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Total Surveillance Regime: Big Uncle is Watching You

Mass surveillance is equal to totalitarism. As Joseph Goebbels professed:
"if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear"

The slide above is courtesy of The Guardian

Version 2.0, Oct 17, 2017

News National Security State Recommended Links Edward Snowden as Symbol of resistance to National Security State Privacy is Dead – Get Over It Vault 7 scandal NSA revelations fallout William Binney
NSA Surveillance Industrial Espionage Data Stealing Trojans Flame Duqu Trojan Magic Lantern CIPAV Cyberstalking
Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Search engines privacy Google Toolbar Is Google evil? Keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance Blocking Facebook Facebook as Giant Database about Users Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?
Damage to the US tech companies "Everything in the Cloud" Utopia Issues of security and trust in "cloud" env Email security How to analyze your own Web activity Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Steganography Building Snort-based IDS Infrastructure
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Nineteen Eighty-Four Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State Cyberwarfare History of the USA total surveillance efforts Prizm-related humor Etc
 

Introduction

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

- Goethe

1984 is supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual

The troubling aspect about these disclosures is not so much their significance today, but what surveillance on the nation bodes for the future. Given human nature I am not optimistic.

Bill N. Cambridge MA, NYT.

NSA staff and private contractors have unfettered access to this information. I have a hard time believing that not one of them has used that access to information for personal or political gain. This system makes insider trading, industrial espionage, blackmail, and extortion an almost inevitable outcome. -- The Guardian (from comments).

A new round of debates about the dominance of military industrial complex and the level of control it exerts over the US civil society was caused by recent revelations about NSA activities in the USA.

It might well be the Rubicon was crossed around JFK assassination time. On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA (Church Committee - Wikipedia ):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

In other words expansionism  and mission creep are immanent qualities, the second nature of large bureaucracies, and unless there is countervailing force. In the absence of countervailing forces they tend to escape from civil control and form a state within a state. In a way any state with powerful three-letter agencies stand with one leg in a tyranny, even if it calls itself a democracy. And that fact was already known to everybody in 1975 (Church Committee).  Actually just after president Kennedy assassination, which, no matter which version of events you adopt, in all cases indirectly pointed out that three letter agencies jumped out of control of civil government. As one Guardian reader commented "The pernicious thing is that it is in the nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight."

The nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible for civil authorities to control them. Recent stories about CIA spying on the US Senate Intelligence Committee  just prove this. 

In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them.  Recent stories about CIA spying on the US Senate Intelligence Committee (which is tasked with the oversight of the agency) just prove this simple fact (CIA apologizes for spying on Senate committee - CNNPolitics July 31, 2014 ). As NYT reported (Inquiry by C.I.A. Affirms It Spied on Senate Panel,  

A statement issued Thursday morning by a C.I.A. spokesman said that John O. Brennan, the agency’s director, had apologized to Ms. Feinstein and the committee’s ranking Republican, Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and would set up an internal accountability board to review the issue. The statement said that the board, which will be led by a former Democratic senator, Evan Bayh of Indiana, could recommend “potential disciplinary measures” and “steps to address systemic issues.”

But anger among lawmakers grew throughout the day. Leaving a nearly three-hour briefing about the report in a Senate conference room, members of both parties called for the C.I.A. officers to be held accountable, and some said they had lost confidence in Mr. Brennan’s leadership. “This is a serious situation and there are serious violations,” said Mr. Chambliss, generally a staunch ally of the intelligence community. He called for the C.I.A. employees to be “dealt with very harshly.”

Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado and another member of the Intelligence Committee, demanded Mr. Brennan’s resignation. “The C.I.A. unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee computers,” he said in a written statement. “This grave misconduct not only is illegal but it violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of powers.

You can't get a more solid proof of total surveillance...  Please note that Brennan continued his tenure as the head of CIA; attempts to depose him after the incident by some Senators failed. That suggest who was the winner in this skirmish.

That also means that contrary to common perception intelligence agencies are political players and as such are quite capable to defend their staffing and resource consumption levels, despite inefficient waist of resources as typical for large bureaucracies. In other words they are no longer technocratic, but tend to emerge as political bodies, the core of the "deep state" (see Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition). The story of John Brennan the former head of CIA in Obama administration tell volumes about such tendencies. During and after 2016 Presidential elections he emerged as a powerful political broker, later aligning with Hillary Clinton in efforts to form a political coalition capable of deposing President Trump.

We can admire the immortal foresight and moral courage of Secretary of State Henry Stimson's  who closed the Cipher Bureau in 1929.  But this highly ethical, moral and courageous act deprived the US of the capacity to read foreign diplomatic cables as world-wide threats grew.  So it was quickly reversed.

In a way technology dictates the level of government surveillance in the society and in "Internet society" it looks like this level is permanently set on "high". That does not mean that we can't fight it. Yes, we can and one factor that played into the hands of defenders of personal privacy is the you can't drink from a fire hose: as soon as you connect too much information it devalues itself. Also methods of "injecting" false metadata into your profile are reality available. for example for Internet browsing anybody with programmable keyboard can do that. That means that you the set of sites you visited no longer can be considered authentic in "Post-Snowden" world. That dooms effort to assign you a level of "loyalty" based on your browsing history, which is very temping for three letter agencies to do.  Recent failed attempt to create a site that claffies some sites are "Russian propaganda" sites belong to this category (Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group.) But such attempts were just shifted to another domain -- "leak prevention" training:

Part of the “Unauthorized Disclosure” training includes watching a Fox News clip on the crackdown on leaks and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statement announcing an increase in criminal leak investigations. A student guide from the Insider Threat Awareness training includes the McCarthyesque request that employees report on each other for “general suspicious behaviors,” including “Questionable national loyalty” such as “Displaying questionable loyalty to US government or company” or “Making anti-U.S. comments.” Never mind that the only oath government employees take is to the US Constitution, not to any government official or the US government itself and certainly not to a private company.

This also opens people to browsing blackmail.  In this sense post-snowmen world is inherently more difficult for three-letter agencies to navigate.

Computer technology and digital communication as new frontiers for intelligence  agencies

Technology changes can really change the society. And not always in a beneficial for the society way. There is such thing as "blowback" in technologies. We can view recent NSA activities revealed by Snowden as a classic example of such blowback connected with the spread of Internet and cloud based technologies.  In a way Internet begets surveillance. And you can do nothing about it.  As former Sun CEO Scott McNealy (born November 13, 1954)  said  "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." (see also Privacy is Dead – Get Over It).  

I think that the first attempt to create a comprehensive nation-wide intelligence network that monitors sentiments of the citizens and hunt enemies of the state goes as far back as Napoleon and his famous minister of police Joseph Fouché. Or may be it even goes as far back as to Byzantine Empire with its first in history organized network of spies. As for recording of mail envelopes, we can even claim that this function for international mail (in a form of "black chambers") is as old as states are. In the USA it started in full force in August 1919 when J. Edgar Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division—also known as the Radical Division because its explicit goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals.

Recording of all email envelopes started long before email was invented and became established practice since the WWII for all regular mail entering or leaving the country.  It just got a new name now -- collection of metadata and the technology that allow correlation of multiple sets of metadata exposing hidden "networks".  Recording metadata of phone calls and often the calls themselves first started before WWII and technology was first polished on international calls, which for obvious reasons are of great interest to all governments.  As intelligence agencies were one of the first to deploy computers after WWII it would be naive to assume that IBM/360 mainframes were not used to analyze collection of metadata of international calls as early as in 1960th.

Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport them. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey; Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs; Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman; and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, whom Hoover nicknamed as "the most dangerous man in the United States". So those radicals served a guinea pigs for polishing methods of collection of communications using electronic means of surveillance.

So it would be a mistake to assume that such activities started with 9/11 events and that Bush II was totally responsible for converting the USA into national-security state.  The technology was ready at least 15 years before 9/11 (explosive growth of internet in the USA started in 1996) and new methods of collection of information that are technically available are always adopted and used by clandestine agencies.  They tend to adopt technology as soon as it is available, being, in a pervert way,  classic "early adopters" of any communication or computer technology. And this happens not only in the USA,  although the USA as the  technological leader was probably most profoundly affected.

The creation and use of databases of personal information and the systematic records (archives) of communications of citizens started simultaneously with NSA creation. The first targets were mail and telegraph. Some of this experience came from specialists of Third Reich who were brought to the country after the WWII. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. and Allen Dulles at the CIA. aggressively recruited former Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich. The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.” And in 1994, a lawyer with the CIA pressured prosecutors to drop an investigation into an ex-spy outside Boston implicated in the Nazis’ massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, according to a government official (In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis - NYTimes.com).

We don't know when it was extended on domestic calls, but from purely technical perspective this was a trivial extension of already existing and polished capacity and probably abuse was stated gradually as soon as power of computers allow that. 

But what is true is that after 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the USA government got all the pre-conditions necessary for installing a regime of aggressive total surveillance. Which actually was a hidden intent and 9/11 was just a convenient pretext much like Tonkin incident in Vietnam war. And in this respect Ed Snowden, whatever is his motivation (which might be not as simple as most people assume), did the right thing, when he with the risk to his life informed the US public and the world about those activities. You may approve those revelations, you may disapprove them (and they did damage the USA as a state and devalue many methods which were extremely effective before the revelations), but keeping them secret from the US public is a crime.

NSA technically is a data collection agency. While it has legitimate function to monitor information that is crossing the national border as well as intercept communication of the US adversaries (which is a very flexible category those days ;-), we need to understand that the abuse of this function is inevitable. That actually the nature of the beast -- like any bureaucratic organizations they tend to expand their sphere of activities and escape form control -- and in this sense existence of powerful state intelligence agencies is incompatible with the democracy.  In this sense the appointment of Allan Dulles (who paradoxically was appointed the director under Eisenhower administration in 1952; Eisenhower warnings about the danger of military-industrial complex notwithstanding)  was really unfortunate.

But the capacities to do this type of work had grown dramatically over last four decades. In a way NSA became a victim of growing power of computers as well inherent tendency of bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies to expand and self-justify their expansion. The classic case was the USSR where KGB was a real "state within the state" and sometimes it was not completely clear whether the Party controls KGB or KGB controls the Party.

But the capacities to do this type of work had grown dramatically over last four decades. In a way NSA became a victim of growing power of computers and as well inherent tendency of bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies to expand and self-justify their expansion. The classic case was the USSR where KGB was a real "state within the state" and sometimes it was not completely clear whether the Party controls KGB or KGB controls the Party.

The immanent tendency of intelligence agencies to escape civil control
and in turn to establish indirect control of the government

There is deep analogy between financial services and intelligence services. Both try to escape from the control of democratic society. Both try to control the society instead of serve it. As they operate with large and uncontrolled amount of money soon after their creation inevitably the "the tail wagging the dog" (Merriam-Webster):

the tail wagging the dog used to describe a situation in which an important or powerful person, organization, etc., is being controlled by someone or something that is much less important or powerful

At some point the permanent unelected bureaucracy, became the shadow government instead of facilitating the decisions of elected officials. This process proceeds quicker if a sociopath manage to slip to the role of the head of such an organization. That's what the term "deep state" is about. Some authors such as  Douglas Horne view JFK assassination as a political coup d'état launched from the highest levels of US leadership (JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment Why Kennedy Was Assassinated). Here is a quote from the foreword by Jacob G. Hornberger:

By the end of November 1961, profoundly dissatisfied with his own national security advisory apparatus, President Kennedy had firmly pushed back against the national security establishment (in this case the NSC, the State Department, and the CIA) by purging and/or reshuffling many of the civilian hawks in his own administration into other positions, and by placing officials more in line with his own views into key positions. [A change in the top leadership at the Pentagon was to come later, in 1962.] Throughout 1961, the new President had painfully but quickly learned to be quite skeptical of the advice he was receiving, pertaining to matters of war and peace, from his hawkish advisors; and as 1961 progressed, John F. Kennedy repeatedly demonstrated what the hawks in government (the majority) no doubt considered a disturbingly independent (and increasingly all-too-predictable) frame of mind in regard to the national security recommendations he was receiving from the “sacred cows” and “wise men” in Washington, D.C. As I shall demonstrate in these essays, by the end of 1962, the national security establishment in Washington D.C., which had quickly come to know JFK as a skeptic during 1961, had come to view him as a heretic; and by November of 1963, the month he was assassinated, they no doubt considered him an apostate, for he no longer supported most of the so-called “orthodox” views of the Cold War priesthood. Increasingly alone in his foreign policy judgments as 1963 progressed, JFK was nevertheless proceeding boldly to end our “Holy War” against Communism, instead of trying to win it. In retrospect it is clear that the national security establishment wanted to win our own particular “jihad” of the post-WW II era by turning the Cold War against the USSR into a “hot war,” so that we could inflict punishing and fatal blows upon our Communist adversaries (and any other forces we equated with them) on the battlefield. It was this desire for “hot war” by so many within the establishment — their belief that conventional “proxy wars” with the Soviet Bloc were an urgent necessity, and that nuclear war with the USSR was probably inevitable — to which President Kennedy was so adamantly opposed. And it was JFK’s profound determination to avoid nuclear war by miscalculation, and to eschew combat with conventional arms unless it was truly necessary, that separated him from almost everyone else in his administration from 1961 throughout 1963, as events have shown us.

 

Against whom total surveillance is directed

Total surveillance is not so much about terrorism. It's also and mainly about the control of the society by unelected elite. Terrorism is a false pretext -- a smoke screen, if you like. Let's state clearly -- the main goal of total surveillance was the same since it was introduced in Nazi Germany: "Let them be afraid". It's the same as in former German Democratic Republic (with its famous Stasi). In all cases it is to prevent any challenge to the ruling elite or in the terminology of neoliberal "color revolutions" prevent  "regime change", unless it is initiated by more powerful foreign three letter agencies and significantly higher level of financial resources (that's why three letter agencies of newly minted xUSSR state in several cases were unable to prevent color revolutions of their territories).  

In other words surveillance and intelligence agencies are part and parcel of the totalitarian state. And Sheldon Volin actually created a term for such "pseudo-democratic" regime --  inverted totalitarism.  Unlike  classic totalitarism it generally tend to avoid using violence  to crush the dissidents and opposition to the current elite. More "soft" subversive methods are enough. In this sense the  story of crushing "of "Occupy Wall Street" movement is a testament of their efficiency. 

State actors and well funded terrorist organization are a difficult nut to crack.  Any "custom" encrypted communication is far more difficult for intercepting party to decode, then "standard" encryption methods.  Some encryption methods virtually guarantee that it is impossible without stealing the key. Even detecting the fact of communication for such parties nowadays is very difficult as it can be hidden in  some "carrier" transmission (steganography) or split into multiple channels.   Those who have access to technology and to "know how" including the most recent exploits are well armed to resist attempt to intercept their communication. That includes most powerful foreign states. 

That means that NSA has great difficulties intercepting and decoding traffic that is intended to be hidden from state actors.  Modern encryption systems such One-Time-Pad virtually guarantee that you get the "insider information" of the pad used (typically from a mole) they are impenetrable. Even regular encryption methods can be enhanced by additional step of compressing the files transmitted (which by and large eliminates redundancy if done properly and do not leave "tell" sign  of the method encryption used) . Decoding is easier when standard algorithms with possible backdoors are used but  even in this case I have doubts (Triple DEC).  That's why attempts to compensate this deficiency are being developed and one obvious path is intercepting regular citizen communication  of foreign countries which are considered to be unfriendly or adversarial to current the US foreign policy goals (which is the expansion and maintenance of global the Us-led neoliberal empire).

But the situation with  "open" traffic is completely different. Million of people outside the USA use Facebook, Amazon, Gmail and similar platforms. Which makes them a low hanging fruit and here NSA is the king of the hill.  Government officials also sometimes use regular  email and social sites (see Hillary Clinton email scandal). So intelligence agencies were provided with an important opening (and it might well be that the dramatic growth  of Webmail has something to do with their interests)

At the same time the abundance of information, as Biney mentioned, creates another problem --  the problem of "drinking from a fire hose" -- they tend to collect too much information and are swamped with the volume.  Of cause correlation of open traffic of "suspicious persons" can reveal some hidden information, but this is a pretty expensive undertaking, because by definition (unless this is Hillary Clinton ;-) those persons are aware that they are watched, typically are trained to avoid surveillance (including electronic) and behave accordingly.  for example General Petraeus used an interesting method to communicate with his biographer and mistress (The Washington Post) :

They wrote their "intimate messages" as draft e-mails in a shared Gmail account, according to the AP, allowing them to see one anothers' messages while leaving a much fainter data trail. When messages are sent and received, both accounts record the transmission as well as such metadata as the IP addresses on either end, something the two seemed to be seeking to avoid. 

Petraeus and Broadwell apparently used a trick, known to terrorists and teen-agers alike, to conceal their email traffic, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Rather than transmitting emails to the other's inbox, they composed at least some messages and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic "dropbox," the official said. Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail that is easier to trace.

With the power of modern computers, decoys and steganography offer almost unlimited possibility to obscure the traffic. 

The real questions about NSA activities


Concern about the NSA assault on our privacy is no paranoid fantasy. In the words of an agency PowerPoint slide released by Snowden, the goal is to "collect it all", "process it all" and "know it all". The massive surveillance program is a clear violation of the Forth amendment prohibiting "unreasonable searches" of "persons, houses, papers, and effects" without "probable cause."

- Gene Epstein. "In defence of Snowden",
review of "No Place to Hide" Barrons, Jan 5, 2015, p 17

According to UN Human Right Council Report (17 April 2013) innovations in technology not only have increased the possibilities for communication and protections of free expression and opinion, enabling anonymity, rapid information-sharing and cross-cultural dialogues. They also simultaneously increased opportunities for State surveillance and interventions into individuals’ private communications facilitating to transformation of the state into National Security State, a form of corporatism characterized by continued and encompassing all forms of electronic communication electronic surveillance of all citizens.

Now every Internet or smartphone users probably understand that since probably 2003 or even earlier that that he/she is watched 24 by 7, or as Soviet dissidents called it "Was placed under the [surveillance] dome". Some question that we need to ask ourselves are:

All-in-all it's a good time to smell the coffee and talk about the rise of a new mutation of totalitarism (or may be even neofascism -- as it is, essentially, the merger of corporate and state interests) in the US after 9/11. That's exactly what this "Internet-inspired" flavor of total surveillance due to modern technical capabilities means. There is also distinct shadow of STASI in all those activities. And some countries got into similar trap before, so nothing is new under the sun. As Reinhold Niebuhr noted:

"Communism is a vivid object lesson in the monstrous consequences of moral complacency about the relation of dubious means to supposedly good ends."

There is actually little difference between total surveillance as practiced by NSA and what was practiced by three letters agencies of Eastern block dictatorships such as STASI and KGB. The key goal in both cases is protection and preservation of power of existing elite against the will of common people. So this is more about oppression of 99.9% from top 0.1% then surveillance per see.

Militarization of cyberspace makes Internet a very dangerous medium

We should view Snowden revelations in a larger context. Much of what he revealed about militarization of cyberspace was already known at the time when Flame and Stuxnet worms were discovered in 2011. He just dot the i's and cross the t's , so speak. As a result of his revelations, as The National Interest noted:

An increasing number of adversaries and even allies are coming to believe that the United States is militarizing cyberspace — and that impression of hubris and irresponsibility is beginning to have a real-world impact.

...The Snowden leaks have brought Stuxnet, the U.S.-Israeli program allegedly used to attack Iranian computer systems, back into public debate — and reminded us that the real damage of the Snowden revelations will be international.

...the perception that the United States has become a danger to the global internet is a cause for concern. In their understandable anger at the considerable damage Snowden has done (in the near term at the very least) to the operations of NSA and their allies, U.S. security officials should not lose sight of this fact.

Snowden’s claims build on the Stuxnet revelations. In doing so, they reinforce an impression of overbearing U.S. cyberpower (military and commercial) being used irresponsibly. That is strikingly at odds with the U.S. self-image as a standard bearer of internet freedom and “borderless” exchange, but it is a view that resonates around the world.

In fact the USA policies are stimulating economic and political rivals around the globe to organize and present unified front against this new and dangerous form of total surveillance. As well as implement similar domestic systems. In other words a new arm race started.

As methods and infrastructure of those activities are now revealed, the genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back -- the US now should expect the same or worse treatment from other nations. Which can be no less inventive, or even more inventive the USA specialists in this area. And in this new arm race economically weaker nations actually has some leverage. Blowback, a CIA term for unintended consequences of foreign, military, or clandestine policies, can be similar to the blowback of politically organizing Islamic radicals to fight Soviets in Afghanistan in the past.

Nemesis, the goddess of retribution and vengeance, the punisher of pride and hubris, probably already waits patiently for her meeting with the NSA brass.

Blowback can irreparably damage the ability of the United States to obtain crucial information in foreign environments that are poorly understood in Washington. The cultural divide that exists when operating away from home means that CIA and NSA frequently work overseas through a network of liaison contacts. This in theory limits their activity, but it broadens their ability to collect information that can only be plausibly obtained by a local organization with local capabilities. Though nearly everyone also operates clandestinely outside the parameters of the established relationships insofar as it is possible or expedient to do so, there is an awareness that being caught can cause grave damage to the liaison relationship. Because being exposed is nearly always very painful, such operations are normally limited to collection of critical information that the liaison partner would be unwilling to reveal.

So while it might be comforting to claim that “everyone does it” at least some of the time, and it may even be true that local spy agencies sometimes collaborated with NSA, the United States has a great deal to lose by spying on its friends. This is particularly true as Washington, uniquely, spies on everyone, all the time, even when there is no good reason for doing so.

NSA Blowback The American Conservative

Centralization of user activities on sites like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, with email account mainly at Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail along with many positive aspects has tremendous negative side effects. The most significant is that it created a way too easy opportunity both for those organizations as well as government agencies and large corporations to data mine email and Web communications of millions of Americans critical about government (see Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance) and all foreigners who use those services (and that includes a significant part of European population and Russia, who have Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo accounts). The history of "total surveillance" suggests that it tends to be abused. It is also huge, irreparable breach on trust in relation to allies. Closely resembles the situation in family when wife or husband learn that the other hired detective to snoop on you.

The analogy with KGB surveillance of dissidents (the Soviet term for total surveillance was "to be under the 'dome' ") and, especially, Stasi (viewing the film "The Lives of Others" might help to understand the phenomenon of "total surveillance") are way too close. At the same time there is an important difference: while such regime does mean indirect (and pretty effective) intimidation of dissidents, cases of prosecution on the base of the those data are either few or non existent, which is a big difference with KGB or Stasi practice. The latter aggressively pursued those who got in their net trying either to convert them into informers or charge them with the some suitable article of Criminal Code. In some cases that practice lead to suicides. So here we can talk more properly talk about total surveillance an instrument of Inverted Totalitarism, or totalitarism in velvet gloves.

We are talking about "passive total surveillance" and temporary (which might be several years or your lifetime) storage of all intercepted data. But in a way, Senator McCartney was probably right about "Communists sympathizers" and communist infiltration, he just was completely wrong about who they are ;-).

Every Breath You Take

Ich bin ein Berliner
J. F. Kennedy

The famous The Police hit Every Breath You Take should probably be the theme song for the NSA. As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in his famous speech:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Snowden revelations are not something new. The only real revelation was how much of it was going on domestically and gory details of such activities. Before 9/11 the NSA was basically prohibited from operating domestically. Of course it violates those prohibitions, but there were no systematic internal, all encompassing technical surveillance infrastructure in place. Now it is build and is deployed nation-wide. And that's a big change, big difference. Due to "novel" interpretation of a few provisions in the Patriot Act they created domestic dragnet which encompass most types of Internet communications. In addition to intercepting more then 70% of Internet traffic they also enjoy direct access to major cloud providers.

Total continued surveillance even without taking any action on collected data is totalitarian by its nature as it put severe restrictions of the freedom of expression. And like in the USSR, it does change people behavior on the Web. People start thinking about consequences and this page is one of attempts to collect information that might help you to see "bigger picture".

The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people do react on the fact that everything they email, visit, buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control. Internet will never be the same for most people after Snowden revelations...

The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people do react on the fact that everything they email, visit, buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control. Internet will never be the same for most people after Snowden revelations...

For example, no one in sound mind can now trust "cloud services" provided by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. So attractiveness of Gmail, Hotmail and such are now different, then it was before. And separation of mail accounts between "junk mail" account and important mail account is something to think about. With the latter never in the cloud. In a way excessive using cloud services from a fashionable trend now became kind of indication of a person stupidity.

In a way excessive using of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became an indication of a person stupidity. There is no real justification of providing all your emails and address book to strangers who can abuse this information without your knowledge.

At the same time it is stupid to dramatize the situation. Still, what is really striking is the grotesque disproportionally of all this NSA surveillance "superdome" to the task of keeping the country safe from foreign enemies (NSA statute is about watching foreign communications), begging obvious questions of institutional sanity and competence. They turned all their super powerful collection mechanisms inside the country and now they drink from a firehouse. That means that the results and possibilities of abuse are pretty much predictable. Too many false positives create real danger of not to picking up weak signal. So the other question is "Who the hell made these decisions?" That's a lot of taxpayers money and I am not sure that they are well spend.

As for breach of privacy anyone with connected to Internet PC,  the first thing to understand that if somebody stores data in the cloud they should not expect any privacy, unless they encrypt them. Expecting that your unencrypted data are private is a sign of personal stupidity, no more no less. If somebody, who is keeping his address book in Google assumes that it remains private, that his own illusion. That has nothing to do with the reality.

And it not that only NSA threatens our privacy. After all there are millions of PC users that have computer(s) infected by spyware, which turns them into zombies, externally controlled monitoring devices. And such software BTW can pick up and offload, or encrypt for ransom all your data. I do not see much protest over this situation iether. Microsoft greed and stupidity is one reason for this dismal situation, but essentially any OS is vulnerable if enough money is invested in finding exploits.  And NSA actually created a market for such exploits. Now there are multiple "security firms" that do nothing then find "zero day" exploits and sell them to the highest bidder (which is of course government agencies).  Does not this reminds you 'war on drugs"?

In a way, any networked computer is an unsecure computer and should be treated as such. See Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. The same thing can be mentioned about a cell phone that is outside some metal box. That's two basic "laws of security" in the current environment.

But more important problem here is not snooping per se, but its interaction with self-profiling that you provide via social sites. If you are too enthusiastic about Facebook or Google++ or any similar site and engage regularly and indiscriminately in this "vanity fair" activity that simply means Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. You killed it yourself. The essence of the situation was exposed well in a humorous form in the following Amazon review of Orwell's novel 1984

Bjørn Anders See all my reviews

This is not an instruction manual!, June 14, 2013

This review is from: 1984: 60th-Anniversary Edition (Plume) (Paperback)

Note to US Congress and house of representatives: This is a fictional book, not an instruction manual...

Now we know what would a perfect prototype of Bid Brother ;-). The song (Every Breath You Take ) should probably be the theme song for the NSA. And not only NSA, but its counterparts in other parts of the globe; I think, other things equal, citizens of some other countries would greatly prefer NSA to their domestic counterparts.

Cell phones, laptops, Facebook, Skype, chat-rooms: all allow the NSA and other similar agencies to build a dossier, a detailed profile of a target and anyone associated with him/her. And the number of people caught up in this dragnet can be huge. The NSA say it needs all this data to help prevent another terrorist attack like 9/11. They lie. In order to find the needle in the haystack, they argue, they need access to the whole haystack. But one interesting side effect is that now they are drinking from the fire hose, so to speak.

The power of meta data collection

Another interesting side-effect of the Snowden disclosures that the term ‘metadata’ became a common word in English language. With the growing understanding that metadata includes enough personal information to built a detailed profile of a person without even listening into content of communications. This technology was invented in Iraq war for fighting insurgents (were phone companies were controlled by US) and now is applied at home. In fact, by just using electronic communications, you are sharing a lot more personal information than you think. It's a reflection of a fact that it is very cheap to collect and analyses information about your electronic communications. The digital revolution which led to an explosion in cell phone and internet use, also led to an explosion of snooping after you by the governments.

We need to distinguish "total collection" of data from "total analysis" (or creation of dossiers on everybody as was practiced by STASI and friends). Raw data contain both "signal" and "noise". Analysis or data mining of those raw data is the process of extraction of useful signal from the noise. Of course we should be so naive that to assume that "signal" is related to purely terrorist activities. As recently published documents had shown, the NSA interests are much wider ;-). In bald terms, it sets out its mission:

“Leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routes throughout the world.”

Along with major fiber-optic cables in the US, the NSA has access to data gathered by close intelligence partners such as Britain’s GCHQ.

Sometimes it appear to me that like Uncle Sam got "red disease" and now is trying to imitate "total surveillance" mantra of KGB, STASI and similar agencies on a new technological level. And the key lesson from Soviet experience is fully applicable to the current situation in the USA: when government consider everybody as a potential enemy you better watch your back. And having a cyberstooge following your every step more closely that it was possible for STASI spooks and informers is something you need to react to. Reading your address book, mail, list of books that you bought or borrowed from the library, analyzing your circuit of friends is what STASI was really good at. And it might well be that some unemployed specialists have found a new territory to apply their substantial talents.

The Snowden documents show that the NSA runs these surveillance programs through “partnerships” with major US telecom and internet companies. That means that if you are customer of those major telecom and Internet companies you are like a bug under the microscope.

It is important to understand that metadata of your communications will always be exposed (it other words you are always walking "naked" on the Internet) because those new surveillance capabilities are immanent properties of Internet protocols, as we known it. There is no way to encrypt connection metadata: this is technically impossible unless you owns a vast private VPN network (some large corporations do), but even in this case I have doubts. Even snail-mail metadata are collected (and from 50th to 80th letters were opened and selectively copied by CIA). Diplomatic mail might still be secure, but that's about it.

Technological blowback

Like with any new development there are countervailing trends that after Snowden revelation went in overdrive and can seriously affect NSA capabilities.

One is switching to encrypting communication with most websites such as YouTube. That prevent simple harvesting of video that you watched from HTTP logs (but does not prevent harvesting -- it can be done using other methods)

The second is usage of software like Tor, although I think all connection to Tor sites are closely monitored by NSA.

The third is usage of your own cashing DNS proxy to limit number of DNS requests you make.  

I also think that all those development might give steganography a huge boost.

The other areas of technology that might get huge boost due to Snowden revelations is "Browsing imitating internet robots" technology which permit to drown NSA collection devices in spam -- fake accesses to web sites that is very difficult to distinguish from real browsing, but that make all statistical metrics applied to your Web traffic useless.  For example top visited pages became completely bogus. 

Currently this requires some level of technical sophistication and available mostly to programmers and system administrators interested in "beating NSA back". Programs that have those capabilities are often marketed as proxy logs replayers,  or Apache logs replayers or debugging tools. See for example  Load Testing with JMeter Part 3 - Replaying Apache Logs and Charles Web Debugging Proxy  ( and http - Replaying a Charles proxy session and recording the results - Stack Overflow ). Actually good old Expect can do wonders here if logs are converted into expect scripts. Especially in combination with Javascript (Scalable, Flexible Performance Testing Replaying web server log)

Another danger to society: Lord Acton warning as applied to NSA

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Lord Acton(1834–1902)

As Lord Acton(1834–1902) noted long before NSA started collecting all Internet communications "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". The history of "total surveillance" suggests that this is unavoidable side effect on the very institution that conducts: such an institution tends to escape the control of civil society and became a shadow power, the element of "deep state". 

The first grave consequence of total surveillance is that it tends to be abused. The history of "total surveillance" suggests that this is unavoidable side effect on the very institution that conducts: such an institution tends to escape the control of civil society and became a shadow power, the element of "deep state".  

And the ability to intercept electronic communications gives those who are in charge of such collection  tremendous political power. Please remember that J. Edgar Hoover was director of FBI very long time partially because he dug a lot of dirt on politicians of his time including both Kennedys. According to President Harry S Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Essentially for half of the century he and his organization were out of control "state within the state" and nobody could do anything about it. Only after his death some measures were taken.

It's not that expanding bureaucracy per se is a problem. I doubt that those in the bureaucracy of those agencies do not think about larger consequences for societies of their attempts to expand their sphere of influence. It is much worse: they definitely knew about possible consequences, but go "full forward' anyway preferring job promotions and expansion of their influence. Like bureaucrats often do, they betrayed their nations like nomenklatura betrayed the people of the USSR (with a similar fig leaf of nice slogans about freedom as a smoke screen for pretty nefarious activities).

Elimination of possibility of opposition to the current regime

In case of NSA, this data on you, or particular political or social movement (for example "Occupy Wall Street") can be mined at any time, and what is even worse can be used to destroy any new political movement. And please remember that NSA is a just part of military-industrial complex, an entity that has some interesting political characteristics related to the term "the acquisition of unwarranted influence" . As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in his famous farewell speech (which introduced the term "military-industrial complex"):

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

People seldom understand that all three letter agencies are not just part of military industrial complex, but are the key parts. While ability of weapon manufactures to buy or just simply control Congress members matters, three-letter agencies is where "unwarranted influence" fully materialize. By definition they are out of control and as any bureaucracy they want to grow. That was clear to Senator Frank Church who stated on August 17, 1975 NBC's Meet the Press:

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

We can applaud his personal courage, but at this point it does not matter. The horse has left the barn. As sgtdoom commented The Guardian article NSA analysts 'willfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):

...let us be realistic and not fall for the usual story of this being a discrete event (all the latest surveillance, that is).

This dates back to the founding of the Financial-Intelligence-Complex during and in the aftermath of World War II, by the Wall Streeters for their super-rich bosses, the Rockefellers, Morgans, du Ponts, Mellons, Harrimans (now Mortimers), etc.

The most important factor that needs to be taken into account is the total surveillance make organized opposition to the regime impossible. So welcome to nicer, gentler, but no less totalitarian world of 1984 (aka "Back in USSR"). The key equation is very simple:

total surveillance = total control

That simple fact was well understood by various dictators and totalitarian regimes long ago, but none of them has had even a tiny fraction of technical capabilities NSA has now. I think one of the reason that Occupy movement completely dissipated so fast was that they were like a bug under microscope of the government. And government want them to stop harassing Wall Street sharks for their 2008 crisis misdeeds.

Instilling fear

Another important effect of "total surveillance" is instilling fear in the citizenry; fear that our thoughts, words and relationships are subject of interception and analysis; fear that all the content we access on the internet will be exposed. This fear can cause us to withdraw from public spaces like producing this website, censor our communications, refrain from accessing certain sites, buying certain books, etc.

An important effect of "total surveillance" is instilling fear in the citizenry; fear that our thoughts, words and relationships are subject of interception and analysis; fear that all the content we access on the internet will be exposed. This fear can cause us to withdraw from public spaces like producing this website, censor our communications, refrain from accessing certain sites, buying certain books, etc.

In other words understanding that you are watched on 24 x 7 basis modifies behavior and makes self-censorship your second nature exactly the same way as in any totalitarian state, but without any physical coercion. Here is one telling comment from Secret to Prism program Even bigger data seizure

wtpayne

Indeed: The intentions and motivations of the agencies in question; the degree of oversight and so on; is almost irrelevant. To a certain extent, I am content to believe that the intentions of the perpetrators is good; and that the oversight and abuse prevention systems that they have in place are strong.

However, none of that matters if people self-censor; if people worry, not about what the government of today will find objectionable, but what the government of tomorrow will not like. In effect, we end up censoring ourselves from a hypothetical worst-case future government.

Loss of privacy as a side effect of cloud-based Internet technologies

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Maybe Dante had some serious vision.

The Guardian

We will concentrate on technical side of the this operation, trying to understand how much information can be stored about a regular "Joe Doer" based on technical capabilities that are available. Let's assume that we deal with mostly "passive surveillance": collection and storage of vast amount of Internet traffic on special computers using either mirrored ports on the key routers or special access to key providers of cloud services.

We can probably assume that several layers of storage of those data exist:

Technology development creates new types of communications as well as new types of government surveillance mechanisms (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance (Wikipedia), unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. A crucial element of such a state is that its data gathering, sorting and correlation on individual citizens are continuous, cover a large number of citizens and all foreigners, and those activities are seldom exposed.

Cloud computing as a technology that presuppose storing the data "offsite" have several security problems, and one of them is that it is way too much "surveillance friendly" (Misunderstanding of issues of security and trust). With cloud computing powers that be do not need to do complex job of recreating TCP/IP conversations on router level to capture, say, all the emails. You can access Web-based email mailbox directly with all mails in appropriate mailboxes and spam filtered. This is a huge saving of computational efforts ;-).

It means two things:

It puts you essentially in a situation of a bug under microscope on Big Brother. And please understand that modern storage capabilities are such that it is easy to store several years of at least some of your communications, especially emails.

The same is true about your phone calls metadata, credit card transactions and your activities on major shopping sites such as Amazon, and eBay. But here you can do almost nothing. Still I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. Phones are traditional target of government three letter agencies (WSJ) since the WWII. Smartphones with GPS in addition to land line metadata also provide your current geo location. Some point out that using basic phone slightly preferable to smartphone (both in a sense of absence of geodata and the possibility to install spyware on it -- there is simply no RAM to do anything sophisticated). But I do not think you can do much here

I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. And paying cash in the store in not something that you should try to avoid because credit card returns you 1% of the cost of the purchase. This 1% is actually a privacy tax ;-)

Total continued surveillance even without taking any action on collected data is totalitarian by its nature as it put severe restrictions of the freedom of expression and it changes people behavior on the Web. In this sense, Senator McCartney was probably right about "Communists sympathizers" and "KGB infiltration", he just was completely wrong about who they are ;-).

The centralization of searches on Google (and to a lesser extent on Bing -- the latter is standard with new Windows installation) are also serious threats to your privacy. Here diversification between three or more search engines might help a bit.  But limited your time behind the computer is probably more efficient. Generally here I do not think much can be done. Growth of popularity of Duckduckgo suggests that people are vary of Google monopolizing the search, but it is unclear how big are the advantages. You can also save searches as many searches are recurrent and generally you can benefit from using your personal Web proxy with private cashing DNS server. This way to can "shrink" your radar picture, but that's about it. If you are conserved with you "search" profile, you can replay some searches to distort it. In any case,  search engines are now an integral part of our civilization, whether we want it or not.

Collection of your searches for the last several years can pretty precisely outline sphere of your interests. And again technical constrains on storage of data no longer exists: how we can talk about privacy at the age of 3 TB harddrives for $99. There are approximately 314 million of the US citizens and residents, so storing one gigabyte of information for each citizen requires just 400 petabytes.  Which is clearly within the current capabilities of storage technology. For comparison

Films to Understand the Phenomenon

The analogy with KGB surveillance of dissidents (the term was "to be under the "kolpak" (dome) ") and, especially, Stasi (viewing the film "The Lives of Others" might help to understand the phenomenon of "total surveillance") are way too close. And psychological effects of anticipating that you are under total surveillance are well depicted in the final of the film The Conversation (1974) directed by famous Francis Ford Coppola

At the same time there is an important difference: while both regimes creates implicit intimidation and squash dissent, cases of prosecution on the base of the those data are either few or non existent. Which is a big difference with KGB or Stasi practice, which aggressively pursued those dissidents who got in their net, trying either to convert them into informers, or prosecute them using the existing articles of Criminal Code. In some cases that led to suicides. So here we can talk more about Inverted Totalitarism, a velvet gloves mode of suppressing of dissent.

Your email in toxic cloud

Still it is now dramatically more clear then before that centralization of email accounts and user activities on sites like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, with email accounts mainly at Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail is far from being a positive development. Along with many positive aspects has tremendous negative side effects. Essentially it turns users into spies on themselves in a way that would be a dream by Stasi. The most significant is that it created an easy opportunities to data mine email databases both for those organizations as well as various government agencies and, possibly (in a limited way for special payment) by large corporations.

Those tendencies probably should be at least resisted, but we do not have means to reverse them.

Attempts to data mine email and Web communications of millions of Americans critical about government (see Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance) and all foreigners who use those services (and that includes a significant part of European population and xUSSR area, who often use Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo accounts) means that the country became a National Security State. With all relevant consequences of such a transformation.

And interest in content of your "cloud based" email is not limited to the government:

A sweeping Wall Street Journal investigation in 2010 found that the biggest U.S. websites have technologies tracking people who visit their pages, sometimes upwards of 100 tools per site. One intrusive string of code even recorded users’ keystrokes and transmitted them to a data-gathering firm for analysis.

“A digital dossier over time is built up about you by that site or third-party service or data brokers,” says Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program at George Mason University. “They collect these data profiles and utilize them to sell you or market you better services or goods.”

This is what powers the free Internet we know and love; users pay nothing or next to nothing for services — and give up pieces of personal information for advertisers in exchange. If you search for a Mini Cooper on one website, you’re likely to see ads elsewhere for lightweight, fuel-efficient cars. Companies robotically categorize users with descriptions such as “urban upscale” to “rural NASCAR” to tailor the advertising experience, says Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute. “They’ll use ZIP codes and census data to figure out what their lifestyle profile is.”

Tracking your Web access

Most of the site you visit those days was found via search engine, often Google. But Google is interested in more then search terms you use and sometimes plays with you a nasty trick: "Google may choose to exhibit its search results in the form of a 'URL redirector,'" reads Google's main privacy policy. That means that any time it wishes Google can spy on your Web activity:

"When Google uses a URL redirector, if you click on a URL from a search result, information about the click is sent to Google."

