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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / THIS MUST be investigated! on: September 20, 2017, 03:50:26 PM
http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/341225-comeys-private-memos-on-trump-conversations-contained-classified

Comey’s private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material
BY JOHN SOLOMON - 07/09/17 08:12 PM EDT
45,296
   

More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a friend. He asked that friend, a law professor at Columbia University, to leak information from one memo to the news media in hopes of increasing pressure to get a special prosecutor named in the Russia case after Comey was fired as FBI director.


“So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asked Comey on June 8. “You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?”
“Correct,” Comey answered. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership,” he testified about the one memo he later leaked about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

He added, “My view was that the content of those unclassified memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.”

But when the seven memos Comey wrote regarding his nine conversations with Trump about Russia earlier this year were shown to Congress in recent days, the FBI claimed all were, in fact, deemed to be government documents.

While the Comey memos have been previously reported, this is the first time there has been a number connected to the amount of memos the ex-FBI chief wrote.

Four of the memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the secret or confidential level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for the FBI on Sunday declined to comment.

FBI policy forbids any agent from releasing classified information or any information from ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission, and it mandates that all records created during official duties are considered to be government property.

“Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI or which I may acquire as an employee of the FBI could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy, result in the denial of due process, prevent the FBI from effectively discharging its responsibilities, or violate federal law,” states the agreement all FBI agents sign.


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It adds that “all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America” and that an agent “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”

Comey indicated in his testimony that the memos were in his possession when he left the bureau, leaving him in a position to leak one of them through his friend to the media. But he testified that he has since turned them over to Robert Mueller, a former FBI chief who is now spearheading the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the presidential race.

It is not clear whether Comey as director signed the same agreement as his agents, but the contract is considered the official policy of the bureau. It was also unclear when the documents were shown to Congress whether the information deemed secret or confidential was classified at the time Comey wrote the memos or determined so afterward, the sources said.

Congressional investigators had already begun examining whether Comey’s creation, storage and sharing of the memos violated FBI rules, but the revelation that four of the seven memos included some sort of classified information opens a new door of inquiry into whether classified information was mishandled, improperly stored or improperly shared.

That was the same issue for which the FBI investigated Clinton, a former secretary of State in the Obama administration, in 2015 and 2016 under Comey. Clinton used a private email server during her tenure that at times contained classified material.

Comey ultimately concluded in July 2016 that Clinton’s email practices were reckless, but that he could not recommend prosecution because FBI agents had failed to find enough evidence that she intended to violate felony statutes prohibiting the transmission of classified information through insecure practices. Clinton at the time was the Democratic nominee for president.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," he said in a decision panned by Republicans and embraced by Democrats.

Now, congressional investigators are likely to turn their attention to the same issues to determine if Comey mishandled any classified information in his personal memos.

In order to make an assessment, congressional investigators will have to tackle key questions, such as where and how the memos were created, including whether they were written on an insecure computer or notepad; where and how the memos were stored, such as inside Comey's home, in a briefcase or on an insecure laptop; whether any memos were shown to private individuals without a security clearance and whether those memos contained any classified information; and when was it determined by the government that the memos contained classified information — before Comey took them and shared one or after.

One avenue for answering those questions is for a panel like Senate Intelligence, House Intelligence or Senate Judiciary to refer the matter to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, the inspector general, or to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its inspector general, aides said.
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / How to hide from the internet’s surveillance machine on: September 20, 2017, 02:39:17 PM
http://www.futurity.org/surveillance-privacy-internet-book-1096512/

How to hide from the internet’s surveillance machine
Posted by Eileen Reynolds-NYU January 27th, 2016

    
You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license.

It’s a common assumption that being online means you’ll have to part ways with your personal data and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Not true, according to two communication professors. In their new book, Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest (MIT Press, 2015), they argue both that your privacy is being eroded through acts way, way more heinous than you might think, and that contrary to popular belief, there is something you can do about it.

Part philosophical treatise and part rousing how-to, Obfuscation reads at times as an urgent call to arms.

