledge or cooperation.

When contacted by Inside Higher Ed , Harvard officials didn't deny Golden's telling, but defended the university's practices while emphasizing the agreement between the university and the CIA -- which Golden also writes about -- on not using Harvard to conduct CIA fieldwork.

"Harvard Kennedy School does not knowingly provide false information or 'cover' for any member of our community from an intelligence agency, nor do we allow members of our community to carry out intelligence operations at Harvard Kennedy School," Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said in a statement.

While Golden said the CIA's involvement on campus raises existential questions about the purpose and integrity of higher education, Harvard maintained that the Kennedy School was living up to its mission.

"Our community consists of people from different spheres of public service. We are proud to train people from the U.S. government and the intelligence community, as well as peace activists and those who favor more open government," Rosenbach said in his statement. "We train students from a wide range of foreign countries and foreign governments, including -- among others -- Israel, U.K., Russia and China. That is consistent with our mission and we are proud to have that reach."

On the other hand, other countries are interested in exploiting U.S. higher education. Golden documents the case of Ruopeng Liu, a graduate student at Duke University who siphoned off U.S.-government-funded research to Chinese researchers. Liu eventually returned to China and has used some of the research for his Chinese-government-funded start-up ventures.

Golden is comprehensive, interviewing Duke researchers who worked with Liu, as well as dispatching a freelance journalist in China to interview Liu (he denied wrongdoing, saying his actions were taken as part of higher education's collaborative norms regarding research projects). Despite questions that arose while Liu was a student, he received his doctorate in 2009 without any formal questions or pushback from the university. A week before Liu defended his dissertation, Golden notes that Duke officials voted to move forward in negotiations with the Chinese government regarding opening a Duke campus in China -- raising questions about whether Duke was cautious about punishing a Chinese student lest there were negative business implications for Duke. ( The building of the campus proved to be a controversial move in its own right. )

The Duke professor Liu worked under told Golden it would be hard to prove Liu acted with intentional malice rather than out of genuine cultural and translational obstacles, or ethical slips made by a novice researcher. Duke officials told Inside Higher Ed that there weren't any connections between Liu and the vote.

"The awarding of Ruopeng Liu's degree had absolutely no connection to the deliberations over the proposal for Duke to participate in the founding of a new university in Kunshan, China," a spokesman said in an email.

These are just two chapters of Golden's book, which also goes on to document the foreign exchange relationship between Marietta College, in Ohio, and the controversial Chinese-intelligence-aligned University of International Relations. Agreements between Marietta and UIR, which is widely regarded a recruiting ground for Chinese intelligence services, include exchanging professors and sending Chinese students to Marietta. Conversely, Golden writes, as American professors teach UIR students who could end up spying on the U.S., American students at Marietta are advised against studying abroad at UIR if they have an interest in working for the government -- studying at UIR carries a risk for students hoping to get certain security clearances. Another highlight is the chapter documenting the CIA's efforts to stage phony international academic conferences, put on to lure Iranian nuclear scientists as attendees and get them out of their country -- and in a position to defect to the U.S. According to Golden's sources, the operations, combined with other efforts, have been successful enough "to hinder Iran's nuclear weapons program."

But Golden's book doesn't just shed light on previously untold stories. It also highlights the existential questions facing higher education, not only when dealing with infiltration from foreign governments, but also those brought on by cozy relationships between the U.S. intelligence and academe.

"One issue is American national security," Golden said. "Universities do a lot of research that's important to our government and our military, and they don't take very strong precautions against it being stolen," he said. "So the domestic espionage side -- I'm kind of a traditionalist and I believe in the ideal of universities as places where the brightest minds of all countries come together to learn, teach each other, study and do research. Espionage from both sides taints that that's kind of disturbing."

After diving deep into the complex web that ties higher education and espionage together, however, Golden remains optimistic about the future.

"It wouldn't be that hard to tighten up the intellectual property rules and have written collaboration agreements and have more courses about intellectual safeguards," he said. "In the 1970s, Harvard adopted guidelines against U.S. intelligence trying to recruit foreign students in an undercover way they didn't become standard practice [across academe, but], I still think those guidelines are pertinent and colleges would do well to take a second look at them."