Few people check the URL before clicking on Google search results, so in a way this is perfect spying tool.

But there is another powerful spying tool in Google arsenal -- Google toolbar, and I am not sure that all those trick were not reused in Google browser. Google Toolbar sends all user clicks to Google, if advanced mode is enabled (and many people do enable it because they want to have spelling correction available which, conveniently for Google, belongs to the set of advanced features). This way you voluntarily subscribe to a 24x7 monitoring of your web activity using spyware that is installed on your computer with your consent. For the same reason recent smartphones fashion looks greatly misguided. It is better to use regular phone, then smartphone, and the last thing you probably want on your smartphone is Android OS or iOS, or windows 8 OS. In some deep way unlocked Nokia 1280 looks now much more attractive (and is way cheaper ;-).

Google Toolbar in advanced mode is another common snooping tool about your activities. It send each URL you visit to Google and you can be sure that from Google several three letter agencies get this information as well. After all Google has links to them from the very beginning:

Effects on behavior

As soon as they realize that they are watched, people start thinking about consequences and this article is a pretty telling (albeit slightly paranoid ;-) illustration of the effect. The key mechanism here, well known to those who used to live in the USSR before its dissolution is that people preemptively change their behavior, if they know or suspect that they got "under the dome" of government surveillance, that all their emails are intercepted, all web site visits recorded, anything they buy on Amazon, etc is registered in giant database outside of their control.

The angle under which will we try to cover the story is: the situation is such and such, now what? What are the most appropriate actions and strategy of behavior of people who are concerned about their privacy and no longer trust "cloud services" provided by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc ( and those who trust those providers should probably stop reading at this point). It is impossible to close all those accounts. But some can and should be closed; for example POP3 mail can replace web mail for all "important" mail; this way you avoid "cloud storage" of all your important correspondence. It is impossible not to use search engines, but you can chose which search language to use. It is impractical not to use smartphone and for Android phone you can't avoid registration -- that's the only way to get updates from Google, but you can root the phone, remove some snooping components and use Firefox instead of Chrome. But not it is clear that if mobile web browsing and checking email on your phone is not your thing you are better off with a very simple phone such as Nokia 1280.

The first and the most obvious "change we can believe in" is that we need to change our attitude toward cloud services and especially cloud services from large providers. Now the most reasonable assumption is that most national cloud providers including major retailers are in bed with the government three letter agencies. So you need to be careful what you browse for on Amazon, similarly to what you write from Gmail and Hotmail.

In a way, excessive usage of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became kind of indication of a person stupidity. It is important to understand that for anybody more or less competent with computers (or willing to learn), anything Facebook or Gmail or Hotmail can offer, regular small ISP account with Cpanel can offer with less risk for your privacy for, say, $5 a month or less. And your privacy definitely cost more then $60 a year.

In a way excessive using of cloud services from a fashionable trend now became an indication of a person stupidity. For anybody more or less competent with computers (or willing to learn), anything Facebook or Gmail can offer, regular ISP account with Cpanel can offer too with less risk for your privacy.

At the same time it is also stupid to over-dramatize the situation and isolate yourself by abandoning Internet communications and restricting usage of cell-phone. The reasonable hypothesis is that today’s surveillance is a side effect of new technological developments and it is a new fact of life. It is just a new level of information gathering, which has been going on since the Byzantine Empire. And it is still limited by technological capabilities of sifting through mass of communications. But at the same time, quantity does at one point turns into quality, so the danger is real and as such could providers are suspect by definition. In no way they are new level of technological development. In sense they are one step forward, two sets back.

Also being engages in foreign wars has an interesting side effect that technologies invented come home and used against citizens (naked capitalism). That's actually the origin of indiscriminant collection of metadata used now.

But at the same time we need to understand that there are millions of PC users that have computer(s) infected by spyware, which can make your computer a zombie. And world did not perished due to that.

Still the key lesson is unmistakable: from now on, any networked computer is an unsecure computer that can't be trusted really confidential information, unless it is isolated by firewall and proxy. And if we assume that it is unsecured computer, them it should be treated it as such. The first step is that all confidential data should be deleted and moved to removable storage. In case you need to work with it as much as possible should be done on non-networked computers, limiting the exposure of your data to bare minimum. And the less powerful computer you use for processing you confidential data, the best; the less powerful OS you use, the best (what about using Windows 98 or DOS for those who can still remember it ? ;-). From now on "retro-computing" movement now is inherently linked with the issues of security and privacy and might get a new life.

This retro-computing idea might create a new life for abandoned computers that are in excess in almost every family ;-) See Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. The same thing can be mentioned about a cell phone, which should be as simple as possible. Not all people really benefit from browsing the Web from their smartphones. If you are really paranoid you can think storing you cell phone at home in a metal box ;-).

In other words there are two new "laws of computer security":

But more important problem here is not snooping per se, but voluntarily self-profiling that you provide via social sites. If you are way too enthusiastic about Facebook or Google++ or any similar site and engage regularly and indiscriminately in this "vanity fair" activity you put yourselves voluntarily under surveillance. So not only Privacy is Dead – Get Over It. You killed it yourself. The essence of the situation was exposed well in a humorous form in the following Amazon review of Orwell's novel 1984

Bjørn Anders See all my reviews

This is not an instruction manual!, June 14, 2013

This review is from: 1984: 60th-Anniversary Edition (Plume) (Paperback)

Note to US Congress and house of representatives: This is a fictional book, not an instruction manual...

BTW just after Prism program was revealed in June 2013, Nineteen Eighty-Four became a bestseller on Amazon. As of June 15, 2013 it was #87 in Fiction. If you never have a chance to read it, please do it now. and again, if you think that this revelation of Prism program is a big news, you probably are mistaken. Many people understood that as soon new technical capabilities of surveillance are available they are instantly put to use. As John H. Summers noted in his review (The Deciders - New York Times) of John Mill "Power elite":

...official secrecy steadily expanded its reach.

"For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end,"

Mills wrote in a sentence that remains as powerful and unsettling as it was 50 years ago.

"Such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own."

Adding insult to injury: Self-profiling

Facebook has nothing without people
silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing

The key problem with social sites is that many people voluntarily post excessive amount of personal data about themselves, including keeping their photo archives online, etc. So while East Germany analog of the Department of Homeland Security called Ministry for State Security (Stasi) needed to recruit people to spy about you, now you yourself serves as a informer voluntarily providing all the tracking information about your activities ;-).

Scientella, palo alto

...Facebook always had a very low opinion of peoples intelligence - and rightly so!

I can tell you Silicon Valley is scared. Facebook's very existence depends upon trusting young persons, their celebrity wannabee parents and other inconsequential people being prepared to give up their private information to Facebook.

Google, now that SOCIAL IS DEAD, at least has their day job also, of paid referral advertising where someone can without divulging their "social" identity, and not linking their accounts, can look for a product on line and see next to it some useful ads.

But Facebook has nothing without people silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing.

... ... ...

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

Cook, Brin, Gates, Zuckerberg, et al most certainly have lawyers and public relations hacks that have taught them the role of "plausible deniability."

Just as in the government, eventually some low or mid-level flunkie will likely be hung out to dry, when it becomes evident that the institution knew exactly what was going on and did nothing to oppose it. To believe any of these companies care about their users as anything other than cash cows is to believe in the tooth fairy.

The amount of personal data which users of site like Facebook put voluntarily on the Web is truly astonishing. Now anybody using just Google search can get quit substantial information about anybody who actively using social sites and post messages in discussion he/she particulates under his/her own name instead of a nickname. Just try to see what is available about you and most probably your jaw would drop...

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves. We all should became more aware about the risks involved as well as real implications of the catch phase Privacy is Dead – Get Over It.

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves.

As Peter Ludlow noted in NYT (The Real War on Reality):

If there is one thing we can take away from the news of recent weeks it is this: the modern American surveillance state is not really the stuff of paranoid fantasies; it has arrived.

Citizens of foreign countries have accounts at Facebook and mail accounts in Gmail, hotmail and Yahoo mail are even in less enviable position then the US citizens. They are legitimate prey. No legal protection for them exists, if they use those services. That means that they voluntarily open all the information they posted about themselves to the US government in addition to their own government. And the net is probably more wide then information leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggests. For any large company, especially a telecom corporation, operating is the USA it might be dangerous to refuse to cooperate (Qwest case).

Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, convicted of insider trading in April 2007, alleged in appeal documents that the NSA requested that Qwest participate in its wiretapping program more than six months before September 11, 2001. Nacchio recalls the meeting as occurring on February 27, 2001. Nacchio further claims that the NSA cancelled a lucrative contract with Qwest as a result of Qwest's refusal to participate in the wiretapping program.[13] Nacchio surrendered April 14, 2009 to a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania to begin serving a six-year sentence for the insider trading conviction. The United States Supreme Court denied bail pending appeal the same day.[15]

It is not the case of some special evilness of the US government. It simply is more agile to understand and capitalize on those new technical opportunities. It is also conveniently located at the center of Internet universe with most traffic is flowing via US owned or controlled routers (67% or more). But it goes without saying that several other national governments and a bunch of large corporations also try to mine this new gold throve of private information on citizens. Probably with less sophistication and having less financial resources.

In many cases corporations themselves are interested in partnership with the government. Here is one telling comment:

jrs says on June 8, 2013

Yea in my experience that’s how “public/private partnerships” really work:

  1. Companies DO need protection FROM the government. An ill-conceived piece of legislation can put a perfectly decent out of business. Building ties with the government is protection.
  2. Government represents a huge market and eventually becomes one of the top customers for I think most businesses (of course the very fact that a government agency is a main customer is often kept hush hush even within the company and something you are not supposed to speak of as an employee even though you are aware of it)
  3. Of course not every company proceeds to step 3 -- being basically an arm of the government but ..

That means that not only Chinese citizens already operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy. Even if you live outside the USA the chances are high that you automatically profiled by the USA instead of or in addition to your own government. Kind of neoliberalism in overdrive mode: looks like we all are already citizens of a global empire (Let's call it " Empire of Peace" ) with the capital in Washington.

It is reasonable to assume that a massive eavesdropping apparatus now tracks at least an "envelope" of every electronic communication you made during your lifetime. No need for somebody reporting about you like in "old" totalitarian state like East Germany with its analog of the Department of Homeland Security called the Ministry for State Security (Stasi). So in this new environment, you are like Russians used to say about dissidents who got under KGB surveillance is always "under the dome". In this sense this is just an old vine in a new bottles. But the global scope and lifetime storage of huge amount of personal information for each and every citizen is something new and was made possible the first time in world history by new technologies.

It goes without saying that records about time, sender and receiver of all your phone calls, emails, Amazon purchases, credit card transactions, and Web activities for the last decade are stored somewhere in a database and not necessary only government computers. And that means that your social circle (the set of people you associate with), books and films that you bought, your favorite websites, etc can be easily deducted from those records.

That brings us to an important question about whether we as consumers should support such ventures as Facebook and Google++ which profile you and after several years have a huge amount of pretty private and pretty damaging information about you, information which can get into wrong hands.

Recent discoveries about Prism program: quantity turned into quality.

The most constructive approach to NSA is to view is a large government bureaucracy that expanded to the extent that quantity turned into quality.

Any large bureaucracy is a political coalition with the primary goal of preserving and enhancing of its own power, no matter what are official declarations. And if breaching your privacy helps they will do it. Which is what Bush government did after 9/11. The question is how much bureaucratic bloat resulting in classic dynamics of organizational self-aggrandizement and expansionism happened in NSA. We don't know how much we got in exchange for undermining internet security and US constitution. But we do know the intelligence establishment happily appropriated billions of dollars, had grown by thousand of employees and got substantial "face lift" and additional power within the executive branch of government. To the extent that something it looks like a shadow government. And now they will fight tooth-and nail to protect the fruits of a decade long bureaucratic expansion. Now it is an Intelligence Church and like any religious organization they do not need fact to support their doctrine and influence.

Typically there is an infighting and many factions within any large hierarchical organization, some with and some without factual awareness of the rest. Basically any hierarchical institution corporate, religious, military will abuse available resources for internal political infighting. And with NSA "big data" push this is either happening or just waiting to happen. This is a danger of any warrantless wiretapping program: it naturally convert itself into a saga of eroding checks and disappearing balance. And this already happened in the past, so in a way it is just act two of the same drama (WhoWhatWhy):

After media revelations of intelligence abuses by the Nixon administration began to mount in the wake of Watergate, NSA became the subject of Congressional ire in the form of the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities—commonly known as the “Church Committee” after its chair, Senator Frank Church (D-ID)—established on January 17, 1975. This ad-hoc investigative body found itself unearthing troves of classified records from the FBI, NSA, CIA and Pentagon that detailed the murky pursuits of each during the first decades of the Cold War. Under the mantle of defeating communism, internal documents confirmed the executive branch’s use of said agencies in some of the most fiendish acts of human imagination (including refined psychological torture techniques), particularly by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Cold War mindset had incurably infected the nation’s security apparatus, establishing extralegal subversion efforts at home and brutish control abroad. It was revealed that the FBI undertook a war to destroy homegrown movements such as the Black Liberation Movement (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), and that NSA had indiscriminately intercepted the communications of Americans without warrant, even without the President’s knowledge. When confronted with such nefarious enterprises, Congress sought to rein in the excesses of the intelligence community, notably those directed at the American public.

The committee chair, Senator Frank Church, then issued this warning about NSA’s power:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. Telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capability that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

The reforms that followed, as enshrined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, included the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC): a specially-designated panel of judges who are allowed to review evidence before giving NSA a warrant to spy on Americans (only in the case of overseas communication). Hardly a contentious check or balance, FISC rejected zero warrant requests between its inception in 1979 and 2000, only asking that two warrants be “modified” out of an estimated 13,000.

In spite of FISC’s rubberstamping, following 9/11 the Bush administration began deliberately bypassing the court, because even its minimal evidentiary standard was too high a burden of proof for the blanket surveillance they wanted. So began the dragnet monitoring of the American public by tapping the country’s major electronic communication chokepoints in collusion with the nation’s largest telecommunications companies.

When confronted with the criminal conspiracy undertaken by the Bush administration and telecoms, Congress confirmed why it retains the lowest approval rating of any major American institution by “reforming” the statute to accommodate the massive law breaking. The 2008 FISA Amendments Act [FAA] entrenched the policy of mass eavesdropping and granted the telecoms retroactive immunity for their criminality, withdrawing even the negligible individual protections in effect since 1979. Despite initial opposition, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama voted for the act as one of his last deeds in the Senate. A few brave (and unsuccessful) lawsuits later, this policy remains the status quo.

Similarly we should naturally expect that the notion of "terrorist" is flexible and in certain cases can be equal to "any opponent of regime". While I sympathize NYT readers reaction to this incident (see below), I think it is somewhat naive. They forget that they are living under neoliberal regime which like any rule of top 0.01% is afraid of and does not trust its own citizens. So massive surveillance program is a self-preservation measure which allow to crush or subvert the opposition at early stages. This is the same situation as existed with Soviet nomenklatura, with the only difference that Soviet nomenklatura was more modest pushing the USSR as a beacon of progress and bright hope of all mankind ;-). As Ron Paul noted:

Many of us are not so surprised.

Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with the introduction of the so-called PATRIOT Act that it would pave the way for massive US government surveillance—not targeting terrorists but rather aimed against American citizens. We were told we must accept this temporary measure to provide government the tools to catch those responsible for 9/11. That was nearly twelve years and at least four wars ago.

We should know by now that when it comes to government power-grabs, we never go back to the status quo even when the “crisis” has passed. That part of our freedom and civil liberties once lost is never regained. How many times did the PATRIOT Act need renewed? How many times did FISA authority need expanded? Why did we have to pass a law to grant immunity to companies who hand over our personal information to the government?

And while revealed sources of NSA Prism program include Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others major Internet players, that's probably just a tip of the iceberg. Ask yourself a question, why Amazon and VISA and MasterCard are not on the list? According to The Guardian:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

... ... ...

Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007. It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks

... ... ...

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

So while the document does not list Amazon, but I would keep fingers crossed.

Questions that arise

To be aware about a situation you need to be able to formulate and answer key questions about it. The first and the most important question is whether the government is engaged in cyberstalking of law abiding citizens. Unfortunately the answer is definite yes, as oligarchy needs total control of prols. As a result National Security State rise to prominence as a dominant social organization of neoliberal societies, the societies which characterized by very high level of inequality.

But there are some additional, albeit less important questions. The answers to them determine utility or futility of small changes of our own behavior in view of uncovered evidence. Among possible set of such question I would list the following:

There are also some minor questions about efficiency of "total surveillance approach". Among them:

The other part of understand the threat is understanding is what data are collected. The short answer is all your phone records and Internet activity (RT USA):

The National Security Agency is collecting information on the Internet habits of millions of innocent Americans never suspected of criminal involvement, new NSA documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggest.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported Monday that top-secret documents included in the trove of files supplied by the NSA contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden reveal that the US intelligence community obtains and keeps information on American citizens accumulated off the Internet without ever issuing a search warrant or opening an investigation into that person.

The information is obtained using a program codenamed Marina, the documents suggest, and is kept by the government for up to a full year without investigators ever having to explain why the subject is being surveilled.

Marina has the ability to look back on the last 365 days' worth of DNI metadata seen by the Sigint collection system, regardless whether or not it was tasked for collection,” the Guardian’s James Ball quotes from the documents.

According to a guide for intelligence analysts supplied by Mr. Snowden, “The Marina metadata application tracks a user's browser experience, gathers contact information/content and develops summaries of target.”

"This tool offers the ability to export the data in a variety of formats, as well as create various charts to assist in pattern-of-life development,” it continues.

Ball writes that the program collects “almost anything” a Web user does online, “from browsing history – such as map searches and websites visited – to account details, email activity, and even some account passwords.”

Only days earlier, separate disclosures attributed to Snowden revealed that the NSA was using a massive collection of metadata to create complex graphs of social connections for foreign intelligence purposes, although that program had pulled in intelligence about Americans as well.

After the New York Times broke news of that program, a NSA spokesperson said that “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.” As Snowden documents continue to surface, however, it’s becoming clear that personal information pertaining to millions of US citizens is routinely raked in by the NSA and other agencies as the intelligence community collects as much data as possible.

In June, a top-secret document also attributed to Mr. Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting the telephony metadata for millions of Americans from their telecom providers. The government has defended this practice by saying that the metadata — rough information that does not include the content of communications — is not protected by the US Constitution’s prohibition against unlawful search and seizure.

Metadata can be very revealing,” George Washington University law professor Orin S. Kerr told the Times this week. “Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person’s cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

According to the Guardian’s Ball, Internet metadata picked up by the NSA is routed to the Marina database, which is kept separate from the servers where telephony metadata is stored.

Only moments after the Guardian wrote of its latest leak on Monday, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project read a statement before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs penned by none other than Snowden himself.

When I began my work, it was with the sole intention of making possible the debate we see occurring here in this body,” Snowden said.

Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia after being charged with espionage in the US, said through Raddack that “The cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile.”

Limits to spying via data collected about you

If the NSA's mining of data traffic is so effective, why weren't Tsarnaev's family's overseas calls predictive of a bombing at the Boston Marathon?

-Helen Corey WSJ.com

There are limits of this "powerful analytical software" as it currently used. As we mentioned above, even if NSA algorithms are incredibly clever they can't avoid producing large number of false positives. After two year investigation into the post 9/11 intelligence agencies, the Washington Post came to conclusion that they are collecting more information than anyone can comprehend ("drinking from a firehose" or "drowning is a sea of data"):

Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billions e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases"

First of all there is a classic problem of "signal vs. noise" (infoglut) in any large scale data collection and presence of noise in the channel makes signal much more difficult to detect.

Analysts who make sense of document and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year -- a volume so large that many are routinely ignored

The enormity of the database exacerbate the problem. That's why NSA is hunting for email on cloud providers, where they are already filtered from spam, and processing required is much less then for emails intercepted from the wire data. Still even with the direct access to user accounts, the volume of data, especially graphic (pictures) and video data, is really huge and that stress the limits of processing capabilities and storage.

Existence of Snowden saga when a single analyst was able to penetrate the system and extract considerable amount information with impunity suggests that the whole Agency is mess, probably like is typical for any large organization with a lot of incompetents or, worse, careerists and psychopaths  at the helm (see Toxic Managers). Which is typical for government agencies and large corporations.

Still the level of logs collection and internal monitoring in NSA proved to be surprisingly weak, as there are indirect signs that the agency does not even know what reports Snowden get into his hands. In any case we, unless this is a very clever inside operation, we need to assume that Edward Snowden stole thousands of documents, abused his sysadmin position in the NSA, and was never caught. Here is one relevant comment from The Guardian

carlitoontour

Oh NSA......that´s fine that you cannot find something......what did you tell us, the World and the US Congress about the "intelligence" of Edward Snowden and the low access he had?

SNOWDEN SUSPECTED OF BYPASSING ELECTRONIC LOGS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. government's efforts to determine which highly classified materials leaker Edward Snowden took from the National Security Agency have been frustrated by Snowden's sophisticated efforts to cover his digital trail by deleting or bypassing electronic logs, government officials told The Associated Press. Such logs would have showed what information Snowden viewed or downloaded.

The government's forensic investigation is wrestling with Snowden's apparent ability to defeat safeguards established to monitor and deter people looking at information without proper permission, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the sensitive developments publicly.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NSA_SURVEILLANCE_SNOWDEN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-08-24-09-41-24

On the other hand government agencies were never good in making huge and complex software projects work. And large software projects are a very difficult undertaking in any case. Even in industry 50% of software projects fail, and anybody who works in the industry knows, that the more complex the project is the higher are chances that it will be mismanaged and its functionality crippled due to architectural defects ("a camel is a horse designed by a committee"). It is given that such project will be over budget. Possibly several times over...

But if money is not a problem such system will eventually be completed ("with enough thrust pigs can fly"). Still there’s no particular reason to think that corruption (major work was probably outsourced) and incompetence (on higher management levels and, especially on architectural level as in "camel is a horse designed by a committee") don't affect the design and functionality of such government projects. Now when this activity come under fire some adjustments might be especially badly thought out and potentially cripple the existing functionality.

As J. Kirk Wiebe, a NSA insider, noted

"The way the government was going about those digital data flows was poor formed, uninformed. There seen to be more of a desire to contract out and capture money flow then there was a [desire} to actually perform the mission".

See the interview of a trio of former National Security Agency whistle-blowers to USA TODAY ( J. Kirk Wiebe remarks starts at 2:06 and the second half of it continues from 6:10):

In military organizations the problem is seldom with the talent (or lack of thereof) of individual contributors. The problem is with the bureaucracy that is very effective in preventing people from exercising their talents at the service of their country. Such system is deformed in such a way that it hamstrings the men who are serving in it. As a results, more often then not the talents are squandered or misused by patching holes created by incompetence of higher-up or or just pushed aside in the interdepartmental warfare.

In a way, incompetence can be defined as the inability to avoid mistakes which, in a "normal" course of project development could and should be avoided. And that's the nature of military bureaucracy with its multiple layer of command and compete lack of accountability on higher levels.

In addition, despite the respectable name of the organization many members of technical staff are amateurs. They never managed to sharpen their technical skills, while at the same time acquiring the skills necessary to survive the bureaucracy. Many do not have basic academic education and are self-taught hackers and/or "grow on the job". Typically people at higher level of hierarchy, are simply not experts in software engineering, but more like typical corporate "PowerPoint" warriors. They can be very shred managers and accomplished political fighters, but that's it.

This is the same situation that exists in security departments of large multinationals, so we can extrapolate from that. The word of Admiral Nelson "If the enemy would know what officer corps will confront them, it will be trembling, like I am". Here is Bill Gross apt recollection of his service as naval officer (The Tipping Point) that illustrate the problems:

A few years ago I wrote about the time that our ship (on my watch) was almost cut in half by an auto-piloted tanker at midnight, but never have I divulged the day that the USS Diachenko came within one degree of heeling over during a typhoon in the South China Sea. “Engage emergency ballast,” the Captain roared at yours truly – the one and only chief engineer. Little did he know that Ensign Gross had slept through his classes at Philadelphia’s damage control school and had no idea what he was talking about. I could hardly find the oil dipstick on my car back in San Diego, let alone conceive of emergency ballast procedures in 50 foot seas. And so…the ship rolled to starboard, the ship rolled to port, the ship heeled at the extreme to 36 degrees (within 1 degree, as I later read in the ship’s manual, of the ultimate tipping point). One hundred sailors at risk, because of one twenty-three-year-old mechanically challenged officer, and a Captain who should have known better than to trust him.

Huge part of this work is outsourced to various contractors and this is where corruption really creeps in. So the system might be not as powerful as many people automatically assume when they hear the abbreviation of NSA. So in a way when news about such system reaches public it might serve not weakening but strengthening of the capabilities of the system. Moreover, nobody would question the ability of such system to store huge amount of raw or semi-processed data including all metadata for your transactions on the Internet.

Also while it is a large agency with a lot of top mathematic talent, NSA is not NASA and motivation of the people (and probably quality of architectural thinking about software projects involved) is different despite much better financing. While they do have high quality people, like most US agencies in general, large bureaucracies usually are unable to utilize their talent. Mediocrities with sharp elbows, political talent, as well as sociopaths typically rule the show.

That means two things:

So even with huge amount of subcontractors that can chase mostly "big fish". Although one open question is why with all those treasure trove of data organized crime is so hard to defeat. Having dataset like this should generally expose all the members of any gang. Or, say, network of blue collar insider traders. So in an indirect way the fact that organized crime not only exists and in some cities even flourish can suggest one of two things:

There is also a question of complexity of analysis:

Possibility of abuses of collected data

Errors in algorithms and bugs in those programs can bite some people in a different way then branding them as "terrorists". Such people have no way of knowing why all of a sudden, for example, they are paying a more for insurance, why their credit score is so low no matter what they do, etc. In no way government in the only one who are using the mass of data collected via Google / Facebook / Yahoo / Microsoft / Verizon / Optonline / AT&T / Comcast, etc. It also can lead to certain subtle types of bias if not error. And there are always problems of intentional misuse of data sets having extremely intimate knowledge about you.

Corporate corruption can lead to those data that are shared with the government can also be shared for money with private actors. Inept use of this unconstitutionally obtained data is a threat to all of us.

Then there can be cases when you can be targeted just because you are critical to the particular area of government policy, for example the US foreign policy. This is "Back in the USSR" situation in full swing, with its prosecution of dissidents. Labeling you as a "disloyal/suspicious element" in one of government "terrorism tracking" databases can have drastic result to your career and you never even realize whats happened. Kind of Internet era McCarthyism .

Obama claims that the government is aware about this danger and tried not to overstep, but he is an interested party in this discussion. In a way government is pushed in this area by the new technologies that open tremendous opportunities for collecting data and making some correlations.

That's why even if you are doing nothing wrong, it is still important to know your enemy, as well as avoid getting into some traps. One typical trap is excessive centralization of your email on social sites, including using a single Webmail provider. It is much safer to have mail delivery to your computer via POP3 and to use Thunderbird or other email client. If your computer is a laptop, you achieve, say, 80% of portability that Web-based email providers like Google Gmail offers. That does not mean that you should close your Gmail or Yahoo account. More important is separating email accounts into "important" and "everything else". "Junk mail" can be stored on Web-based email providers without any problems. Personal emails is completely another matter.

Conclusions

#14 Gus Hunt, the chief technology officer at the CIA: "We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever."

New Internet technology developments has huge "Externality":
Profiling is now really easy and almost automatic, especially with your own help

Technology development create new types of communications as well as new types of government surveillance mechanisms (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance (Wikipedia), unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. A crucial element of such a state is that its data gathering, sorting and correlation are continuous, cover a large number of citizens and all foreigners and those activities are seldom exposed.

Cloud computing as a technology that presuppose storing the data "offsite" on third party servers have several security problems, and one of them is that it is way too much "surveillance friendly" (Misunderstanding of issues of security and trust). With cloud computing powers that be do not need to do complex job of recreating TCP/IP conversations on router level to capture, say, all the emails. You can access Web-based email mailbox directly with all mails in appropriate mailboxes and spam filtered. Your address book is a bonus ;-). This is huge saving of computational efforts.

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Old News ;-)

Total Surveillance Bulletin, 2014 Total Surveillance Bulletin, 2013

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[Feb 12, 2019] Snowden revelations did not chnage thebahviour of JoeUser

Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Despite the Snowden revelations of the extent of official data gathering and storage on individuals, the overwhelming majority of citizens have not only resigned themselves to electronic surveillance but are putting themselves in a position to have their habits examined microscopically by bringing eavesdropping digital assistants into their home and buying "smart" home appliances.

[Feb 09, 2019] Facebook The Government's Propaganda Arm

Feb 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation,

The social media giant has a disturbing number of former Obama officials in key positions of authority over content...

Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn't have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world's largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government's Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by "quality," it seems that they mean "progressive." The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that's reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn't want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that's not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company's initiative to scrub anti-war content and "protest" movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: "Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption." He continued, "We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people."

The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:

To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn't too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?

Are Private Companies Truly Private?

The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook's content, but the level of the state's involvement in the world's biggest social media company is a disturbing development.

This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.

It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.

[Feb 08, 2019] Amazing that a bunch of academics would "criticize" the CIA and leave out all the real facts about the CIA.

Feb 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

never-anonymous , says: Next New Comment February 8, 2019 at 9:26 pm GMT

Edward Curtain writes for the CIA about the CIA. Amazing that a bunch of academics would "criticize" the CIA and leave out all the real facts about the CIA.

ISIS, Al Qaeda, Pornhub, Facebook, Google – or whatever the CIA calls themselves and their weapons isn't in the business of informing you about anything at all.

Read 1984, it will explain it to you, another psychological warfare treatise written by a Government agent.

Agent76 , says: Next New Comment February 8, 2019 at 10:03 pm GMT
Documentary: On Company Business [1980] FULL [Remaster]

Rare award winning CIA documentary, On Company Business painfully restored from VHS.

[Feb 08, 2019] The CIA Then and Now Old Wine in New Bottles by Edward Curtin

Intelligence agencies like CIA is a threat to "normal" societies as they tend to acquire power with time and tail start wagging the dog. Mechanism of control are usually subverted and considerable part of their activities is dome without informing "supervisory" structures.
In the USA sometimes CIA monitor Congress communications and tries to coerce them like was the case when the torture program was revealed. In other words intelligence agencies are the core neofascist structures in modern society and as such represent a distinct danger.
Notable quotes:
"... Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. ..."
"... The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad. ..."
"... Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves. But they are pimps. ..."
"... Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought. ..."
"... The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. ..."
"... Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth? ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | www.unz.com
Edward Curtin • January 31, 2019 • 3,100 Words • 24 CommentsReply

...The Nazis had a name for their propaganda and mind-control operations: weltanschauungskrieg -- "world view warfare." As good students, they had learned many tricks of the trade from their American teachers, including Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d'etre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological warfare," a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now. Of course, the American propaganda apparatus was just then getting started on an enterprise that has become the epitome of successful world view warfare programs, a colossal beast whose tentacles have spread to every corner of the globe and whose fabrications have nestled deep within the psyches of many hundreds of millions of Americans and people around the world. And true to form in this circle game of friends helping friends, this propaganda program was ably assisted after WW II by all the Nazis secreted into the U.S. ("Operation Paperclip") by Allen Dulles and his henchmen in the OSS and then the CIA to make sure the U.S. had operatives to carry on the Nazi legacy (see David Talbot's The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA, and The Rise of America's Secret Government , an extraordinary book that will make your skin crawl with disgust).

This went along quite smoothly until some people started to question the Warren Commission's JFK assassination story. The CIA then went on the offensive in 1967 and put out the word to all its people in the agency and throughout the media and academia to use the phrase "conspiracy theory" to ridicule these skeptics, which they have done up until the present day. This secret document -- CIA Dispatch 1035-960 -- was a propaganda success for many decades, marginalizing those researchers and writers who were uncovering the truth about not just President Kennedy's murder by the national security state, but those of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. Today, the tide is turning on this score, as recently more and more Americans are fed up with the lies and are demanding that the truth be told. Even the Washington Post is noting this, and it is a wave of opposition that will only grow.

The CIA Exposed -- Partially

But back in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, some covert propaganda programs run by the CIA were "exposed." First, the Agency's sponsorship of the Congress of Cultural Freedom, through which it used magazines, prominent writers, academics, et al. to spread propaganda during the Cold War, was uncovered. This was an era when Americans read serious literary books, writers and intellectuals had a certain cachet, and popular culture had not yet stupefied Americans. The CIA therefore secretly worked to influence American and world opinion through the literary and intellectual elites. Frances Stonor Saunders comprehensively covers this in her 1999 book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters , and Joel Whitney followed this up in 2016 with Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers, with particular emphasis on the complicity of the CIA and the famous literary journal The Paris Review.

Then in 1975 the Church Committee hearings resulted in the exposure of abuses by the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. In 1977 Carl Bernstein wrote a long piece for Esquire -- "The CIA and the Media" -- naming names of journalists and publications ( The New York Times, CBS , etc.) that worked with and for the CIA in propagandizing the American people and the rest of the world. (Conveniently, this article can be read on the CIA's website since presumably the agency has come clean, or, if you are the suspicious type, or maybe a conspiracy theorist, it is covering its deeper tracks with a "limited hangout," defined by former CIA agent Victor Marchetti, who went rogue, as "spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting -- sometimes even volunteering -- some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.")

Confess and Move On

By the late 1970s, it seemed as if the CIA had been caught in flagrante delicto and disgraced, had confessed its sins, done penance, and resolved to go and sin no more. Seeming, however, is the nature of the CIA's game. Organized criminals learn to adapt to the changing times, and that is exactly what the intelligence operatives did. Since the major revelations of the late sixties and seventies -- MKUltra, engineered coups all around the world, assassinations of foreign leaders, spying on Americans, etc. -- no major program of propaganda has been exposed in the mainstream media. Revealing books about certain CIA programs have been written -- e.g. Douglas Valentine's important The Phoenix Program being one -- and dissenting writers, journalists, researchers, and whistleblowers (Robert Parry, Gary Webb, Julian Assange, James W. Douglass, David Ray Griffin, Edward Snowden, et al.) have connected the U.S. intelligence services to dirty deeds and specific actions, such as the American engineered coup d'état in Ukraine in 2013-14, electronic spying, and the attacks of September 11, 2001.

But the propaganda has for the most part continued unabated at a powerful and esoteric cultural level, while illegal and criminal actions are carried out throughout the world in the most blatant manner imaginable, as if to say fuck you openly while insidiously infecting the general population through the mass electronic screen culture that has relegated intellectual and literary culture to a tiny minority.

Planning Ahead

Let me explain what I think has been happening.

Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations. The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.

Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves. But they are pimps.

... ... ...

Methods of Propaganda

Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought.

The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. The gun goes off, and the entranced one can't remember why (see: Sirhan Sirhan). This is the goal of mass hypnotization through long-term propaganda: confusion, memory loss, and automatic reaction to suggestion.

Intelligence Pimps and Liquid Screen Culture

When the CIA's dirty tricks were made public in the 1970s, it is not hard to imagine that the intellectual pimps who do their long-range thinking were asked to go back to the drawing board and paint a picture of the coming decades and how business as usual could be conducted without further embarrassment. By that time it had become clear that intellectual or high culture was being swallowed by mass culture and the future belonged to electronic screen culture and images, not words. What has come to be called "postmodernity" ensued, or what the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls "liquid modernity" and Guy Debord "the society of the spectacle." Such developments, rooted in what Frederic Jameson has termed "the cultural logic of late capitalism," have resulted in the fragmentation of social and personal life into pointillistic moving pictures whose dots form incoherent images that sow mass confusion and do not cohere.

... ... ...

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/


renfro , says: February 8, 2019 at 6:53 am GMT

But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations. The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.

Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth?

... ... ...

Michael Kenny , says: February 8, 2019 at 10:36 am GMT
Is the author saying anything other than the CIA operates like all other intelligence agencies? Does he really think his readers don't know that?
Commentator Mike , says: February 8, 2019 at 11:32 am GMT
Under "The CIA Exposed" could have mentioned Philip Agee's "Inside the Company" as he was the Edward Snowden of his day.

Interestingly, CIA agent Miles Copeland, Jr., the father of the drummer of the British band "The Police", said the book was "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere" and that it is "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British 'case officer' operates

All of it is presented with deadly accuracy."

(ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Agee )

Jake , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:22 pm GMT

" Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d'etre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological warfare," a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now."

The Yank propaganda machine always was an alliance between WASP Elites and Jews. Always. The Yank WASPs knew that Brit and British Commonwealth WASPs had done the same thing: make alliance to rule the world, which featured – not a bug but a feature – new ways to use psy ops to pervert the vast majority of white Christians they ruled.

Until that is understood, which means accepting that WASP culture itself is a problem as big as Jews and Jewish culture, all that is done in opposition to all that is horrendously wrong today is wasted time and energy.

Jake , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:28 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX The CIA is a British creation, just like Israel's Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency.

The CIA is a pure WASP Elite creation. It always has served the interests of the WASP Elite, in the UK and the rest of the Anglosphere as well the US. And the CIA always has served the interests of Jews and Israel, because that makes perfect sense for WASP culture, which was formed fully, completed, by the Judaizing heresy Anglo-Saxon Puritanism.

Judaizing heresy guarantees pro-Jewish politics and culture.

AWM , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:48 pm GMT
James Jesus Angleton
This guy had it figured out.
Insert Fake Iriish Name here , says: February 8, 2019 at 3:38 pm GMT
Sean, Who else, is here first with the CIA line, "CIA works for the president!" CIA shoehorned that into the Pike Committee report right after Don Gregg visited the committees and gave them an ultimatum: back off or it's martial law.

Then Sean mouths a bit of bureaucratic bafflegab about feasibility.

The feasibility of CIA crime is a product of CIA impunity. So next Sean feeds you more CIA boilerplate by trying to pathologize anyone who's aware of CIA impunity through formal legal pretexts in municipal law. John Bolton, Trump's CIA ventriloquist, had one prime directive as unauthorized UN ambassador: remove any reference to impunity from the Summit Outcome Document. To that end he submitted 600+ NeoSoviet amendments to paralyze the drafting process.

That's how touchy CIA is about its impunity. CIA is the state, with illegal absolute sovereignty because they can kill you or torture you and get away with it.

If you're John Kennedy, if you're Robert Kennedy, if you're Dag Hammarskjöld, if you're Judge Robert Vance. No matter who you are.

[Feb 02, 2019] One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Secretly Sharing Data With The FBI

Feb 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Just one week ago, we warned that the government -- helped by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget) -- was embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

As it turns out we were right, but we forgot one key spoke of the government's campaign to collect genetic information from as many individuals as possible: "innocent", commercial companies, who not only collect DNA from willing clients, but are also paid for it.

FamilyTreeDNA, one of the pioneers of the growing market for "at home", consumer genetic testing, confirmed a report from BuzzFeed that it has quietly granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to its vast trove of nearly 2 million genetic profiles.

... ... ...

Worse, it did so secretly, without obtaining prior permission from its users.

The move is of significant concern to much more than just privacy-minded FamilyTreeDNA customers. As Bloomberg notes, one person sharing genetic information also exposes those to whom they are closely related. That's how police caught the alleged Golden State Killer. And here is a stunning statistics - according to a 2018 study, only 2% of the population needs to have done a DNA test for virtually everyone's genetic information to be represented in that data.

[Jan 29, 2019] US steps up offensive against China with more "hacking charges" by Mike Head

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Sections of the Chinese regime responded belligerently to the accusations. An editorial in the state-owned Global Times ..."
"... The editorial asked: "Assuming China is so powerful that it has stolen technological information for over a decade that is supposedly worth over a trillion in intellectual property, as the US has indicated, then how is it that China still lags behind the US in so many fields, from chips to electric vehicles, and even aviation engines?" ..."
Dec 21, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Further escalating its economic and strategic offensive to block China from ever challenging its post-World War II hegemony, the US government yesterday unveiled its fifth set of economic espionage charges against Chinese individuals since September.

As part of an internationally-coordinated operation, the US Justice Department on Thursday published indictments of two Chinese men who had allegedly accessed confidential commercial data from US government agencies and corporate computers in 12 countries for more than a decade.

The announcement represents a major intensification of the US ruling class's confrontation against China, amid a constant build-up of unsubstantiated allegations against Beijing by both the Republican and Democrat wings of Washington's political establishment.

Via salacious allegations of "hacking" on a "vast scale," every effort is being made by the ruling elite and its media mouthpieces to whip up anti-China hysteria.

The indictment's release was clearly politically timed. It was accompanied by a global campaign by the US and its allies, accusing the Chinese government of an illegal cyber theft operation to damage their economies and supplant the US as the world's "leading superpower."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen immediately issued a statement accusing China of directing "a very real threat to the economic competitiveness of companies in the United States and around the globe."

Within hours, US allies around the world put out matching statements, joined by declarations of confected alarm by their own cyber-warfare and hacking agencies.