“Machines don’t forget.”
“We mean to start a revolution with this book,” its authors declare. “Although its lexicon of methods can be, and has been, taken up by tyrants, authoritarians, and secret police, our revolution is especially suited for use by the small players, the humble, the stuck, those not in a position to decline or opt out or exert control.”

One of the tricky things about online tracking is that it’s so complex and invisible that we aren’t necessarily cognizant of it happening,” says Finn Brunton, coauthor and professor at New York University. “Part of the goal of Obfuscation is to draw attention to precisely that problem.”



Consider the trick by which, in loading a single (practically invisible) pixel onto a website you’re visiting, an ad server can, without your knowledge, collect all kinds of information about the browser and device that you’re using—information that could then be used down the line to, say, jack up the price on a plane ticket the next time you’re making travel arrangements, serve up a selection of higher-end goods the next time you search on an online retailer’s site, or, on the flip side, make it tougher for you to get a loan, if something about your data gets flagged as a credit risk.

This is a clear example of what Brunton and coauthor Helen Nissenbaum, also a professor at NYU, describe as “information asymmetry,” where, as they write, the companies collecting data “know much about us, and we know little about them or what they can do.”

The surveillance background

It’s not just that we haven’t agreed to having our personal information collected, it’s that the invisible processes of dossier building are so complex, and their consequences so difficult to predict, that it would be virtually impossible to understand exactly what we’re being asked to consent to.

Whereas NSA snooping makes headlines, other forms of quiet surveillance go unnoticed (and unregulated), to the benefit of shadowy entities making bank in the data economy—or even police using software to calculate citizens’ threat “scores.”

“Machines don’t forget,” Brunton says. Suppose you have an agreement with one company, “the best company run by the best people,” he says, “but then they go bankrupt, or get subpoenaed, or acquired. Your data ends up on the schedule of assets,” and then you don’t know where it might end up.”

[Do your friends give your data to third parties?]

To be clear, the authors—whose manifesto irked critics who argue that these kinds of transactions are what finance the “free” internet—aren’t against online advertising per se.

“Before ad networks started the surveillance background,” Nissenbaum explains, “there was traditional advertising, where Nike could buy an ad space on, say, the New York Times [website], or contextual advertising, where Nike would buy space on Sports Illustrated. There were plenty of ways of advertising that didn’t involve tracking people.”

Nowadays, though, Brunton says, “Many online sites that produce content you use and enjoy don’t get that much money out of the advertising, and yet there’s a whole galaxy of third-party groups on the back end swapping data back and forth for profit, in a way that’s not necessarily more effective for the merchant, the content provider, or you.

“Then add on top of it all that the data can be misused, and you have a network that is less secure and built around surveillance. I think that starts to shift the balance in favor of taking aggressive action.”

That’s where obfuscation—defined in the book as “the production of noise modeled on an existing signal in order to make a collection of data more ambiguous, confusing, harder to exploit, more difficult to act on, and therefore less valuable”—comes in.

TrackMeNot, for example, one of several elegant obfuscation tools designed by Nissenbaum and NYU computer science colleagues, serves up bogus queries to thwart search engines’ efforts to build a profile on you, so that when you search, say, “leather boots,” it also sends along “ghost” terms like “Tom Cruise,” “Spanish American War,” and “painters tape” (which don’t affect your search results). Another tool, ADNAUSEUM, registers a click on all the ads in your ad blocker, rendering futile any attempt to build a profile of your preferences based on ads you click.

History lessons

Even as they look to future battles, Brunton and Nissenbaum draw inspiration from the past, offering a compendium of examples of obfuscation tactics used throughout history.

World War II planes released chaff—strips of black paper coated with foil—to overwhelm enemy radar with false targets. Poker players sometimes employ false tells; baseball coaches hide signs amid a string of meaningless hand gestures.

People worried that their private conversations may be being recorded can play a “babble tape” in the background—an update to the classic mobster strategy of meeting in noisy bathrooms to safeguard against FBI audio surveillance.