"In the idealistic dreamer mode, it would be wonderful if the U.N. or some other organization would take a look at this issue, and say, 'Can we declare universities off-limits to espionage?'"

Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 8:18 AM

Equating the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses with that of foreign intelligence is pretty obtuse moral relativism. US academia and US intelligence alike benefit from cooperation, and the American people are the winners overall. By the way, is it really necessary to twice describe this relationship as "cozy"? What does that mean, other to suggest there's something illicit about it?

Grace Alcock -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 4, 2017 1:30 AM

It'd be nice if American intelligence was paying a bit more attention to what goes on in academic research--as far as I can tell, the country keeps making policies that don't seem particularly well-informed by the research in relevant areas. Can we get them to infiltrate more labs of scientists working on climate change or something?

Maybe stick around, engage in some participant observation and figure that research out? It's not clear they have any acquaintance with the literature on the causes of war. Really, pick a place to start, and pay attention.

alsotps -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 5:20 PM

If you cannot see how a gov't intelligence agency, prohibited from working in the USA by statute and who is eye-deep in AMERICAN education is wrong, then I am worried. Read history. Look back to the 1970's to start and to the 1950's with FBI and the military agents in classrooms; then read about HUAC.

Now, look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers.

Get it? it is 'illicit!"

Nicholas Dujmovic -> alsotps , October 4, 2017 12:38 PM

Actually, I read quite a bit of history. I also know that US intelligence agencies are not "prohibited from working in the USA." If they have relationships in academia that remind you of Stalin, Hitler, etc., how have US agencies "imposed lock-step thinking and ferreted out free-thinkers?" Hasn't seemed to work, has it? Your concern is overwrought.

Former Community College Prof -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 12:12 PM

"Cozy" might refer to the mutual gains afforded by allowing the federal government to break many rules (and laws) while conducting their "intelligence operations" in academe. I do not know if I felt Homeland Security should have had permission to bring to this country, under false premises supported by ICE and accrediting agencies, thousands of foreign nationals and employed them at companies like Facebook, Apple, Morgan Stanley and the U.S. Army. While Homeland Security collected 16K tuition from each of them (and the companies that hired these F-1s didn't have to pay FICA) all our nation got was arrests of 20 mid level visa brokers.

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Personally, I think cozy was quite complimentary as I would have chosen other words. Just imagine if there are additional "undercover students" with false credentials in numbers significant enough to throw off data or stopping universities and colleges from enforcing rules and regulations. If you set up and accredit a "fake university" and keep the proceeds, it strikes me as illicit.

alsotps -> Former Community College Prof , October 3, 2017 5:21 PM

Hey...don't imagine it. Read about Cointelpro and military 'intelligence' agents in classes in the early 1970's....

Trevor Ronson -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 2:36 PM

And behaving as if the "the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses" is something to accept without question is also "obtuse moral relativism". We are talking about an arrangement wherein a / the most prestigious institutions of higher learning has an established relationship with the CIA along with some accepted protocol to ongoing participation.

Whether it is right, wrong, or in between is another matter but please don't pretend that it's just business as usual and not worthy of deeper investigation.

alsotps -> Trevor Ronson , October 3, 2017 5:16 PM

Unfortunately for many people, it IS business as usual.

George Avery , October 3, 2017 9:46 AM

It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc.

Never mind that I primarily do health policy and economics work, and have not been near a lab bench since I returned to school for my doctorate.....anything with a defense or security application drew a flurry of interest in getting involved.

As a result, I tended to be very discerning in who I took on as an advisee, if only to protect my security clearance.

alsotps -> George Avery , October 3, 2017 5:22 PM

PAr for the course for both UG and grad students from China who have not paid a head hunter. ANY school or program offering money to international students was flooded by such inquiries. Get over yourself.

John Lobell , October 3, 2017 6:25 AM

When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies."

We had a program in "Tropical Architecture" which enrolled students form "third world" countries. Rumor was -- --

jloewen , October 3, 2017 10:38 AM

When I got my Ph.D. from Harvard in 1968, the Shah of Iran got an honorary doctorate at the same commencement. The next year, by pure coincidence!, he endowed three chairs of Near Eastern Studies at H.U.

alsotps -> jloewen , October 3, 2017 5:24 PM

Absolutely a coincidence! You don't think honoraria have anything whatsoever to do with the Development Office do you? (Snark)

Kevin Van Elswyk , October 3, 2017 9:31 AM

And we are surpised?