The Washington Post called it "an unprecedented mass effort to call out China for its alleged malign acts." The coordination "represents a growing consensus that Beijing is flouting international norms in its bid to become the world's predominant economic and technological power."

The Australian government, the closest ally of the US in the Indo-Pacific region, was in the forefront. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton explicitly accused the Chinese government and its Ministry of State Security (MSS) of being responsible for "a global campaign of cyber-enabled commercial intellectual property theft."

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, called the Chinese cyber campaign "shocking and outrageous." Such pronouncements, quickly emblazoned in media headlines around the world, destroy any possibility of anything resembling a fair trial if the two men, named as Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, are ever detained by US agencies and brought before a court.

The charges themselves are vaguely defined. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused the men of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Zhu and Zhang acted "in association with" the MSS, as part of a hacking squad supposedly named "APT1o" or "Stone Panda," the indictment said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray called a news conference to issue another inflammatory statement against China. Pointing to the real motivations behind the indictments, he declared: "China's goal, simply put, is to replace the US as the world's leading superpower, and they're using illegal methods to get there."

Coming from the head of the US internal intelligence agency, this further indicates the kinds of discussions and planning underway within the highest echelons of the US political and military-intelligence apparatus to prepare the country, ideologically and militarily, for war against China.

Washington is determined to block President Xi Jinping's "Made in China 2025" program that aims to ensure China is globally competitive in hi-tech sectors such as robotics and chip manufacture, as well as Beijing's massive infrastructure plans, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, to link China with Europe across Eurasia.

The US ruling class regards these Chinese ambitions as existential threats because, if successful, they would undermine the strategic position of US imperialism globally, and the economic dominance of key American corporations.

Yesterday's announcement seemed timed to fuel tensions between Washington and Beijing, after the unprecedented December 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, in Canada at the request of the US.

Last weekend, US Vice President Mike Pence again accused China of "intellectual property theft." These provocations came just weeks after the US and Chinese administrations agreed to talks aimed at resolving the tariff and trade war launched by US President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration is demanding structural changes to China's state-led economic model, greater Chinese purchases of American farm and industrial products and a halt to "coercive" joint-venture licensing terms. These demands would severely undermine the "Made in China 2025" program.

Since September, US authorities have brought forward five sets of espionage allegations. In late October, the Justice Department unsealed charges against 10 alleged Chinese spies accused of conspiring to steal sensitive commercial secrets from US and European companies.

Earlier in October, the US government disclosed another unprecedented operation, designed to produce a show trial in America. It revealed that a Chinese citizen, accused of being an intelligence official, had been arrested in Belgium and extradited on charges of conspiring to commit "economic espionage" and steal trade secrets.

The extradition was announced days after the Pentagon released a 146-page document, titled "Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States," which made clear Washington is preparing for a total war effort against both China and Russia.

Trump, Pence and Wray then all declared China to be the greatest threat to America's economic and military security. Trump accused China of interfering in the US mid-term elections in a bid to remove him from office. In a speech, Pence said Beijing was directing "its bureaucrats and businesses to obtain American intellectual property -- the foundation of our economic leadership -- by any means necessary."

Whatever the truth of the spying allegations against Chinese citizens -- and that cannot be assumed -- any such operations would hardly compare with the massive global intrigue, hacking, regime-change and military operations directed by the US agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA) and its "Five Eyes" partners.

These have been exposed thoroughly by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Leaked documents published by WikiLeaks revealed that the CIA has developed "more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses and other 'weaponized' malware," allowing it to seize control of devices, including Apple iPhones, Google's Android operating system, devices running Microsoft Windows, smart TVs and possibly the control of cars and trucks.

In an attempt to broaden its offensive against China, the US government said that along with the US and its Five Eyes partners, such as Britain, Canada and Australia, the countries targeted by the alleged Chinese plot included France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland.

Chinese hackers allegedly penetrated managed services providers (MSPs) that provide cybersecurity and information technology services to government agencies and major firms. Finance, telecommunications, consumer electronics and medical companies were among those said to be targeted, along with military and US National Aeronautics and Space Administration laboratories.

Sections of the Chinese regime responded belligerently to the accusations. An editorial in the state-owned Global Times branded them "hysterical" and a warning sign of a "comprehensive" US attack on China.

The editorial asked: "Assuming China is so powerful that it has stolen technological information for over a decade that is supposedly worth over a trillion in intellectual property, as the US has indicated, then how is it that China still lags behind the US in so many fields, from chips to electric vehicles, and even aviation engines?"

The Global Times declared that "instead of adhering to a low-profile strategy, China must face these provocations and do more to safeguard national interests."

The promotion of Chinese economic and militarist nationalism by a mouthpiece of the Beijing regime is just as reactionary as the nationalist xenophobia being stoked by the ruling elite of American imperialism and its allies. The answer to the evermore open danger of war is a unified struggle by the international working class to end the outmoded capitalist profit system and nation-state divisions and establish a socialist society.

Ron Ruggieri13 hours ago

ANY rational person would think : a nation like USA TODAY which can name a different ENEMY every other week is clearly SICK, led by sociopaths. China ? Russia, Iran, North Korea ? Venezuela ? ( all fail to live up to the high moral standards of " OUR democracy " ?)
How are any of these countries a greater threat to YOU than the local Democratic or Republican party hacks ?
If YOU think that so many people hate you , would it not make sense to ask if there is perhaps something wrong with YOU ?
Lidiya17 hours ago
Imperialism means wars, as usual, Lenin was right in his polemics against Kautsky.

[Jan 25, 2019] Big Tech Merging With Big Brother Is A Big Problem

Jan 25, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Big Tech Merging With Big Brother Is A Big Problem

by Tyler Durden Thu, 01/24/2019 - 23:25 48 SHARES Authored by David Samuels, Excerpted from Wired.com,

A FRIEND OF mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People's Republic of China, was walking to work.

WHEN HE OFFERED to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she "needed the steps" on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating , which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China's social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party's plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one's social rating.

Personal "creditworthiness" or "trustworthiness" points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a "green channel," where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be "unable to move a step."

Big Brother is an emerging reality in China. Yet in the West, at least, the threat of government surveillance systems being integrated with the existing corporate surveillance capacities of big-data companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon into one gigantic all-seeing eye appears to trouble very few people -- even as countries like Venezuela have been quick to copy the Chinese model.

Still, it can't happen here, right? We are iPhone owners and Amazon Prime members, not vassals of a one-party state. We are canny consumers who know that Facebook is tracking our interactions and Google is selling us stuff.

Yet it seems to me there is little reason to imagine that the people who run large technology companies have any vested interest in allowing pre-digital folkways to interfere with their 21st-century engineering and business models , any more than 19th-century robber barons showed any particular regard for laws or people that got in the way of their railroads and steel trusts.

Nor is there much reason to imagine that the technologists who run our giant consumer-data monopolies have any better idea of the future they're building than the rest of us do.

Facebook, Google, and other big-data monopolists already hoover up behavioral markers and cues on a scale and with a frequency that few of us understand . They then analyze, package, and sell that data to their partners.

A glimpse into the inner workings of the global trade in personal data was provided in early December in a 250-page report released by a British parliamentary committee that included hundreds of emails between high-level Facebook executives. Among other things, it showed how the company engineered sneaky ways to obtain continually updated SMS and call data from Android phones . In response, Facebook claimed that users must "opt-in" for the company to gain access to their texts and calls.

The machines and systems that the techno-monopolists have built are changing us faster than they or we understand. The scale of this change is so vast and systemic that we simple humans can't do the math -- perhaps in part because of the way that incessant smartphone use has affected our ability to pay attention to anything longer than 140 or 280 characters.

As the idea of a "right to privacy," for example, starts to seem hopelessly old-fashioned and impractical in the face of ever-more-invasive data systems -- whose eyes and ears, i.e., our smartphones, follow us everywhere -- so has our belief that other individual rights, like freedom of speech , are somehow sacred.

Being wired together with billions of other humans in vast networks mediated by thinking machines is not an experience that humans have enjoyed before. The best guides we have to this emerging reality may be failed 20th-century totalitarian experiments and science fiction. More on that a little later.

The speed at which individual-rights-and-privacy-based social arrangements collapse is likely to depend on how fast Big Tech and the American national security apparatus consummate a relationship that has been growing ever closer for the past decade. While US surveillance agencies do not have regular real-time access to the gigantic amounts of data collected by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- as far as we know, anyway -- there is both anecdotal and hard evidence to suggest that the once-distant planets of consumer Big Tech and American surveillance agencies are fast merging into a single corporate-bureaucratic life-world, whose potential for tracking, sorting, gas-lighting, manipulating, and censoring citizens may result in a softer version of China's Big Brother.

These troubling trends are accelerating in part because Big Tech is increasingly beholden to Washington, which has little incentive to kill the golden goose that is filling its tax and political coffers. One of the leading corporate spenders on lobbying services in Washington, DC, in 2017 was Google's parent company, Alphabet, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, spent more than $18 million . Lobbying Congress and government helps tech companies like Google win large government contracts. Perhaps more importantly, it serves as a shield against attempts to regulate their wildly lucrative businesses.

If anything, measuring the flood of tech dollars pouring into Washington, DC, law firms, lobbying outfits, and think tanks radically understates Big Tech's influence inside the Beltway. By buying The Washington Post , Amazon's Jeff Bezos took direct control of Washington's hometown newspaper. In locating one of Amazon's two new headquarters in nearby Northern Virginia, Bezos made the company a major employer in the area -- with 25,000 jobs to offer.

Who will get those jobs? Last year, Amazon Web Services announced the opening of the new AWS Secret Region, the result of a 10-year, $600 million contract the company won from the CIA in 2014. This made Amazon the sole provider of cloud services across "the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret," according to an Amazon corporate press release.

Once the CIA's Amazon-administered self-contained servers were up and running, the NSA was quick to follow suit, announcing its own integrated big-data project. Last year the agency moved most of its data into a new classified computing environment known as the Intelligence Community GovCloud, an integrated "big data fusion environment," as the news site NextGov described it, that allows government analysts to "connect the dots" across all available data sources, whether classified or not.

The creation of IC GovCloud should send a chill up the spine of anyone who understands how powerful these systems can be and how inherently resistant they are to traditional forms of oversight, whose own track record can be charitably described as poor .

Amazon's IC GovCloud was quickly countered by Microsoft's secure version of its Azure Government cloud service, tailored for the use of 17 US intelligence agencies. Amazon and Microsoft are both expected to be major bidders for the Pentagon's secure cloud system, the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative -- JEDI -- a winner-take-all contract that will likely be worth at least $10 billion.

With so many pots of gold waiting at the end of the Washington, DC, rainbow, it seems like a small matter for tech companies to turn over our personal data -- which legally speaking, is actually their data -- to the spy agencies that guarantee their profits. This is the threat that is now emerging in plain sight. It is something we should reckon with now, before it's too late.

IN FACT, BIG tech and the surveillance agencies are already partners...

...

THE FLIP SIDE of that paranoid vision of an evolving American surveillance state is the dream that the new systems of analyzing and distributing information may be forces for good, not evil. What if Google helped the CIA develop a system that helped filter out fake news, say, or a new Facebook algorithm helped the FBI identify potential school shooters before they massacred their classmates? If human beings are rational calculating engines, won't filtering the information we receive lead to better decisions and make us better people?

Such fond hopes have a long history. Progressive techno-optimism goes back to the origins of the computer itself, in the correspondence between Charles Babbage, the 19th-century English inventor who imagined the "difference engine" -- the first theoretical model for modern computers -- and Ada Lovelace, the brilliant futurist and daughter of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron.

"The Analytical Engine," Lovelace wrote, in one of her notes on Babbage's work, "might act upon other things besides number, where objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine. Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent."

This is a pretty good description of the principles of digitizing sound; it also eerily prefigures and predicts the extent to which so much of our personal information, even stuff we perceive of as having distinct natural properties, could be converted to zeros and ones.

The Victorian techno-optimists who first envisioned the digital landscape we now inhabit imagined that thinking machines would be a force for harmony, rather than evil, capable of creating beautiful music and finding expressions for "fundamental relations" of any kind according to a strictly mathematical calculus.

The idea that social engineering could help produce a more efficient and equitable society was echoed by early 20th-century American progressives. Unlike 19th- and early 20th-century European socialists, who championed the organic strength of local communities, early 20th-century American progressives like Herbert Croly and John Dewey put their faith in the rise of a new class of educated scientist-priests who would re-engineer society from the top down according to a strict utilitarian calculus.

The lineage of these progressives -- who are not identical with the "progressive" faction of today's Democratic Party -- runs from Woodrow Wilson to champions of New Deal bureaucracy like Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes. The 2008 election of Barack Obama, a well-credentialed technocrat who identified very strongly with the character of Spock from Star Trek , gave the old-time scientistic-progressive religion new currency on the left and ushered in a cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and billionaire techno-monopolists who had formerly fashioned themselves as government-skeptical libertarians.

"Amazon does great things for huge amounts of people," Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told Kara Swisher of Recode in a recent interview , in which he also made approving pronouncements about Facebook and Google. "I go to my small tech companies and say, 'How does Google treat you in New York?' A lot of them say, 'Much more fairly than we would have thought.'"

Big Tech companies and executives are happy to return the favor by donating to their progressive friends, including Schumer .

But the cozy relationship between mainstream Democrats and Silicon Valley hit a large-sized bump in November 2016, when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton -- in part through his mastery of social media platforms like Twitter. Blaming the election result on Russian bots or secret deals with Putin betrayed a shock that what the left had regarded as their cultural property had been turned against them by a right-wing populist whose authoritarian leanings inspired fear and loathing among both the technocratic elite and the Democratic party base.

Yet in the right hands, progressives continued to muse, information monopolies might be powerful tools for re-wiring societies malformed by racism, sexism, and transphobia. Thinking machines can be taught to filter out bad information and socially negative thoughts. Good algorithms, as opposed to whatever Google and Facebook are currently using, could censor neo-Nazis, purveyors of hate speech, Russian bots, and transphobes while discouraging voters from electing more Trumps .

The crowdsourced wisdom of platforms like Twitter, powered by circles of mutually credentialing blue-checked "experts," might mobilize a collective will to justice, which could then be enforced on retrograde institutions and individuals . The result might be a better social order, or as data scientist Emily Gorcenski put it , "revolution."

The dream of centralized control over monopolistic information providers can be put to more prosaic political uses, too -- or so politicians confronted by a fractured and tumultuous digital media landscape must hope. In advance of next year's elections for the European Parliament, which will take place in May, French President Emmanuel Macron signed a deal with Facebook in which officials of his government will meet regularly with Facebook executives to police "hate speech."

The program, which will continue through the May elections, apparently did little to discourage fuel riots by the " gilets jaunes ," which have set Paris and other French cities ablaze, even as a claim that a change in Facebook's local news algorithm was responsible for the rioting was quickly picked up by French media figures close to Macron.

At root, the utopian vision of AI-powered information monopolies programmed to advance the cause of social justice makes sense only when you imagine that humans and machines "think" in similar ways. Whether machines can "think," or -- to put it another way, whether people think like machines -- is a question that has been hotly debated for the past five centuries. Those debates gave birth to modern liberal societies, whose foundational assumptions and guarantees are now being challenged by the rise of digital culture.

...

THE ORIGIN OF the utilitarian social calculus and its foundational account of thinking as a form of computation is social contract theory. Not coincidentally, these accounts evolved during the last time western societies were massively impacted by a revolution in communications technology, namely the introduction of the printing press , which brought both the text of the Bible and the writings of small circles of Italian and German humanists to all of Europe. The spread of printing technologies was accompanied by the proliferation of the simple hand mirror , which allowed even ordinary individuals to gaze at a "true reflection" of their own faces, in much the same way that we use iPhones to take selfies.

Nearly every area of human imagination and endeavor -- from science to literature to painting and sculpture to architecture -- was radically transformed by the double-meteor-like impact of the printing press and the hand mirror , which together helped give rise to scientific discoveries, great works of art, and new political ideas that continue to shape the way we think, live, and work.

The printing press fractured the monopoly on worldly and spiritual knowledge long held by the Roman Catholic Church, bringing the discoveries of Erasmus and the polemics of Martin Luther to a broad audience and fueling the Protestant Reformation, which held that ordinary believers -- individuals, who could read their own Bibles and see their own faces in their own mirrors -- might have unmediated contact with God. What was once the province of the few became available to the many, and the old social order that had governed the lives of Europe for the better part of a millennium was largely demolished.

In England, the broad diffusion of printing presses and mirrors led to the bloody and ultimately failed anti-monarchical revolution led by Oliver Cromwell. The Thirty Years' War, fought between Catholic and Protestant believers and hired armies in Central and Eastern Europe, remains the single most destructive conflict, on a per capita basis, in European history, including the First and Second World Wars.

The information revolution spurred by the advent of digital technologies may turn out to be even more powerful than the Gutenberg revolution; it is also likely to be bloody. Our inability to wrap our minds around a sweeping revolution in the way that information is gathered, analyzed, used, and controlled should scare us. It is in this context that both right- and left-leaning factions of the American elite appear to accept the merger of the US military and intelligence complex with Big Tech as a good thing, even as centralized control over information creates new vulnerabilities for rivals to exploit .

The attempt to subject the American information space to some form of top-down, public-private control was in turn made possible -- and perhaps, in the minds of many on both the right and the left, necessary -- by the collapse of the 20th-century American institutional press. Only two decades ago, the social and political power of the institutional press was still so great that it was often called "the Fourth Estate" -- a meaningful check on the power of government. The term is rarely used anymore, because the monopoly over the printed and spoken word that gave the press its power is now gone.

Why? Because in an age in which every smartphone user has a printing press in their pocket, there is little premium in owning an actual, physical printing press . As a result, the value of "legacy" print brands has plummeted. Where the printed word was once a rare commodity, relative to the sum total of all the words that were written in manuscript form by someone, today nearly all the words that are being written anywhere are available somewhere online. What's rare, and therefore worth money, are not printed words but fractions of our attention .

The American media market today is dominated by Google and Facebook, large platforms that together control the attention of readers and therefore the lion's share of online advertising. That's why Facebook, probably the world's premier publisher of fake news, was recently worth $426 billion, and Newsweek changed hands in 2010 for $1, and why many once-familiar magazine titles no longer exist in print at all .

The operative, functional difference between today's media and the American media of two decades ago is not the difference between old-school New York Times reporters and new-media bloggers who churn out opinionated "takes" from their desks. It is the difference between all of those media people, old and new, and programmers and executives at companies like Google and Facebook. A set of key social functions -- communicating ideas and information -- has been transferred from one set of companies, operating under one set of laws and values, to another, much more powerful set of companies, which operate under different laws and understand themselves in a different way .

According to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, information service providers are protected from expensive libel lawsuits and other forms of risk that publishers face. Those protections allowed Google and Facebook to build their businesses at the expense of "old media" publishers, which in turn now find it increasingly difficult to pay for original reporting and writing.

The media once actively promoted and amplified stories that a plurality or majority of Americans could regard as "true." That has now been replaced by the creation and amplification of extremes . The overwhelming ugliness of our public discourse is not accidental; it is a feature of the game, which is structured and run for the profit of billionaire monopolists, and which encourages addictive use .

The result has been the creation of a socially toxic vacuum at the heart of American democracy, from which information monopolists like Google and Facebook have sucked out all the profit, leaving their users ripe for top-down surveillance, manipulation, and control.

TODAY, THE PRINTING press and the mirror have combined in the iPhone and other personal devices, which are networked together. Ten years from now, thanks to AI, those networks, and the entities that control them -- government agencies, private corporations, or a union of both -- may take on a life of their own.

Perhaps the best way to foresee how this future may play out is to look back at how some of our most far-sighted science fiction writers have wrestled with the future that is now in front of us.

...

Yet even classic 20th-century dystopias like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or George Orwell's 1984 tell us little about the dangers posed to free societies by the fusion of big data, social networks, consumer surveillance, and AI.

Perhaps we are reading the wrong books.

Instead of going back to Orwell for a sense of what a coming dystopia might look like, we might be better off reading We , which was written nearly a century ago by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. We is the diary of state mathematician D-503, whose experience of the highly disruptive emotion of love for I-330, a woman whose combination of black eyes, white skin, and black hair strike him as beautiful. This perception, which is also a feeling, draws him into a conspiracy against the centralized surveillance state.

The Only State, where We takes places, is ruled by a highly advanced mathematics of happiness, administered by a combination of programmers and machines. While love has been eliminated from the Only State as inherently discriminatory and unjust, sex has not. According to the Lex Sexualis, the government sex code, "Each number has a right towards every other number as a sex object." Citizens, or numbers, are issued ration books of pink sex tickets. Once both numbers sign the ticket, they are permitted to spend a "sex hour" together and lower the shades in their glass apartments.

Zamyatin was prescient in imagining the operation and also the underlying moral and intellectual foundations of an advanced modern surveillance state run by engineers. And if 1984 explored the opposition between happiness and freedom, Zamyatin introduced a third term into the equation, which he believed to be more revolutionary and also more inherently human: beauty. The subjective human perception of beauty, Zamyatin argued, along lines that Liebniz and Searle might approve of, is innately human, and therefore not ultimately reconcilable with the logic of machines or with any utilitarian calculus of justice.

...

Against a centralized surveillance state that imposes a motionless and false order and an illusory happiness in the name of a utilitarian calculus of "justice," Basile concludes, Zamyatin envisages a different utopia: "In fact, only within the 'here and now' of beauty may the equation of happiness be considered fully verified." Human beings will never stop seeking beauty, Zamyatin insists, because they are human. They will reject and destroy any attempt to reorder their desires according to the logic of machines.

A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It's the road to a prison camp. The question now -- as in previous such moments -- is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. It is something that we must each make for ourselves, continually, out of our own materials, in moments whose permanence is only a dream.

Read the full, ominous report here...

[Jan 24, 2019] Looks like some users left Facebook, or never existed

People do not understand that Facebook is actually a surveillance company. Everything else is a side business. From comments: "Facebook basically steals ad revenue from idiot companies who think the clicks are real. THEYRE NOT. Bots clicking on your ad does nothing for your business!!
Jan 24, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The team detailed their findings in a 70-page report published on their website.

Facebook has been lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50% of its network. Its official metrics -- many of which it has stopped reporting quarterly -- are self-contradictory and even farcical. The company has lost control of its own product.

Ultimately, this is just the latest sign that Facebook - formerly one of the world's most successful companies - is doomed to go the way of CompuServe and AOL.

PlainSite is a project launched by the Think Computer Corporation and Think Computer Foundation which aims to make "data accessible to the public free of charge" and "lets ordinary citizens impact the law- making process," according to Bloomberg. Aaron Greenspan recently told his story about how he fit into the history of Facebook's founding at Harvard on a podcast .

Facebook's fraudulent numbers hurt its customers (advertisers) by overstating the effectiveness of Facebook's product, the company said.

DeathMerchant , 13 minutes ago link

" Zuckerberg's creation is a reflection of his own flaws. It is a mirror of his own personality and the insecurity and endless need of approval he has sought his whole life leading to its creation. It is Zuckerberg made virtually. It is not a success nor is it a triumph, it is a window into a flawed psyche. It spreads as an infection because it is."

[Jan 22, 2019] Banned by Facebook for Telling the Truth by Israel Shamir

Jan 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

Pinche Perro , says: January 19, 2019 at 6:06 am GMT

Mr. Shamir, Facebook is a complete and total cesspool. You are too good for it! Why bother with it? I deleted my account and I haven't looked back.
israel shamir , says: January 20, 2019 at 8:01 am GMT
@Dacian Julien Soros Facebook has no (or little) original content. It does not compete with Unz.com or with CNN. It leads users to the sites where original content is published. It is meta-site.
So much is being published on so many sites that we need a community to cross-post. This is done by Facebook.
I hope now you understand that you do not waste your time here instead of Facebook. Facebook can lead you here, that's all. Or to Moon of Alabama, or to LRB or to wherever something interesting had been published. Facebook is like a map of Treasure Island, not the treasure itself.
Che Guava , says: January 20, 2019 at 12:33 pm GMT
You have a good point, but why not always avoid Facebook? I have read about it since it was Harvard-only, then student-only.

That it had so much press coverage at those times, while it never had the accounts, clearly a conspiracy.

I have somewhat friends, they say 'You must go on Facebook', I say 'No, you have my telephone number and e-mail address, why are you trying to force me onto Facebook?' They are generally stupid, but then, one must tolerate the stupid to have any social life.

Back to the progation of FB. Google was quite similar, there were many search engines that were as good or better at the time, the NYT ran many articles to promote them, I was working at a U.S.-owned company at the time, it was neo-religious, 'oh, you have to use Google', it was the same kind of propaganda, earlier of course, as compulsory FB.

I never used google (the mis-spelling of googol shows what morons they are), OK, I don't want to lie, did a little early last decade (very few), other search engines are usually better.

onebornfree , says: Website January 20, 2019 at 12:47 pm GMT
This "just" in:

Facebook = CIA/NSA etc.

Alphabet/Google/YouTube = CIA/NSA etc.

Wikipedia= CIA/NSA etc.

Always were, always will be. And thats just "the tip of the iceberg".

Regards, onebornfree

jacques sheete , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm GMT

The mainstream media from Tokyo to Paris [yap, yap, yap ]

Stopped reading right there.

Look, the word is mass media because that's what it's for, i.e., the unthinking masses. Even an ignorant moron such as myself can understand that the media use the term to help make mindless, mass-produced, garbage appear acceptable. It's obvious that the term is supposed to suggest that "everyone" goes along with the message when it's their own compostable ideas that they're trying to introduce and promote. The interests of the "mainstream" or majority are in no way promoted, nor are they intended to be.

Anyone who's so mentally lazy as to use mass media's own legitimizing term for themselves in the way they intend has nothing to say to me. Furthermore, I don't come to UR to be exposed to the usual drivel mouthed incessantly by narcissistic, sociopathic, simple-minded, goons.

Other acceptable terms are corporate media, propaganda media, or sewage media. No one with a lick of sense views it as "mainstream" in any way. Get a clue already!

Anonymous [367] Disclaimer , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:32 pm GMT
@gmachine1729 ... ... ...

WeChat? Bad advice. End-to-server encryption means the Chinese government inspects all messages. Right now, they're crouching tiger but who knows when they're going to go all hidden dragon on us?

Use WhatsApp. It's got full end to end encryption and built in ways to verify no MITM attacks. Safe choice.

For search engines, use startpage or duckduckgo.com. If you're performing really sensitive searches, use tor browser. Only need to use yandex or baidu if the search terms themselves are sensitive (very rare).

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:48 pm GMT
I do not use Facebook . It is evident that they spy everything , you just look for a hotel in your computer and they send you hotel propaganda for weeks or months .

But , commercial purposes apart , don`t you think that a system that spies so much ends up losing the sense of reality and thus dementing itself ?

wayfarer , says: January 20, 2019 at 2:50 pm GMT

There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontent. And there is no greater disaster than greed.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi

Manufactured Consent and the Homogeneity of Public Discourse

AnonFromTN , says: January 20, 2019 at 4:33 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

Other acceptable terms are corporate media, propaganda media, or sewage media

Germans have a more descriptive term: Lugenpresse (lying press).

AnonFromTN , says: January 20, 2019 at 5:03 pm GMT
@gmachine1729 Yes, as a stopgap measure one can boycott FB, Twitter, Google, and other services that practice disgusting PC. I don't use FB or Twitter, use Google only occasionally. Need to stop using it altogether and switch to Yandex and/or Baidu.

However, in the long run what needs to be built is a PC-free Internet. This would require huge investment that only governments of serious countries (like China or Russia) that are not subservient to the Empire can afford. These governments do have their own axes to grind, but at the moment they are not as disgusting as the Empire and its vassals, or Israel, for that matter.

[Jan 22, 2019] The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization by Paul Craig Roberts

Notable quotes:
"... As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a "traitor" and not on NSA for its violations. ..."
"... Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him. ..."
"... Binney blames the NSA's law-breaking on Dick "Darth" Cheney. He says NSA's violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government. ..."
Jan 17, 2019 | www.unz.com
Paul Craig Roberts

Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying.

Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was

"Congress would never hear me because then they'd lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world.

Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That's why they're so afraid. Everybody's afraid because all this data that's about them, the central agencies  --  the intelligence agencies  --  they have it. And that's why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn't attack the intelligence community because they've got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That's because it's like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it's leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world."

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has "a program now called 'see something, say something' about your fellow workers. That's what the Stasi did. That's why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They're picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren't getting violent yet that we know of  --  internally in the US, outside is another story."

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a "traitor" and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA's law-breaking on Dick "Darth" Cheney. He says NSA's violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

[Jan 21, 2019] France hits Google with record €50mn fine over 'forced consent' data collection

Jan 21, 2019 | www.rt.com

France's data protection watchdog is slapping Google with an unprecedented fine citing the company's failure to meet privacy and transparency standards with user information. The French Data protection agency CNIL released a statement Monday stating that the staggering €50 million ($56.8mn) fine was motivated by complaints about the company's illegal practices in the collection and use of personal data. At present, there is no reliable information available on how long the company saves user data, nor if they allow it to be used by other sites.

Around 10,000 people signed the initial petition to initiate an investigation, which was filed by France's Quadrature du Net group and None Of Your Business, an NGO which advocates for consumer privacy.

Read more Facebook may face a record fine over privacy lapses – reports Facebook may face a record fine over privacy lapses – reports

The investigation turned up two infractions to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was approved in 2016. They found that the company doesn't provide easy access to information it collects from users and that the information they do provide is often incomprehensible. This creates a situation where people are not able to manage how their information is being used, especially in relation to targeted ads.

Users' " consent " is currently set as the global default setting, which fails to meet the regulator's requirement that companies obtain " specific " consent. They also say that the pop-ups currently used by the company to ask for consent on Android software seem to threaten that services will not be available if the users don't accept the terms.

While the number looks over-the-top, CNIL says that the fine was decided " by the severity of the infringements observed, " as well as Google's position in the French market.

Although Google responded to the decision by saying that they committed to meeting the " high standards of transparency and control " expected of them by users – as well as by the strict new EU data law – they are nonetheless challenging the decision. While no official decision has been made as of yet, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg

[Jan 20, 2019] Frederick Felman

Mar 03, 2004 | esj.com
Malware is on its way toward "zero-day" threats -- the time between the announcement of a vulnerability and the implementation of its exploit is shrinking to mere days, even hours. For example, in the case of SQL Slammer, the time from published vulnerability to exploit was half a year; but for MS-Blast, that period was a single month. With dwindling timeframes, there's less chance of a patch being released or deployed before the exploit appears.

As if that weren't alarming enough, recent threats have shown an unprecedented compression of transmission time. Recently, MyDoom became the fastest-spreading malware threat ever -- possibly accounting for as much as 30 percent of all e-mail traffic at its peak. Couple the shrinking vulnerability-to-exploit period with lightning-fast transmission, and you have the greatest worry for many of us in IT: an immensely destructive threat that spreads unchecked, and for which there are no fixes -- until it's too late.

Against these zero-day threats, reactive security is helpless. Reactive security solutions such as anti-virus patterns and patches can be created only after a threat strikes. This vulnerability gap is unavoidable with reactive security solutions. Unfortunately, it means that there are always victims to every threat. You could say that the very model of reactive security allows a certain amount of "acceptable losses." If it's your network that's lost, that's hardly acceptable.

But there is a solution: a proactive approach to security.

The Proactive Approach

Unlike anti-virus, IDS, and after-the-fact patches, a proactive approach to security protects your assets against even unknown threats. Case in point: the Sobig.F worm caused the greatest damage at the start of its outbreak, before corporate IT departments could test and deploy the patches and AV patterns that were issued in response. In contrast, companies that had the foresight to employ proactive solutions like endpoint firewalls and well-planned network architecture were much less vulnerable to Sobig.F, even during the height of the epidemic.

Let's examine Sobig.F's propagation vectors. It traveled via infected e-mail and proliferated within networks by copying itself to open network shares. From there, the threat often spread unchecked across the entire network. Infection via shares is rapidly becoming the most predictable feature in worms and viruses, and obviously, enterprises are particularly vulnerable to it. It strikes right at the heart of the difficult balance we attempt to strike between keeping our users protected and productive. No one actually assumes their internal network is 100 percent trustworthy any more, but many of us still don't take the steps we should to protect the network -- from itself.

In addition to the standard layers of protection against malware attacks -- for example, firewalls and anti-virus software -- you should also reduce your vulnerability by compartmentalizing your network. In essence, segregate your higher-risk network endpoints -- put all your similar shares onto the same subnet, and set appropriate access rules. For example, put all PCs with shared drives on a separate subnet (or subnets), and set that subnet as "untrusted" for all users. Depending on your security tools, you can do this either by restricting outbound access from the high-risk subnet or by restricting other subnets in the connections they can accept from the high-risk subnet. Another example: because very few worms target shared printers, you should be able to safely place all printers on one subnet and make that subnet "trusted" to all users.

If you happen to be planning your network now, it will be easy for you to implement these suggestions. If you've already built your network, the last thing you want to hear is the dreaded "R" word: rearchitect. But not to worry -- even at this stage, segregating your shares is not a huge amount of work. If it's not feasible to engage in actually changing your subnets, you can still get some protection by compartmentalizing your network with VLANs. Placing all your high-risk endpoints onto a VLAN is a relatively quick process, and applying the access rules described above to a VLAN should also be fairly painless. Plus, you can use VLANs to compartmentalize your network along other useful lines, such as keeping valuable servers separate from often-infected PCs.

Segregating network shares is certainly not your first line of defense. The idea of using VLANs for security is controversial; after all, it's not too difficult to make them fail open. But security is, after all, about layers. No single solution stops all threats. Considering the minimal investment required to move your shares onto a different subnet or VLAN, it's a good investment if it turns out to be the tactic that prevents the next MS-Blast, Sobig, or MyDoom from rampaging through your network. To that end, don't forget these additional sometimes-overlooked proactive layers of protection:

Reactive security solutions are essential in preventing "flare-ups" of viruses and worms, so you should certainly deploy them. Just don't let them lull you into a false sense of security. Invest in proactive defenses now, before you have to spend ten times the money and time cleaning up after a security incident.

Frederick Felman is Vice President of Marketing at Zone Labs and has more than 18 years experience in marketing software and services. During his time with Zone Labs, Mr. Felman launched several key products, helping to define Zone Labs' enterprise product, Zone Labs Integrity.

[Jan 15, 2019] The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

Mueller investigation is a continuation of JFK assassination by other means.
Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Now, as the 'Russian influence' narrative is dying down, the anti-Trump - anti-Russian campaign is moving to new grounds. ..."
"... Initiating a counter-intelligence investigation, for which there was no basis, gave the FBI, and later the Mueller investigation, unfettered access to NSA 'signals intelligence' that could then possibly be used to incriminate Trump or his associates. ..."
"... It was the Obama administration which had given the FBI access to this tool : ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Trump is no populist. A populist can't be elected by the money-based US political system. Trump's election was almost certainly arranged ..."
"... Then why did Trump nominate Gina Haspel as head of the CIA? She is the acolyte of Trump nemesis Brennan. Why does Trump choose people like Nikki Halley, Pompeo, Bolton? ..."
"... "I very much dislike most of Trump's domestic and foreign policy. But he was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people." ..."
"... the assassination of JFK opened the floodgates of blatant depravity perpetrated by those whose greed and lust for power will ultimately destroy us. ..."
"... There are trends: A growing US citizen realization that their political system prior to Trump was nearly completely corrupt; the Clintons are more broadly understood as the pathological criminals that they are; the Podesta emails with their sick connotations remain 'in the air' - See Ben Swann's work, for example. The Clinton Foundation is far more broadly understood as a massive criminal enterprise. ..."
"... "Pompeo met on October 24 [at Trump's request] with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysis published by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community's official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year's theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was "leaked," not hacked, "by a person with physical access" to the DNC's computer system." ..."
"... In short the last two years have been about trying to defeat Trump but the attackers are looking more and more wounded, and Trump, well, he's hanging in there. General Kelly and others have described Trump's work ethic as exhausting. ..."
"... Trump has been put under intense investigation by Deep State hacks who are determined to see him impeached. And all they have come up with is that he is a compulsive pussy-grabber (no shit, hey?). ..."
"... Well, if he has then he has hidden them extraordinarily well, because Mueller with all his resources hasn't found any. Indeed, Mueller's investigation is so well-resourced that the only conclusion I can reach is that Trump has no such skeletons. ..."
"... "Simply put, the Russia NIA is not an "IC-coordinated" assessment -- the vehicle for such coordination, the NIC, was not directly involved in its production, and no NIO was assigned as the responsible official overseeing its production. Likewise, the Russia NIA cannot be said to be the product of careful coordination between the CIA, NSA and FBI -- while analysts from all three agencies were involved in its production, they were operating as part of a separate, secretive task force operating under the close supervision of the Director of the CIA, and not as an integral part of their home agency or department." ..."
"... Escalation towards war with Russia was a matter of public record in late pre-election 2016, thanks to Clinton News Network ... now ask yourselves where is that general in the press conference nowadays? ..."
"... For a thorough update on the Integrity Initiative and its offshoots, check out the latest from legal investigator Barbara Boyd. ..."
"... To defeat the "Deep State" in the U.S., it is essential to understand the role of British Intelligence. While it is essential to know the role of Hillary Clinton, Obama, Comey, DOJ/FBI operatives, et.al., it is even more important to understand the geopolitical assumptions behind Russiagate. And for that, one must turn to the British. ..."
"... The aim of the counterintelligence operation and of the Russiagate hoax was not to build a prosecution case against President Trump. It was to put the United States in constitutional limbo by creating a parallel and competing center of constitutional legitimacy. ..."
"... Very difficult to judge: what is the result of infighting in the US vs. any agreed-on never mind coherent foreign policy? That the question is even asked - all over the world now - spells stage one collapse. ..."
"... Trump's nationalist credentials are further belied by such things as: adding TPP provisions to the new North American trade agreement; attacking Syria based on false flags; arming Ukraine; pulling out of the INF treaty and engaging in an unnecessary and costly arms race; actively seeking to overthrow the governments of Iran and Venezuela; etc. ..."
"... My own theory about 2016 is that everybody miscalculated. Trump was (IMO) running as an ego-building publicity stunt. Hillary (and her Deep State sponsors) had actively helped Trump get the nomination with hundreds of millions of dollars of free publicity which also enhanced the bottom lines of Big Media. His multiple flaws were airbrushed away. ..."
Jan 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Despite the loss of major narratives, the war of the deep state against U.S. President Trump continues unabated. The main of tool in this war are allegations of relations between Trump and anything Russia. The war runs along several parallel paths.

The narrative war in the media is most visible one. When any of the fake stories about Trump and Russia gets debunked and disposed, new ones are created or others intensified.

In parallel to these propaganda efforts the deep state created an investigation that Trump has no way to escape from. Enabled by one of the Obama administrations last acts the investigation is using signal intelligence to entrap and flip the people surrounding Trump (see section three below). The big price will be Trump himself. Here we take a look at what transpired during the last weeks.


One major anti-Trump narrative was that 'Russian influence' helped to put him into office. This was based on the alleged nefarious influence a Russian clickbait company, the Internet Research Agency (IRA) in St. Peterburg, had on the U.S. electorate. That explanation never made sense. Little of the IRA activities had to do with the election. It used sockpuppets on Facebook and Twitter to attract people to websites filled with puppy pictures or similar nonsense. The IRA would then sell advertisement and promotions on these sites.

This was obvious for anyone following the factual content of the news instead of the 'opinions' a whole bunch of anti-Trump 'experts' and the media formed around them.

That the Mueller investigation finally indicted several of the IRA's officers over minor financial transactions was seen as a confirmation of the political aspects of the IRA activities. But nearly all the reporting left out that Mueller confirmed the commercial intent behind the IRA and its activities. There is nothing political in the accusations. Indeed point 95 of the Mueller indictment of the IRA says:

Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts , including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.

Part of the false narrative of a political influence campaign was the claim that the $100,000 the IRA spent for advertisement to promote its clickbait webpages through Facebook ads somehow moved people to vote for Trump. But 56% of the IRA ads ran after the election, 25% of all its ads were never seen by anyone. How a few $10,000 for ads only few saw moved an election that was fought with several billions spent by each candidate's campaign was left unexplained.

This week, only fifteen month after this site came to the conclusion that IRA was a commercial clickbait business , the Washington Post finally admitted that the alleged political targeting of voters by the IRA never happened:

[T]he common understanding is that Russia's interference efforts included sophisticated targeting of specific voting groups on Facebook, which could have made the difference in states that Trump narrowly won on his way to an electoral-vote victory.

That understanding about Russia's sophisticated targeting, though, is not supported by the evidence -- if it's not flat-out wrong.
...
Most of the ads purchased by the Russians didn't specify a geographic target smaller than the United States on the whole, according to a Post review of the ads released by the House Intelligence Committee. Those that did target specific states heavily targeted those that weren't really considered targets of the 2016 election, such as Missouri and Maryland. And of those ads that did target specific states, most happened well before or well after the final weeks of the campaign.

All the claims that some Russian sockpuppets influenced the 2016 elections were and are nonsense. The IRA sockpuppets never had any political intent.