[Why your phone is the perfect surveillance tool]

Shoppers can swap loyalty cards with strangers to prevent brick-and-mortar stores from building a record of their purchases. The orb-weaving spider, vulnerable to attacks by wasps, builds spider decoys to position around its web.

Brunton and Nissenbaum are often asked in interviews about what simple steps even technophobes can take to protect their privacy. The answer: It depends on what scares you most.

“Are you worried about Google?” Brunton asks. “About your insurance company? Where are the places that you want to push back?” A theme that emerges in the book is that obfuscation tactics, while often similar in principle, vary a lot in practice; each unique threat requires a unique defense.

“The ideal world for me is one where you don’t need to obfuscate.”
“Camouflage is often very specific,” Nissenbaum explains. “This animal is worried about these particular predators with this particular eyesight. It’s a general thing but in the instance, it is quite specialized.”

That makes for a big challenge, since there are so many threats—and the notion of “opting out” of all types of surveillance has become so impractical as to be nearly nonsensical. (In the book, Brunton and Nissenbaum quip that it would mean leading “the life of an undocumented migrant laborer of the 1920s, with no internet, no phones, no insurance, no assets, riding the rails, being paid off the books for illegal manual work.”)

Brunton, for example, refuses to use E-ZPass (which, in addition to enabling your cashless commute, announces your location to readers that could be waiting anywhere—not just in tollbooths), but can’t resist the convenience of Google Maps. And Nissenbaum declined to share her location with acquaintances using the iPhone’s “Find My Friends” app, but lamented that there’s no box to check to keep Apple from knowing her whereabouts.

Brunton and Nissenbaum stress that obfuscation isn’t a solution to the problem of constant surveillance, but rather a stopgap to draw attention to the issue and the need for better regulation.

“The ideal world for me,” Nissenbaum says, is “one where you don’t need to obfuscate.”

She draws an analogy between our time and the moment when, soon after telephones became mainstream, the US passed laws forbidding phone companies from listening in on their customers’ conversations.

“You could imagine a different route, where they could eavesdrop and say, ‘Oh, I can hear you discussing with your mom that you would like to go to Mexico in the summer, why don’t we send you a few coupons for Mexican travel?'” Until we pass similar laws to address our current predicament, we’ll be stuck with “the information universe eavesdropping on everything we do.”

Brunton draws an even bolder comparison—between the dawn of the information age and the (much) earlier transition from agrarian to industrial life. Indeed, history is a testament to how societies can and do find equilibrium with relation to transformative new technologies.

The bad news, in the case of the Industrial Revolution, though, is that “in the middle of that shift, horrific things happened to huge populations of people,” Brunton says. Today, he argues, we have the opportunity to prevent the digital equivalent of such horrors. “Can find ways to prevent the worst outcomes for vulnerable populations?”
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MSM-DNC hysteria over Trump speech on: September 20, 2017, 02:28:59 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371650.php

September 19, 2017
ABCNews' Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran: Trump's UN Speech "Bordering on Threat" of a "War Crime"
Ohhh.

Trump told the United Nations that if America is "forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." In response, Moran freaked out: "The words 'totally destroying' a nation of 25 million people, that borders on the threat of committing a war crime."
Terry Moran was joined in freaking out by his Twitter Bubble Buddies at the SJW National Laughingstock and SJW Atlantic Magazine, who had all sorts of GAINZZZ as far as nervous disorders.

Strangely enough, the media -- get this -- praised Obama's steely toughness and girthy penis when he said the US could use its nuclear arsenal to "destroy" North Korea in 2016.

President Barack Obama delivered a stern warning to North Korea on Tuesday, reminding its "erratic" and "irresponsible" leader that America’s nuclear arsenal could "destroy" his country.
...


Mr Obama gave warning of the possible consequences. "We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals," he told CBS News. "But aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally, [South] Korea."

I guess it's hard to mount a sustained criticism of a man who's got his dick three and a half deep in your mouth.