Robert4787 , October 4, 2017 6:28 PM

So glad to see they're on campus. Many young people now occupy the CIA; the old "cowboys" of the Cold War past are gone. U may find this interesting>> http://osintdaily.blogspot....

TinkerTailor1620 , October 3, 2017 5:29 PM

Hundreds of government civil servants attend courses at the Kennedy School every year. That a few of them come from the CIA should be no surprise. It and all the other intelligence agencies are nothing more than departments within the federal government, just like Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, the FDA, Energy, and so on. Nothing sneaky or suspicious about any of it. Why anyone with cover credentials would tell the Kennedy School admin that is beyond me. When I was in cover status, I was in cover status everywhere; to not be was to blow your cover, period, and was extremely dangerous.

Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious.

Phred , October 3, 2017 1:49 PM

For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially.

alsotps -> Phred , October 3, 2017 5:25 PM

The key, here, is financially. The bean counters and those whose research is funded don't look hard at the source of the funding. Just so it keeps coming.

Jason , October 4, 2017 6:34 PM

Academic treason.

Sanford Gray Thatcher , October 4, 2017 6:13 PM

Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery.

Remember also how intelligence agency money was behind the journal Encounter? Lots of propaganda got distributed under the guise of objective social science research.

donald scott , October 3, 2017 6:05 PM

Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath.

In the research for my biography of Stewart I found significant information about CIA presence on the UC Berkeley campus, in the mid-twentieth century, which reached in to the highest levels of the administration and led to a network of "professors" recruited by that unAmerican spy agency.

The oaths, the current gender wars and the conviction by accusation of harassment are all later attempts to politicize education and turn fiat lux into fiat nox. IHE should be writing more about that and about the current conviction by sexual accusation, and the effect of such on free thought and free inquiry.

[Oct 17, 2017] Google launches advanced Gmail security features for high-risk users

Notable quotes:
"... The program would include additional reviews and requests in the account recovery process to prevent fraudulent access by hackers who try to gain access by pretending they have been locked out. ..."
Oct 17, 2017 | www.msn.com

Alphabet's Google Inc said on Tuesday that it would roll out an advanced protection program in order to provide stronger security for some users such as government officials and journalists who are at a higher risk of being targeted by hackers.

The internet giant said that users of the program would have their account security continuously updated to deal with emerging threats.

The company said it would initially provide three defenses against security threats, which include blocking fraudulent account access and protection against phishing.

The program would include additional reviews and requests in the account recovery process to prevent fraudulent access by hackers who try to gain access by pretending they have been locked out.

... ... ...

[Oct 16, 2017] Who rules this Facebook

Notable quotes:
"... Among the advertisements included hundreds of irrelevant issues (even simple pictures with puppies), while 65% of the messages were uploaded after the US presidential elections, so, apparently, they would not had been able to influence the final result. So, the big news was not the content of the Ads, but the fact that Zuckerberg agreed to cooperate with the US authorities by offering information of Facebook users - a policy immediately followed by Google and Twitter. ..."
"... For many, the informal proclamation was an expression of "subjugation" to the US deep state, and especially to the reborn camp of neoconservatives, who, led by Hillary Clinton, have launched a new witch hunt against Moscow. For others, it was just a compromise move that proved that Zuckerberg can "swim" comfortably into the deep waters of the American political scene. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