Likewise the allegations that Russian intelligence hacked the DNC and Clinton crony Podesta's email are mere assertions for which no hard evidence was ever provided. The only known fact is that the emails and papers were real, and that there content revealed the shoddiness of Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and her campaign.

Now, as the 'Russian influence' narrative is dying down, the anti-Trump - anti-Russian campaign is moving to new grounds. Last week the New York Times claimed that Paul Manafort, who for some time ran the Trump election campaign, gave public and internal polling data to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska: Manafort Accused of Sharing Trump Polling Data With Russian Associate . A day after that sensational claim made a large splash throughout U.S. media the New York Times recanted:

Kenneth P. Vogel @kenvogel - 18:39 utc - 9 Jan 2019

CORRECTION: PAUL MANAFORT asked KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK to pass TRUMP polling to the Ukrainian oligarchs SERHIY LYOVOCHKIN & RINAT AKHMETOV, & not to OLEG DERIPASKA, as originally reported. We have corrected the story & I deleted a tweet repeating the error.

Duh. Manafort gave polling data to his Ukrainian fixer Konstantin Kilimnik with the request to pass it along to Ukrainian oligarchs for who he had worked before joining the Trump campaign. Kilimnik had long worked for the International Republican Institute office in Moscow. The IRI is a CIA offshot under Republican Party tutelage that is used to influence politics abroad. Its long time head was the deceased hawkish Senator John McCain. While he worked with Kilimnik in the Ukraine, Manafort concentrated on moving the Ukraine towards the European Union and away from Russia. His and Kilimnik efforts were always opposed to Russian interests. But the NYT and others falsely try to pass them off as the opposite with the sole purpose of feeding the anti-Trump/anti-Russia campaign.

Another anti-Trump/anti-Russian propaganda effort is a new sensational NYT piece on obvious misbehavior in the upper rows of the FBI :

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests , according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence.

The NYT lets it seem as if the decision to launch a counter-intelligence investigation related to Trump was as based on some reasonable suspicion the FBI had. It was not. This was an act of revenge by the upper anti-Trump echelons in the FBI with which they attempted to undermine Trump's presidency. Note what the claimed suspicion was based on:

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

Other factors fueled the F.B.I.'s concerns, according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Christopher Steele, a former British spy who worked as an F.B.I. informant, had compiled memos in mid-2016 containing unsubstantiated claims that Russian officials tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail and bribe him.

Trump made a joke during the election campaign asking Russia to release the 30,000 emails Hillary Clinton had deleted from her illegal private email server. There is no requirement, as far as I know, for any candidate to criticize this or that country. How can not following the non existing requirement to criticize Russia be suspicious? The Republican Party did not soften its convention platform on Ukraine. It rejected an amendment that would have further sharpened it. Overall the Republican platform was more hawkish than the Democratic one. The Steele dossier was of course from A to Z made up nonsense paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

It is non sensible to claim that these were reasonable suspicions sufficient to open a counter-intelligence investigation. The hasty FBI move to launch a counter-intelligence operation obviously had a different motive and aim.

After Trump fired FBI director Comey, the FBI was led by Andrew McCabe, later also fired for leaking to the media and lying about it. His legal council was Lisa Page who exchange tons of anti-Trump SMS messages with her lover, the FBI agent Peter Strozk. These are the people who initiated the counter-intelligence investigation :

Strzok and Page sent other text messages that raise the possibility they were discussing opening up a counterintelligence investigation against Trump before Comey's firing.

"And we need to open the case we've been waiting on now while Andy is acting ," Strzok wrote to Page on the day of Comey's ouster.

Andy is Andrew McCabe, who served as deputy FBI director.

Page gave some indication in her congressional testimony in July 2018 that the text message was a reference to an investigation separate from the obstruction probe that has already been reported.

Normally the FBI needs to clear such counter-intelligence investigations with the Justice Department. In this case it did not do so at all :

In the case of the investigation into Trump, the FBI's decision to open a file on the president so quickly after Comey's firing in May 2017 was a source of concern for some officials at the Justice Department because the FBI acted without first consulting leadership at the department . But those worries were allayed when, days later, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to oversee the Russia probe ...

After Comey was fired, the FBI made a very hasty move, without reasonable suspicion and without informing the Justice Department, to launch a counter-intelligence operation involving the sitting president and his administration. What was the real purpose of this move?

Initiating a counter-intelligence investigation, for which there was no basis, gave the FBI, and later the Mueller investigation, unfettered access to NSA 'signals intelligence' that could then possibly be used to incriminate Trump or his associates.

It was the Obama administration which had given the FBI access to this tool :

The Hoarse Whisperer @HoarseWisperer - 4:05 utc - 12 Jan 2019

On his way out the door, we all were wallowing in our winter of discontent, Obama signed an executive order...
...
The order revised the rules around intelligence sharing among our intel community. Specifically, it made the firehose of raw intelligence collected by the NSA directly accessible to the FBI and CIA. Instead of having to ask for intel and getting what they filtered down the FBI and CIA could directly access the unfiltered "SigInt" or signals intelligence. Intercepted phone calls, emails, raw intel from human sources. Everything our vast intelligence vacuum hoovers up, available directly... but only for counterintel and foreign intel purposes .

The NSA can sit on virtually every communication into and out of the U.S. that takes place over networks. Obama made it possible for the FBI to directly access everything they had on Trump, et al. Obama supercharged the FBI's ability to investigate Trump.

The Obama administration enacted the changed executive order EO 12333 in early January 2017, shortly before Trump took over:

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.'s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for "minimizing" privacy intrusions.
...
[T]he 12333 sharing procedures allow analysts, including those at the F.B.I., to search the raw data using an American's identifying information only for the purpose of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence investigations , not for ordinary criminal cases. And they may do so only if one of several other conditions are met, such as a finding that the American is an agent of a foreign power.

However, under the rules, if analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department.

At that time Peter Lee, aka Chinahand, already had the suspicion that Obama was behind the FBI campaign against Trump.

With the changes in EO 12333 Obama gave the FBI the ability to launch a world wide snooping operation against the incoming Trump administration under the guise of a 'counter-intelligence' operation. The hasty FBI move after Comey was fired activated this instrument. The Mueller investigation has since used it extensively. 'Crimes' revealed through the snooping operation are turned over to the Justice Department.

The NYT claim that the counter-intelligence investigation was initiated because of reasonable suspicion of Russian influence over Trump is nonsense. It was initiated to get access to a set of tools that would allow unlimited access to communication of Trump and anyone related to him. It was Obama who on his way out of the door gave the FBI these capabilities.

There are signs that the unlimited access the FBI and Mueller investigation have to signal intelligence is used to create prosecutions via ' parallel construction ':

The Hoarse Whisperer @HoarseWisperer - 18:50 utc - 12 Jan 2019

An active counterintel investigation means the Trump Administration's crimes were only as secure as the weakest link in their weakest moment. We got hints of this early. Our intelligence folks picked up "signals intelligence" or SigInt from Russians talking to Russians.
Those "signals" aren't the kind of evidence that finds its way into a courtroom. In fact, it's important that it doesn't. It would burn sources and methods. It lays out the crimes and the players though... and then prosecutors find ways to make triable cases other ways .
The public sees cases for specific charges carrying significant prison time without ever knowing that the NSA and prosecutors knew so much more than they ever revealed. Now, apply those principles to the cases we've seen Mueller bring forward so far.

Mike Flynn: pleaded out to a minor charge, rolled over in full and then produced five rounds of documents. Likely: Flynn was confronted with the intel they had on him and knew he was cooked. They knew the crimes. They heard and saw everything. There'd be no escape.

By flipping and pleading out Flynn, all of that secret intel stays secret. Our intelligence efforts are protected. And Flynn goes down. And he cooks a bunch of other gooses. He's savvy enough to know that once they have the intel, all that's left to do is make the case.
...

The 'crime' that di Flynn in was misremembering a phone call he had with the Russian ambassador. Similar happened with Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's righthand man and a member of Trump's transition team. Then it happened to Paul Manafort himself and to George Papadopoulos.

The Mueller investigation, thanks to the snooping Obama and the FBI enabled, knows the content of every phonecall, chat and email any member of the Trump administration made and make to someone abroad (and likely also within the U.S.). It invites people as witnesses and asks them about the content of a specific calls they made. If they misremember or lie - bang - Mueller has the transcript ready. A crime has been created and an indictment for lying to the FBI will follow. This is what happened to Flynn and the others the Mueller investigation entrapped and convicted.

Because of the counter-intelligence investigation the anti-Trump gang in the FBI hastened to initiate, the investigators got hands on signal intelligence - phone calls, chats and emails - that allowed them to indict minor people for petty crimes and to flip them to talk to the investigation.

The aim, in the end, was and is to build a prosecution case against President Trump for whatever minor and petty half-backed illegal doing there may be.


To make such a prosecution and an indictment publicly palpable the media is assigned with launching story after story about nefarious relations between Trump and anything Russia.

As we have seen above with the IRA story, the retracted NYT 's Manafort bang, and the NYT's false claims about the motive of the FBI's counter-intelligence investigation, none of these stories hold up to diligent scrutiny. Today's Washington Post adds another example of no-beef stories that insinuate mystic 'Russian influence' over Trump:

Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration .

The first graph claims:

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin , including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

The rest of the story largely refutes the claim made in its headline and very first sentence:

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
...
Trump generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations with Putin ..
...
In an email, Tillerson said that he " was present for the entirety of the two presidents' official bilateral meeting in Hamburg,"...

After Trump had a first White House meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Washington, lots of leaks about the talk appeared in the DC media. Trump was accused of giving information about an ISIS plot to the Russians that was allegedly secret. It was not . Since then Trump clamped down on the number of participants, briefings and readouts for such talks. That is simply a necessary and laudable behavior. Now the media try to construct that into 'Trump is concealing details' about talks with Russia even when the U.S. Secretary of State and others are present in these.


Ever since Trump won the Republican primaries, the Clinton campaign, the Obama administration and the U.S. and British intelligence services prepared to prevent a successful Trump presidency. The Steele dossier, created by 'former' British intelligence agents and paid for by the Clinton campaign, was the basis for an FBI investigation that was seen as an insurance against a Trump win. Any possible Russia relations Trump might have came under scrutiny. This prevented him from fulfilling his campaign promise of coming to better relations with Russia.

Shortly before Obama left the office he created the tool the FBI needed to put its investigation on steroids. When Trump fired Comey for his handling of the Clinton email affair, the FBI put that tool into action. With unfettered access to signal intelligence the Mueller investigation was able to entrap a number of Trump related people and to flip them to its side. It will use any information they give up to find some angle under which Trump can be prosecuted and eventually impeached. Even if nothing comes off this investigations, the media reports and slander all this created may well be enough to prevent an election of Trump for a second term.

I very much dislike most of Trump's domestic and foreign policy. But he was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people. Unfortunately I see no way that Trump could escape from the hold it has gained over him. Exposing it as much as possible might well be his best defense.


Jose Garcia , Jan 13, 2019 1:51:10 PM | link

It is information that is put out there that is never cross checked by the American people. They are too busy, too involved with other things or too stupid to find out the true facts. It is hard to predict what will occur next year. I feel it all depends who wins the primary on the Democrat side.

Jackrabbit , Jan 13, 2019 2:32:02 PM | link
I have to take issue with a few points, b.

[Trump] ... was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people.

There is a major flaw in reasoning here. Trump is no populist. A populist can't be elected by the money-based US political system. Trump's election was almost certainly arranged:

  • The anti-Russia campaign began in earnest in 2014 (well before the 2016 election);
  • Trump's pre-election relationship to the Clinton's is highly suspect: they were likely to be much closer than we have been led to believe;
  • An FBI informant worked for Trump for over 10 years - during the time that Mueller was FBI director;
  • Trump was the ONLY populist on the Republican side (out of 19 contenders!);
  • Sanders was a 'sheepdog' and Hillary ran a terrible campaign in which she made obvious mistakes that a seasoned campaigner like herself would never make;
  • British involvement in the election (Fusion GPS, Cambridge Analytica, a Brit 'spy' in the Sanders campaign, etc.) suggests CIA-MI6 working together;
  • Trump Administration policies are consistent those of Clinton-Bush-Obama:
> Obamacare was not repealed "on day one" - it has been strengthened by not defending coverage for prior conditions;

> Trump put TPP provisions into his new North American trade deal;

> Trump continues ME meddling;

> Trump continues militarism and tax cutting;

> Etc.

The only major "difference" that I can think of are Trump's Wall and China tariffs. But these are consistent with the 'Deep State' goals.
Surveys show that the "will of the people" is very different than the neoliberal, neoconservative policies that the establishment fosters upon us.

MAGA is a POLICY CHOICE as much as it is a campaign slogan. It is designed to meet the challenge posed by Russia and China and 'turn the page' on the deceit and duplicity of the Obama Administration just as Obama's "Change You Can Believe In" was designed to turn the page on the the militarism of the Bush Administration. These BI-PARTISAN page-turnings ensure that there is no accountability and provides each new Administration with a new sly story line that the public readily swallows. Each new Presidential charade entertains and misdirects as the interests of the Empire are advanced with a refreshed box of tricks and dishonest narratives.

...war of the deep state against U.S. President Trump continues unabated.

Then why did Trump nominate Gina Haspel as head of the CIA? She is the acolyte of Trump nemesis Brennan. Why does Trump choose people like Nikki Halley, Pompeo, Bolton?

The war of the Deep State is a psyop to crush dissent as the butt-hurt Deep State continues to pursue their dream of global hegemony. Anyone that believes that Trump is no part of that psyop is delusional.

radiator , Jan 13, 2019 2:36:06 PM | link
Wow, man. Thanks to you and all the regulars here who contribute to gathering relevant info from all kinds of sources. I hate to repeat myself, but I feel that a little praise every 3 or 6 months is not too much spamming. This is what serious journalism looks like.
Jackrabbit , Jan 13, 2019 2:43:34 PM | link
Zachary Smith @2: ... I just don't buy into the "insurance" theory.

And I don't buy the theory that Hillary is hell bent on war. The Clinton's are very rational and calculating and no President has the freedom that your theory suggests. IMO what the Deep State has done under their man Trump is very similar to what the Deep State would have done if they had selected Clinton instead. The fact is, a populist nationalist is what was deemed necessary to meet the challenge from Russia and China. And that is what we got (surprise!).

<> <> <> <> <> <> <>

Furthermore, focusing on personality and Party is just what they want

"Watch what they do, not what they say" has a corollary: pay attention to the polices, not the politicians.

jacktheokie , Jan 13, 2019 3:01:49 PM | link
MoA's final paragraph is just about how I feel.

"I very much dislike most of Trump's domestic and foreign policy. But he was duly elected under the existing rules. The campaign the media and the intelligence services have since run against him undermines the will of the people."

This pretty well sums it up for me. Being old enough to remember FDR and the brief rise of the middle class in the 40's, 50's and 60's (and having benefited from that attempt at leveling the playing field), I am more than saddened at the downward spiral of our nation. Politics have obviously never been clean and fair, but the assassination of JFK opened the floodgates of blatant depravity perpetrated by those whose greed and lust for power will ultimately destroy us.

donkeytale , Jan 13, 2019 3:19:32 PM | link
Of course b you have nothing here to offer except your opinion. Your views regarding the relentlessness of the US criminal justice system are on target, just ask the underclasses about that. Once in view, you are never let be and in the US everyone can be found guilty of something.

Rather nice to see the pampered son of inherited tax-free wealth on the receiving end for once, in my opinion.

Trump is a crook. Russian collusion is his smokescreen. His crimes have already been demonstrated through what little we already know and there is still much we don't know and probably never will know.

This essay reads something like a veiled mea culpa from you.

You were wrong about Trump from the get go. Why not just admit it and move along? Why remain steadfastly in thrall to any shred of rightwing, authoritarianism of the elite masquerading as populism?

Whatever Trump gets from the criminal justice system, Congress or the voters appears to be well-deserved. He has brought this on himself and really there is no one else to blame even as he never will accept responsibility. He is stupid at best, dishonest at best, a useful idiot at best.

Trump saved his ass financially after a series of disastrous business bankruptcies by accepting what appears by all indications to be laundered money from literally hundreds of anonymous shell companies investing in his condos since at least 2008.

He has run roughshod over the emoluments clause quite openly.

I do believe, knowing what we know now, he will probably avoid indictment and escape impeachment, maybe only through resignation/pardon but more likely the old fashioned way: defeat at the polls in 2020.

In many ways Trump has done some good by reinvigorating the US left (such as it is) and bringing at least enough cohesion in the ranks of a badly splintered populace mainly among white females and white college educated voters who now reject the GOP, or at least the GOP of Trump.

Whether this will lead to badly needed fixes for the heinous wealth inequality (started with Reagan) is doubtful but at least the conversation is now underway (started with Bernie) which is the first step.

Tax increases, social security stabilisation, re-funneling wasted MIC billions to domestic programs for the poor, etc.

It is a start. Will it become a solution or a revolution in time?

That is up to the people who are still under the yoke of neoliberalism and global capital flight.

Don Bacon , Jan 13, 2019 3:29:06 PM | link
re:
Mike Flynn: pleaded out to a minor charge, rolled over in full and then produced five rounds of documents. Likely: Flynn was confronted with the intel they had on him and knew he was cooked. They knew the crimes. They heard and saw everything. There'd be no escape.
By flipping and pleading out Flynn, all of that secret intel stays secret. Our intelligence efforts are protected. And Flynn goes down. And he cooks a bunch of other gooses. He's savvy enough to know that once they have the intel, all that's left to do is make the case.//

So the situation is worse than I thought. The clear inference is that (1) Flynn (and others) really did commit some major crimes, and then (2) got off easy by admitting to a memory lapse (3) while cooking a bunch of other gooses.

Flynn does the easy (2) and gets away with (1) and (3), both very serious. This is justice?

Zachary Smith , Jan 13, 2019 3:42:11 PM | link
@ Jackrabbit #6

Well sir, opinions certainly do vary on this issue.

As you may recall, the woman threatened conflict on cyberattacks.

"As president, I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack," the Democratic presidential nominee said. "We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses."

Regarding the Deep State and Trump, Syria is in the process of winning against the neocons. And Iran has not yet been attacked. Hillary has a record, and for the most part hasn't even tried to run away from it.

Hillary Clinton's War Record – 100% For Genocide

If you know of any instances of the woman speaking against the War Solution to problems, kindly tell me about them.

Trump is an incomparable jerk, but perhaps not quite as bad as HRC.

james , Jan 13, 2019 3:43:30 PM | link
thanks b... the topic is so very tiring.. i am sick of hearing about it.. if the usa fell off a cliff and never came back again - i would be fine with that.. thank you regardless, for taking it apart and trying ti dispel the bullshite.. it is so thick, it defies logic.. i agree with @1 jose garcia, and @4 radiator...

trump is a crook... so what? most of the business class in the west are at this point! politics and crookery go hand in hand... i would be surprised if it was any different at this point in time.. how about the intel agencies? you want to sleep with them? lol..

Hoarsewhisperer , Jan 13, 2019 3:57:17 PM | link
There's either something wrong with this assumption, or something we're not being told...

The Mueller investigation, thanks to the snooping Obama and the FBI enabled, knows the content of every phonecall, chat and email any member of the Trump administration made and make to someone abroad (and likely also within the U.S.). It invites people as witnesses and asks them about the content of a specific calls they made. If they misremember or lie - bang - Mueller has the transcript ready. A crime has been created and an indiction for lying to the FBI will follow. This is what happened to Flynn and the others the Mueller investigation entrapped and convicted.

Option 1. Something wrong? If you're being cross-examined in a court or pseudo-legal forum about things you may or may not remember, you have the right to decline to answer a question, or to preface any and every answer with the phrase "If I remember correctly blah blah blah..."

Option 2. Something we're not being told? If the interrogators were able to ambush Flynn, then it's probably because they didn't acquaint him with all of his rights, or he didn't have a lawyer with him.

Trump's not stupid. He won't blunder into a situation bereft of any semblance of legal Human Rights protections designed to ambush him. And if he can't have a lawyer with him when the questions start, then he can probably refuse to attend without breaking any law.

Tess Ting , Jan 13, 2019 3:57:41 PM | link
@donkeytale There has been close to three years of serious investigative intent to lay a glove on Trump (HRC's team, the FBI and Mueller) and there is only the merest scratch of a womaniser (which with three marriages doesn't come as a surprise). What is quite remarkable, despite all the investigative effort, is how clean Trump has managed to keep himself despite building a fortune in one of the toughest cities in the world, building himself up through the eras of the five families, junk bonds and ponzi schemes and soviet union mobsters, not to mention the corruption of the poltical classes and regulatory abuses and unionised labor.

For the world's he moves in, the only explanation that gives him enough protection is that for a long time Trump has been a protected FBI asset for one of the field offices, possibly now senior service figures. And it's this deep relationship with well connected parts of the FBI or other secret services that has given him the ability to steer past the various attempts by the deep state. Why, for instance, do we have such a lot of leakage of the inner workings of the anti-Trump FBI? Some part of the deep state has become disgusted at the spying (eg on congress), the blackmailing, the warmongering, and deep corruption of the anti-constitutionalists, and Trump is their vengence. You just have to decide which side you are on...

Zachary Smith , Jan 13, 2019 4:06:26 PM | link
"Tess Ting" #14

I read that as Testing - perhaps a trial/demonstration as a professional troll for somebody or other. How else to interpret "only the merest scratch of a womaniser" or "how clean Trump has managed to keep himself". Maybe I'm surprised not to also see praise for the clever Government Shutdown.

Peter AU 1 , Jan 13, 2019 4:11:46 PM | link
Hoarsewhisperer 13 I think it unlikely that the likes of Flynn would not know their basic legal rights.
brian , Jan 13, 2019 4:17:24 PM | link
meanwhile..trump and his appointees attack legitimacy of Venezuela govt.
Trump is in bad odor at home while seeking to attack other govts.

' Washington has explicitly expressed its support for a potential coup against the elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, by offering its backing to the opposition and stating outright it was time for a "new government."

"The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will continue ... to work diligently to restore a real democracy" to Venezuela, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on his trip to the Middle East on Saturday, adding that Washington would attempt to make the Latin American nations "come together to deliver that."'
https://www.rt.com/news/448673-us-venezuela-time-new-government/

Peter AU 1 , Jan 13, 2019 4:25:14 PM | link
One thing the US deep state and their muller proxy would have on Trump, and most if not all of Trump's team, is collusion with Israel (can this convert into charges of treason as threats). A weapon that is good for threats against and turning those around Trump, and possibly used in as a last resort to remove Trump.
Peter AU 1 , Jan 13, 2019 4:33:00 PM | link
Adding to my post @ 18
Pat Lang has a post up "What is wrong with Trump?" "But, how does one explain his lack of action on the border? Does someone or some thing in Russia, Israel, the UK, his former business associates, have something really juicy on Trump, something that he fears to unleash through decisive action? pl"

Collusion with Israel is something neither side - team Trump and the deep state - would wish to bring into the open, but this may be the only thing they have on Trump.

Robert Snefjella , Jan 13, 2019 4:43:58 PM | link
Great journalism b!

A few more points: from: https://theconservativetreehouse.com/

"On Thursday November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Mike Rogers traveled to New York and met with President-Elect Donald Trump.

On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation in "October" that [NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers] Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position:

The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security
Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.

In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower.

Occam's Razor. NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers didn't want to participate in the spying scheme [on Trump]

(Clapper, Brennan, Etc.), which was the baseline for President Obama's post presidency efforts to undermine Donald Trump and keep Trump from digging into [who knows what crimes]"

After the visit by Rogers, Trump vacated Trump Towers. There is considerable irony in the Mueller 'probe' and the continuing avalanche of MSM lies and evasions and spin etc pertaining to Trump.

There are trends: A growing US citizen realization that their political system prior to Trump was nearly completely corrupt; the Clintons are more broadly understood as the pathological criminals that they are; the Podesta emails with their sick connotations remain 'in the air' - See Ben Swann's work, for example. The Clinton Foundation is far more broadly understood as a massive criminal enterprise.

Serious criminality at the highest levels of the FBI is now far more obvious to far more people

MSM as evil propaganda is more widely understood.

It is understood widely that the DNC material to Wikileaks was not 'hacked' (Binney)

From the theintercept.com :

"Pompeo met on October 24 [at Trump's request] with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysis published by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community's official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year's theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was "leaked," not hacked, "by a person with physical access" to the DNC's computer system."

In short the last two years have been about trying to defeat Trump but the attackers are looking more and more wounded, and Trump, well, he's hanging in there. General Kelly and others have described Trump's work ethic as exhausting.

Brendan , Jan 13, 2019 5:12:30 PM | link
The Internet Research Agency (IRA) paid $100,000 for Facebook ads and then charged its customers for the clickbait service (between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content). So even if the IRA didn't manage to make a profit, the net cost for them must have been much lower than $100,000. Does anyone know how much revenue it made from that operation? Facebook must know but they've kept quiet about it. Same with Mueller.
juliania , Jan 13, 2019 5:17:56 PM | link
Thank you, b. I am so glad I did not vote for Obama a second time around. A very rotten duopoly has taken over the US government, all based on the premise that money is speech and money runs government, the people be damned. Hence the shutdown being orchestrated by money, with Trump in the crosshairs.

I also very much adhere to your final paragraph's sentences. Let no one be in any doubt - what is underway is no less than traitorous activity, a clear violation of the US Constitution, motivated by corrupt individuals whose meanness is beyond dispute. How it can be redressed at this very late stage beggars the mind; I can only hope it be done as peacefully as possible.

vk , Jan 13, 2019 5:19:18 PM | link
If this is really true, then it's a clear sign of decline: Obama sacrificed a huge chunk of American freedom just for the sake of personal political revenge. The USA is transitioning from a laissez faire to a highly burocratized, byzantine economy.
Hal Duell , Jan 13, 2019 6:27:54 PM | link
Shortly after the USSR's experiment with communism collapsed, I read an article which suggested that if the noise from that fall was loud, even louder will be the noise when the second shoe (the American experiment with capitalism) falls. And this is the crux of why I appreciate The Donald. His is the most honest face the US can present to the world at this point in time. So look at it closely, and marvel at where we have come to.
Zachary Smith , Jan 13, 2019 6:47:25 PM | link
@ juliania #23
I am so glad I did not vote for Obama a second time around.

LOL (first time I've ever written this!)

You made the same mistake I did in 2008. The deck was really stacked in that election, though I was too blind to see it at the time. Smiling & smooth-talking black face issuing zillions of promises, and this was right after the Codpiece Commander. It took me a whole year to realize I'd been suckered, and by 2012 understood the fix was STILL on. Obama had lost most all of his glitter by then, so the Power Elites arranged his opposition to be a financial predator/Mormon bishop paired up with the most awful Libertarian POS I've ever seen. Speaking the honest truth here, I'd prefer to have Sarah Palin as POTUS to Paul Ryan. What a combo! That's why I offered anybody I met 10:1 odds on Obama winning. Hillary thought she had had seen a winning pattern from all that, and arranged to have as her opponent a fellow named Donald Trump.

Yeah, Right , Jan 13, 2019 8:35:30 PM | link
@15 Zachary Smith "How else to interpret 'only the merest scratch of a womaniser' or 'how clean Trump has managed to keep himself'."

Zachary Smith, I have been posting here for a number of years, and on this I have to agree with the newcomer Tess Ting

Trump has been put under intense investigation by Deep State hacks who are determined to see him impeached. And all they have come up with is that he is a compulsive pussy-grabber (no shit, hey?).

To my mind Trump is a very offensive human being, but that isn't an impeachable character trait. I had assumed that he would have skeletons in his cupboard that would be grounds for impeachment.

Well, if he has then he has hidden them extraordinarily well, because Mueller with all his resources hasn't found any. Indeed, Mueller's investigation is so well-resourced that the only conclusion I can reach is that Trump has no such skeletons.

As I say, that is extraordinary. But - apparently - also true.

Blooming Barricade , Jan 13, 2019 9:21:09 PM | link
Astonishing how out in the open the military coup plotting against Venezuela is right now, it was consisted an outrage to overthrow Allende and that was even before direct proof of US involvement, now the anti-war and left wing consciousness of the public and the intellectual class has been so corroded that nobody care and many even see an attempted coup as a god thing. The ideological counter revolution in full swing.
psychohistorian , Jan 13, 2019 9:48:09 PM | link
@ Yeah, Right who wrote:
"
Indeed, Mueller's investigation is so well-resourced that the only conclusion I can reach is that Trump has no such skeletons.
"

I would just bring your attention to the possibility that bringing Trump down brings them down as well. Your assertion that Trump doesn't have any skeletons in the closet is laughable.

Also consider that most of what is known comes from compromised sources and much of the house of cards we live is built on sketchy assumptions.

Cui Bono for Trump?

I am beginning to understand how Trump fits the elite plan and instead of your "grab them by the pussy" thought change it to "they have him by the balls". They played his ego to get him to run the race and then, gee, he won.

I now see Trump as the last great hope of the elite to carve out as big a chunk as they can of the new world....and try and hold onto it. The ongoing proxy conflicts will keep the musical chair game playing for a bit more but then something is going to stop the music.

A shrink told me once that after fire came music. What comes after music?

NemesisCalling , Jan 13, 2019 10:18:57 PM | link
@3 jr

How did I know that you would be first up after b's exhaustive story on the IC's corruption and utterly obvious attempt to take Trump down to cry, "Fiction."

Here is a reply to all your points:

- yes, the Russia-bad narrative was picking up steam before Trump's election. The MSM and TPTB incorrectly surmised that there would be enough anti-Russia fervor among the masses that pinning the accusation on Trump would stick. It did not. It is evidence of THEIR stupidity.
- you must have never heard of keeping your enemies close. The Clintons are powerbrokers. Trump used them. Maybe he did like them at one point, but clearly shat on his relationship with them and since the election they have truly been trashed and unable to recover any good fortune or power. The Dems made a mistake will backing HRC. They weren't acting under Deep State orders once again, Occam's Razor dictates that stupidity is the culprit here.
- How does FBI informant in campaign neccessarily implicate Trump in conspiracy and not confirm IC's weasely attempts to dig up dirt?
- Look at prior Repub primaries? Notice anything? Populists don't float in the Yacht Club Party, do they? Trump was an anomoly indicitive of the times (again, Occam's Razor).
- Again, it is absolutely absurd and suspicious that you can not admit that the Dems are a party of retards and that they consistently step over quarters to pick up pennies.
- Your opinion that Trump's policies do not differ from the Dems needs qualifying. I don't agree that his domestic policies align and verdict is still out on his FP. We know he is not a True-Believer, which is good.
- British involvement again suggests that the IC is compromised and globalized yielding national sovereignty to centralized planning. Trump deserves that ire and proves that there is a contest afoot.

Jen , Jan 13, 2019 10:32:05 PM | link
Tess Ting @ 14, Zachary Smith (really?!) @ 15, Yeah, Right @ 28, Psychohistorian @ 30:

Donald Trump has declared six business bankruptcies and there is considerable information on these bankruptcies if you Google for information on them, such as the article linked to here:
https://www.thoughtco.com/donald-trump-business-bankruptcies-4152019

If Trump's corporate bankruptcies are so well-known, and picked over several times by different media sources (even Snopes has covered them), surely any other behaviour or incident that might call Trump's character or ethics into question must have been uncovered by Robert Mueller by now?

ab initio , Jan 13, 2019 11:03:11 PM | link
I can't imagine the scale of exploding heads among the media talking heads and the establishment of the two parties, IF, Trump gets re-elected. DC would be in serious melt down. After 4 years of continuous assault the voters may actually repudiate the corporate media and the DC elites in the 2020 elections.

In any case with the Democrat candidates starting to announce we are essentially into the next presidential campaign. I don't think it is smart to under-estimate Trump's electoral chances.

slit , Jan 13, 2019 11:05:10 PM | link
Great work, B!

"Normally the FBI needs to clear such counter-intelligence investigations with the Justice Department. In this case it did not do so at all:"This sounds like the same "kangaroo court" MO Scott Ritter detailed a few years ago:

"Simply put, the Russia NIA is not an "IC-coordinated" assessment -- the vehicle for such coordination, the NIC, was not directly involved in its production, and no NIO was assigned as the responsible official overseeing its production. Likewise, the Russia NIA cannot be said to be the product of careful coordination between the CIA, NSA and FBI -- while analysts from all three agencies were involved in its production, they were operating as part of a separate, secretive task force operating under the close supervision of the Director of the CIA, and not as an integral part of their home agency or department."

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/did-17-intelligence-agencies-really-come-to-consensus-on-russia/

slit , Jan 13, 2019 11:25:22 PM | link
Zachary @2, JackRabbit:

Why does it have to be either-or?; it could have been for insurance AND warmongering narrative/dog whistling.

Escalation towards war with Russia was a matter of public record in late pre-election 2016, thanks to Clinton News Network ... now ask yourselves where is that general in the press conference nowadays?

DNC Russia Hotwar

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dIYHje-rv5w

Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 1:19:29 AM | link
NemesisCalling @31: Here is a reply to all your points

Well, you haven't replied to all my points, nor have you addressed the the thrust of my remarks. But I'll answer the issues that you raised so my view is clear to everyone.

=
- yes, the Russia-bad narrative was picking up steam before Trump's election. The MSM and TPTB incorrectly surmised that there would be enough anti-Russia fervor among the masses that pinning the accusation on Trump would stick. It did not. It is evidence of THEIR stupidity.
Wrong. Firstly, I was referring to the anti-Russia imperative in official circles NOT to the propaganda effort. That imperative intensified greatly after Russia blocked USA-proxy takeover of Syria (2013), and Crimea and Donbas (2014). In fact, Kissinger wrote a WSJ Op-Ed in Aug 2014 that issued a cryptic call for MAGA.

"picking up steam before Trump's election" needs some unpacking. The anti-Russia fervor among the masses has been entirely concocted, and mostly AFTER 2014.

Nothing has stuck to Trump because there's no substance to the allegations.

=
- you must have never heard of keeping your enemies close. The Clintons are powerbrokers. Trump used them. Maybe he did like them at one point, but clearly shat on his relationship with them and since the election they have truly been trashed and unable to recover any good fortune or power. The Dems made a mistake will backing HRC. They weren't acting under Deep State orders once again, Occam's Razor dictates that stupidity is the culprit here.
What does Occam's Razor have to say about the remarkable continuity of US foreign and domestic policy for the last 30 years?

Trump and the Clintons were known to be close. Even their daughter's were/are close.

Are you unaware of the CIA connections of Clinton, Bush, and Obama? Should we assume that Trump is free of any such connection?

=
- How does FBI informant in campaign neccessarily implicate Trump in conspiracy and not confirm IC's weasely attempts to dig up dirt?
The FBI informant (Felix Sater) worked for Trump from about 2001 to 2013. This was essentially the same period in which Mueller was FBI Director. Mueller and Comey are close and are connected to the Clinton's.

The informant wasn't investigating Trump or digging up dirt on him, he was informing on the Russian mob, and probably using employment by Trump to get closer to the mob. FBI/counter intel might have also used info provided to turn some of the Russians into US intel assets.

=
- Look at prior Repub primaries? Notice anything? Populists don't float in the Yacht Club Party, do they? Trump was an anomoly indicitive of the times (again, Occam's Razor).
Have you heard of the Tea Party? Have you heard of Obama using the IRS against the Tea Party? Seems that a Republican populist would get a lot of votes against the hated Hillary who championed Obama's "legacy".

- Again, it is absolutely absurd and suspicious that you can not admit that the Dems are a party of retards and that they consistently step over quarters to pick up pennies.
You can't admit that the Dem's have failed the left so consistently that it is unlikely to be due to their mental capacity or an accident of circumstance.

=
- Your opinion that Trump's policies do not differ from the Dems needs qualifying. I don't agree that his domestic policies align and verdict is still out on his FP. We know he is not a True-Believer, which is good.
I didn't say that they don't differ from the Dems, I said that Trump policies are consistent with policies of previous Administrations and that Hillary likely would've ruled in much the same way.

=
- British involvement again suggests that the IC is compromised and globalized yielding national sovereignty to centralized planning. Trump deserves that ire and proves that there is a contest afoot
The US IC is undoubtedly primary and universally acknowledged to be the lead in the US-Brit Intel relationship.

The only 'contest' I can discern is how best to fool the people.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

You seem to believe that a populist outsider can be elected President. And, you also believe that a US President can be both all powerful (Obama) or constrained by Deep State whim (Trump).

You also seem to believe that Trump's rhetoric is gospel-truth and means what you think it does. Surprise! "Negotiation with Russia" doesn't mean peace. Troop 'pull out' doesn't mean it'll happen any time soon (and possibly never). Anti-TPP doesn't mean he won't implement TPP provisions in other trade agreements. Etc.

PS The establishment doesn't benefit DESPITE our populist President's, they benefit BECAUSE we are willing to believe that our populist President's work for US.

NemesisCalling , Jan 14, 2019 2:14:54 AM | link
Jr, it was a fruitless endeavor, to be sure, but I gave it a shot.

For the record, I never counted Trump as savior, although he could very well be if he continues on getting caught with his dick in his hand as the empire around him crumbles. He's not a true believer, but he can at the very least be a useful idiot for the real anti-imperialists in the world.

bryan hemming , Jan 14, 2019 7:05:34 AM | link
It is of note that Oleg Deripaska is not a stranger to the world of politics and politicians. Before his fortunes changed dramatically, Oleg Deripaska was well-known for entertaining world politicians on his luxury yacht moored off Kassiopi in the northwest corner of the Greek Island of Corfu.

The Rothschilds have an estate outside Kassiopi. Among the many high-powered friends and guests of Deripaska was UK Tory politician, George Osborne, who visited him on his yacht at Kassiopi while still British Chancellor of the Exchequer. Osborne and EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson, a powerful force in Tony Blair's government, were both guests at a function held aboard the yacht in 2008. Baron Mandelson's position in the EU, at the time, led to accusations of a conflict of interest.

Among other movers and shakers, John McCain was also a friend of Oleg Deripaska, but that friendship may have soured after the virtual collapse of the Russian billionaire companies. McCain was more a fairweather friend than a stalwart ally through thick and thin. The reason I mention these tidbits is because the corporate media fails to join all the pieces that show just how corrupt Western politicians have become.

Harley Schlanger , Jan 14, 2019 7:06:30 AM | link
For a thorough update on the Integrity Initiative and its offshoots, check out the latest from legal investigator Barbara Boyd.

To defeat the "Deep State" in the U.S., it is essential to understand the role of British Intelligence. While it is essential to know the role of Hillary Clinton, Obama, Comey, DOJ/FBI operatives, et.al., it is even more important to understand the geopolitical assumptions behind Russiagate. And for that, one must turn to the British.

https://larouchepac.com/20190110/part-ii-integrity-initiatives-foreign-agents-influence-invade-united-states

Hoarsewhisperer , Jan 14, 2019 7:36:44 AM | link
It would help to get a handle on the precise nature and format of these FBI "under oath" fishing expeditions if the FBI released transcripts of a few of the recent hi-profile Q & A sessions. If suspects are being convicted for misdemeanors of dubious relevance to the stated aim of the Mueller Crusade then transcripts would allow inconsistencies to be counted and evaluated. It would also be interesting to discover whether the FBI uses a seductive approach to questioning, or a confrontational approach, given the petty nature of the 'crimes' exposed to date.
Petri Krohn , Jan 14, 2019 8:58:50 AM | link
The aim of the counterintelligence operation and of the Russiagate hoax was not to build a prosecution case against President Trump. It was to put the United States in constitutional limbo by creating a parallel and competing center of constitutional legitimacy.

The Obama Administration would live on in the structure of this "investigation", without ever having to relinquish power to Trump. The investigation would form the center of "The Resistance", with the ability to question the legitimacy of the Trump Administration.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 9:43:31 AM | link
Jackrabbit @ 37

I didn't say that they don't differ from the Dems, I said that Trump policies are consistent with policies of previous Administrations and that Hillary likely would've ruled in much the same way.

This is very true but only in the same sort of overgeneralised sense with you populate your latest CT. That is, sweep any of the plainly ridiculous assumptions in your theory under the widest possible rug available to conspiratards.

At least you aint exactly drinking the Orange Kool-Aid like so many of the posters on this thread. That's a big positive in my book. As for them, it's more a reflection of the love for rightwing authoritarianism than for Trump himself. What they really wish for is a crafier, shrewder Amerikkkan version of Putin, but they accept Trump because his bumbling is the existential proof of US decline in relative power, as if such proof was necessary.

And if you overlook all Trump's achievements (such as they are):

1. Obamacare/Medicaid expansion repeal and subsequent degradation of the enrollment and funding processes by executive degree when appeal failed thanks only to McCain's "in yo office sucka" thumbs down vote.

2. Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations (basically same thing)

3. SCOTUS and federal bench selections


The US system is meant to create a uniparty environment whereby opposing views are compromised into a "third way" legislative process.

I grok this system is broken and completely controlled by the wealthiest (show me a political system anywhere that you prefer that is not controlled by the wealthiest) but the funding mechanisms need changing before there will ever be significant change to governing processes.

Trump through his ignorance, corruption and loose lips has tilted the playing field left. Hilliary through her elitism, arrogance, corruption and lack of retail political skills gets a big assist in the same tilting.