Thanks to Jane D'Oh. For the link. Not for all the penis stuff.

BTW, I don't know who came up with "girthy penis" but I think it was a commenter and it's hilarious.
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MSM-DNC hysteria over Trump speech on: September 20, 2017, 12:24:24 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371650.php

September 19, 2017
ABCNews' Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran: Trump's UN Speech "Bordering on Threat" of a "War Crime"
Ohhh.

Trump told the United Nations that if America is "forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." In response, Moran freaked out: "The words 'totally destroying' a nation of 25 million people, that borders on the threat of committing a war crime."
Terry Moran was joined in freaking out by his Twitter Bubble Buddies at the SJW National Laughingstock and SJW Atlantic Magazine, who had all sorts of GAINZZZ as far as nervous disorders.

Strangely enough, the media -- get this -- praised Obama's steely toughness and girthy penis when he said the US could use its nuclear arsenal to "destroy" North Korea in 2016.

President Barack Obama delivered a stern warning to North Korea on Tuesday, reminding its "erratic" and "irresponsible" leader that America’s nuclear arsenal could "destroy" his country.
...


Mr Obama gave warning of the possible consequences. "We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals," he told CBS News. "But aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally, [South] Korea."

I guess it's hard to mount a sustained criticism of a man who's got his dick three and a half deep in your mouth.

Thanks to Jane D'Oh. For the link. Not for all the penis stuff.

BTW, I don't know who came up with "girthy penis" but I think it was a commenter and it's hilarious.
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump's baseless wiretap claims on: September 20, 2017, 11:48:32 AM


http://ace.mu.nu/archives/CNN%20-%20Trump%20wiretapping.jpg


This IS CNN.

106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Scandinavian Envy, Fantasy on: September 18, 2017, 02:06:26 PM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/03/why-denmark-isnt-the-utopian-fantasy-bernie-sanders-describes/?utm_term=.934c441c28cd

Why Denmark isn’t the utopian fantasy Bernie Sanders describes
By Ana Swanson November 3, 2015
 
Miss Denmark Mette Riis Sorensen visits a shopping mall in Tokyo on Oct. 23. (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)
There's one country that keeps popping up in the debate among the Democratic candidates for president. It's not China, or Russia, or Iran. It's a little country of 5.6 million people that — beyond a vague image of tall, blond, egalitarian people who like pickled fish and minimalist design — few Americans probably know much about.

Denmark, and to a lesser extent the other Nordic countries, are surfacing in the Democratic debates as examples of relatively equal societies that provide generous benefits for their citizens, including affordable education, health care for all, and subsidized child care. This is mostly due to Bernie Sanders, who likes to use Denmark to explain his vision of democratic socialism. "I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people," Sanders said in the first Democratic debate on Oct. 13. ("But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America," Hillary Clinton responded.)

 Play Video 1:32
Clinton: 'It’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism'
 
0:00

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton responds to opponent Bernie Sanders's suggestion that the United States can learn from countries like Denmark. (CNN)
Sanders joins a long tradition of liberal politicians around the world who laud Denmark, Sweden and Norway (and sometimes Finland and Iceland, which aren't technically part of Scandinavia) for their equality and prosperity. These northern European countries enjoy a reputation for being peaceful, egalitarian, progressive, liberal and educated, and having excellent furniture and crime novels, too. For whatever reason, Scandinavia countries just seem to do it better — an idea that supporters and critics label "Nordic exceptionalism."

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 Michael Booth, photo courtesy of author. Michael Booth, photo courtesy of author.
But how much truth is there in the popular idea of Nordic exceptionalism? Michael Booth, a British journalist, examines this question in detail in a recent book, "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia." Booth, a U.K. native who has lived in Scandinavia for over a decade, plays the part of a cultural interpreter, examining, poking and prodding the reality of life in Nordic countries from every angle. Booth finds plenty to question in the rest of the world's assumptions about the Nordic miracle, but also lots that we can learn from them.