The decision of the founder of Facebook to work with the US authorities on the hunting of Russian hackers is a turning point in the policy of the largest social medium on the planet. Perhaps it is the moment that officially enters the political arena.
globinfo freexchange
There are two things that have been commonplace for White House occupants for centuries: a long tour in all the American states before the elections and a proclamation to the American people after their election. Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, did both.
In the last year he visits all the American states, taking pictures with farmers, workers, priests and even addicted people in a personal "election campaign" without any opponents. And then, it was time to turn Urbi et Orbi to the two billion "believers" who keep active Facebook accounts.
The reason was that the known social medium allowed the publication of paid Ads by Russian users, supposedly aimed at influencing the outcome of the US elections. Although initially Facebook reported that it had not identified any suspicious action, when the pressures began to rise, Zuckerberg said in his "statement" that he would provide data to a congressional committee for about 3,000 related Ads posted on his pages. Of course, as the researcher and journalist Max Blumenthal explained, this "treasure" turned out to be coal too.
Among the advertisements included hundreds of irrelevant issues (even simple pictures with puppies), while 65% of the messages were uploaded after the US presidential elections, so, apparently, they would not had been able to influence the final result. So, the big news was not the content of the Ads, but the fact that Zuckerberg agreed to cooperate with the US authorities by offering information of Facebook users - a policy immediately followed by Google and Twitter.
For many, the informal proclamation was an expression of "subjugation" to the US deep state, and especially to the reborn camp of neoconservatives, who, led by Hillary Clinton, have launched a new witch hunt against Moscow. For others, it was just a compromise move that proved that Zuckerberg can "swim" comfortably into the deep waters of the American political scene.
In any case, the incident once again brought to light the terrifying power that Facebook has acquired in the already oligopolistic market of social media. "Facebook users could outnumber Christians before the end of the year" CNBC stated a few days ago - a peculiar way indeed to explain that soon one-third of the world's inhabitants will use Zuckerberg's platform at least once a month.
The case of the Russian Ads, however, has triggered an even more interesting debate. Most of those who criticized Zuckerberg's decision accused him of interfering in the operation of the algorithms that determine which news, Ads, and friend's messages will be viewed by each user on his "wall". This view, however, implies that algorithms consist a kind of objective (and mostly apolitical) mechanism.
In a sense, as writer Franklin Foer explained in his new book, "World Without Mind," the myth of the objective algorithm is the contemporary expression of a technocratic concept, first appeared in 18th century Europe by writers such as Henri de Saint-Simon.
Known as the Utopian precursor of "scientific socialism," Saint-Simon envisioned a society in which the interests of the corrupt old regime and the chaos that the power of "mob" might bring to the society, would give their place to a body of technocrats engineers who would regulate the functioning of society exclusively with scientific criteria. Instead of philosophers in politics, or, philosophical politicians, the new vision foresaw positions only for engineers.
The seemingly neutral algorithms of present era, Franklin Foer argues, come to replace the Utopia and the myth of the first technocrats. In fact, as he explains quite thoroughly, each algorithm hides enormous amounts of politics and political economy too, depending on the aspirations of its creators.
Perhaps the next US president will be elected by an algorithm - that of Mark Zuckerberg.
Article by Aris Chatzistefanou, translated from the original source:
http://info-war.gr/pios-kyverna-afto-to-facebook/

[Oct 14, 2017] Install a Complete Mail Server with Postfix and Webmail in Debian 9

Oct 14, 2017 | www.tecmint.com

Install a Complete Mail Server with Postfix and Webmail in Debian 9

by Matei Cezar | Published: October 12, 2017 | Last Updated: October 10, 2017

This tutorial will guide you on how to install and configure a complete mail server with Postfix in Debian 9 release. It will also cover how to configure accounts mailboxes using Dovecot in order to retrieve and compose mails via IMAP protocol. The users will use Rainloop Webmail interface as the mail user agent to handle mail.

Requirements

◾Debian 9 Minimal Installation
◾A static IP address configured for the network interface
◾A local or a public registered domain name.

In this tutorial we'll use a private domain account for mail server setup configured via /etc/hosts file only, without any DNS server involved in handling DNS resolution.

Step 1: Initial Configurations for Postfix Mail Server on Debian

1. In the first step, login to your machine with an account with root privileges or directly with the root user and make sure your Debian system is up to date with the latest security patches and software and packages releases, by issuing the following command.
# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade

2. On the next step install the following software packages that will be used for system administration, by issuing the following command.
# apt-get install curl net-tools bash-completion wget lsof nano

3. Next, open /etc/host.conf file for editing with your favorite text editor and add the following line at the beginning of the file in order for DNS resolution to read the hosts file first.
order hosts,bind
multi on

4. Next, setup your machine FQDN and add your domain name and your system FQDN to /etc/host