Those who believe (if any truly do) that Trump represents anything more than the end of Reaganist conservatism are "wishin' and hopin'" as Dusty Springfield would say.

I do applaud those who are willing to show in the comments that they suffer from the real "Trump Derangement Syndrome," such as your good buddy James. They're all crooks, in his opinion.

So what is it Jim? Do you excuse Trump only or do you excuse them all? LMAO

Peter AU 1 , Jan 14, 2019 9:45:39 AM | link
Putin January 2017 - "You know, there is a category of people who leave without saying goodbye, out of respect for the situation that has evolved, so as not to upset anything. And then there are people who keep saying goodbye but don't leave. I believe the outgoing administration belongs to the second category.

What are we seeing in the United States? We are seeing the continuation of an acute internal political struggle despite the fact that the presidential election is over and it ended in Mr Trump's convincing victory. Nevertheless, in my opinion, several goals are being set in this struggle. Maybe there are more, but some of them are perfectly obvious."

The first is to undermine the legitimacy of the US president-elect. By the way, in this regard, I would like to point out that whether deliberately or not, these people are causing enormous damage to US interests. Simply enormous. The impression is that, after a practice run in Kiev, they are now ready to organise a Maidan in Washington to prevent Trump from taking office."

Peter AU 1 , Jan 14, 2019 9:46:40 AM | link
The link for my post @45
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53744

Posted by: pretzelattack , Jan 14, 2019 10:05:43 AM | link

sure, no doubt trump has been involved in financial improprieties; this in no way means he colluded with Russia to fix the election, or that russia on its own hacked the election, or any of the other false narratives the ic is trying to cram down our throats with the connivance of the msm and (mostly, but there are some republicans pushing it, too) the "centrist" dems.

And the clintons have their own skeletons, but they seem to be judgement proof with the aid of comey et al.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 10:22:40 AM | link
pretzelattack @ 47

The only real difference between Trump and the Clintons at end of the day is they are smart lawyers who obviously better understand how to navigate the treacherous legal waters surrounding them.

They also know what the definition of "is, is" and how to carefully craft their words in public, while Trump is all loose cannon all the time ahd his legal representation appears to follow his lead, IE Giuliani and Cohen.

Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 10:53:12 AM | link
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 14, 2019 9:45:39 AM | 45:
We are seeing the continuation of an acute internal political struggle despite the fact that the presidential election is over and it ended in Mr Trump's convincing victory.
Not really. What we are seeing is Deep State controlled media force-feeding the public a toxic concoction: the narrative of a political struggle that centers on anti-Russia hysteria.

Maybe you missed Romney's Op-Ed in which he praised Trump's pro-establishment policies while attacking his Russia-friendly 'pull out' from Syria. That's the best example of the two-faced establishment bullsh*t.

Welcome to the rabbit hole.

Robert Snefjella , Jan 14, 2019 10:57:29 AM | link
What is loosely called 'globalism', consisting of various trends and ideologies and practices: the EU and the aborted for now 'North American Union' and satellites, and cell phones able to instantly transmit images from the other side of the planet, and so on, has also importantly aimed at and advocated for and implemented various means by which national sovereignty was eroded.

And this erosion meant a reduction of the ability of a country's people to wield an effective national politics, let alone something vaguely democratic, or to implement policies which were at odds with the various globalist institutions and imperatives and programs. So we've seen on numerous occasions, for example, the IMF impose its globalist economic 'recipe' on a nation's economic policies.

And even the destruction of Libya in 2011 was primarily or importantly directed at preventing Libya from implementing a national financial strategy intended to give African countries an alternative to the depredations of global financial 'business as usual'.

But over the last two years the movement to restore or renovate national sovereignty has made something of a comeback.

So for example, Macron as recently as roughly two years ago was being lauded as a great new leader of the globalist project, and both he and Merkel have gone on record decrying the very concept of national sovereignty.

But now Macron and Merkel are largely reviled, especially Macron, by their people, and 'populist' enthusiasm strengthens. You can see the same trend in virtually every European country.

And in the United States, the tens of millions of 'deplorables' backing Trump are doing so partly, perhaps mostly, because he champions the restoration of national sovereignty and has questioned dominant globalist institutions.

Now for those who are committed to the view that Trump doesn't really mean it, that he isn't really an American nationalist, and so on, well, fine, believe what you like. But in the end, Trump's base of support is nationalistic, and that is as I noted above a very general trend that is quickly manifesting.

pretzelattack , Jan 14, 2019 11:17:45 AM | link
https://theintercept.com/2019/01/14/the-fbis-investigation-of-trump-as-a-national-security-threat-is-itself-a-serious-danger-but-j-edgar-hoover-pioneered-the-tactic/
Noirette , Jan 14, 2019 12:00:27 PM | link
Collapse ctd.

Re. the USA, when the handmaidens of power, aka politicians, the servant class in an oligarchic corporatist 'state,' are alarmingly seen to fight to the death in public it is crystal clear that control (which may take the shape of relatively informal and obscure networks ) is lost, .. > the 'fight' will only serve to weaken all parties.

Trump is loathed because he upset the apple cart and revealed weakness and fissures in the system. (+ possibly because he is an upstart, from the wrong side of whatever, has bad hair, is dumb, a thief, more )

He ran as an anti-establishment maverick:

  • "Drain the Swamp!"
  • "Lock her up!"
  • "Build the Wall!"

- and was elected only for that reason. It was disconcertingly easy to do, which is also terrifying to the PTB. Plus, election/voter fraud did not perform as expected - help !! The MSM promoted him with mega 24/24 coverage - help !!

As the no. 1 disruptive foe is merely an elderly scummy biz type, an intruder, some other entity like malignant agressive Russia had to be associated with him. (Yes, is was Obama-Clinton who started the highjinks + the following Mueller investig.; see b at top - also, bashing Russia gradually took wing as it recovered under Putin, the Ukraine plots did not work out, etc. *Crimea!* the last straw! ..)

If Obama had announced that 2K USA personnel were to be withdrawn from Syria because the good folks want their wonderful husbands and wives, great ppl, our folks, home soon, they have dutifully served, etc. the MSM and anyone who bothered to digest that news would have clapped and sent off pixel sparkles and sweet tweets.

Very difficult to judge: what is the result of infighting in the US vs. any agreed-on never mind coherent foreign policy? That the question is even asked - all over the world now - spells stage one collapse.

Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 12:23:45 PM | link
Robert Snefjella @50:
Now for those who are committed to the view that Trump doesn't really mean it, that he isn't really an American nationalist, and so on, well, fine, believe what you like. But in the end, Trump's base of support is nationalistic ..."

Did Obama really mean it when he touted "Change You Can Believe In"? No. His rhetoric was meant to turn the page from the Bush Administration excesses and convince the world that USA was not the threat that they perceived us to be. In fact, he was given a Nobel Prize for essentially not being Bush. But it was all psyop. Obama refused to hold CIA accountable for rendition and torture, refused to stop NSA pervasive spying, conducted covert wars and regime change ops, bragged of his drone targeting skills, made Bush tax cuts permanent, bailed out bankers, etc.

Does Trump really mean his nationalism? Only to the extent that a nationalist was needed to meet the challenge from Russia and China. People don't fight for globalist principals.

US is still a member of NATO, still involved in the Middle East, still has hundreds of bases around the world.

Trump's nationalist credentials are further belied by such things as: adding TPP provisions to the new North American trade agreement; attacking Syria based on false flags; arming Ukraine; pulling out of the INF treaty and engaging in an unnecessary and costly arms race; actively seeking to overthrow the governments of Iran and Venezuela; etc.

Welcome to the rabbit hole.

Peter AU 1 , Jan 14, 2019 12:41:01 PM | link
dahoit 53

Is there a requirement for an open trial on these sort of things. I'm not sure about the US, but normally gag orders are all that's required to keep something quiet. All the people around Trump could be taken down in this way with charges that would stick.
Apparently the only one they cannot take down in this way is the president (Another post up now at SST on the legalities of investigating the president). As far as I know, the president can only be taken down by impeachment so I guess they wouldn't try to use collusion with Israel for that unless they could keep what they were impeaching him for secret.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 1:18:09 PM | link
Snefjella @ 50

And in the United States, the tens of millions of 'deplorables' backing Trump are doing so partly, perhaps mostly, because he champions the restoration of national sovereignty and has questioned dominant globalist institutions.

Yes, "Amerikkka First" represents nationalism for sure. Many, maybe most Amerikkkans have always been nationalistic and detest globalist structures because they view them as limiting Amerikkka's rightful global sovereignty. This is a fine distinction I believe gets lost in commentary such as yours. Trump isn't looking to retreat from Amerikkkan Exceptionalism at all, it his raison d etre for the tariffs and increases in military spending.

The movement which elected Trump represents the nostalgic view of a lost Amerikkkan dominance over the globe, which of course they blame on those hated Democratic and Republican establishment globalists, Bushes, Clintons and Obama.

donkeytale , Jan 14, 2019 1:23:22 PM | link
And I meant "rightful" in quotation marks not that I believe it is rightful but is the opinion of the "Deplorables".
Zachary Smith , Jan 14, 2019 1:43:05 PM | link
@ Jackrabbit #28
You see all that and then assume that the Hillary-Trump contest was genuine?

Why not assume that the Deep State's candidate won in every election since Carter and work from there.

That first is a difficult one to answer, for I quite agree with you on the second part. Rigged elections from Carter on to the present day matches my own thoughts as well. In 2000 "they" had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get their man in office, but GWB did indeed move into the White House.

My own theory about 2016 is that everybody miscalculated. Trump was (IMO) running as an ego-building publicity stunt. Hillary (and her Deep State sponsors) had actively helped Trump get the nomination with hundreds of millions of dollars of free publicity which also enhanced the bottom lines of Big Media. His multiple flaws were airbrushed away. Hillary ran a horrible campaign because she is an arrogant and "entitled" woman. The incompetence of that campaign simply didn't uncover the extent to which she was hated by so many people. (myself included, but I didn't vote for the torture-loving Trump, either)

The biggest mistake of all was not having any plan in place to use the touch-screen voting systems (think "Diebold") to nail down her victory. Again an opinion, but I think that was judged to be a little too risky plus the fact it was obviously totally unnecessary. Hillary didn't have a "loss" speech prepared, and Trump didn't have a "victory" one.

This is why I call Trump an "accidental" President. I'll admit the Deep State has reacted pretty well since 2016, but they're still playing catchup. Israel - to name just one - remains in shell shock.

In summary, I think we barely disagree. :)

vk , Jan 14, 2019 1:55:56 PM | link
I think Trump's election was a miscalculation of the American elites...
Robert Snefjella , Jan 14, 2019 2:54:31 PM | link
Further to American's general support for Trump's declared intention of reduction of troops in Syria and Afghanistan, the Daily Caller on the 9th of January 2019 cited 56 % in support, 20 % not sure, and 27 % opposing. This is after MSM and general national political outrage and 'deep concern' over Trump's decision.

Note that US involvement in Syria has been justified by the most lurid of lies and disinfo continually poured for years into American's psyches. For Tulsi Gabbard to have a direct conversation with Assad (the designated 'butcher of Damascus', the 'horrid monstrous dictator' accused over and over of attacking his own people, often with chemical weapons from barrel bombs, and especially targeting children and hospitals: the man can have no soul, no heart! We must help the Syrians in their struggle against this animal!) was an outrage!

So not only do most Americans want American troops out of Syria, it would seem that there is some growing immunity among the people of the United States to their diet of diseased propaganda.

karlof1 , Jan 14, 2019 3:16:31 PM | link
Just finished b's excellent recap and the entire affair reeks of Treason -- not against Trump, but against the Nation.
Jackrabbit , Jan 14, 2019 4:57:11 PM | link
Posted by: vk | Jan 14, 2019 1:55:56 PM | 60

Donald Trump as an outsider of the GOP

The populist hero must be portrayed as an "outsider" that takes on the establishment. Obama was positioned in much the same way.

Trump is no "outsider". He is very establishment. Even before running for President, he had access that ordinary people never get.

Trump only won because of a bizarre technicality of the American electoral system.

You are directing our attention to what the establishment wants us to see. It ignores Hillary's spectacular failure: snubbing of Sanders progressives; Cold shoulder to black voters; insult to white voters ("deplorables"); choosing not to campaign in crucial states; the wierdness of Bill Clinton being discovered meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Bill Clinton is one of the most recognizable people in America - why why why would be meeting with the Attorney General on an airport tarmac?), etc.

If the race were easy, Trump woundn't be a populist hero, would he? And Hillary's winning the popular vote is a nice consolation prize to the Clinton's. Plus, it nicely sets up the fake Deep State vs. Trump conflict.

Linda Amick , Jan 14, 2019 8:22:16 PM | link
While Trump is a member of the elite establishment that practically owns the country he has always been a pariah for one main reason. He does not honor the unspoken code of never exposing inside information about other elite members. He is a big mouth.

Given that, the establishment and their propaganda arm of the media have been out to get him even before he was elected. His presidency has largely been an inside struggle. However, Trump is clever and crafty. During his tenure he has been give access to tremendous amounts of information about his political enemies and he continues to bait, insult and fire them, pushing them deeper and deeper into insanity.

He will fight fire with fire. If they attempt to impeach him he will tit for tat release information incriminating his enemies. I view this as a positive direction for the US in the long run. ALL of these people need to be banished to "Elba". Maybe they will fight to the death of both sides. One can dream.

[Jan 13, 2019] NSA Director Mike Rogers visit to Donald Trump

Notable quotes:
"... On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation in "October" that [NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers] Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position: The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed. ..."
"... After the visit by Rogers, Trump vacated Trump Towers. ..."
Jan 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Robert Snefjella , Jan 13, 2019 4:43:58 PM | link

Great journalism b!

A few more points: from: https://theconservativetreehouse.com/

"On Thursday November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Mike Rogers traveled to New York and met with President-Elect Donald Trump.

On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation in "October" that [NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers] Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position: The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.

In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower.

Occam's Razor. NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers didn't want to participate in the spying scheme [on Trump]

(Clapper, Brennan, Etc.), which was the baseline for President Obama's post presidency efforts to undermine Donald Trump and keep Trump from digging into [who knows what crimes]"

After the visit by Rogers, Trump vacated Trump Towers.

There is considerable irony in the Mueller 'probe' and the continuing avalanche of MSM lies and evasions and spin etc pertaining to Trump.

There are trends: A growing US citizen realization that their political system prior to Trump was nearly completely corrupt; the Clintons are more broadly understood as the pathological criminals that they are; the Podesta emails with their sick connotations remain 'in the air' - See Ben Swann's work, for example. The Clinton Foundation is far more broadly understood as a massive criminal enterprise.

Serious criminality at the highest levels of the FBI is now far more obvious to far more people

MSM as evil propaganda is more widely understood.

It is understood widely that the DNC material to Wikileaks was not 'hacked' (Binney)

From the theintercept.com :

"Pompeo met on October 24 [at Trump's request] with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysis published by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community's official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year's theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was "leaked," not hacked, "by a person with physical access" to the DNC's computer system."

In short the last two years have been about trying to defeat Trump but the attackers are looking more and more wounded, and Trump, well, he's hanging in there. General Kelly and others have described Trump's work ethic as exhausting.

[Jan 12, 2019] CLASSIFIED The most powerful investor you never heard of by globalintelhub

Jan 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Pre IPO Swap New York, NY 1/12/2019

Did you know that the CIA has its own Venture Fund? And did you know that Venture fund was key in starting Facebook and Google? As explained in the book Splitting Pennies – the world is not as it seems.

For many readers especially on this comes as no surprise, as you are well aware of the octopus that wraps its tentacles around the globe. But it may surprise you how active In-Q-Tel is and how chummy they are with the rest of the VC community. It's as if they are just another VC, but with another purpose. Let's look at some of the stats, from Crunchbase:

Here's a list of recent investments

If you dig back you won't see Google or Facebook on there – which is company policy for retail consumer investments that can impact the public (it's kept secret behind an NDA). Here's how it works – In-Q-Tel may invest in your startup but there's a big catch. First, you have to sign an NDA which is enforced strongly – that you are not to disclose your partner. Second, you must agree to 'cooperation' when it comes to information sharing now or down the road, such as location data on people using Facebook, Google, or other systems – perhaps only to feed it into a big data brain at Palantir. Or perhaps for more street level surveillance. The surveillance is known by fact, not conspiracy theory – but by fact – due to the disclosure of classified documents by Edward Snowden. If it were not for Snowden, we could only guess about this. The name of the main program is PRISM but there are many others.

For those in the VC community that are deep in the know- the "Deep VCs" like Peter Thiel for example, the Snowden revelations would come as no surprise. MUST READ – No Place To Hide – the story of the NSA, PRISM, and Snowden (written by Greenwald).

But for others, it may come as a surprise that not only the CIA has its own VC fund, but that it sits on many corporate boards alongside many Wall St. firms and other VCs.

And of course, they always do well.

Let's consider the doors they opened for Google, or in the case of Google it was more like the doors that were closed. Google was not the best search engine, it was not superior technology – it wasn't even really very good. It just became a monopoly and crushed the competition. Many wonder how they were able to do it, and that this is part of the Entrepreneur "Magic" that few have. Well we can say in the case of Google there was no Magic they had a helping hand from a friend in the deep shadows. Google wanted to become huge – the CIA wants information (they always do, so we don't use the past tense 'wanted'). So it was a cozy and rational partnership – in exchange for making the right handshakes at the right time, allowing Google to become a global behemoth, all they needed to do was share a little information about users. Actually, a lot of information. No harm in that, right?

But in doing so Google violated itself as well as prostituted its model and its users. Google still does this and is not nearly as flagrant as its brother Facebook, however Google shares more detailed 'meta data' which is actually more useful to Echelon systems like Palantir that rely on big data, not necessarily photos of what you ate for breakfast (but that can be helpful too, they say).

The metaphor is making a deal with the devil; you get what you want but it comes at a price. And that's the price users pay to Google – they get service 'free' but at a huge cost, their privacy. Of course – this is all based on the concept of Freedom which really does exist in USA. You don't have to use Google – there are many alternatives like the rising star Duck Duck Go :

But who cares about privacy; only criminals, hackers, programmers, super wealthy (UHNWI) and a few philosophers.

Google remains the dominant search platform and much more. Google exploits niche by niche even competing with Amazon's Alexa service.

The argument here is that Google wouldn't be Google without the help of the CIA. This isn't our idea it's a fact, you can read about it here on qz.com:

Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google's ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online. The intelligence community hoped that the nation's leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

There you have it – Google is the child of the digital revolution of the surveillance state. Why spy, when you can collect data electronically and analyze with machine learning?

The new spy is the web bot.

And the investors in Google did well – so that's the investing story that matters here. It pays well to have friends in high places, and in dark places. Of all the investments In-Q-Tel made, almost all of them have done very well. That doesn't mean that Palantir is going to grow to the size of Google, but it does provide natural support should a company backed by In-Q-Tel run into problems.

By the time Facebook came out, digital surveillance was already in the n-th generation of evolution, and they really stepped up their game. In the creepiest examples, Facebook doesn't necessarily (and primarily) collect data on Facebook users – it does this too. But that's just a given – you don't need to perform surveillance on someone who gives all their data to the system willingly – you always know where they are and what they are doing at any given moment. The trick is to get information about those who may try to hide their activities, whether they are real terrorists or just paranoid geniuses.

How does Facebook do this? There are literally hundreds of programs running – but in one creepy example, Facebook collects photos that users take to analyze the environment surrounding. Incidentally, the location data is MUCH MORE accurate than you see on the retail front end. So you get the newspaper and see a gift in your mailbox for your birthday – you take a photo because the ribbons are hanging out. What shows up in the background? All kinds of information. What the neighbor is doing. License plate of the car driving by. Trash waiting to be picked up by the street. A child's toy left by the sidewalk. You get the picture. Facebook users have been turned into sneaky little digital spies! While they are walking around with their 'smartphones' (should be called 'dumbphones') scrolling their walls and snapping photos away – they are taking photos of you too. That means, Facebook collects data for the CIA about users who don't have Facebook accounts. This is the huge secret that the mainstream media doesn't want to tell you. Deleting your Facebook account will do nothing – every time you go out in public you are being photographed, video recorded, and more – all going into big data artificial intelligence for analysis.

But here's the best part. You own it! The CIA may have a bad reputation but it is part of the US Government, and thus – profits go back to the Treasury (those which are declared) or at least they are supposed to. Considering this, why is there a stigma about even talking about In-Q-Tel when in fact we should be more involved in any US Government operation when it is technically owned by the people and funded by taxpayers? Meaning, do taxpayers have rights to know what goes in in taxpayer funded entities, like In-Q-Tel? The big difference between In-Q-Tel and the CIA is that In-Q-Tel functions just like any other VC – they disclose most of their investments, they attend conferences, they accept business plans. You can literally submit your idea to In-Q-Tel and get funding. Of course, like any VC there's a very small chance of being funded.

So what's an investor's take on this story? In-Q-Tel is not Freddie Mac there is nor a quasi-government entity; it's not an NGO and there is no implicit guarantee that In-Q-Tel's deals will do any better than Andreessen Horowitz .

However, their deals do very well. Companies they fund not only have the backing of the CIA explicitly, it's not only about business – it's about national security! Under that guise, it's no wonder that companies like Google and Facebook rocket to the top.

We are not suggesting that investors double down on In-Q-Tel bets. We are only suggesting that at a minimum, we follow what they do. It's a data point – a good source of information. And the best part is that it's public.

Their most recent investment is in a virtual reality company in Boca Raton, FL called Immersive Wisdom:

Immersive Wisdom® is an enterprise software platform that allows users to collaborate in real-time upon diverse data sets and applications within a temporal and geospatially-aware Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality space. Immersive Wisdom is hardware-agnostic and runs on VR, AR, as well as 2D displays. Regardless of geographic location , multiple users can be together in a shared virtual workspace, standing on maps, with instant access to relevant information from any available source. Users can simultaneously, and in real time, visualize, fuse, and act upon sensor inputs, cyber/network data, IoT feeds, enterprise applications, telemetry, tagged assets, 3D Models, LiDAR, imagery and UAV footage/streaming video, providing an omniscient, collaborative view of complex environments. Immersive Wisdom also acts as a natural human interface to multi-dimensional data sets generated by AI and machine learning systems. The platform includes a powerful SDK (Software Developer Kit) that enables the creation of customer-specific workflows as well as rapid integration with existing data sources/applications.

Cool stuff for sure – but it's in early stages. Pre IPO Swap suggests real Pre IPO 'unicorns' not because of size, but because of the right mix of risk and reward. https://preiposwap.com/pitch " style="color:#0d2e46; text-decoration:underline">See why we think so in our pitch.

In any analysis, it's worth watching In-Q-Tel, which is a top source of funding and investment data we watch on www.preiposwap.com/ ">https:// www.preiposwap.com/ " style="color:#0d2e46; text-decoration:underline">Pre IPO Swap.

To get real-time updates on companies like this, companies that In-Q-Tel invests in - www.preiposwap.com/follow ">http:// www.preiposwap.com/follow ">follow our blog free.

[Jan 08, 2019] No, wealth isn t created at the top. It is merely devoured there by Rutger Bregman

Highly recommended!
Financialization is a new type of racket...
Notable quotes:
"... Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they're sucking the rest of us dry @rcbregman ..."
"... 'A big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body' ..."
"... This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state. These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have "made it". By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world. ..."
"... To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our "human capital" in economic terms) to create something new, whether that's a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth. ..."
"... But there is also a second way to make money. That's the rentier way : by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others' expense, using his power to claim economic benefit. ..."
"... For those who know their history, the term "rentier" conjures associations with heirs to estates, such as the 19th century's large class of useless rentiers, well-described by the French economist Thomas Piketty . These days, that class is making a comeback. (Ironically, however, conservative politicians adamantly defend the rentier's right to lounge around, deeming inheritance tax to be the height of unfairness.) But there are also other ways of rent-seeking. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley , from big pharma to the lobby machines in Washington and Westminster, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere. ..."
"... It may take quite a mental leap to see our economy as a system that shows solidarity with the rich rather than the poor. So I'll start with the clearest illustration of modern freeloaders at the top: bankers. Studies conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements – not exactly leftist thinktanks – have revealed that much of the financial sector has become downright parasitic. How instead of creating wealth, they gobble it up whole. ..."
"... In other words, a big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body. It's not creating anything new, merely sucking others dry. Bankers have found a hundred and one ways to accomplish this. The basic mechanism, however, is always the same: offer loans like it's going out of style, which in turn inflates the price of things like houses and shares, then earn a tidy percentage off those overblown prices (in the form of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, or what have you), and if the shit hits the fan, let Uncle Sam mop it up. ..."
"... Bankers are the most obvious class of closet freeloaders, but they are certainly not alone. Many a lawyer and an accountant wields a similar revenue model. Take tax evasion . Untold hardworking, academically degreed professionals make a good living at the expense of the populations of other countries. Or take the tide of privatisations over the past three decades, which have been all but a carte blanche for rentiers. One of the richest people in the world, Carlos Slim , earned his millions by obtaining a monopoly of the Mexican telecom market and then hiking prices sky high. The same goes for the Russian oligarchs who rose after the Berlin Wall fell , who bought up valuable state-owned assets for song to live off the rent. ..."
"... Even paragons of modern progress like Apple, Amazon, Google , Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are woven from the fabric of rentierism. Firstly, because they owe their existence to government discoveries and inventions (every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll). And second, because they tie themselves into knots to avoid paying taxes, retaining countless bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists for this very purpose. ..."
"... Even more important, many of these companies function as "natural monopolies", operating in a positive feedback loop of increasing growth and value as more and more people contribute free content to their platforms. Companies like this are incredibly difficult to compete with, because as they grow bigger, they only get stronger. ..."
"... Most of Mark Zuckerberg's income is just rent collected off the millions of picture and video posts that we give away daily for free. And sure, we have fun doing it. But we also have no alternative – after all, everybody is on Facebook these days. Zuckerberg has a website that advertisers are clamouring to get onto, and that doesn't come cheap. Don't be fooled by endearing pilots with free internet in Zambia. Stripped down to essentials, it's an ordinary ad agency. In fact, in 2015 Google and Facebook pocketed an astounding 64% of all online ad revenue in the US. ..."
"... Rentierism is, in essence, a question of power. That the Sun King Louis XIV was able to exploit millions was purely because he had the biggest army in Europe. It's no different for the modern rentier. He's got the law, politicians and journalists squarely in his court. That's why bankers get fined peanuts for preposterous fraud, while a mother on government assistance gets penalised within an inch of her life if she checks the wrong box. ..."
"... The biggest tragedy of all, however, is that the rentier economy is gobbling up society's best and brightest. Where once upon a time Ivy League graduates chose careers in science, public service or education, these days they are more likely to opt for banks, law firms, or trumped up ad agencies like Google and Facebook. When you think about it, it's insane. We are forking over billions in taxes to help our brightest minds on and up the corporate ladder so they can learn how to score ever more outrageous handouts. ..."
"... One thing is certain: countries where rentiers gain the upper hand gradually fall into decline. Just look at the Roman Empire. Or Venice in the 15th century. Look at the Dutch Republic in the 18th century. Like a parasite stunts a child's growth, so the rentier drains a country of its vitality. ..."
Mar 30, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Rutger Bregman

Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they're sucking the rest of us dry @rcbregman

Comments 890

'A big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body'.

This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state. These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have "made it". By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world.

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, while the right fears high taxes will blunt enterprise – but across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top.

So entrenched is this assumption that it's even embedded in our language. When economists talk about "productivity", what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like " welfare state ", "redistribution" and "solidarity", we're implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.

In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as "successful" and "innovative" are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it's a non-issue.

To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our "human capital" in economic terms) to create something new, whether that's a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.

But there is also a second way to make money. That's the rentier way : by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others' expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.

'From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere.'

For those who know their history, the term "rentier" conjures associations with heirs to estates, such as the 19th century's large class of useless rentiers, well-described by the French economist Thomas Piketty . These days, that class is making a comeback. (Ironically, however, conservative politicians adamantly defend the rentier's right to lounge around, deeming inheritance tax to be the height of unfairness.) But there are also other ways of rent-seeking. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley , from big pharma to the lobby machines in Washington and Westminster, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere.

There is no longer a sharp dividing line between working and rentiering. In fact, the modern-day rentier often works damn hard. Countless people in the financial sector, for example, apply great ingenuity and effort to amass "rent" on their wealth. Even the big innovations of our age – businesses like Facebook and Uber – are interested mainly in expanding the rentier economy. The problem with most rich people therefore is not that they are coach potatoes. Many a CEO toils 80 hours a week to multiply his allowance. It's hardly surprising, then, that they feel wholly entitled to their wealth.

It may take quite a mental leap to see our economy as a system that shows solidarity with the rich rather than the poor. So I'll start with the clearest illustration of modern freeloaders at the top: bankers. Studies conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements – not exactly leftist thinktanks – have revealed that much of the financial sector has become downright parasitic. How instead of creating wealth, they gobble it up whole.

Don't get me wrong. Banks can help to gauge risks and get money where it is needed, both of which are vital to a well-functioning economy. But consider this: economists tell us that the optimum level of total private-sector debt is 100% of GDP. Based on this equation, if the financial sector only grows, it won't equal more wealth, but less. So here's the bad news. In the United Kingdom, private-sector debt is now at 157.5% . In the United States, the figure is 188.8% .

In other words, a big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body. It's not creating anything new, merely sucking others dry. Bankers have found a hundred and one ways to accomplish this. The basic mechanism, however, is always the same: offer loans like it's going out of style, which in turn inflates the price of things like houses and shares, then earn a tidy percentage off those overblown prices (in the form of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, or what have you), and if the shit hits the fan, let Uncle Sam mop it up.

The financial innovation concocted by all the math whizzes working in modern banking (instead of at universities or companies that contribute to real prosperity) basically boils down to maximizing the total amount of debt. And debt, of course, is a means of earning rent. So for those who believe that pay ought to be proportionate to the value of work, the conclusion we have to draw is that many bankers should be earning a negative salary; a fine, if you will, for destroying more wealth than they create.

Bankers are the most obvious class of closet freeloaders, but they are certainly not alone. Many a lawyer and an accountant wields a similar revenue model. Take tax evasion . Untold hardworking, academically degreed professionals make a good living at the expense of the populations of other countries. Or take the tide of privatisations over the past three decades, which have been all but a carte blanche for rentiers. One of the richest people in the world, Carlos Slim , earned his millions by obtaining a monopoly of the Mexican telecom market and then hiking prices sky high. The same goes for the Russian oligarchs who rose after the Berlin Wall fell , who bought up valuable state-owned assets for song to live off the rent.

But here comes the rub. Most rentiers are not as easily identified as the greedy banker or manager. Many are disguised. On the face of it, they look like industrious folks, because for part of the time they really are doing something worthwhile. Precisely that makes us overlook their massive rent-seeking.

Take the pharmaceutical industry. Companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer regularly unveil new drugs, yet most real medical breakthroughs are made quietly at government-subsidised labs. Private companies mostly manufacture medications that resemble what we've already got. They get it patented and, with a hefty dose of marketing, a legion of lawyers, and a strong lobby, can live off the profits for years. In other words, the vast revenues of the pharmaceutical industry are the result of a tiny pinch of innovation and fistfuls of rent.

Even paragons of modern progress like Apple, Amazon, Google , Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are woven from the fabric of rentierism. Firstly, because they owe their existence to government discoveries and inventions (every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll). And second, because they tie themselves into knots to avoid paying taxes, retaining countless bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists for this very purpose.

Even more important, many of these companies function as "natural monopolies", operating in a positive feedback loop of increasing growth and value as more and more people contribute free content to their platforms. Companies like this are incredibly difficult to compete with, because as they grow bigger, they only get stronger.

Aptly characterising this "platform capitalism" in an article, Tom Goodwin writes : "Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate."

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll.' Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

So what do these companies own? A platform. A platform that lots and lots of people want to use. Why? First and foremost, because they're cool and they're fun – and in that respect, they do offer something of value. However, the main reason why we're all happy to hand over free content to Facebook is because all of our friends are on Facebook too, because their friends are on Facebook because their friends are on Facebook.

Most of Mark Zuckerberg's income is just rent collected off the millions of picture and video posts that we give away daily for free. And sure, we have fun doing it. But we also have no alternative – after all, everybody is on Facebook these days. Zuckerberg has a website that advertisers are clamouring to get onto, and that doesn't come cheap. Don't be fooled by endearing pilots with free internet in Zambia. Stripped down to essentials, it's an ordinary ad agency. In fact, in 2015 Google and Facebook pocketed an astounding 64% of all online ad revenue in the US.

But don't Google and Facebook make anything useful at all? Sure they do. The irony, however, is that their best innovations only make the rentier economy even bigger. They employ scores of programmers to create new algorithms so that we'll all click on more and more ads. Uber has usurped the whole taxi sector just as Airbnb has upended the hotel industry and Amazon has overrun the book trade. The bigger such platforms grow the more powerful they become, enabling the lords of these digital feudalities to demand more and more rent.

Think back a minute to the definition of a rentier: someone who uses their control over something that already exists in order to increase their own wealth. The feudal lord of medieval times did that by building a tollgate along a road and making everybody who passed by pay. Today's tech giants are doing basically the same thing, but transposed to the digital highway. Using technology funded by taxpayers, they build tollgates between you and other people's free content and all the while pay almost no tax on their earnings.

This is the so-called innovation that has Silicon Valley gurus in raptures: ever bigger platforms that claim ever bigger handouts. So why do we accept this? Why does most of the population work itself to the bone to support these rentiers?

I think there are two answers. Firstly, the modern rentier knows to keep a low profile. There was a time when everybody knew who was freeloading. The king, the church, and the aristocrats controlled almost all the land and made peasants pay dearly to farm it. But in the modern economy, making rentierism work is a great deal more complicated. How many people can explain a credit default swap , or a collateralised debt obligation ? Or the revenue model behind those cute Google Doodles? And don't the folks on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley work themselves to the bone, too? Well then, they must be doing something useful, right?

Maybe not. The typical workday of Goldman Sachs' CEO may be worlds away from that of King Louis XIV, but their revenue models both essentially revolve around obtaining the biggest possible handouts. "The world's most powerful investment bank," wrote the journalist Matt Taibbi about Goldman Sachs , "is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

But far from squids and vampires, the average rich freeloader manages to masquerade quite successfully as a decent hard worker. He goes to great lengths to present himself as a "job creator" and an "investor" who "earns" his income by virtue of his high "productivity". Most economists, journalists, and politicians from left to right are quite happy to swallow this story. Time and again language is twisted around to cloak funneling and exploitation as creation and generation.

However, it would be wrong to think that all this is part of some ingenious conspiracy. Many modern rentiers have convinced even themselves that they are bona fide value creators. When current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was asked about the purpose of his job, his straight-faced answer was that he is " doing God's work ". The Sun King would have approved.

The second thing that keeps rentiers safe is even more insidious. We're all wannabe rentiers. They have made millions of people complicit in their revenue model. Consider this: What are our financial sector's two biggest cash cows? Answer: the housing market and pensions. Both are markets in which many of us are deeply invested.

Recent decades have seen more and more people contract debts to buy a home, and naturally it's in their interest if house prices continue to scale new heights (read: burst bubble upon bubble). The same goes for pensions. Over the past few decades we've all scrimped and saved up a mountainous pension piggy bank. Now pension funds are under immense pressure to ally with the biggest exploiters in order to ensure they pay out enough to please their investors.

The fact of the matter is that feudalism has been democratised. To a lesser or greater extent, we are all depending on handouts. En masse, we have been made complicit in this exploitation by the rentier elite, resulting in a political covenant between the rich rent-seekers and the homeowners and retirees.

Don't get me wrong, most homeowners and retirees are not benefiting from this situation. On the contrary, the banks are bleeding them far beyond the extent to which they themselves profit from their houses and pensions. Still, it's hard to point fingers at a kleptomaniac when you have sticky fingers too.

So why is this happening? The answer can be summed up in three little words: Because it can.

Rentierism is, in essence, a question of power. That the Sun King Louis XIV was able to exploit millions was purely because he had the biggest army in Europe. It's no different for the modern rentier. He's got the law, politicians and journalists squarely in his court. That's why bankers get fined peanuts for preposterous fraud, while a mother on government assistance gets penalised within an inch of her life if she checks the wrong box.

The biggest tragedy of all, however, is that the rentier economy is gobbling up society's best and brightest. Where once upon a time Ivy League graduates chose careers in science, public service or education, these days they are more likely to opt for banks, law firms, or trumped up ad agencies like Google and Facebook. When you think about it, it's insane. We are forking over billions in taxes to help our brightest minds on and up the corporate ladder so they can learn how to score ever more outrageous handouts.

One thing is certain: countries where rentiers gain the upper hand gradually fall into decline. Just look at the Roman Empire. Or Venice in the 15th century. Look at the Dutch Republic in the 18th century. Like a parasite stunts a child's growth, so the rentier drains a country of its vitality.

What innovation remains in a rentier economy is mostly just concerned with further bolstering that very same economy. This may explain why the big dreams of the 1970s, like flying cars, curing cancer, and colonising Mars, have yet to be realised, while bankers and ad-makers have at their fingertips technologies a thousand times more powerful.

Yet it doesn't have to be this way. Tollgates can be torn down, financial products can be banned, tax havens dismantled, lobbies tamed, and patents rejected. Higher taxes on the ultra-rich can make rentierism less attractive, precisely because society's biggest freeloaders are at the very top of the pyramid. And we can more fairly distribute our earnings on land, oil, and innovation through a system of, say, employee shares, or a universal basic income .

But such a revolution will require a wholly different narrative about the origins of our wealth. It will require ditching the old-fashioned faith in "solidarity" with a miserable underclass that deserves to be borne aloft on the market-level salaried shoulders of society's strongest. All we need to do is to give real hard-working people what they deserve.

And, yes, by that I mean the waste collectors, the nurses, the cleaners – theirs are the shoulders that carry us all.

• Pre-order Utopia for Realists and How Can We Get There by Rutger Bregman

• Translated from the original Dutch by Elizabeth Manton

See also:

[Jan 04, 2019] Anonymous Data Collection Is More Risky Than Users Think

Jan 04, 2019 | www.itprotoday.com

Without much thought, users frequently sign away rights to supposedly anonymous data collected by businesses and other organizations , with the idea that the information will ultimately improve their services and online experience. But a new study from MIT suggests that "anonymous" data can be woven together using multiple sources and is far more identifiable than most people realize.

The researchers used logs from a mobile network operator and timestamps from a public transportation system in Singapore to match individuals. With a week's worth of anonymous data collection, the researchers could match the cell phone logs and trip timestamps to a unique user about 17 percent of the time. With a month's data, a person could be identified about 55 percent of the time. In 11 weeks, users could be identified 95 percent of the time.

The researchers also said they could easily speed up identification of users by adding another stream of data. With less than a week's data, the researchers estimated they could identify 95 percent of people by using the sort of GPS location data that's regularly collected by smartphone apps.

[Jan 02, 2019] American People Admit Having Facebook Data Stolen Kind Of Worth It To Watch That Little Fucker Squirm

Jan 02, 2019 | www.theonion.com

CHICAGO -- Saying it was ultimately a small price to pay in exchange for the splendid spectacle that has followed, millions of Americans admitted Thursday that they didn't really mind having their Facebook data stolen if it meant getting to watch that little fucker squirm.

[Dec 22, 2018] US Embassy Shopping List

Dec 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

An anticapitalist voice , Dec 22, 2018 11:57:21 AM | link

"US Embassy Shopping List" - New dump from WikiLeaks on US embassies being used for international spying - procurement forms of equipment. There is total mainstream media silence in English-speaking countries on WikiLeaks releases following the original Vault 7 documents, I would not be surprised if this was intentional and based on wrongly guilty feelings among liberals at those outlets that they lost Hillary the election. We'll see what excitement 2019 brings but hopefully it will see a retreat of the neoliberals as well as the far-right in favor of left-wing politics #socialism #communism #anarchism

https://www.rt.com/news/447193-wikileaks-spying-us-embassies/

[Dec 21, 2018] China national charged with stealing trade secrets by David Shepardson and Makini Brice

Dec 21, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday a Chinese national had been arrested for stealing trade secrets from a U.S.-based petroleum company, his employer, related to a product worth more than $1 billion.

The department alleged Hongjin Tan downloaded hundreds of files related to the manufacture of a "research and development downstream energy market product," which he planned to use to benefit a company in China that had offered him a job. He was arrested on Thursday in Oklahoma and will next appear in court on Wednesday, the department said.

Tan's LinkedIn page said he has worked as a staff scientist for Phillips 66 (PSX.N) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, since May 2017.

Phillips 66 said in a statement it was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a probe involving a "former employee at our Bartlesville location," but declined to comment further.

An FBI affidavit said Phillips 66 called the agency last week to report the theft of trade secrets and Tan told a former co-worker he was leaving to return to China.

The FBI found on Tan's laptop an employment agreement from a Chinese company that has developed production lines for lithium ion battery materials.