You say that many people around the world believe in Nordic exceptionalism without knowing very much at all about Nordic life. They can more easily picture the lives of some remote Amazonian tribe than the typical Swede or Dane. Why is it that the Nordic model has attracted so many fans, but relatively few visitors?

Denmark is a pretty good place to live but it is by no stretch of the imagination the utopia many in politics and the media in the U.S. claim it to be.

We all like to have a "happy place" — somewhere over the rainbow where we imagine life to be perfect - don’t we? For many, that place used to be the Mediterranean: we all dreamed of a stone house among the vines. After the economic crash, I think a lot of people started to look towards Scandinavia for what they believed to be a less rampantly capitalistic form of society.

The difference is, few actually actively seek to move to Scandinavia, for obvious reasons: the weather is appalling, the taxes are the highest in the world, the cost of living is similarly ridiculous, the languages are impenetrable, the food is (still) awful for the most part and, increasingly, these countries are making it very clear they would prefer foreigners to stay away.


What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you find in how the rest of the world understands the Nordic countries?

Again, I think we've all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on them. The Nordic countries are, for example, depicted as paragons of political correctness, yet you still see racial stereotypes in the media here — the kind of thing which would be unthinkable in the U.S. Meanwhile, though it is true that these are the most gender-equal societies in the world, they also record the highest rates of violence towards women — only part of which can be explained by high levels of reporting of crime.

Denmark, meanwhile, promotes itself as a "green pioneer" and finger wags at the world about CO2 emissions, and yet it regularly beats the U.S. and virtually every other country on earth in terms of its per capita ecological footprint. For all their wind turbines, the Danes still burn a lot of coal and drive a lot of cars, their country is home to the world’s largest shipping company (Mærsk), and the region’s largest air hub.


Sweden is supposedly "neutral" (it’s not, and has not been for decades), yet since the days when it sold iron ore to Hitler, its economy has always benefited from its arms industry, which is one of the world’s largest.

The Norwegians have fallen prey to precisely the same kind of problems as other oil-rich states: their economy depends far too much on one industry (oil), they’ve taken their foot off the gas in terms of their work ethic, and now all young Norwegians want to do is be "something in the media" or open a cupcake place.

[The surprisingly fiery debate over whether Denmark is heaven on earth]

Politicians in the U.S. like Bernie Sanders praise Denmark for its relative income equality, its free universities, parental leave, subsidized childcare, and national health system. That all sounds pretty good, right?

It is fantastic in theory, except that, in Denmark, the quality of the free education and health care is substandard: They are way down on the PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] educational rankings, have the lowest life expectancy in the region, and the highest rates of death from cancer. And there is broad consensus that the economic model of a public sector and welfare state on this scale is unsustainable. The Danes’ dirty secret is that its public sector has been propped up by — now dwindling — oil revenues. In Norway’s case, of course, it’s no secret.


You describe the Danes as having a strong sense of work-life balance – specifically, being much more focused on life than work. What are the positives and negatives of that attitude?

Positives: Danes spend more time with their families. Negatives: Danes spend more times with their families. Plus, they have run up huge private debt levels, and no one answers the phone on a Friday afternoon.

Danes are also experiencing a rising debt level, and a lower proportion of people working. Are these worrying signs for its economy or the country’s model?

Yes, many economists have specifically warned of the Danes’ private debt levels. Perhaps more seriously, productivity has been somewhat stagnant and there is a dire skills shortage.

 Participants of the World Congress of Santa Clauses 2015 take part in the annual swim at Bellevue beach, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Scanpix Denmark/Erik Refner The World Congress of Santa Clauses 2015 take their annual swim north of Copenhagen, Denmark. REUTERS/Scanpix Denmark/Erik Refner
One thing that’s often glossed over among outsiders is the extraordinarily high tax level, which is high for the middle class as well as the wealthy. Do Danes think that they get their money’s worth in social services? Do you?