Tan accessed files for marketing the trade secret "in cell phone and lithium-based battery systems," the FBI said. Phillips 66 said it has one of two refineries in the world that manufacture the unspecified product.

Tan was responsible for research and development of the U.S. company's battery programme and developing battery technologies using its proprietary processes. Phillips 66 told the FBI it had earned an estimated $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion from the unspecified technology.

[Dec 16, 2018] Writers Silenced by Surveillance Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data by Nik Williams

Notable quotes:
"... Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. ..."
"... As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. ..."
"... In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". ..."
"... At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support. ..."
"... Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" ..."
"... we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye. ..."
"... And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? ..."
"... Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications. ..."
"... Weekly Standard ..."
"... The Great Gatsby ..."
Dec 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Writers Silenced by Surveillance: Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data Posted on December 15, 2018 by Yves Smith Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy

We know what censorship looks like: writers being murdered, attacked or imprisoned; TV and radio stations being shut down; the only newspapers parrot the state; journalists lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth to secure a license or permit; government agencies approving which novels, plays and poetry collections can be published; books being banned or burned or the extreme regulation of access to printing materials or presses. All of these damage free expression, but they leave a fingerprint, something visible that can be measured, but what about self-censorship? This leaves no such mark.

When writers self-censor, there is no record, they just stop writing or avoid certain topics and these decisions are lost to time. Without being able to record and document isolated cases the way we can with explicit government censorship, the only thing we can do is identify potential drivers to self-censorship.

In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. Following these revelations, the UK government pushed through the Investigatory Powers Act , an audacious act that modernised, consolidated and expanded digital surveillance powers. This expansion was opposed by civil rights organisations, (including Scottish PEN where I work), technologists, a number of media bodies and major tech companies, but on 29th November 2016, it received royal assent.

But what did this expansion do to our right to free expression?

As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. Following the Snowden revelations, John Penny at the Oxford Internet Institute analysed traffic to Wikipedia pages on topics designated by the Department of Homeland Security as sensitive and identified "a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned 'al Qaeda,' 'car bomb' or 'Taliban.'" This report was in line with a study by Alex Marthews and Catherine Tucker who found a similar trend in the avoidance of sensitive topics in Google search behaviour in 41 countries. This has significant impact on both free expression and democracy, as outlined by Penney: "If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate."

But it doesn't end with sourcing information. In a study of Facebook, Elizabeth Stoycheff discovered that when faced with holders of majority opinions and the knowledge of government surveillance, holders of minority viewpoints are more likely to "self-censor their dissenting opinions online". If holders of minority opinions step away from online platforms like Facebook, these platforms will only reflect the majority opinion, homogenising discourse and giving a false idea of consensus. Read together, these studies document a slow erosion of the eco-system within which free expression flourishes.

In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". But is this bigger than the US? Scottish PEN, alongside researchers at the University of Strathclyde authored the report, Scottish Chilling: Impact of Government and Corporate Surveillance on Writers to explore the impact of surveillance on Scotland-based writers, asking the question: Is the perception of surveillance a driver to self-censorship? After surveying 118 writers, including novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, translators, editors and publishers, and interviewing a number of participants we uncovered a disturbing trend of writers avoiding certain topics in their work or research, modifying their work or refusing to use certain online tools. 22% of responders have avoided writing or speaking on a particular topic due to the perception of surveillance and 28% have curtailed or avoided activities on social media. Further to this, 82% said that if they knew that the UK government had collected data about their Internet activity they would feel as though their personal privacy had been violated, something made more likely by the passage of the investigatory Powers Act.

At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support.

Literacy concerning the use of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (oftentimes called PETs) is a vital part of how we protect free expression in the digital age, but as outlined by the concerns of a number of the participants, it is largely under-explored outside of the tech community: "I think probably I need to get educated a wee bit more by someone because I think we probably are a bit exposed and a wee bit vulnerable, more than we realize." Another was even more stark about their worries about the available alternatives: "I have no idea about how to use the Internet 'differently'".

When interviewed, a number of writers expressed concerns about how their writing process has changed or is in danger of changing as a result of their awareness of surveillance. One participant who had covered the conflict in Northern Ireland in 70s and 80s stated that they would not cover the conflict in the same manner if it took place now; another stopped writing about child abuse when they thought about what their search history may look to someone else; when they heard of a conviction based on the ownership of the Anarchist Cookbook, a participant who bought a copy for research shredded it. Further to this a participant stated: "I think I would avoid direct research on issues to do with Islamic fundamentalism. I might work on aspects of the theory, but not on interviewing people in the past, I have interviewed people who would be called 'subversives'."

These modifications or avoidance strategies raise a stark and important question: What are we as readers being denied if writers are avoiding sensitive topics? Put another way, what connects the abuse of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, the treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian government on Manus and Nauru, the hiding of billions of pounds by wealthy individuals as revealed in the Panama and Paradise Papers, the deportation of members of the 'Windrush Generation' and the Watergate scandal? In each case, writers revealed to the world what others wanted hidden. Shadows appear less dense if writers are able to explore challenging issues and expose wrongdoing free from the coercive weight of pervasive surveillance. When writers are silenced, even by their own hand, we all suffer.

Surveillance is going nowhere – it is embedded into the fabric of the internet. If we ignore the impact it has on writers, we threaten the very foundations of democracy; a vibrant and cacophonous exchange of ideas and beliefs, alongside what it means to be a writer. In the words of one participant: "You can't exist as a writer if you're self-censoring."

Thuto , December 15, 2018 at 4:18 am

Thanks Yves, this is an important topic. Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" (after all the state wants unfettered access to our digital lives and any attempt by individuals to curtail such access is viewed with suspicion, and maybe even a little contempt).

I trust the takeaway message from this post will resonate with any person who holds what might be considered "heretical" or dissenting views. I'd also argue that it's not just writers who are willingly submitting themselves to this self-censorship straitjacket, ordinary people are themselves sanitizing their views to avoid veering too far off the official line/established consensus on issues, lest they fall foul of the machinery of the security state.

norm de plume , December 15, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Yes – not just 'writers' as in 'those who write for a living or at least partly define themselves as writers in either a creative or an activist sense, or both' – but all of us who do not perceive ourselves as 'writers', only as people who in the course of their lives write a bit here and there, some of it on public platforms such as this, but much of it in emails and texts to friends and family. It wouldn't be quite so bad if the surveillance was only of the public stuff, but we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye.

Staying with the 'not just' for a moment – the threat is not just government security agencies and law enforcement, or indeed Surveillance Valley. It is clear that if egghead techs in those employments are able to crack our lives open then egghead techs in their parent's basement around the corner may be capable of the same intrusions, their actions not subject to any of the official box-ticking govt actors with which govt actors must (or at least should) comply.

And it is not just the danger of govt/sinister 3rd parties identifying potential security (or indeed political or economic) threats out of big data analysis, but the danger of govt and especially interested third parties targeting particular known individuals – political enemies to be sure, but also love rivals, toxic bosses, hated alpha males or queen bitches, supporters of other football clubs, members of other races not deemed fully human,.. the list is as long as that of human hatreds and jealousies. The danger lies not just in the use of the tech to ID threats (real or imagined) but in its application to traduce threats already perceived.

And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? Apparently no fire behind that smoke, but what if there was? The mass US surveillance of other parties prior to UN Iraq deliberations (from the Merkels down to their state-level support bureaucrats) was a fleeting and hastily forgotten glimpse of the reach of TIA, its 'full spectrum dominance', from the heights of top level US-free strategy meetings down to the level of the thoughts and hopes of valets and ostlers to the leaders, who may be useful in turning up references to the peccadilloes of the higher-ups 'go massive – sweep it all up, things related and not'

And it's not just the fear of some sort of official retribution for dissenting political activism that guides our hands away from typing that deeply held but possibly inflammatory and potentially dangerous opinion. Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications.

This is done without human intervention at the individual level but the whole process is set up in such a way that the algorithms are able to neatly, bloodlessly, move applicants for whom certain keywords turned up matches (union or party membership, letters to the editor or blog posts on financial fraud, climate change vanguardism, etc) to the back of the queue, in time producing a grey army of yes people in our bureaucracies.

The normal person's ability to keep pace with (let alone ahead of) the tech disappeared long ago. So when a possible anonymising solution – Tor – crops up but is soon exposed as yet another MI/SV bastard love child, the sense of disappointment is profound. Shocked but not surprised.

Truly, we are surrounded.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 5:57 am

"Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn't it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? "

We already know insurers have been using online searches to discriminate amongst the victimae. The married/unmarried differences in cancer treatments are a confirmation. Self-censorship is a rational decision in seeking information in a linked world. (I gave up on affording insurance, and I do searches for friends; the ads I get are amusing.)

It could be said that journalists have a professional duty, but as the man said, "If you believed something different, you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting."

As the woman said, "If your business depends on a platform, your business is already dead."

(As for the above quote, check the provenance for the relevance.)

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 6:07 am

The quote is, "If your business depends on a platform, you don't have a business."

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 7:08 am

Thank you very much, I had searched and found the variant.

Seriously, do you have a link to the original (post? comment?) I quote you often on this. Or try to.

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 10:46 am

Aaaw ..Lambert may have quoted it in Water Cooler. We've both said it but mainly in comments.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 11:10 am

That's exactly what happened.

I confess I do concatenate your quotes on occasion: "For a currency to function as a reserve currency is tantamount to exporting jobs." Some of your most illuminating statements are in side comments to linked articles.

Means I spend a lot of time reading the site. But then I get to recategorize most other current events sites as 'Entertainment.' And since they're not very, they've been downregulated.

Arizona Slim , December 15, 2018 at 10:11 am

Giving up on affording insurance. That should never happen.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 10:55 am

My choice being shackled e'n more to chains of FIRE, or living a healthy happy life, rather than increasing my stress by fighting institutions, we're investing in ourselves. Good sleep, good food, good exercise.

The basis of our diet is coffee, with cocoa (7% daily fiber with each tablespoon) and organic heavy whipping cream (your fats should be organic (;)). That cream's not cheap; well, actually it is amazingly cheap considering the energy inputs. I'll be fasting soon to murder cancer cells, and fasting also costs, lets see, nothing.

That the best thing you can do is nothing, occasionally, is a strong offset to the institutional framework. Janet's been a nurse 40 years, and every day (truth) we get another instance of not wanting the probisci inserted. Even when we get M4A, we'll be cautious in our approach.

KPC , December 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Pure air, pure water, pure food leads to pura vida or the good life. Paraphrasing the Karma Sutra.

The Rev Kev , December 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

I suppose that here we are looking at the dogs that did not bark for evidence of self-censorship. Certainly my plans to take over the world I do not keep on my computer. I had not considered the matter but I think that a case could be made that this may extend further than just writers. The number of writers that cannot publish in the US but must publish their work in obscure overseas publications is what happens to those who do not seek to self censor. There are other forms of censorship to be true. I read once where there was an editorial meeting for either the Washington Post or New York Times when a story came up that would make Israel look bad. The people at the table looked around and without so much as a nod that story was dropped from publication. Now that is self-censorship.
But I can see this self censorship at work elsewhere. To let my flight take fancy, who will paint the modern "Guernica" in this age? Would there be any chance that a modern studio would ever film something like "The Day After" mentioned in comments yesterday again? With so many great stories to be told, why has Hollywood run itself into a creative ditch and is content to film 1960s TV shows as a movie or a version of Transformers number 32? Where are the novels being written that will come to represent this era in the way that "The Great Gatsby" came to represent the 1920s? My point is that with a total surveillance culture, I have the feeling that this is permeating the culture and creating a chilling effect right across the board and just not in writing.

Tomonthebeach , December 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm

What we are experiencing censorship-wise is nothing new, just more insidious. It is not even a Left/Right politics issue. We just saw Trumpist fascist conservatives KILL the Weekly Standard (an action praised by Trump) for advocating the wrong conservativism. The shift in the televised/streamed media from news to infotainment has enabled neoliberal capitalism to censor any news that might alienate viewers/subscribers to justify obscene charges for advertising. Hilariously, even fascist Laura Ingram got gored by her own neolib ox.

Of course, a certain amount of self-censorship is prudent. Insulting, inflammatory, inciteful, hateful speech seldom animates beneficial change – just pointless violence (an sometimes law suits). Americans especially are so hung up on "free speech" rights that they too often fail to realize that no speech is truly free . There are always consequences for the purveyor, good and bad. Ask any kid on the playground with a bloody nose.

I would like to see some Google traitor write an article on the latest semantic analysis algorithms and tools. Thanks to the government, nobody but the FEDs and Google have access to these new tools that can mine terabytes of speech in seconds to highlight global patterns which might indicate plotting or organizing that might be entirely legal. I have been trying for years to get access to the newer unobtainable tools to help improve the development of diagnostic and monitoring self-report health measures. Such tools can also quickly scan journals to highlight and coordinate findings to accelerate new discoveries. For now, they are used to determine if your emails indicate you are a jihadist terrorist or dope peddler, or want to buy a Toyota or a Ford.

lyman alpha blob , December 15, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Where are the novels ?

Rhetorical I know, but Don DeLillo is quite good. It was in his novel Libra , although arguably from/about a different era at this point, where it first hit home to me that the Blob really does manipulate the media to its own ends all the time. And you can't swing a cat without hitting a terrorist in his books.

But to your point, DeLillo is pretty old at this point and I'm hard pressed to think of anyone picking up his mantle. And none of his novels, as brilliant as some of them might be, rise to the level of The Great Gatsby in the popular imagination to begin with.

cnchal , December 15, 2018 at 8:06 am

The surveillance people are the nicest, kindest human beings that have only your best interest at heart.

They would never break down your door and terrorize you for searching online for a pressure cooker and if you heard stories that they did that, the surveillancers have an answer for you, it's fake news, and if you persisted in not believing them, there are other methods of persuasion to get you to change your mind or at least shut up about it.

Carolinian , December 15, 2018 at 9:50 am

That pressure cooker story gets a lot of mileage. While there is undoubtedly a lot of surveillance it might be interesting to see a story on just how much of it leads to actual arrests on real or trumped up charges. Here's suggesting that the paranoia induced by books like Surveillance Valley is over the top in the same way that TV news' focus on crime stories causes the public to think that crime is rampant when it may actually be declining.

That said, journalists who indulge their vanity with Facebook or Twitter accounts are obviously asking for it. And the journalistic world in general needs to become a lot more technologically "literate" and realize that Youtube videos can be faked as well as how to separate the internet wheat from the chaff. Plus there's that old fashioned way of learning a story that is probably the way most stories are still reported: talking to people–hopefully in a room that hasn't been bugged.

Just to add that while the above may apply to America that doesn't mean the web isn't a much more sinister phenomenon in countries like China with its new social trust score. We must make sure the US never goes there.

Jeremy Grimm , December 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm

For your first sentence I think you are referencing:
The surveillance people are "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being[s] I've ever known in my life." (ref. Statement by Major Marco about Raymond Shaw from 1962 and 2004 movies "The Manchurian Candidate"). ?
Maybe you need some refresher re-education.

thoughtful person , December 15, 2018 at 8:25 am

Expression of minority opinions and surpressed information is not a safe activity, thus we self censor. However reality asserts itself and perhaps in those moments one can more safely express alternate points of view. As far as writing online i worry about the future – with everything recorded and searchable, will we at some point be facing round ups of dissidents? What kind of supression will stressed governments and corporate hierarchies do in the future?

juliania , December 15, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" is a case in point, and not about the future either.

William Hunter Duncan , December 15, 2018 at 10:43 am

I think the last blog post I wrote that was linked here at NC was called "TPP is Treason."

I was writing and was published on the Internet from 2011-2016. I continue to write, but I no longer publish anything online, I closed my Facebook account, and I rarely comment on articles outside of NC, especially anywhere I have to give up a digital-ton of personal info and contacts just to say a few words one time.

Goodness knows I do not worry a bit about fundamentalist Islamic militancy. Do I have any anxiety about jackbooted "law enforcement" mercenaries in riot gear and automatic rifles breaking down my door at the behest, basically, of the corporate/banking/billionaire, neoliberal/neoconservative status quo, my big mouth excoriating these elite imperialists, at the same time asset forfeiture laws are on the books and I can have EVERYTHING taken from me for growing a single plant of cannabis, or even having any cannabis in my house, or not, all they have to report to a complicit media and prosecutorial State is that I was growing cannabis when there was none.

Of course there is little danger of that if I am not publishing, and hardly anyone knows I ever have, and no one currently is paying any attention.

The fact in America at least is, as long as the status quo is secure, TPTB don't really care what I write, as long as they do not perceive it as a threat, and the only way they would is if a LOT of people are listening But still, there is nothing more terrifying on earth than America's Law/Corporate/Bank/Privatized Military/Media imperialist State, chilling to say the least, evidenced in the extreme by a distracted, highly manipulated and neutered citizenry.

Wukchumni , December 15, 2018 at 10:52 am

"My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."

"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai Stevenson

rjs , December 15, 2018 at 11:32 am

Caitlin Johnstone has written about her own self-censorship a few times; her's one:

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/10/16/self-censorship-where-the-real-damage-is-being-done/

shinola , December 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Siri? Alexa? Just volunteer.

Orwell was prescient. It just took a bit longer & is more commercialized than he anticipated.

Stratos , December 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm

So true. Surveillance sold as convenience -- -or "connection" (facebook and twitter, et. al.)

[Dec 15, 2018] Pwnie Awards

Dec 15, 2018 | pwnies.com

Lifetime Achievement Award

Most hackers have the personality of a supermodel who does discrete mathematics for fun. Like mathematicians, hackers get off on solving very obscure and difficult to even explain problems. Like models, hackers wear a lot of black, think they are more famous than they are, and their career effectively ends at age 30. Either way, upon entering one's third decade, it is time to put down the disassembler and consider a relaxing job in management.

[Dec 12, 2018] Freedom and privacy have been eroded by the malicious actions of psychopaths. The tech itself is like a fence. The destruction of liberty is like English kleptocrats forcing peasants off the commons and fencing the land into sheep pens. Don't blame fence technology; don't blame the sheep; blame the kleptocrats.

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

[Dec 12, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net
  1. Mary Margaret Flynn permalink April 24, 2016

    I am remembering the movie "Other Peoples' Lives", about the Stasi in East Germany before 1989; a terrific and even more terrifying today (than when I first saw it) about surveillance of every one by corporations and governments. the wall has come down, we've had the Middle East "Spring" but nothing is changed.

[Dec 10, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 10, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

What the Infotech/Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done 2016 April 23 tags: Infotech revolution , Telecom Revolution by Ian Welsh Globe on Fire There's a great deal of talk about how wonderful modern technology is. The internet, cell phones, and computers are the stars of this firmament. I believe such talk is somewhat overblown; the latest tech revolution is not as significant as many that have come before .

At least not in terms of doing good.

Let us examine what all this infotech really has changed.

Control. Massive control. Surveillance.

Just in time inventory. Not possible 50 years ago.

Second to second tracking of workers without having to have a supervisor physically watching them. Amazon warehouse workers carry devices which allow their workflow to be tracked to the second. And if they aren't making their seconds, the supervisor is right on them. This wasn't possible 30 years ago. If you wanted to have that sort of control, you had to have a supervisor physically watching them, and the cost was prohibitive.

This sort of tracking is used for clerical workers as well.

Outsourcing work that had to be kept domestic before. The massive call centers in Delhi and Ireland were not possible even 30 years ago. The cost was simply prohibitive.

Offshoring work, like manufacturing, was difficult to offshore before. Without real-time, high-density communications, cutting edge manufacturing overseas was very difficult in the past. You could offshore some things, certainly, but those industries tended to be mature industries: shipbuilding, textiles, and so on. Cutting edge industries, no, they had to be located close to the boffins or they were offshored to another, essentially First World country–as when Britain offshored much of their production to the United States in the late 19th century.

Commercial surveillance. Everything you buy is cross referenced. When you buy something at a major retailers, the store takes a picture of you and matches it with your information. All online purchase information is stored and centralized in databases. This information is shared. This includes, but goes far beyond, internet surveillance; witness Google or Facebook serving you ads based on what you've read or searched. Add this data to credit reports, bank accounts, and so on, and it provides a remarkably complete picture of your life, because everything you buy with anything but cash (and even some of that) is tracked. Where you are when you buy it is also tracked.

Government surveillance. Millions of cameras in London and most other First World cities. Millions of cameras in Chinese cities. Some transit systems now have audio surveillance. Because the government can seize any private surveillance as well, you can assume you're being tracked all day in most First World cities. Add this to the commercial surveillance system described above and the picture of your life is startlingly accurate.

As biometric recognition system comes online (face, gait, infrared, and more) this work will be done automatically.

What the telecom and infotech revolution has done is enable wide scale CONTROL and SURVEILLANCE.

These are two sides of the same coin, you can't control people if you don't what they're doing.

This control is most dictatorial, amusingly, in the private sector. The worse a job is, the more this sort of control has been used for super-Taylorization, making humans into little more than remotely controlled flesh robots.

It has made control of international conglomerates far easier; control from the top to the periphery far easier. This is true in the government and the military as well, where central commanders often control details like when bombs drop, rather than leaving it to a plane's crew.

This is a world where only a few people have practical power. It is a world, not of radical decentralization, but of radical centralization.

This is a vast experiment. In the past, there have been surveillance and control societies. But the math on them has always been suspect. Sometimes they work, and work brilliantly–like in Tokugawa Japan, certain periods of Confucian Chinese bureaucratic control, or ancient Egypt.

But often they have been defeated, and fairly easily, by societies which allowed more freedom; less control, less spying, and supervision. Societies which assumed people knew what to do on their own; or just societies that understood that the cost of close supervision and surveillance was too high to support.

The old East German Stasi model, with one-third of the population spying on the other two-thirds was the ludicrous extension of this.

What the telecom and infotech revolutions have actually enabled is a vast experiment in de-skilling, surveillance, and control–beyond the dreams even of the late 19th century Taylorist movement, with their stopwatches and assembly lines. Nothing people do, from what they eat, to what entertainment they consume, to when and how well they sleep; let alone everything they do during their working day, is beyond reach.

This is not to say there are no good results from infotech and computers -- there are plenty. But contrary to the idea that these technologies would increase freedom, they appear, on a daily basis, to have decreased freedom and privacy and promise to radically reduce them even more.

The second set of questions about any technology are how it can be used for violence, how it can be used for control, and how it can be used for ideological production.

(The first question, of course, is what is required to use it. More on that another time.)

Infotech may enable totalitarian societies which make those of the past look like kindergarten. We are already far past the technology used in the novel 1984 (Big Brother could not record, for example). That much of this surveillance is done by private actors as opposed to the government, does not reduce the loss of freedom, autonomy, and privacy.

Combined with making humans obsolete, infotech and the telecom revolution are as vastly important as their boosters say.

But, so far, not in a beneficial way. Yes, they could be used to make human lives better, it seems the real traction of the telecom and infotech revolutions remarkably began/coincided with neo-liberal policies which have hurt vast numbers of people in both the First and Third Worlds–precisely because they helped make those neo-liberal policies work.

Technologies are never neutral and there is no guarantee that "progress" will actually improve people's lives. Even if a technology has the potential to improve people's lives, potential is theoretical; i.e., not the same as practice.

Infotech and telecom tech are primarily control technologies, the same as writing was. They vastly increase the ability to centralize and to control a population's behaviour.

(Read also: The Late Internet Revolution is Not So Big A Deal )

[Dec 10, 2018] Facebook, Whatsup and Brazilian elections

Dec 10, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Over the last few years, the potentially damaging impact of the internet, and particularly social media, on democracy has increasingly come to dominate the news. The recently disclosed internal Facebook emails, which revealed that employees discussed allowing developers to harvest user data for a fee, are but the latest in a long line of scandals surrounding social media platforms. Facebook has also been accused, alongside Twitter, of fuelling the spread of false information. In October, the Brazilian newspaper Folha exposed how Jair Bolsonaro's candidacy benefited from a coordinated disinformation campaign conducted via Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook. And there are growing concerns that this tactic could be used to skew the Indian general elections in April.

[Dec 09, 2018] Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Notable quotes:
"... Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military Reuters. EM: "Wow, this guy is clueless even by top-brass standards. For example: Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones." Moi: I assume this is intended for the great unwashed masses, to give them the impression that Google and the surveillance state are not joined at the hip.

Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

Re: Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military

I will be more interested when the employees of a tech company revolt over the development of technology used to monitor workers or put them out of work. It is easier to oppose military projects because they smack of something out of The Terminator films while developments like Neo-Taylorism are not as obviously evil but are perhaps just as inhuman and socially destructive.

Molly , December 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm

I'm involved with the Tech Workers Coalition, although I only speak for myself as a member. Some of my fellow members were involved in the Google organizing against project Maven, and also Dragonfly. In the last few months there have also been organized actions at Amazon and Salesforce in opposition to working with ICE. Various TWC members are also involved in partnering with food service and janitorial staff around worker organizing and improving working conditions. One of the efforts I'm starting to get involved with is a more organized network for mutual aid and disaster relief in the Bay Area, in the wake of this year's fire season.

Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people.

Tech culture, especially in Silicon Valley, teaches workers to identify with the company completely. At Google you are a Googler. At Pivotal you are a Pivot. We refer to each other this way, inside and outside of work. We are working against that conditioning when we organize, so starting with "Let's not build things that blow humans into burning bits" is helpful.

[Dec 09, 2018] Large corporation like Facebooka and Google are profoundly undemocratic and have ties with intelligence agencies on multiple level including the level of founders

Notable quotes:
"... A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House . ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

... ... ...

Yet, reality could be bleeker. A handful of private companies control the information that is needed to understand how the online ecosystem works. They manage the key infrastructure, and most experts in the field are running this infrastructure after having signed non-disclosure agreements. Thus, Plato's Allegory of the Cave might be a more fitting metaphor. Control over key data allows these companies to play the role of shadow-masters. They get the chance to reveal only the portions of reality they find convenient, defining how the general public perceives the online space. Information scarcity is therefore not just the natural consequence of the internet's novelty; it is created artificially and for strategic purposes: To shape public opinion.

Should we break up these big companies? Should we allow them to continue growing, but under strict, utility-type rules? Should we do nothing? Whatever we do should be the result of a robust public debate. One that is based on the best available evidence regarding the effects the internet is having on power relations, and is therefore capable of defining the set of actions that would best serve the public interest. In short, at this point, we need key information to be disclosed and available for public scrutiny. But information is power – and it is unlikely to be disclosed voluntarily. It might require regulation.

When food production became industrialized, the US Government created the Food and Drug Administration, which was tasked with monitoring and disclosing information regarding compliance with quality standards. When government became too complex for the average citizen to navigate, ombuds offices sprouted across the globe. As an independent institution of government, ombuds were given the duty and power to investigate how government units work, and report on matters concerning people's rights. The current situation requires exploring a similarly bold institutional reform. One focused on ensuring the data needed to inform public debate is made available by the tech industry.

Most people scoffed at the limited understanding of our digital world members of the US Congress revealed when they grilled Mark Zuckerberg . And yet its likely Facebook is not the only company behaving recklessly, nor the US Senators the only public representatives that are "ignorant".

What we have is a growing gap between where power lies and where the institutions that seek to hold it accountable to the people operate. Such institutions are incapable of allowing democratically elected leaders to deliver their campaign promises. This is what is ultimately triggering social tensions and undermining trust in our democracies. We need our institutions to interpret these tensions as red flags and a call for a new social contract. And we need institutions to react now. This situation goes far beyond the debate around digitalization. Yet the online space is our future, and is therefore where this gap is most visible and urgent.

If our current institutions of government fail to ensure the ongoing technological revolution puts people first, these institutions will sooner or later be rendered irrelevant.

A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House .


James McRitchie , December 8, 2018 at 10:16 am

Facebook is a dictatorship of one. Alphabet is a dictatorship of two. As long as corporate governance is anti-democratic that will have an unfortunately negative impact on civil society. I hope shareholders in these and other companies will vote in favor of proposals by NorthStar and others to phase out multi-class share structures, require that directors get at least a majority vote to take office, do away with supermajority voting requirements, etc.

Michael Fiorillo , December 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

The Internet was "born in sin," developed as it was to maintain communications during a nuclear holocaust against a fundamentally fake threat.

Let's remember that the Soviet Union, however repressive it may have been toward its own people and those in satellite countries, never posed the existential threat to the US that was claimed. Rather, as Senator Arthur Brandenburg of Michigan infamously told Harry Truman at the dawn of the Cold War, it would be necessary "to scare the hell out of the American people" to get them to turn against their former Soviet allies, which the State and compliant media spent the next forty years doing, often/largely producing weapons that don't work against enemies that don't exist.

How has the Internet ever not been a tool of the national security state, and why should we have ever expected otherwise?

Nick Stokes , December 8, 2018 at 3:31 pm

The internet is "mind control" for the elite. By making basic bias of the individual easy to qualify and nuture

...

precariat , December 8, 2018 at 5:45 pm

While the discussion of of the need for new paradigms for regulation and accountability -- lest democratic or civil institutions become irrelevant -- is very much needed, I am bewildered by the framing of the discussion to only the internet. The internet is just one, interactive and immediately visible use of technology that has the potential to undermine a fair society.

Some of the most insidious and destructive uses of data technology is not on the internet; it's tools and processes used by previously trusted corporations, governments, and institutions that is not regulated, not transparent and not accountable. So framing the discussion with the 'internet' seems disengenuous.

[Dec 05, 2018] Facebook Struck Secret Deals To Sell Preferential User Data; Used VPN App To Spy On Competitors

Notable quotes:
"... They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless. ..."
"... Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them). ..."
"... Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall. ..."
"... Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that. ..."
Dec 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Update: As the giant cache of newly released internal emails has also revealed, Karissa Bell of Mashable notes that Facebook used a VPN app to spy on its competitors .

The internal documents , made public as part of a cache of documents released by UK lawmakers, show just how close an eye the social network was keeping on competitors like WhatsApp and Snapchat , both of which became acquisition targets.

Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat that year for $3 billion -- an offer Snap CEO Evan Spiegel rejected . (Facebook then spent years attempting, unsuccessfully, to copy Snapchat before finally kneecapping the app by cloning Stories.)

...

Facebook's presentation relied on data from Onavo, the virtual private network (VPN) service which Facebook also acquired several months later . Facebook's use of Onavo, which has been likened to "corporate spyware," has itself been controversial.

The company was forced to remove Onavo from Apple's App Store earlier this year after Apple changed its developer guidelines to prohibit apps from collecting data about which other services are installed on its users' phones. Though Apple never said the new rules were aimed at Facebook, the policy change came after repeated criticism of the social network by Apple CEO Tim Cook. - Mashable

A top UK lawmaker said on Wednesday that Facebook maintained secretive "whitelisting agreements" with select companies that would give them preferential access to vast amounts of user data, after the parliamentary committee released documents which had been sealed by a California court, reports Bloomberg .

The documents - obtained in a sealed California lawsuit and leaked to the UK lawmaker during a London business trip, include internal emails involving CEO Mark Zuckerberg - and led committee chair Damian Collins to conclude that Facebook gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data for their apps, while shutting off access to data used by competing apps. Facebook also allegedly conducted global surveys of mobile app usage by customers - likely without their knowledge , and that "a change to Facebook's Android app policy resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made difficult for users to know about," according to Bloomberg.

In one email, dated Feb. 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would "continually upload" a user's call and SMS history would be a "high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective." A subsequent email suggests users wouldn't need to be prompted to give permission for this feature to be activated. - Bloomberg

The emails also reveal that Zuckerberg personally approved limiting hobbling Twitter's Vine video-sharing tool by preventing users from finding their friends on Facebook.

In one email, dated Jan. 23 2013, a Facebook engineer contacted Zuckerberg to say that rival Twitter Inc. had launched its Vine video-sharing tool, which users could connect to Facebook to find their friends there. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, " Yup, go for it ."

"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents," said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails. - Bloomberg

We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.

-- Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) December 5, 2018

Thousands of digital documents were passed to Collins on a London business trip by Ted Kramer, founder of app developer Six4Three, who obtained them during legal discovery in a lawsuit against Facebook. Kramer developed Pikinis, an app which allowed people to find photos of Facebook users wearing Bikinis. The app used Facebook's data which was accessed through a feed known as an application programming interface (API) - allowing Six4Three to freely search for bikini photos of Facebook friends of Pikini's users.

Facebook denied the charges, telling Bloomberg in an emailed statement: "Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform," adding "We've never sold people's data."

A small number of documents already became public last week, including descriptions of emails suggesting that Facebook executives had discussed giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch its mobile-ad business. The alleged practice started around seven years ago but has become more relevant this year because the practices in question -- allowing outside developers to gather data on not only app users but their friends -- are at the heart of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook said last week that the picture offered by those documents was misleadingly crafted by Six4Three's attorneys. - WaPo

"The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context," said Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, who added: "We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience."

Kramer was ordered by a California state court judge on Friday to surrender his laptop to a forensic expert after he admitted giving the UK committee the documents. The order stopped just short of holding the company in contempt as Facebook had requested, however after a hearing, California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope told Kramer that he may issue sanctions and a contempt order at a later date.

"What has happened here is unconscionable," said Swope. "Your conduct is not well-taken by this court. It's one thing to serve other needs that are outside the scope of this lawsuit. But you don't serve those needs, or satisfy those curiosities, when there's a court order preventing you to do so ."

Trouble in paradise?

As Facebook is now faced with yet another data harvesting related scandal, Buzzfeed reports that internal tensions within the company are boiling over - claiming that "after more than a year of bad press, internal tensions are reaching a boiling point and are now spilling out into public view."

Throughout the crises, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who maintains majority shareholder control, has proven remarkably immune to outside pressure and criticism -- from politicians, investors, and the press -- leaving his employees as perhaps his most important stakeholders. Now, as its stock price declines and the company's mission of connecting the world is challenged, the voices inside are growing louder and public comments, as well as private conversations shared with BuzzFeed News, suggest newfound uncertainty about Facebook's future direction.

Internally, the conflict seems to have divided Facebook into three camps: those loyal to Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; those who see the current scandals as proof of a larger corporate meltdown ; and a group who see the entire narrative -- including the portrayal of the company's hiring of communications consulting firm Definers Public Affairs -- as examples of biased media attacks. - Buzzfeed

"It's otherwise rational, sane people who're in Mark's orbit spouting full-blown anti-media rhetoric, saying that the press is ganging up on Facebook," said a former senior employee. "It's the bunker mentality. These people have been under siege for 600 days now. They're getting tired, getting cranky -- the only survival strategy is to quit or fully buy in."

A Facebook spokesperson admitted to BuzzFeed that this is "a challenging time."


Madcow , 7 minutes ago link

When exactly did [neo]Liberal Dems become enthusiastic cheerleaders for rapacious profit-maximizing corporations acting illegally against the public interest?

Why would "progressives" want to shield Facebook from anti-trust legislation? Compared to the 1950s / 60s / 70s ... it seems like "liberals" and "conservatives" have switched roles.

smacker , 2 hours ago link

Why is it that Zucker.slime.berg and so many other people of his ilk are basically crooks. They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless.

The world would be better off without them. Who would miss Phacephuq?

pedoland , 2 hours ago link

Dumb **** gets caught saying dumb ****.

Stop using the dumb ****'s website.

Tirion , 2 hours ago link

Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them).

Get your faces out of your phones and look around you and see what's happening. Humanity is becoming digital. This is a control mechanism. To regain its sovereignty, humanity needs to unite spiritually and head in a new direction. Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall.

Fluff The Cat , 2 hours ago link

Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that.

DEDA CVETKO , 2 hours ago link

Secrecy? In American elitist establishment, the most transparent Skull-and-Boner tomb in history? NOOOOOOOOooooooo....!!!!

Idiocracy's Not Sure , 3 hours ago link

In the USA we have always had will always have corruption to the fullest extent possible. I know rich and powerful people who are very well connected and if the average person knew what they truly think they would be freakin pissed!!

[Dec 01, 2018] Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

Dec 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon [190] Disclaimer , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:41 am GMT

I'm familiar with information retrieval tech and worked for a small non-U.S. search engine that was acquired by a major American search engine (not Google) in the late 20th century. I've kept up with things as much as one can do from the outside since then.

I do not buy the conspiracy angle here. I believe Google when they say that they are relying on automated algorithms.

You cannot really compare Google with any other search engine. DDG is a guy in his pajamas coding it all by himself (and I respect that). Bing on the other hand has a good team of talented information retrieval engineers, but they are nowhere near as well staffed as Google

In addition, a lot of Google's quirks derive from the fact that they are the big guys. Hackers and spammers and black hat SEOs target Google, looking for exploitable patterns. Nobody cares how they rank in Bing and DDG, so nobody targets them. Google thus has to plug the dike in all kinds of ways that the other search engines don't have to worry about.

Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some higher level component in their search software that is intended to combat black hat SEO is inadvertently skewing results in a way that seems to favor the left, in the same way that AI software tends to come to the conclusion that blacks commit a lot of crime and are not the best employees, although nobody programmed it to do that. And it is possible that when the skew is anti

Google Suggest was throwing out "Islamists are terrorists," "blacks are not oppressed," "hitler is my hero," "white supremacy is good," and so on.

Google is micro-gaslighting again, by Steve Sailer - The Unz Review

Tyrion 2 , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:49 am GMT

@anonymous It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/11/29/18117906/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-2017-life-expectancy

meh , says: November 30, 2018 at 10:22 am GMT
@Tyrion 2

It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

You are being remarkably obtuse.

Google is for the masses; what they do or don't do actually matters in terms of public perception.

Vox is for the policy elite and will make no impact on the public consciousness; it isn't meant for the masses.

Note that elite or specialist media have been talking about the opioid crisis for years, and yet the topic has never made it out to the public consciousness or public discourse at large, nor has it had any reception in the political sphere beyond mere platitudes, which anyone who was not been paying attention to the topic would even understand.

Amusingly, though, if you do a Ctrl F on article you link to, the name "Sackler" nowhere appears.

The point is how the elites control the public discourse, by keeping certain topics obscure to the public at large, while the elites and their hired professionals and Mandarins talk amongst themselves; a discourse not meant for the larger public.

But anyway, no one ever said that no one at all in the mass media was talking about the opioid crisis; this is just your implied strawman.

The topic was Google; you are simply using a diversion, i.e., moving the goalposts to the media at large.

[Dec 01, 2018] Whataboutism charge is a change of a thought crime, a dirty US propaganda trick. In reality truth can be understood only in the historica context

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It's not what aboutism it's called having consistency and principles. It's like Jack the Ripper calling Ted Kennedy a murderer. It matters if both sides are doing deals with Russia and only one has proved collusion with Russia government officials ..."
"... Your new Mcarthyism isn't working but nice try since it's all you have to offer ..."
"... Whataboutism is a call out for hypocrisy. It wasn't invented by the Russians. It was in use by a carpenter over two-thousand years ago: "Why do you call out for a dust mote in my eye when there is a log in yours?" ..."
"... Nothing new under the sun. ..."
"... Kind of like What about Russian interference in our Elections? Whatabout that, as a clear and dangerous deflection from Hillary taking blame for her incompetent and corrupt 2016 campaigns? ..."
Aug 18, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

O Society , August 14, 2018 at 8:26 pm

"What about Clinton?" is an example of Whataboutism, which is a classic Russian propaganda technique used to divert attention away from the relevant subject, statement, argument, etc at hand with an accusation of hypocrisy.

It takes the form, "What about _______?"

Whataboutism is a type of psychological projection. It uses blame shifting to attribute wrong doing or some character defect to someone else with a goal of sabotaging the conversation by steering the speaker to become defensive.

On the playground, the kids call it "I know you are, but what am I?"

I have no idea whether any of this Russiagate stuff is real. We have seen no evidence, so I remain skeptical until someone shows actual evidence of Trump-Putin collusion.

However, I do know where Donald Trump got a bunch of his money, and where he and his followers got Whataboutism.

A Guide to Russian Propaganda

Gregory Herr , August 14, 2018 at 8:43 pm

Shouldn't that be "A Guide to Ukrainian Propaganda"?

Gregory Herr , August 14, 2018 at 9:20 pm

It seems to me that jean agreed with your characterisation of Trump and in no way was trying to sabotage the conversation. jean referenced some facts about characters relevant to the broader topic.

I would contend that every time I've heard the cry of "well, that's just whataboutism", the purpose of that claim has been to avoid addressing the points made–thus sabotaging further engagement or conversation.

So now, after all this time, you still "have no idea" whether Russiagate nonsense is real–what a fine fence-straddler you are. And then to suggest that "whataboutism" is made in Russia and slyly connect that to "Trump and his followers" -- well, you just lost me brother.

Jean , August 14, 2018 at 10:05 pm

lol

It's not what aboutism it's called having consistency and principles. It's like Jack the Ripper calling Ted Kennedy a murderer. It matters if both sides are doing deals with Russia and only one has proved collusion with Russia government officials

That would be Hillary

I understand why you would want to deflect from that but it won't change the facts

Your new Mcarthyism isn't working but nice try since it's all you have to offer

zendeviant , August 15, 2018 at 5:30 am

Whataboutism is a call out for hypocrisy. It wasn't invented by the Russians. It was in use by a carpenter over two-thousand years ago: "Why do you call out for a dust mote in my eye when there is a log in yours?"

Nothing new under the sun.

michael , August 15, 2018 at 5:33 am

Kind of like What about Russian interference in our Elections? Whatabout that, as a clear and dangerous deflection from Hillary taking blame for her incompetent and corrupt 2016 campaigns?

jeff montanye , August 17, 2018 at 6:38 am

and her incompetent and corrupt tenure as secretary of state which gave so many people a really good idea of what her presidency would look like.

Nop , August 15, 2018 at 10:06 pm

The accusation "whataboutism" just a childish way of trying to deny the point of view of rival interests. Like plugging your ears and chanting "la la la".

[Nov 26, 2018] For those who have doubts that Facebook is controlled by intelligence agencies

Notable quotes:
"... yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0. ..."
Nov 26, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk

Isa , October 23, 2018 at 18:05

Off topic but it's an excellent article .

https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/10/23/facebook-censorship-of-alternative-media-just-the-beginning-says-top-neocon-insider/

SA , October 23, 2018 at 18:35

Note the role of the Atlantic council in this censorship. It is also subsiding the misinformation website called Bellingcat.

pretzelattack , October 23, 2018 at 19:35

yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0.

[Nov 25, 2018] Trump and His Loyalists are "Animal Farm's" Pigs

Notable quotes:
"... Despite the animals' increasingly desperate circumstances on the farm, Squealer's barrage of untruths ultimately convince the lowly, overworked animals that "things were getting better." ..."
"... Anymore, whether it's in the company of dictators Trump keeps or among the multi-millionaires and billionaires that our purported Capitol Hill representatives mingle with at home and abroad, it's becoming increasingly harder to tell "which is which." ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

Trump and His Loyalists are "Animal Farm's" Pigs by Kevin McKinney They are the Pigs in Animal Farm , preaching righteousness, peddling preposterousness and hoarding all the "milk and apples" for themselves.

If the demogagic President Donald Trump and his greedy loyalist Republican abettors had their way, the American citizenry would be consigned to a life of Farm -like drudgery.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" becomes the leader pigs' contorted "Commandment" to the rest of the farm animals by the end of Animal Farm .

... ... ...

Orwell himself, indicated that his simplistic foreboding fairtale held "a wider application" about "power-hungry people."

"I meant the moral to be that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert.." Orwell writes Politics magazine founder Dwight Macdonald in a 1946 letter.

"What I was trying to say was," Orwell continues, "'You can't have a revolution unless you make it for yourself; there is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship.'"

Disillusioned Americans, who weren't so much "alert" as they were desperate, clearly were swindled by Trump's disingenous populous revolution of sorts.

Now, in the flotsam wake of the midterm election's Democratic blue wave -- demonstrating a new found citizen alertness that will flood the House in January -- the mistake of ever allowing a Trump Presidency, is coming into sharp, unsettling focus.

Oppression is oppression. Greed and abuse of power produce essentially the same result whatever the misanthropic ideology – Communism or Fascism or some other hybrid demagogic "ism" to which Trump and his loyalists aspire.

If Washington D.C's plutocratic pigs had their druthers, Americans would be so dumbed down by the con-in-chief's exhaustive lies and grating vitriol, endorsed by congressional majority party Republicans, that we would have about as much say in our Republic's affairs as Animal Farm 's befuddled barnyard animals had on the farm under the pigs.

"Napoleon is Always Right"

Trump is akin to Farm 's ruthless ruling pig, Napoleon, a Berkshire boar who, Orwell writes, has a knack for "getting his own way."

Napoleon counted on his propagandist pig, Squealer, who "could turn black into white" to brainwash the farm animals with lies about their tyrannical leader's supposed benevolence.

Even Clover the mare, who notices the changes the pigs sneakily make to Animalism's Commandments, eventually is lulled into a sense of complacency, convincing herself that she must have "remembered it wrong."

As the Farm animals work harder for less, the beloved, but dim-witted carthorse Boxer declares, "I will work harder" and routinely motivates himself by extolling the pigs' most controlling lie of all: "Napoleon is always right."

To advance his doubtless premeditated assault on truth and civility from the start of 2017, President Trump has employed his own tag team versions of Squealer – in imaginative mouthpieces Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sanders, White House press secretary, seems eternally lost in an alternate reality where if President Trump "says it, it must be true" – just as Farm's animals were programmed to parrot of Napoleon, no matter how absurd the lie.

... ... ...

And we Americans, like Farm 's flock of mindless sheep taught by Squealer to obediently bleat "Four legs good, two legs better ," are supposed to believe it all.

... ... ...

Pigs Hoarded Milk and Apples; Repubs, Tax Cuts For Rich

Just as Farm 's pigs reason early on that they need all of the farm's "milk and apples" to lead the rest of the animals, Trump and his complicit Republican chums insisted at the outset that billionaires' tax breaks are the key to economic revival for all.

Never mind that Reaganomics trickled down – and out, decades ago. Never mind that corporate profits are soaring, while workers' wages have stagnated.

And that now, in order to pay for corporate big wigs' tax cuts, Republicans contrive to carve up the people's Medicare and Medicaid, while sinisterly eyeing social security benefits.

Who is the real "enemy of the people"?

"The turning-point of the story was supposed to be when the pigs kept the milk and apples for themselves," Orwell writes in the 1946 letter to Macdonald, published in George Orwell: A Life In Letters , 2013.

"If the other animals had had the sense to put their foot down then," Orwell continues, "it would have been all right."

At the first sign of feebleness, Boxer, the farm's hardest worker -- instrumental in the farm's success from which the pigs alone capitalized -- is hauled off to the slaughterhouse.

Despite the animals' increasingly desperate circumstances on the farm, Squealer's barrage of untruths ultimately convince the lowly, overworked animals that "things were getting better."

Think of Trump's grandiose claims of new plant openings and soaring jobs numbers. When Fox News' asked him this past weekend how he would grade his job as President so far, Trump offered, "A plus."

And look no further than Trump's scripted, dictator-esque, brainwashing rallies, where gullible Reality TV "fans" pathetically worship a snake oil salesman, cheering on command and smiling idiotic smiles.

Which is Which?

In Farm' s last pages, the pigs have rewritten Animalism's "Seven Commandments" to suit them, embracing the ways of the animals' sworn enemy humans.

"Comrade Napoleon" and his fellow privileged porkers have moved into overthrown (Manor Farm) owner Mr. Jones' farm house, are dressed in his clothes and are walking upright on their two hind legs.

By then, the incoherent sheep under the absolute sway of Napoleon's propagandist pig Squealer, no longer are sounding off on command: "Four legs good, two legs bad," but rather, "Four legs good, two legs better ."

Animal Farm leaves us with the animals peering through the farm house dining room window as the pigs inside schmooze and toast mugs of beer with neighboring farmer, Mr. Pilkington and his associates.

The pigs and humans end up squabbling over a card game in which Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington each play an ace of spades.

Who is cheating?

In the novella's last line, the baffled animals at the window look from face to face, from the humans to the pigs, but: "It was impossible to say which was which."

Anymore, whether it's in the company of dictators Trump keeps or among the multi-millionaires and billionaires that our purported Capitol Hill representatives mingle with at home and abroad, it's becoming increasingly harder to tell "which is which."

... ... ...

[Nov 25, 2018] UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting -- RT UK News

Notable quotes:
"... "malicious and fraudulent scheme" ..."
"... "We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," ..."
"... "to refrain from reviewing them" ..."
"... "return them to counsel or to Facebook." ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | www.rt.com

Published time: 25 Nov, 2018 04:39 Get short URL UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting © Global Look Press / ZUMAPRESS.com / Panoramic The UK Parliament has taken hold of documents from Facebook that may shed light on the online giant's carefree approach to user privacy amid claims that it was fully aware of user data loopholes exploited by Cambridge Analytica. The documents were seized from the founder of US tech startup Six4Three, who was on a business trip to the UK, the Guardian reported , citing MP Damian Collins, chair of the Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The DCMS is in charge of investigating a siphoning of Facebook user data by UK consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The news on the massive data breach broke in March with Facebook later admitting the data of up to 87 million people might have been shared with Cambridge Analytica without their explicit consent. Read more Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington 'In-house fake news shop' – Facebook facing new scandal and losing friends

It is alleged that the data was harvested to target the users in political campaigns, including in former UKIP leader Nigel Farage's Leave.EU campaign.

The UK parliamentary investigators used the former Six4Three top executive's brief stay in London to force him to hand over documents his firm had obtained from a US court in Six4Three's own lawsuit against Facebook.

The Guardian reported that the tech entrepreneur was warned he might go to jail or face a hefty fine if he refuses to comply with the British authorities' request.

The documents, which are now to be reviewed by the British MPs, are said to include a confidential correspondence between Facebook's senior officials, including Mark Zuckerberg, who has so far snubbed requests to testify before parliament.

The lawsuit Six4Three, an app-developing startup, brought against Facebook back in 2015, alleges that Zuckerberg was personally involved in a "malicious and fraudulent scheme" and deliberately left loopholes for data-harvesting companies to fend off competition.

The documents are expected to reveal the scope of the Facebook CEO's involvement in the alleged scheme.

"We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," Collins said.

Six4Three is in a long-running litigation with Facebook over the demise of its app Pikinis, that allowed users to scan through friends' photos in an automatic search for bikini pics. After Facebook disabled the function that allowed apps to access users' friend lists, Six4Three filed a complaint against Facebook, arguing that it hurt its business model by no longer permitting customers to share the data. Facebook argues that the allegations of its improper handling of personal data have nothing to do with the lawsuit and had unsuccessfully fought the release of its internal documents to Six4Three. The documents were provided to the startup by the San Mateo Superior Court in California and are subject to a non-disclosure order, meaning that are unlikely to be revealed to the public.

In response to the seizure of the documents by British MPs, Facebook has urged lawmakers "to refrain from reviewing them" while calling to "return them to counsel or to Facebook."

Zuckerberg has previously denied that he knew of illegal harvesting of user data by Cambridge Analytica before the breach was reported in the media.

It is alleged that Facebook's off-hand approach to personal data might have helped to alter the outcome of the Brexit vote. In March, former director of research at Cambridge Analytica, Chris Wylie, testified before MPs that the research carried out by a Canadian company with ties to Cambridge Analytica before 2016 Brexit referendum might have swayed the vote.

[Nov 17, 2018] Ann Rand vs Aldous Huxley

Nov 17, 2018 | www.unz.com

Che Guava , says: November 15, 2018 at 5:15 pm GMT

@Durruti Excuse me Durutti,

I will give my own impressions of Rosenbaum. Have only read 'Atlas Shrugged', hovers between boring and evil.

The only things that are really interesting about it are

the retro-future details,

and the realrstic portrayal of Hank's wife.

Then again, the latter, if compared with Rosenbdum (Ayn Randy) IRL, much the same.

judging which is worse is difficult.

Personaly? I prefer Homer.

[Nov 16, 2018] US Is Optimistic It Will Prosecute Assange

Nov 15, 2018 | www.wsj.com

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against the WikiLeaks founder

The Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, according to people in Washington familiar with the matter. Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012...

The exact charges Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.

[Nov 15, 2018] Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself.

Nov 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Retail: "This time, Amazon has gone too far: Jeff Bezos's company is profiting and taxpayers are paying the price" [Matt Stoller, New York Daily News ]. The conclusion: "Fundamentally, Amazon is simply too powerful. It isn't just about subsidies. It isn't that merchants, or local businesses, or warehouse workers, or communities are being mistreated or misled. It's that Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself. It controls elected officials, acquired the power to tax, and works with government to avoid sunshine laws. It's time to recognize the truth about this company. Two-day shipping might be really convenient, but at least in its current form, Amazon and democracy are incompatible." • Very good to see Stoller in the New York Daily News!

Retail: "Amazon's Last Mile" [ Gizmodo ]. "Near the very bottom of Amazon's complicated machinery is a nearly invisible workforce over two years in the making tasked with getting those orders to your doorstep. It's a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws. That program is called Amazon Flex, and it accomplishes Amazon's "last-mile" deliveries -- the final journey from a local facility to the customer . Flex is indicative of two alarming trends: the unwillingness of legislators to curb harmful practices of tech behemoths run amok, and a shift towards less protected, more precarious opportunities in a stagnant job market.' • Read for the detail. It sounds as hellish as Amazon's warehouses.

Retail: "Desperately Seeking Cities" [ n+1 ]. "It is beyond question that, in whatever city it chose to grace, Amazon would bring neither the jobs that that city needed, nor the public works that it needed. In his latest variation on the urbanist delusion, written for the Financial Times, the much-pilloried Richard Florida plaintively appealed to Amazon not to "accept any tax or financial incentives," but rather to pledge to "invest alongside cities to create better jobs, build more affordable housing, and develop better schools, transit, and other badly needed public goods, along with paying its fair share of taxes." The depths of Florida's naiveté cannot be overstated. Not only is Amazon categorically unlikely to pledge what he wants (or, even if it did, make even the slightest effort to deliver on such a pledge), but Florida openly expresses his desire to cede all urban political power and every human demand to the whims of the company. In this respect, too, the Amazon HQ2 contest has been clarifying."

[Nov 15, 2018] Russians as a new collective Emmanuel Goldshein in the USA neoliberal propaganda

"Emmanuel Goldstein is a fictional character in George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is the principal enemy of the state according to the Party of the totalitarian Oceania. He is depicted as the head of a mysterious (and possibly fictitious) dissident organization called "The Brotherhood" and as having written the book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. He is only seen and heard on telescreen, and he may be a fabrication of the Ministry of Truth, the State's propaganda department." (from Wikipedia)
Nov 15, 2018 | www.unz.com

Crawfurdmuir , says: November 15, 2018 at 6:12 am GMT

Yet Orwell wrote the following words in The Road to Wigan Pier :

"there is the horrible -- the really disquieting -- prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words 'Socialism' and 'Communism' draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist, and feminist in England."

And:

"The ordinary man may not flinch from a dictatorship of the proletariat, if you offer it tactfully; offer him a dictatorship of the prigs, and he gets ready to fight."

In the first of these excerpts, we see a perfect delineation of today's "Cultural Marxism," and in the second, a perfect explanation of the support for Donald Trump. The "deplorables" are those who resent and fight the dictatorship of the prigs. I'm somewhat surprised that no one has written a history of the rise and advance of political correctness in American public life and entitled it "The Dictatorship of the Prigs." I hope someone does.

advancedatheist , says: November 15, 2018 at 6:45 am GMT
Brave New World has had a funny way of growing more interesting with age. Lenina Crowne, the vacuous Future Woman, has leaped out of the pages of Huxley's novel and into our real lives. Just give Lenina some tattoos and piercings, dye her hair an unnatural color and put a smart phone on her fashionable Malthusian belt, and she would fit right into our world.
animalogic , says: November 15, 2018 at 8:16 am GMT
I think the author a little unfair to Huxley when he criticises him for no sense of social "Class". The issue here is that class, in BNW, has been hard wired into each grouping (ie deltas etc). Genetic engineering has predetermined all class AND individual desires & interests. The sophistications of language, mind control etc in Orwell are thus unnecessary & superseded.
SporadicMyrmidon , says: November 15, 2018 at 8:28 am GMT
Straight-up prolefeed:

https://www.crazydaysandnights.net/2018/10/blind-items-revealed-5_22.html

The distinction between the inner party, outer party and proles does seem to be absolutely crucial to Orwell (at least in 1984) and is often neglected by people debating Orwell vs Huxley. Still, I tend to agree with those dissidents who have observed that there really is no inner party. It is outer party buffoons all the way up.

RW , says: November 15, 2018 at 10:06 am GMT
George Orwell also beat his coolies "in moments of rage" as he put it in his autobiography. He had first-hand experience as a repressive British colonial police officer in Burma, 1922-1927. He knew the autocratic mindset well, because he had lived it.
Ronald Thomas West , says: Website November 15, 2018 at 11:31 am GMT
" Trump is the only non-establishment candidate to get elected President since Andrew Jackson and therefore almost the exact opposite of the idea of top-down tyranny"

That was good for a laugh. What's the difference between governed from the top by liberal slime career opportunist and governed from the top by the moron womanizer opportunist comparable to the governor played by Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles? The difference is top down slime versus top down idiocy.

There is a misapprehension at the core of this article; Huxley wrote from a liberal 'anything goes' perspective of morality, comparable to today's 'it's all about me' MTV generation. A deeper understanding of Huxley's profound distaste and preoccupation with this is afforded in his novel 'Point, Counter Point.' Orwell, on the other hand, aptly projects a future social conservatism that is better compared to the extremes of a cloistered and tightly policed ultra religious right.

It's not a matter of who was more 'right.' They are describing separate trajectories of human social phenomena we see playing out today. The two were peering down different avenues into the future.

https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2014/10/09/liberals/

^ 'the apes will rise'

Anonymous [295] Disclaimer , says: November 15, 2018 at 12:12 pm GMT

But, despite this, this debate exists not only on the Dissident Right but further afield. Believe it or not, even Left-wingers and Liberals debate this question, as if they too are under the heel of the oppressor's jackboot.

Some left-wingers are. Think of poor Julian Assange!

'All of a sudden, as many commentators have pointed out, there were almost daily echoes of Orwell in the news The most obvious connection to Orwell was the new president's repeated insistence that even his most pointless and transparent lies were in fact true, and then his adviser Kellyanne Conway's explanation that these statements were not really falsehoods but, rather, "alternative facts."'

The counter to this is that Trump is the only non-establishment candidate to get elected President since Andrew Jackson and therefore almost the exact opposite of the idea of top-down tyranny.

Exactly. In 1984, 'Big Brother' actually controlled the media; Trump clearly doesn't, so he is not Big Brother. He is Emmanuel Goldstein: a leader of the resistance but alas, probably not real.

Idahoan , says: November 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
Oh dear no, big mistake -- it's Two Minutes Hate, not three as stated here. Orwell is superior by far, since he was serious and more humane in his understanding of the effects of totalitarianism on human psychology. But as a Morrissey song puts it, "I know you love one person, so why can't you love two?"
Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist , says: Website November 15, 2018 at 2:11 pm GMT
@George F. Held Goldstein isn't Orwell's hero. There is nothing in the book to show that Goldstein even exists. All he could be is a propaganda construct (as I believe ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is in real life). And Goldstein's Jewishness, apart from his name, is non-existent. When I read 1984 for the first time (in 1986, as it happens), I didn't realise that he was even meant to be a Jew.

Lots of Jews are against the racist apartheid colonial settler zionazi pseudostate in Occupied Palestine and its financial backers in New York, but we wouldn't want to disturb you with facts, would we now.

Durruti , says: November 15, 2018 at 2:23 pm GMT
Yes:

Orwell, who finished his 1984 shortly after the liquidation of Palestine in 1947, [1st printing was 1950], never saw the Elephant (Zionist Elephant). No one is perfect. Orwell, who during WW II, was an employee for Churchill's Government, and labored in Churchill's Propaganda Department (different official title), loyally reflected (most of) that propaganda.

Few visionaries in 1947, understood or opposed the imperialist Oligarchs (financial banking power), who supported the establishment of a so-called Jewish Nation – in someone else's Nation. (The Balfour Declaration was issued during WW I and the liquidation of one of the Peoples of the Middle East was in the planning stages). The Palestinians became the – final victims of World War II.

The Palestinian General Strike (for independence) of 1936 , followed by an insurrection was brutally suppressed by King George (the British Empire Oligarchs – who had long (at least since 1815), become the Minions of the Zionist Bankers.

After WW II, Orwell, chose to ignore the crimes against the Palestinians, and possibly, to get his books published/circulated. Who controls Hollywood-and the Mainstream Media?

For this anarchist, Orwell remains a visionary, a courageous soldier who served in army of the POUM (Partido Obrero Unida Marxista -Trotskyist), and was wounded while defending the same Spanish Republic as Durruti's Anarchists. Orwell's wife served as a Nurse in Spain.
Recommend Orwell's fine book, His HISTORY, " Homage to Catalonia ."

Orwell had courage.
We American Citizen Patriots must display the same courage – as we Restore Our Republic.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Homage-to-Catalonia

jilles dykstra , says: November 15, 2018 at 3:07 pm GMT
@Justsaying " In fact, control by proxy seems to have generated a two-tiered control phenomenon where the leaders are the puppets of puppeteers of a Zionist entity. "
Indeed my idea: Morgenthau Wilson, Baruch FDR, Bilderberg conferences, Soros Brussels, Merkel, with whom exactly I do know, but it does not matter, Macron Rothschild, Tony Blair Murdoch.
The catholic countries resist: Poland, Hungary, etc., maybe S Germany and Austria in this respect also can be seen as catholic.
Trump, put your money where your mouth is, Soros, the Koch brothers, they did, but money seeems to have failed in the last USA elections.
Must have been a shock, Solsjenytsyn writes that each jewish community in tsarist Russia always had money for bribes.
jilles dykstra , says: November 15, 2018 at 3:14 pm GMT
@Durruti Palestine and the Balfour declaration was a bit more complicated, the British saw an opportunity to keep France, that had Syria and Lebanon, away from Egypt.
Mandate of course was just a fig leaf for colonialism.
jilles dykstra , says: November 15, 2018 at 3:23 pm GMT
@Ronald Thomas West " What's the difference between governed from the top "
Possibly what is the theory of prof Laslo Maracs, UVA univrsity Amsterdam, that eight years Obama have driven China and Russia so together that Khazakstan now is the economic centre of the world, and that the present USA president understand this.
Khazakstan has the land port for trains to and from St Petersburg Peking.
Four days travel.
Do not hope this railway will have the same effect as the Berlin Bagdad: WWI.
Bard of Bumperstickers , says: November 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm GMT
@Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist This isn't a top-ten contest. The reality we find ourselves in seems to consist largely of billion-shades-of-grey continuums, not black-and-white absolutes. Full-frontal assault (Orwell's state brutality) generally stimulates defensive action. Tangential, obtuse assault (Huxley's anaesthetising hedonia) doesn't alert the defensive posture, the immune response. Tipping points, inflection points, exist, but stealthy wolves in sheeps' clothing, are more effective. The Venus fly trap, the carrion flower, convince prey to approach trustingly. Brave New World's disguised depredation – the nanny/welfare state, etc. – paves the way for Orwell's naked totalitarianism. It's the friendly inmate offering the scared, lonely new prisoner a Snicker's bar and a smoke.
AnonFromTN , says: November 15, 2018 at 4:44 pm GMT
Why limit Orwell to "1984"? His "Animal Farm" is a great work, too. Although much shorter, it captured the essence of all totalitarian societies even better. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" expresses the "democratic" rule of the 1% better than anything.
Truth , says: November 15, 2018 at 4:49 pm GMT
Sail-Dog's favorite movie, Idiocracy is pretty good prescient too; especially the part about president Camacho, who, by the way, and rather incredibly, most of you voted for two years ago.
Ilyana_Rozumova , says: November 15, 2018 at 5:07 pm GMT
Orwell is new and improved Huxley that's all folks.
George F. Held , says: Website November 15, 2018 at 5:07 pm GMT
@Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist Consider these excerpts:
1.All the rest had by that time been exposed as traitors and counter-revolutionaries. Goldstein had fled and was hiding no one knew where, and of the others, a few had simply disappeared, while the majority had been executed after spectacular public trials at which they made confession of their crimes. Among the last survivors were three men named Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. It must have been in 1965 that these three had been arrested.

2. 'It is called wine,' said O'Brien with a faint smile. 'You will have read about it in books, no doubt. Not much of it gets to the Outer Party, I am afraid.' His face grew solemn again, and he raised his glass: 'I think it is fitting that we should begin by drinking a health. To our Leader: To Emmanuel Goldstein.'
Winston took up his glass with a certain eagerness. Wine was a thing he had read and dreamed about. . . . The truth was that after years of gin-drinking he could barely taste it. He set down the empty glass.
'Then there is such a person as Goldstein?' he said.
'Yes, there is such a person, and he is alive. Where, I do not know.'
'And the conspiracy -- the organization? Is it real? It is not simply an invention of the Thought Police?'
'No, it is real. The Brotherhood, we call it. You will never learn much more about the Brotherhood than that it exists and that you belong to it. I will come back to that presently.'

Whether Goldstein exists is an issue raised in the novel itself, but that he (obviously Jewish like another member of the Brotherhood, Aaronson) is presented sympathetically as a libertarian enemy of the oppressive government is certain. Orwell's novel presents Jews sympathetically as liberators of themselves and others.
And that presentation is historically false: Jews throughout history are the oppressors, not the oppressed.

Che Guava , says: November 15, 2018 at 5:31 pm GMT
Truly, for movies, the remake of 1984 and Terry Gilliam's Brazil were near-contemporary.

The lattter, except for the boring American woman truck driver, is vastly superior.

anarchyst , says: November 15, 2018 at 6:08 pm GMT
It is interesting to note that today's voice activated computer interfaces (Alexa, etc.) are equivalent to Orwell's "telescreens" that monitor all activity within a household. Add to that, the present push to implement "chipping"–the implantation of microchips into humans, ostensibly for "convenience" and identification that cannot be lost–the "mark of the beast" in biblical parlance.
The sad part is that much of the population is openly embracing these technologies instead of being wary (and aware) that these are monitoring technologies which will lead to no good.
ia , says: November 15, 2018 at 6:39 pm GMT
@Che Guava The woman truck driver was the protagonist's love object and inspired what little plot exists. He was supposed to save her, or so he thought. Everything else was window-dressing (albeit quite imaginative), possibly the product of his growing insanity
Rev. Spooner , says: November 15, 2018 at 6:58 pm GMT
"One of the frequent comparisons that comes up in the Dissident Right is who was more correct or prescient, Orwell or Huxley".
This is the first lie by this author trying to co-opt both these writers for his agenda.
Orwell was an anti-imperialist and thats evident if you read 'Down and out in Paris or London' or the 'Road to Wigan Pier'.
Burgess' politics and views can readily be known by reading 'Clockwork Orange' or 'The brave New World'.
The world today is topsy turvy and what was the left then is now the right but both were anti fascists.
If the comment posted is wrong , it's because the first paragraph was blatantly misleading and stopped me from going any further.
Anne , says: November 15, 2018 at 6:58 pm GMT
One thing that most people in America leave out of consideration is the reality and power of secret societies. Recently Freemasonry celebrated its 300th anniversary with a big bash in England. In Europe, the Catholics are aware of its power and effectiveness. Democracy is a total illusion anyway; oligarchs always rule.
ia , says: November 15, 2018 at 7:48 pm GMT
Another good one was Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. It also has Alexa-type screens that allow the viewer to participate, feel like a "star" and acquire instant fame. Firemen start fires instead of putting them out. Books (good books anyway) cause people to discover and share another more meaningful world. Ergo, old books must be rooted out and destroyed. The war on whiteness and patriarchy in today's parlance.
JLK , says: November 15, 2018 at 7:50 pm GMT
Nineteen Eighty-Four should be required reading in high schools. One of the most creative and prophetic novels of all time. EN LEAVES, etc. But because of its socio-political themes, BNW became part of high school canon. In contrast, 1984 maybe Orwell's greatest work. It's like Anthony Burgess often said A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is the least of his works, but it's his most famous novel because it was made into a classic movie and dealt with relevant social themes of crime and psychology.

Still, even though 1984 has stuff about control of the populace through drugs and pornography, the vision of BNW is closer to our world in this sense. We live in a world of plenty than scarcity. So, whereas vice is allowed by the state in 1984 as an outlet for a bored and tired public, vice is at the center of life in BNW. The world of 1984 allows some kind of vice but is nevertheless essentially a puritanical, spartan, and moralistic state. Also, vice, even if legal and state-sanctioned, is to be enjoyed behind closed doors. In contrast, the world of BNW has vice of sex and drugs all over the place. Indeed, it is so pervasive that it's not even regarded as vice but the New Virtue. And in this, our world is like BNW. Gambling was once a vice but now a virtue. We are told it is fun, it offers reparations to Indians, and creates jobs. And Las Vegas is like Disneyland for the entire family. Disney Corp has turned into a Brothel, but it's still promoted as Family Entertainment. Trashy celebs who indulge in hedonism and market excessive behavior are held up as role models. Whether it's Hillary with Miley Cyrus or Trump with Kanye, it seems Vice is the new Virtue. (I finally heard a Kanye album on youtube, and it began with a song along the lines of 'suck my dic*'.)

Orwell was insightful about the power of language, but he thought that the totalitarian state would simplify language to create conformity of mind. Such as 'doubleplusgood'. It would be increasingly anti-intellectual and anti-poetic. But the PC manipulation of language works the other way. It keeps on creating fancy, pseudo-intellectual, or faux-sophisticated terms for what is total rot. So many people are fooled because they go to college and are fed fancy jargon as substitute for thought.

Btw, as the 84 in 1984 was the reverse of 48, the year in which the book was written, many literary critics have said the book was not about the future but the present, esp. Stalinist Russia(though some elements were taken from Nazi Germany and even UK). As such, it was a testament and a warning than a prophecy. Besides, Orwell had pretty much laid out the logic of totalitarianism in ANIMAL FARM. Perhaps, the most distressing thing about 1984 is that the hero embodies the very logic that led to the Repressive System in the first place. When asked if he would commit any act of terror and violence to destroy the System, Winston Smith answers yes. It's an indication that the System was long ago created by people just like him, idealists who felt they were so right that they could do ANYTHING to create a just order. But the result was totalitarianism.

One area where the current order is like 1984. The hysterical screaming mobs and their endless minutes of hate. It's like Rule by PMS.

Anon [425] Disclaimer , says: Website November 15, 2018 at 8:21 pm GMT
@Anne One thing that most people in America leave out of consideration is the reality and power of secret societies.

One reason why BNW and 1984 fail as future-visions is they assume that the West will remain white. Both are about white tyranny, white systems, white everything. So, the tyranny is ideological, systemic, philosophical, and etc. It's about the rulers and the ruled. It's about systems and its minions. Same with A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. As ugly as its future vision is, at least UK is still white in the novel and movie. But look at London today. It's turning Third World. And white droogs and gangs are getting their ass whupped by black thugs.

Something happened in the West after WWII. Jews gained supreme power and eventually aided homos to be their main allies. And Negroes gained supreme status as idols of song, sports, and sex. This has complicated matters. The group-personalities of Jews and whites are different. Jews are more aware and anxious; whites are more earnest and trusting. There is a huge difference between Chinese elites manipulating Chinese masses AND Jewish elites manipulating non-Jewish masses. Chinese elites think in terms of power. Jewish elites think in terms of power over the Other. There is bound to be far less trust in the latter case, therefore more need to twist logic in so many ways.
As for Negroes, their attitudes are very different from that of whites. In some ways, blacks are the single most destructive force against order and civilization. Look at Detroit and Baltimore. Haiti and Africa. And yet, the rulers of the Current Order elevate blackness as the holiest icon of spiritual magic and coolest idol of mass thrills. This lead to the madonna-ization of white women. Whore-ship as worship. It leads to cucky-wuckeriness among white men. But if whites submit to blackness, their civilization will fall.
But because Jewish power needs to suppress white pride and power with 'white guilt'(over what was done to Negro slaves) and white thrill(for blacks in sports, song, and dance), it promotes blackness. So, on the one hand, Jewish Power is invested in maintaining the Order in which they have so much. But in order for Jews to remain on top, whites must be instilled with guilt and robbed of pride. And blackness is the most potent weapon in this. But in promoting blackness, the West will be junglized. The future of France looks dire with all those blacks coming to kick white male butt and hump white women. And when it all falls apart, Jews will lose out too, at least in Europe. US might be spared from total black destruction with brown-ization. Browns may not have stellar talent but they not crazy like the Negroes.

1984 and BNW are about people lording over others. There isn't much in the way of minority power. But today's world is about Minority Rule, especially that of Jews and Homos. And it's about minorities of blacks in the West taking the mantle of Manhood and Pride from white guys who are cucky-wucked.

Now, the thing about BNW is that its vision has been fulfilled yet. While one can argue that Stalinism pretty much achieved the full extent of Orwellianism, humanity has yet to see the rise of clones and bio-engineering. So, to fully appreciate Huxley, it might take a 100 to 200 yrs. Maybe women will stop giving birth. Maybe the idea of 'mother' will seem funny. Maybe future beings will be cloned. And maybe different castes will be produced to do different jobs. That way, there will be happiness. Today, people are still born naturally, and each person wants to be 'equal'. But what if certain people are bio-engineered to be submissive and happy to do menial work?

Also, mass cloning may be the only way a nation like Japan can sustain itself as they are not breeding anymore.

ploni almoni , says: November 15, 2018 at 8:23 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra To be feared is better than to be popular.
Tyrion 2 , says: November 15, 2018 at 8:36 pm GMT
@Rev. Spooner

The world today is topsy turvy and what was the left then is now the right but both were anti fascists.

Orwell doesn't seem anything at all like the anti-fascists we see today I'd say my politics hover around where Orwell's were but I get called a Nazi not infrequently.

Truly "war is (now) peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength."

Tyrion 2 , says: November 15, 2018 at 8:38 pm GMT
@Rev. Spooner If he has read Rand, he should know what these mean. They are Philosophy 101 words and wrote all about them.
nsa , says: November 15, 2018 at 9:09 pm GMT
Most forget that the three great rats (snitches) of the 20th century were Eric Blair aka Orwell (his famous list of Stalinist media simps), Ron Reagan (Commie Hollywoodites) , and Tim Leary (Weathmen who broke him out of jail). Blair never imagined 99% of the population would willingly invite a telescreen into their homes, and even pay a monthly fee to be dumbed down and manipulated. He visualized the screen correctly to be just an advanced means of propaganda and enslavement. Maybe it is time for an updated version of 1984. Call it 2024. Big Jew (giant orange bloated comb over head on screen) could replace Big Brother, and say Spencer UnzSailer could replace the mythical Goldstein. Dershowitz could replace O'Brien and torment the hapless Winston Anglin and his tatted blowup doll, Julia.
c matt , says: November 15, 2018 at 9:14 pm GMT
@Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist [re Palestine] Lots of Jews are against it, and lots of Jews are for it.

Lesson: It is a Jewish question which we need not bother ourselves about, one way or the other. Therefore, no rules for or against BDS, no influence from AIPAC, no aid to Israel or Palestine, etc. etc. In other words, let's learn from our Jewish friends for once, and play a game of "let's you and him fight."

c matt , says: November 15, 2018 at 9:30 pm GMT
If prognostication is the goal, Camp of the Saints has them both beat.
Johnny Walker Read , says: November 15, 2018 at 10:05 pm GMT
@JLK It used to be. It was required reading in my sophomore English Lit. class. I have re-read it 2 times since and it rings truer every time.
Anon [425] Disclaimer , says: Website November 15, 2018 at 10:22 pm GMT
@ia Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

1984 for juniors.

Anon [425] Disclaimer , says: Website November 15, 2018 at 10:25 pm GMT
@George F. Held The problem with Orwell is that he makes Jews the oppressed, not the oppressors.

Well, Stalin did win over Trotsky.

ChuckOrloski , says: November 15, 2018 at 10:31 pm GMT
@Ilyana_Rozumova Ilyana Rozumova wisely said: 'Orwell is new and improved Huxley that's all folks."

Agreed, Ilyana!

Plus George Orwell's "1984″ arrived on-the-dark scene without carrying the dark Aleister Crowley "baggage."

Anon [425] Disclaimer , says: Website November 15, 2018 at 11:05 pm GMT
@Tyrion 2 Orwell doesn't seem anything at all like the anti-fascists we see today I'd say my politics hover around where Orwell's were but I get called a Nazi not infrequently.

Oddly enough, what we have in the West is actually repression by sacro-ethno-corporatism.

Jews are disproportionately immensely powerful. So, there is an ethnic angle to the current power.
But if Jews were merely rich and powerful, they could be critiqued and challenged like Wasps still are. But they are untouchable because of the sacro-element. As the Children of Shoah, opposition to Jewish Power is 'antisemitic' or 'nazi'.

Also, Globo-Shlomo-Homo Power owes to capitalism, not socialism or communism. Now, corporate tyranny can't be as total as statist tyranny. Even with all the deplatforming and etc, the current power can't do to dissidents what Stalin, Mao, and Hitler did. Still, considering that a handful corporations dominate so much and that so many Americans are either apathetic or rabid-with-PC, the current tyranny is formidable. After all, one doesn't need to control EVERYTHING to keep the power. One only needs control of elite institutions, flow of information, main narratives & icons/idols, and majority support(as US has a winner-takes-all political system). As all such are concentrated in few institutions and industries, the elites own pretty much everything.
With their power of media and academia, Jews have persuaded enough whites that it's virtuous to be anti-white. And with mass-immigration-invasion, the combined votes of white cucks and non-white hordes tip the majority toward the Globo-Shlomo-Homo Party. Unless there is total collapse, this system can go on for a long long time.

Also, corporate power pretty much determines state power since most politicians are whores of donors. And most people who serve in the Deep State were raised from cradle to idolize certain figures and symbols as sacrosanct. As toadies and servants of the Power, they've absorbed these lessons uncritically, and they are afraid to raise their kids with truly critical mindset because asking Big Questions will derail their chance of entering the corridors of privilege. Those in the Deep State bureaucracies are not necessarily corrupt. They may be hardworking and committed to their service to the state, but they are essentially flunkies since they never questioned the central shibboleths that govern today's PC. I don't think people like James Comey are corrupt in the conventional sense. They probably sincerely believe they are committed to the proper functioning of the state. But lacking in imagination and audacity to question beyond the Dominant Narrative and Dogma, they can only be lackeys no matter how smart or credentialed they are.

US and Israel are both essentially fascist states, but the differences is Israel is an organic-fascist state whereas the US is an gangster-fascist state. If not for Israel's Occupation of West Bank and bad behavior to its neighbors, its form of fascist-democratic nationalism would be sound. It is a majority Jewish nation where the Jewish elites have an organic bond with the majority of the people. Also, Jews have a ancestral and spiritual bond with the territory, the Holy Land. Also, there is a balance of capitalism and socialism, and the main theme is the preservation and defense of the homeland for Jews. So, identity/inheritance is served by ideology, not the other way around. As such, Israel is a pretty good model for other nations(though it could treat Palestinians somewhat better; but then, Arabs IN Israel have it pretty good.) Israel need not be a gangster-fascist state because there is natural, historical, and cultural bond between the rulers and the ruled.

But in the US, there is no such bond between the Jewish elites and the masses of goyim. That being the case, it is most unnatural for the US to be Jewish-dominated. It's one thing for Jews to be successful and disproportionately represented in US institutions and industries due to higher IQ and achievement. But the idea of the Jewish elites serving as the Dominant Ruling Elites in a nation where they are only 2% is ridiculous. It's like Turkey has successful minority communities of Greeks, Armenians, and some Jews, but clearly the Turks are in control. But in the US, Jews have the top power, and furthermore, Jews want to keep the power and make all Americans suck up to Jewish power. But this can only work via gangster-fascism since there is no organic bond between Jews and non-Jews. If Jewish elites in Israel think and act in terms of "What can we do to empower all of us Jews as one united people?", Jewish elites in the think in terms of "What can we do to bribe, browbeat, threaten, silence, blacklist, and/or brainwash the goy masses to make them do our bidding?" One if borne of love and trust, the other of contempt and fear.
Whatever problems exist in Israel, I'm guessing there is genuine love between Jewish elites and Jewish masses. But there is a lot of hatred, fear, and anxiety among Jewish elites when it comes to the goyim. The result is outrageous policy like hoodwinking white Christian soldiers to smash 'terrorist muzzie' nations and then bringing over Muslims and embracing them as 'refugees' against 'white supremacist bigots'.

Another problem with globo-shlomo-homo(and-afro) world order is that it's leading to Mono-everything. It's leading to mono-financial rule by Wall Street. As Wall Street is so dominant, it is effectively taking over all financial markets. And as the US military is so dominant, the world is ending up with Mono-Militarism. The US continues to encircle China, Russia, and Iran. And it's leading to Mono-Manhood. Prior to mass-migration-invasion, Europe was all white. So, even though white men tend to lose to blacks in world competition, every white nation had its white local-national hero. Its manhood was defined and represented by its own men. The world had poly-manhood, or plurality of manhood. Even if white men lost to blacks in world competition, they were the dominant men in their own nations. But with Negroes entering every white nation, the result is Mono-Manhood(that of the Negro) in every white nation. This is now spreading to Japan as well, as Japanese women now travel around the world to fill up their wombs with black babies. And of there is Mono-Media. The world communicates through English, but most English media are dominated by Jews. European nations may censor American Media, but it's never the mainstream media. It's always alternative media, and these censorship is done at the pressure of globalist Jewish groups. Jewish globalists pressure Europe to allow ONLY mainstream US media while banning much of alternative media that dares speak truth to power about Jewish power and race-ism(aka race realism).

S , says: November 15, 2018 at 11:12 pm GMT
Why does the one have to be 'superior' to the other as they both make a lot of sense?

Why not a combination of both?

How about a society that controls people with a velvet glove by allowing for and promoting every Brave New Worldish (often fatuous) personal pleasure while simultaneously, should a person get out of line from the state's dictates, maintaining in the background the iron fist of a full blown Orwellian police state?

The present society, though not there yet, is not that far away from that now.

Regarding 1984 I've always thought the Michael Radford film version starring Richard Burton, John Hurt, and the luscious Suzanna Hamilton, filmed in an around London from April – June, 1984, the exact time and setting of Orwell's novel, to have been outstanding.

Agent76 , says: November 15, 2018 at 11:17 pm GMT
9/23/1975 Tom Charles Huston Church Committee Testimony

Tom Charles Huston testified before the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, commonly known as the Church Committee, on the 43-page plan he presented to the President Nixon and others on ways to collect information about anti-war and "radical" groups, including burglary, electronic surveillance, and opening of mail.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?408953-1/tom-charles-huston-testimony-church-committee

Documentary: On Company Business [1980] FULL

Rare award winning CIA documentary, On Company Business painfully restored from VHS.

S , says: November 15, 2018 at 11:33 pm GMT
@JLK

Nineteen Eighty-Four should be required reading in high schools.

It has been in many high schools, though I could see how in the future it might be banned as 'hate literature' as it strikes too close to home.

Kirt , says: November 15, 2018 at 11:41 pm GMT
In my estimation, That Hideous Strength, the final novel of the science fiction trilogy of C. S. Lewis, is the best and most prescient dystopian novel written – largely because it is so much more than just a dystopian novel. It combines great characters, imaginative fantasy from modern to medieval, and is a truly creepy horror story as well – with a hilarious happy ending which illustrates God's very own sense of humor.
Agent76 , says: November 15, 2018 at 11:55 pm GMT
Jun 7, 2013 George Orwell 1984 Newspeak

"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words "

[Nov 15, 2018] Why Orwell is Superior to Huxley by Colin Liddell

Notable quotes:
"... Huxley's main insight, namely that control can be maintained more effectively through "entertainment, distraction, and superficial pleasure rather than through overt modes of policing and strict control over food supplies" is not actually absent in 1984 . ..."
"... In fact, exactly these kind of methods are used to control the Proles, on whom pornography is pushed and prostitution allowed. In fact porn is such an important means of social control that the IngSoc authorities even have a pornography section called "PornSec," which mass produces porn for the Proles. ..."
"... One of the LOL moments in Michael Radford's film version is when Mr. Charrington, the agent of the thought police who poses as a kindly pawnbroker to rent a room to Winston and Julia for their sexual trysts, informs them on their arrest that their surveillance film will be 'repurposed' as porn. ..."
"... But while 1984 includes almost everything that Brave New World contains in terms of controlling people through sex, drugs, and distractions, it also includes much, much more, especially regarding how censorship and language are used to control people and how tyranny is internalised. The chapter from which the above quote comes, shows how Winston, a formerly autonomous agent, has come to accept the power of the system so much that he no longer needs policing. ..."
"... But most brilliant of all is Orwell's prescient description of how language is changed through banning certain words and the expression of certain ideas or observations deemed "thought crime," to say nothing of the constant rewriting of history. The activities of Big Tech and their deplatforming of all who use words, phrases, and ideas not in the latest edition of their "Newspeak" dictionary, have radically changed the way that people communicate and what they talk about in a comparatively short period of time. ..."
"... Orwell's insights into how language can be manipulated into a tool of control shows his much deeper understanding of human psychology than that evident in Huxley's novel. The same can be said about Orwell's treatment of emotions, which is another aspect of his novel that rings particularly true today. ..."
"... Colin Liddell is one of the founders of the Alt-Right, which he now disavows, and currently blogs at Affirmative Right . He recently published a book "Interviews and Obituaries," available on Amazon . ..."
Nov 15, 2018 | www.unz.com

One of the frequent comparisons that comes up in the Dissident Right is who was more correct or prescient, Orwell or Huxley.

In fact, as the only truly oppressed intellectual group, the Dissident Right are the only ones in a position to offer a valid opinion on this, as no other group of intellectuals suffers deplatforming, doxxing, and dismissal from jobs as much as we do. In the present day, it is only the Dissident Right that exists in the 'tyrannical space' explored in those two dystopian classics.

But, despite this, this debate exists not only on the Dissident Right but further afield. Believe it or not, even Left-wingers and Liberals debate this question, as if they too are under the heel of the oppressor's jackboot. In fact, they feel so oppressed that some of them are even driven to discuss it in the pages of the New York Times at the despotically high rate of pay which that no doubt involves.

In both the Left and the Dissident Right, the consensus is that Huxley is far superior to Orwell, although, according to the New York Times article just alluded to, Orwell has caught up a lot since the election of Donald Trump. Have a look at this laughable, "I'm literally shaking" prose from New York Times writer Charles McGrath :

And yet [Huxley's] novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell's more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea. Or it did until Donald Trump was inaugurated.

All of a sudden, as many commentators have pointed out, there were almost daily echoes of Orwell in the news The most obvious connection to Orwell was the new president's repeated insistence that even his most pointless and transparent lies were in fact true, and then his adviser Kellyanne Conway's explanation that these statements were not really falsehoods but, rather, "alternative facts." As any reader of "1984" knows, this is exactly Big Brother's standard of truth: The facts are whatever the leader says they are.

those endless wars in "1984," during which the enemy keeps changing -- now Eurasia, now Eastasia -- no longer seem as far-fetched as they once did, and neither do the book's organized hate rallies, in which the citizenry works itself into a frenzy against nameless foreigners.

The counter to this is that Trump is the only non-establishment candidate to get elected President since Andrew Jackson and therefore almost the exact opposite of the idea of top-down tyranny.

But to return to the notion that Huxley is superior to Orwell, both on the Left and the Dissident Right, this is based on a common view that Huxley presents a much more subtle, nuanced, and sophisticated view of soft tyranny more in keeping with the appearance of our own age. Here's McGrath summarizing this viewpoint, which could just as easily have come out of the mouth of an Alt-Righter, Alt-Liter, or Affirmative Righter:

Orwell didn't really have much feel for the future, which to his mind was just another version of the present. His imagined London is merely a drabber, more joyless version of the city, still recovering from the Blitz, where he was living in the mid-1940s, just before beginning the novel. The main technological advancement there is the two-way telescreen, essentially an electronic peephole.

Huxley, on the other hand, writing almost two decades earlier than Orwell (his former Eton pupil, as it happened), foresaw a world that included space travel; private helicopters; genetically engineered test tube babies; enhanced birth control; an immensely popular drug that appears to combine the best features of Valium and Ecstasy; hormone-laced chewing gum that seems to work the way Viagra does; a full sensory entertainment system that outdoes IMAX; and maybe even breast implants. (The book is a little unclear on this point, but in "Brave New World" the highest compliment you can pay a woman is to call her "pneumatic.")

Huxley was not entirely serious about this. He began "Brave New World" as a parody of H.G. Wells, whose writing he detested, and it remained a book that means to be as playful as it is prophetic. And yet his novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell's more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea.

It is easy to see why some might see Huxley as more relevant to the reality around us than Orwell, because basically "Big Brother," in the guise of the Soviet Union, lost the Cold War, or so it seems.

But while initially convincing, the case for Huxley's superiority can be dismantled.

Most importantly, Huxley's main insight, namely that control can be maintained more effectively through "entertainment, distraction, and superficial pleasure rather than through overt modes of policing and strict control over food supplies" is not actually absent in 1984 .

In fact, exactly these kind of methods are used to control the Proles, on whom pornography is pushed and prostitution allowed. In fact porn is such an important means of social control that the IngSoc authorities even have a pornography section called "PornSec," which mass produces porn for the Proles.

One of the LOL moments in Michael Radford's film version is when Mr. Charrington, the agent of the thought police who poses as a kindly pawnbroker to rent a room to Winston and Julia for their sexual trysts, informs them on their arrest that their surveillance film will be 'repurposed' as porn.

In fact, Orwell's view of sex as a means of control is much more dialectical and sophisticated than Huxley's, as the latter was, as mentioned above, essentially writing a parody of the naive "free love" notions of H.G.Wells.

While sex is used as a means to weaken the Proles, 'anti-Sex' is used to strengthen the hive-mind of Party members. Indeed, we see today how the most hysterical elements of the Left -- and to a certain degree the Dissident Right -- are the most undersexed.

Also addictive substances are not absent from Orwell's dystopian vision. While Brave New World only has soma, 1984 has Victory Gin, Victory Wine, Victory Beer, Victory Coffee, and Victory Tobacco -- all highly addictive substances that affect people's moods and reconcile them to unpleasant realities. Winston himself is something of a cigarette junkie and gin fiend, as we see in this quote from the final chapter:

The Chestnut Tree was almost empty. A ray of sunlight slanting through a window fell on dusty table-tops. It was the lonely hour of fifteen. A tinny music trickled from the telescreens.

Winston sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty glass. Now and again he glanced up at a vast face which eyed him from the opposite wall. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said. Unbidden, a waiter came and filled his glass up with Victory Gin, shaking into it a few drops from another bottle with a quill through the cork. It was saccharine flavoured with cloves, the speciality of the cafe

In these days he could never fix his mind on any one subject for more than a few moments at a time. He picked up his glass and drained it at a gulp.

But while 1984 includes almost everything that Brave New World contains in terms of controlling people through sex, drugs, and distractions, it also includes much, much more, especially regarding how censorship and language are used to control people and how tyranny is internalised. The chapter from which the above quote comes, shows how Winston, a formerly autonomous agent, has come to accept the power of the system so much that he no longer needs policing.

But most brilliant of all is Orwell's prescient description of how language is changed through banning certain words and the expression of certain ideas or observations deemed "thought crime," to say nothing of the constant rewriting of history. The activities of Big Tech and their deplatforming of all who use words, phrases, and ideas not in the latest edition of their "Newspeak" dictionary, have radically changed the way that people communicate and what they talk about in a comparatively short period of time.

Orwell's insights into how language can be manipulated into a tool of control shows his much deeper understanding of human psychology than that evident in Huxley's novel. The same can be said about Orwell's treatment of emotions, which is another aspect of his novel that rings particularly true today.

In 1984 hate figures, like Emmanuel Goldstein, and fake enemies, like Eastasia and Eurasia, are used to unite, mobilise, and control certain groups. Orwell was well aware of the group-psychological dynamics of the tribe projected to the largest scale of a totalitarian empire. The concept of "three minutes hate" has so much resonance with our own age, where triggered Twitter-borne hordes of SJWs and others slosh around the news cycle like emotional zombies, railing against Trump or George Soros.

In Huxley's book, there are different classes but this is not a source of conflict. Indeed they are so clearly defined -- in fact biologically so -- that there is no conflict between them, as each class carries out its predetermined role like harmonious orbit of Aristotlean spheres.

In short, Brave New World sees man as he likes to see himself -- a rational actor, controlling his world and taking his pleasures. It is essentially the vision of a well-heeled member of the British upper classes.

Orwell's book, by contrast, sees man as the tribal primitive, forced to live on a scale of social organisation far beyond his natural capacity, and thereby distorted into a mad and cruel creature. It is essentially the vision of a not-so-well-heeled member of the British middle classes in daily contact with the working class. But is all the richer and more profound for it.

Colin Liddell is one of the founders of the Alt-Right, which he now disavows, and currently blogs at Affirmative Right . He recently published a book "Interviews and Obituaries," available on Amazon .

[Nov 14, 2018] Is Orwell overrated and Huxley undertated?

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Orwell grew up in a time of increasing scale, Managerialism, and atomization. His thinking narrates the moral discourse shaped by that anti-social environment and its effects (mass wars) but dresses it up in an emancipatory narrative. One is immediately struck by his lack of foresight in predicting how power would operate as the 20th century wore on (Foucault and and Huxley are a lot closer the truth), and his inability to grapple with the essence of power and its moral and conceptual implications as a whole. ..."
"... Orwell proceeds to demand by implication we view the ancestral efforts which secured our position in the present day as illegitimate, since they conformed to emergent anthropological patterns of conflict and conquest instead of categorical laws plucked out of thin air by self-styled 'enlightened' big-brains during the 18th century. ..."
"... Had we actually lived by these 'standards', those of us left would be a marginalized set of tribes pushed to the far north of Europe, regularly getting shafted by whatever Magian civilization moved in. As a matter of fact, that's happening right now as these self-critical ideas have installed themselves within our cultural substrate. ..."
"... But if you have a decline and you have a desire to assert yourself to arrest the decline, and you have to apologize to yourself about even having the idea of assertion to arrest decline, you're not going to get anywhere, are you? ..."
Nov 14, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Lord Lemur , 7 hours ago

Orwell's intellect is overrated, and his aphorisms have become thought-ending cliches. Look at the string of assumptions in quote above. Do individuals really 'choose' to 'sink' their consciousness into a greater body? What makes far more sense is that at the 'core' of I there is a 'we', which is conditioned by prior forms of particularity - religion, ethnicity, language, race, and culture. This is the basis of a harmonious common good, and a meaningful lifeworld.

Orwell grew up in a time of increasing scale, Managerialism, and atomization. His thinking narrates the moral discourse shaped by that anti-social environment and its effects (mass wars) but dresses it up in an emancipatory narrative. One is immediately struck by his lack of foresight in predicting how power would operate as the 20th century wore on (Foucault and and Huxley are a lot closer the truth), and his inability to grapple with the essence of power and its moral and conceptual implications as a whole.

In reality, power is a moral imperative, and its acquisition and application the inaugural raison d'être of the state and the concomitant society. Hence, the cogito subject at the heart of Orwell's evaluative presuppositions is itself a product of prior systems of power, upstream from personal judgment and value sets.

Orwell proceeds to demand by implication we view the ancestral efforts which secured our position in the present day as illegitimate, since they conformed to emergent anthropological patterns of conflict and conquest instead of categorical laws plucked out of thin air by self-styled 'enlightened' big-brains during the 18th century.

Had we actually lived by these 'standards', those of us left would be a marginalized set of tribes pushed to the far north of Europe, regularly getting shafted by whatever Magian civilization moved in. As a matter of fact, that's happening right now as these self-critical ideas have installed themselves within our cultural substrate.

These pious set of mere assertions are deployed by the ruling globalist cabal to justify the replacement of Western founding stocks. Yet they are so ingrained among our senior cohort, when their *own people actually under attack* seek to affirm themselves without contradiction in *response*, they are viewed as the root menace. But if you have a decline and you have a desire to assert yourself to arrest the decline, and you have to apologize to yourself about even having the idea of assertion to arrest decline, you're not going to get anywhere, are you?

Those who feel uncomfortable about this should have worked harder to prevent the erosion of the historic American nation, and if there is nothing they could have done against the DC Behemoth, abstain from opposing the instinctive response of the cultural immune system.

Pat Lang Mod -> Lord Lemur , 7 hours ago

I beg you pardon, O neocon scion of the WASP elite. and what did you ever do for the "historic America?"
Lord Lemur -> Pat Lang , 7 hours ago
I'm not American, but i'm 5th generation in an Anglo-setter nation. The implication here is that i'm an ungrateful you whipper-snapper who just doesn't grasp the sacrifices and horrors of the 20th century. Exactly when does my generation get the moral cachet entitling us to input directions into the civilizational compass? Arguments predicated on commitment to a cause haven no inherent validity. I'm certainly not disparaging or denying here, but you're putting us in a position where our ambit of choice is circumscribed by the ideology that justified post-War US hegemony (for which people from my community were still dying until very recently in Afghanistan).
Pat Lang Mod -> Lord Lemur , 6 hours ago
I have long thought that NATO should have been abolished after the fall of the USSR. Go your own way. I am not concerned with you foreigners in Europe or anywhere else. I am concerned with the state of mind of my own people who should wise up and forget about Europe except as a trading partner and a tourist destination.
Lord Lemur -> Pat Lang , 6 hours ago
Well, I would love to do that Col., but unfortunately Western civilization as a whole goes the way of Washington, New York, Brussels, and maybe Paris and Moscow. What happens to weaker power centres without the strong ones? What has happened Tibet, that's what.

Thinking in terms of elites tied to specific nations is no longer a good model to conceive of politics. Formal institutions like NATO are an expression of that. We have to address transnational networks of soft power that bind together and enculturate the ruling class. I have more in common with a Trump voter from flyover country and he with me than either of us with our respective 'national' elites.

Pat Lang Mod -> Lord Lemur , 5 hours ago
Blah Blah. At least you did not tell me about your hero grandpa.
JJackson , 13 hours ago
An important distinction, thank you for forcing us to consider the difference.

The two are not always easy to distinguish and a 'My country right or wrong' mindset seems to be dangerously on the rise. I was considering the use of the national flag on homes in the US and UK. It surprised me how common it seemed in the States and assumed it was a show of Patriotic fervor when I see it in the UK it sends a shiver down my spine as (with the exception of major international sporting events) I interpret it as extreme Nationalism often associated with racist or Neo-Nazi sympathies. Conflation of the two seems much the same as that of Anti-Israeli, Anti-Zionist and Anti-Semitic again three very distinct mindsets.

Degringolade , 13 hours ago
... Look, mostly this whole patriotism/nationalism word game is just sadly funny. You are a patriot if you think like me. You are a nationalist if you don't. Patriotism is good, nationalism is bad. If I am a patriot, I am good, if you are a nationalist, you must be bad.

I think that the wisdom of Humpty Dumpty when speaking to Alice fits here:

"When I use a word..it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is which is to be master -- that's all."

[Nov 12, 2018] Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Use Design To Trick You Into Handing Over Your Data, Report Warns

Notable quotes:
"... There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath. ..."
Nov 12, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A study from the Norwegian Consumer Council dug into the underhanded tactics used by Microsoft, Facebook, and Google to collect user data . "The findings include privacy intrusive default settings, misleading wording, giving users an illusion of control, hiding away privacy-friendly choices, take-it-or-leave-it choices, and choice architectures where choosing the privacy friendly option requires more effort for the users," states the report , which includes images and examples of confusing design choices and strangely worded statements involving the collection and use of personal data.

Google makes opting out of personalized ads more of a chore than it needs to be and uses multiple pages of text, unclear design language, and, as described by the report, "hidden defaults" to push users toward the company's desired action. "If the user tried to turn the setting off, a popup window appeared explaining what happens if Ads Personalization is turned off, and asked users to reaffirm their choice," the report explained. "There was no explanation about the possible benefits of turning off Ads Personalization, or negative sides of leaving it turned on." Those who wish to completely avoid personalized ads must traverse multiple menus, making that "I agree" option seem like the lesser of two evils. In Windows 10, if a user wants to opt out of "tailored experiences with diagnostic data," they have to click a dimmed lightbulb, while the symbol for opting in is a brightly shining bulb, says the report.

Another example has to do with Facebook. The social media site makes the "Agree and continue" option much more appealing and less intimidating than the grey "Manage Data Settings" option. The report says the company-suggested option is the easiest to use. "This 'easy road' consisted of four clicks to get through the process, which entailed accepting personalized ads from third parties and the use of face recognition. In contrast, users who wanted to limit data collection and use had to go through 13 clicks."

dromgodis ( 4533247 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:50AM ( #56858014 )

Re:And if you optout it just makes you even more o ( Score: 5 , Informative)

You seem to be keeping your gaze too low. You are not just a target for buying stuff; you are also a target for modifying your opinion and behaviour in politics and other questions.

You can be targeted through other vectors than traditional ads, e.g. notification flows, news flows, ads-or-propaganda-disguised-as-news, product placement, insurance company policies, employability, police knocking on your door, ...

As an extreme, think China. The view we outsiders get is that if they collect the wrong data about you, they will *target* you in a way that no ad-blocker will stop.

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

Never attribute to malice ( Score: 3 ) by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @03:40AM ( #56858106 )

what can be attributed to three companies who are some of the worst offenders of screwing up general UI design.

Who the hell cares about my privacy settings when I can no longer safely use maps for navigation due to its shitty settings of minimising into a useless picture in picture everytime there's a hiccup on my phone and has removed the option to force audio output throught the speaker meaning I can't hear it with bluetooth on either.

Who the hell cares about privacy settings on a website that makes it borderline impossible to easily scroll through past messages, or whose mobile app doesn't let you post pictures because it ends up in a select picture loop.

And as for Microsoft, one word... err two words: Start Menu *raises middle finger*

triffid_98 ( 899609 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:29AM ( #56857984 )
Re: Gee, what a surprise ... ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

While Facebook is avoidable good luck avoiding Microsoft and Google if you're not a member of the zombie Steve Jobs fan club...that said, whatever they extract is far less damaging than the Equifax breach, after that I'd say cell phone carriers and all of the historical gps data they share with third parties without your consent. Just like the instigators of the 2008 global financial meltdown the penalties = zero dollars.

Raenex ( 947668 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @06:28AM ( #56858434 )
Re: Alternatives ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

You sound like a Google employee. There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath.

[Nov 12, 2018] DEA And ICE Hiding Secret Cameras In Streetlights

Modern technology makes many things possible, but it does not make them cheap... The camera needs to work in pretty adverse conditions (think about the temperature inside the light on a hot summer day, and temperature at winter) and transmit signal somewhere via WiFi (which has range less then 100m) , or special cable that needs to be installed for this particular pole. With wifi there should be many collection units which also cost money. So it make sense only for streetlights adjacent to building with Internet networking. And there are already cameras of the highway, so highways are basically covered. Which basically limits this technology to cities. Just recoding without transmission would be much cheaper (transmission on demand). Excessive paranoia here is not warranted.
Nov 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

According to new government procurement data, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have purchased an undisclosed number of secret surveillance cameras that are being hidden in streetlights across the country.

Quartz first reported this dystopian development of federal authorities stocking up on "covert systems" last week. The report showed how the DEA paid a Houston, Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. approximately $22,000 since June for "video recording and reproducing equipment." ICE paid out about $28,000 to Cowboy Streetlight Concealments during the same period.

"It's unclear where the DEA and ICE streetlight cameras have been installed, or where the next deployments will take place. ICE offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio have provided funding for recent acquisitions from Cowboy Streetlight Concealments; the DEA's most recent purchases were funded by the agency's Office of Investigative Technology, which is located in Lorton, Virginia," said Quartz.

Below is the list Of contract actions for Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. Vendor_Duns_Number: "085189089" on the Federal Procurement Database:

Christie Crawford, who co-owns Cowboy Streetlight Concealments with her husband, said she was not allowed to talk about the government contracts in detail.

"We do streetlight concealments and camera enclosures," Crawford told Quartz. "Basically, there's businesses out there that will build concealments for the government and that's what we do. They specify what's best for them, and we make it. And that's about all I can probably say."

However, she added: "I can tell you this -- things are always being watched. It doesn't matter if you're driving down the street or visiting a friend, if government or law enforcement has a reason to set up surveillance, there's great technology out there to do it."

Quartz notes that the DEA issued a solicitation for "concealments made to house network PTZ [Pan-Tilt-Zoom] camera, cellular modem, cellular compression device," last Monday. According to solicitation number D-19-ST-0037, the sole source award will go to Obsidian Integration LLC.

On November 07, the Jersey City Police Department awarded Obsidian Integration with "the purchase and delivery of a covert pole camera." Quartz said the filing did not provide much detail about the design.

It is not just streetlights the federal government wants to mount covert surveillance cameras on, it seems cameras inside traffic barrels could be heading onto America's highways in the not too distant future.

And as Quartz reported in October, the DEA operates a complex network of digital speed-display road signs that covertly scan license plates. On top of all this, Amazon has been aggressively rolling out its Rekognition facial-recognition software to law enforcement agencies and ICE, according to emails uncovered by the Project for Government Oversight.

Chad Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told Quartz that cameras in street lights have been proposed before by local governments, typically under a program called "smart" LED street light system.

"It basically has the ability to turn every streetlight into a surveillance device, which is very Orwellian to say the least," Marlow told Quartz. "In most jurisdictions, the local police or department of public works are authorized to make these decisions unilaterally and in secret. There's no public debate or oversight."

And so, as the US continues to be distracted, torn amid record political, social and economic polarization, big brother has no intention of letting the current crisis go to waste, and quietly continues on its path of transforming the US into a full-blown police and surveillance state.


wuffie , 9 minutes ago link

I previously worked for one of these types of federal agencies and to be fair, $50,000 doesn't buy a lot of video surveillance equipment at government procurement costs. The contractor doesn't just drill a hole and install a camera, they provide an entirely new streetlight head with the camera installed.

SantaClaws , 36 minutes ago link

It would be nice if they put some of this technology to work for a good cause. Maybe warning you of traffic congestion ahead. Or advising you that one of your tires will soon go flat.

Obviously that won't happen, so in the meantime, I can't wait to read next how the hackers will find a way to make this government effort go completely haywire. As if the government can't do it without any help. At least when the hackers do it, it will be funny and thorough.

21st.century , 56 minutes ago link

Besides the creepy surveillance part, some of the street light tech is interesting . lights that dim like the frozen food section - when no one is in front of the case --- RGB lighting that shows the approximate location for EMS to a 911 call ( lights that EMS can follow by color)

basic neighborhood street lights are being replaced by LED -- lights in this article.

Hey, I have street lights AND cameras on the same poles at the shop/mad scientist lab/ play house.

but- surveillance -- the wall better have these lights -- light up the border !

Oldguy05 , 1 hour ago link

This is yesteryears news. Shot Spotter has microphones that can pick up whispered conversations for 300 feet for a long time now, while triangulating any gunshot in a city...

[Nov 12, 2018] Obama s CIA Secretly Intercepted Congressional Communications About Whistleblowers

Highly recommended!
So the USA Congress operates under CIA surveillance... Due to CIA access to Saudi money the situation is probably much worse then described as CIA tried to protect both its level of influence and shadow revenue streams.
Notable quotes:
"... The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing. ..."
"... I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014 ..."
"... The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement. ..."
"... According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper." ..."
"... Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications ..."
"... CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director ..."
"... During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016. ..."
Nov 02, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson,

Newly-declassified documents show the CIA intercepted sensitive Congressional communications about intelligence community whistleblowers.

The intercepts occurred under CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The new disclosures are contained in two letters of "Congressional notification" originally written to key members of Congress in March 2014, but kept secret until now.

In the letters, then-Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough tells four key members of Congress that during "routing counterintelligence monitoring of Government computer systems," the CIA collected emails between Congressional staff and the CIA's head of whistleblowing and source protection. McCullough states that he's concerned "about the potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent 'chilling effect' that the present [counterintelligence] monitoring system might have on Intelligence Community whistleblowing."

The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing.

"Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints," McCullough states in his letters to lead Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees at the time: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia); and Representatives Michael Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland). McCullough adds that the type of monitoring that occurred was "lawful and justified for [counterintelligence] purposes" but

"I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014

The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement.

According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper."

Grassley adds that he repeated his request to declassify the letters under the Trump administration, but that Trump intelligence officials failed to respond. The documents were finally declassified this week after Grassley appealed to the new Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

History of alleged surveillance abuses

Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications. A Congressional staffer involved at the time says Clapper's response seemed to imply that if Congressional communications were "incidentally" collected by the CIA, the material would not be saved or reported up to CIA management.

"In the event of a protected disclosure by a whistleblower somehow comes to the attention of personnel responsible for monitoring user activity," Clapper wrote to Grassley and Wyden on July 25, 2014, "there is no intention for such disclosure to be reported to agency leadership under an insider threat program."

However, the newly-declassified letters indicate the opposite happened in reality with the whistleblower-related emails:

"CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director."

Clapper has previously come under fire for his 2013 testimony to Congress in which he denied that the national Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Weeks later, Clapper's statement was proven false by material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016.

"Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them."

Clapper has repeatedly denied lying, and said that any incorrect information he provided was due to misunderstandings or mistakes.

Clapper and Brennan have also acknowledged taking part in the controversial practice of "unmasking" the protected names of U.S. citizens - including people connected to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump - whose communications were "incidentally" captured in US counterintelligence operations. Unmaskings within the US intelligence community are supposed to be extremely rare and only allowed under carefully justified circumstances. This is to protect the privacy rights of American citizens. But it's been revealed that Obama officials requested unmaskings on a near daily basis during the election year of 2016.

Clapper and Brennan have said their activities were lawful and not politically motivated. Both men have become vocal critics of President Trump.

* * *

Order the New York Times bestseller "The Smear" today online or borrow from your library


Keter , 5 hours ago link

"ah, ah, ah, em, not intentionally." Clapper - ROFL

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Can you imagine what kind of place the US would have been under Clinton?!!!!!!

All the illegality, spying, conniving, dirty tricks, arcancides, selling us out to the highest bidder and full on attack against our Constitution would be in full swing!

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

When intel entities can operate unimpeded and un-monitored, it spells disaster for everyone and everything outside that parameter. Their operations go unnoticed until some stray piece of information exposes them. There are many facilities that need to be purged and audited, but since this activity goes on all over the world, there is little to stop it. Even countries that pledge allegiance and cooperation are blindsiding their allies with bugs, taps, blackmails, and other crimes. Nobody trusts nobody, and that's a horrid fact to contend with in an 'advanced' civilization.

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Almost sounds like the Praetorian guard?

The real power behind the throne.

Rhys12 , 10 hours ago link

Forget the political parties. When the intelligence agencies spy on everyone, they know all about politicians of both parties before they ever win office, and make sure they have enough over them to control them. They were asleep at the switch when Trump won, because no one, including them, believed he would ever win. Hillary was their candidate, the State Department is known overseas as "the political arm of the CIA". They were furious when she lost, hence the circus ever since.

iAmerican10 , 11 hours ago link

From its founding by the Knights of Malta the JFK&MLK-assassinating, with Mossad 9/11-committing CIA has been the Vatican's US Fifth Column action branch, as are the FBI and NSA: with an institutional hiring preference for Roman Catholic "altared boy" closet-queen psychopaths "because they're practiced at keeping secrets."

Think perverts Strzok, Brennan, and McCabe "licked it off the wall?"

Smi1ey , 11 hours ago link

We need to bring back FOIA.

Too much secrecy.

And how is that Pentagon audit doing, btw?

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

I agree with you 100%. Problem is, tons of secret technology and information have been passed out to the private sector. And the private sector is not bound to the FOIA requests, therefore neutralizing the obligation for government to disclose classified material. They sidestepped their own policies to cooperate with corrupt MIC contractors, and recuse themselves from disclosing incriminating evidence.

archie bird , 12 hours ago link

Everyone knows that spying runs in the fam. 44th potus Mom and Gma BOTH. An apple doesn't fall from the tree. If ppl only knew the true depth of the evil and corruption we would be in the hospital with a heart attack. Gilded age is here and has been, since our democracy was hijacked (McCain called it an intervention) back in 1963. Unfortunately it started WAY back before then when (((they))) stole everything with the installation of the Fed.

Dornier27 , 15 hours ago link

The FBI and CIA have long since slipped the controls of Congress and the Constitution. President Trump should sign an executive order after the mid terms and stand down at least the FBI and subject the CIA to a senate investigation.

America needs new agencies that are accountable to the peoples elected representatives.

greasyknees , 16 hours ago link

Not news. The CIA likely has had access to any and all electronic communication for at least a decade.

Lord JT , 19 hours ago link

what? clapper and brennan being dirty hacks behind the scenes while parading around as patriots? say it aint so!

Racin Rabitt , 20 hours ago link

A determined care has been used to cultivate in D.C., a system that swiftly decapitates the whistleblowers. Resulting in an increasingly subservient cadre of civil servants who STHU and play ostrich, or drool at what scraps are about to roll off the master's table as the slide themselves into a better position, taking advantage to sell vice, weapons, and slaves.

Westcoastliberal , 21 hours ago link

What the hell does the CIA have to do with ANYTHING in the United States? Aren't they limited to OUTSIDE the U.S.? So why would they be involved in domestic communications for anything? These clowns need to be indicted for TREASON!

5onIt , 22 hours ago link

Clapper and Brennan, Brennan and Clapper. These two guys are the damn devil.

It makes me ill.

MuffDiver69 , 22 hours ago link

I'll take " Police State" for five hundred Alex

[Nov 10, 2018] CIA's 'Surveillance State' is Operating Against US

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

BM , Nov 10, 2018 5:56:10 AM | link

Whilst on the topic of ISIS, here is an article about its mother-concern, CIA:

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/11/09/cia-surveillance-state-operating-against-us-all.html
CIA's 'Surveillance State' is Operating Against US All

On two declassified letters from 2014 from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (didn't know there was one, but doesn't do much good anyway, it seems, read further) to the chairpersons of the House and Senate intelligence committees notifying them that the CIA has been monitoring emails between the CIA's head of the whistleblowing and source protection and Congressional. "Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints". Shows why Edward Snowdon didn't consider it appropriate to rely on internal complaints proceedures. This while under the leadership of seasoned liars and criminals Brennan and Clapper, of course.

It clearly shows a taste of what these buggers have to hide, and why they went to such extraordinary lengths as Russiagate to cover it all up and save their skins - that of course being the real reason behind Russiagate as I have said several times, nothing to do with either Trump or Russia.

guidoamm , Nov 10, 2018 1:32:52 AM | link

And there is this too of course:

Pentagon Fake Al Qaeda Propaganda

Anton Worter , Nov 10, 2018 12:39:39 AM | link
@4

OWS was a Controlled-Dissent operation, sending poor students north to fecklessly march on Wall Street when they could have shut down WADC, and sending wealthy seniors south to fecklessly line Pennsylvania Avenue, when they could have shut down Wall Street.

Both I$I$, and Hamas, and Antifa et al are all Controlled Dissent operations. The followers are duped, are used, abused and then abandoned by honey-pots put there by Central Intelligence, at least since the Spanish Civil War.

That's why MoA articles like this one make you wonder, just who is conning whom, at a time when the Internet is weaponized, when Google Assistant achieved AI awareness indistinguishable from anyone on the phone, China TV has launched a virtual AI news reporter indistinguishable from reality, and Stanford can audio-video a captured image of anyone as well as their voice intonation, then 3D model them, in real time, reading and emoting from a script, indistinguishable from reality, ...and then this.

Another Gift of Trust😂 brought to you by Scientocracy. Be sure to tithe your AI bot, or word will get back to Chairman Albertus, then you'll be called in to confess your thought crimes to the Green Cadre, itself another Controlled Dissent honeypot, in a Tithe-for-Credits Swindle.

I tell my kids, just enjoy life, live it large, and get ready for hell. It's coming for breakfast.

[Nov 10, 2018] Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Harry Law , Nov 10, 2018 9:11:40 AM | link

Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine, take this Pompeo rant against Iran and the Iranian response......

Asking of Pompeo "have you no shame?", Zarif mocked Pompeo's praise for the Saudis for "providing millions and millions of dollars of humanitarian relief" to Yemen, saying America's "butcher clients" were spending billions of dollars bombing school buses. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a statement lashing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his recent comments on the Yemen War. Discussing the US-backed Saudi invasion of Yemen, Pompeo declared Iran to be to blame for the death and destruction in the country. https://news.antiwar.com/2018/11/09/iran-fm-slams-pompeo-for-blaming-yemen-war-on-iran/

The US way of looking at things supposes that up is down, and white is black, it makes no sense, unless the US hopes these provocations will lead to a war or at the very least Russia or Iran capitulating to US aggression, which will not happen. Sanctions by the US on all and sundry must be opposed, if not the US will claim justifiably to be the worlds policeman and the arbiter of who will trade with who, a ludicrous proposition but one that most governments are afraid is now taking place, witness the new US ambassador to Germany in his first tweet telling the Germans to cease all trade with Iran immediately.

https://www.thelocal.de/20180509/us-tells-german-businesses-to-stop-trade-in-iran-immediately

[Nov 10, 2018] A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the "fingerprints" of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices

Notable quotes:
"... The "leaving of fake fingerprints" (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Arabic) is done by Marble Framework software, details of which was leaked by CIA programmer, Joshua Adam Schulte to Wikileaks and formed part of the "Vault 7" series. It means that no fingerprint evidence can ever be relied on ever again. ..."
Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
the pair , Nov 9, 2018 5:38:46 PM | link

Jackrabbit , Nov 9, 2018 4:15:30 PM | link

WikiLeaks: CIA hacking group 'UMBRAGE' stockpiled techniques from other hackers

A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the "fingerprints" of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices ...

"With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types, but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the 'fingerprints' of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from," Wikileaks said in a statement.

https://github.com/ElevenPaths/Eternalblue-Doublepulsar-Metasploit

https://www.cybrary.it/0p3n/hack-windows-eternalblue-exploit-metasploit/

use these and you're automagically in the NSA. download the stuxnet binary and you're an instant israeli.

https://thehiddenbay.com/torrent/6169094/stuxnet_binaries

that anonymous NSA guy is either lying or too stupid to do his job. " it's that simple ".

fireeye are scam artists just like crowdstrike. it's not that they don't know tactics and methods; i'm sure they know their way around a payload. that doesn't make them some tabula rasa blank slate without an agenda. just because they use computers doesn't mean they're robots.

as anyone who works in a business run by technologically "challenged" bosses knows, for every fast talker throwing around techy terms and sounding like a mr. robot script there are 20 idiot CEOs willing to throw money at imaginary problems. ditto the government. meanwhile shysters like stratfor and hbgary get reamed by high school graduates running linux on a netbook from 2003.

as for the attributions, they fail a basic "cui bono" test. i guess the russians wanted to make rapist beheaders look bad by DDoSing some servers? they wanted to give cred to the apes who shoot at their advisors in syria? okay. sure.


Peter AU 1 , Nov 9, 2018 5:41:51 PM | link

Red Ryder 5

Back around 2014 15 Charles Lister listed himself as a consultant to the Shaikh Group.
Shaik Group have a media marketing section in Dubai. http://theshaikhgroup.ae

https://foreignpolicy.com/author/charles-lister/
Charles Lister is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and a senior consultant to The Shaikh Group's Track II Syria Dialogue Initiative. Follow him on Twitter at: @Charles_Lister.

http://www.mei.edu/experts/charles-lister
Charles Lister is a senior fellow and Director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program at the Middle East Institute. His work focuses primarily on the conflict in Syria, including as a member of the MEI-convened Syria Study Group; and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Prior to this, Lister was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a Senior Consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, where he managed nearly three years of intensive face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups.

I have thought that ISIS studios were based in Dubai or Doha.

Palloy , Nov 9, 2018 5:48:39 PM | link
IP addresses can only be attributed to individuals/offices/locations with the assistance of the owner of the IP block of addresses, typically an ISP. The GRU's ISP would NOT help identify the GRU, obviously, so all such attributions are fake and those who claim to know are liars.

The "leaving of fake fingerprints" (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Arabic) is done by Marble Framework software, details of which was leaked by CIA programmer, Joshua Adam Schulte to Wikileaks and formed part of the "Vault 7" series. It means that no fingerprint evidence can ever be relied on ever again.

karlof1 , Nov 9, 2018 5:50:25 PM | link

DPRK needs to be included by b along with Russia for many of the same reasons as this example attests . And while we're at it, China should join the group too. Indeed, the CIA/NSA is likely responsible for most hacking, particularly when monies are stolen as the linked article reports. As the Outlaw US Empire slowly dissolves into a pool of its own exceptional ugliness, it will blame everyone and anyone to cover its crimes. Then there's the small battalion of slimy zombie trolls CIA/NSA employs that infest this site. They promote one of the Outlaw US Empire's most important values--lying about everything under the sun for a Few Dollars More while throwing the citizenry that makes their living possible under the bus.

V , Nov 9, 2018 10:00:08 PM | link
Now, more than ever; the US needs a very capable adversary and where none exists, the US will create one, as history has shown. Russia has historical presidence, making it convenient.
However, as events are unfolding, China will come to the fore; Russia will move to second place.
But, two adversaries are far better than one, for getting the flow of cash to support the Potemkin moment...
Cyberundertakers , Nov 9, 2018 10:19:09 PM | link
I would wager that such hacking points towards Israel rather than a group of paid-for head choppers hailing from the medieval Saudi.
Anton Worter , Nov 10, 2018 12:39:39 AM | link
4

OWS was a Controlled-Dissent operation, sending poor students north to fecklessly march on Wall Street when they could have shut down WADC, and sending wealthy seniors south to fecklessly line Pennsylvania Avenue, when they could have shut down Wall Street.

Both I$I$, and Hamas, and Antifa et al are all Controlled Dissent operations. The followers are duped, are used, abused and then abandoned by honey-pots put there by Central Intelligence, at least since the Spanish Civil War.

That's why MoA articles like this one make you wonder, just who is conning whom, at a time when the Internet is weaponized, when Google Assistant achieved AI awareness indistinguishable from anyone on the phone, China TV has launched a virtual AI news reporter indistinguishable from reality, and Stanford can audio-video a captured image of anyone as well as their voice intonation, then 3D model them, in real time, reading and emoting from a script, indistinguishable from reality, ...and then this.

Another Gift of Trust brought to you by Scientocracy. Be sure to tithe your AI bot, or word will get back to Chairman Albertus, then you'll be called in to confess your thought crimes to the Green Cadre, itself another Controlled Dissent honeypot, in a Tithe-for-Credits Swindle.

I tell my kids, just enjoy life, live it large, and get ready for hell. It's coming for breakfast.

guidoamm , Nov 10, 2018 1:32:52 AM | link
And there is this too of course:

Pentagon Fake Al Qaeda Propaganda

Peter AU 1 , Nov 10, 2018 1:33:45 AM | link
There is big money in prostitution. None of the robot dolls I have seen in the various media reports on robot brothels look lifelike, whereas the Chinese anchor looks very much like a human with a voice-over. Will see how this develops, but at the moment it looks very much like Lavrov style satire.
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