Denmark has the highest direct and indirect taxes in the world, and you don’t need to be a high earner to make it into the top tax bracket of 56% (to which you must add 25% value-added tax, the highest energy taxes in the world, car import duty of 180%, and so on). How the money is spent is kept deliberately opaque by the authorities. Danes do tend to feel that they get value for money, but we should not overlook the fact that the majority of Danes either work for, or receive benefits from, the welfare state.

Greater numbers of immigrants have been leading to rising xenophobia in some Nordic countries, as well as higher income inequality. Do you think these trends say anything about the strength of the Nordic model?

All of Europe is dealing with this issue, but of course smaller populations feel more threatened, and cynical right wing politicians (if you’ll forgive the tautology) take advantage of that fear. Also, there is no "Nordic model" when it comes to immigration and integration: there is the Swedish model (open door) and the Danish model (close the door and put up a "Go Away" sign), which the Norwegians and Finns are copying.

Denmark has won almost every happiness survey since 1973, but you describe them in the book as a “frosty, solemn bunch” who take a lot of anti-depressants. Do they really deserve to be consistently ranked as the world’s happiest country?

No, it’s a nonsense and, in fact, they have dropped from the top spot in recent surveys, mostly because they are not as rich as they once were. The sad take-away from that is, money does, in fact, make you happy. I don’t think they ever were the "happiest" people in the world, but you could argue they have been the most "satisfied." They are good at appreciating the small things in life and making the most of what they have — a legacy, I think, of experiencing the rough hand of geopolitics in the 18th and 19th centuries.

You emphasize, in the end, that there is a lot that we can learn from the Nordic countries. What is one of the best lessons?

At least aim for economic and gender equality. Everyone benefits, so it’s worth a shot, no?






Why Denmark isn’t the utopian fantasy Bernie Sanders describes
By Ana Swanson November 3, 2015
 
Miss Denmark Mette Riis Sorensen visits a shopping mall in Tokyo on Oct. 23. (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)
There's one country that keeps popping up in the debate among the Democratic candidates for president. It's not China, or Russia, or Iran. It's a little country of 5.6 million people that — beyond a vague image of tall, blond, egalitarian people who like pickled fish and minimalist design — few Americans probably know much about.

Denmark, and to a lesser extent the other Nordic countries, are surfacing in the Democratic debates as examples of relatively equal societies that provide generous benefits for their citizens, including affordable education, health care for all, and subsidized child care. This is mostly due to Bernie Sanders, who likes to use Denmark to explain his vision of democratic socialism. "I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people," Sanders said in the first Democratic debate on Oct. 13. ("But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America," Hillary Clinton responded.)

 Play Video 1:32
Clinton: 'It’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism'
 
0:00

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton responds to opponent Bernie Sanders's suggestion that the United States can learn from countries like Denmark. (CNN)
Sanders joins a long tradition of liberal politicians around the world who laud Denmark, Sweden and Norway (and sometimes Finland and Iceland, which aren't technically part of Scandinavia) for their equality and prosperity. These northern European countries enjoy a reputation for being peaceful, egalitarian, progressive, liberal and educated, and having excellent furniture and crime novels, too. For whatever reason, Scandinavia countries just seem to do it better — an idea that supporters and critics label "Nordic exceptionalism."

Economy & Business Alerts
Breaking news about economic and business issues.
Sign up
 Michael Booth, photo courtesy of author. Michael Booth, photo courtesy of author.
But how much truth is there in the popular idea of Nordic exceptionalism? Michael Booth, a British journalist, examines this question in detail in a recent book, "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia." Booth, a U.K. native who has lived in Scandinavia for over a decade, plays the part of a cultural interpreter, examining, poking and prodding the reality of life in Nordic countries from every angle. Booth finds plenty to question in the rest of the world's assumptions about the Nordic miracle, but also lots that we can learn from them.


You say that many people around the world believe in Nordic exceptionalism without knowing very much at all about Nordic life. They can more easily picture the lives of some remote Amazonian tribe than the typical Swede or Dane. Why is it that the Nordic model has attracted so many fans, but relatively few visitors?

Denmark is a pretty good place to live but it is by no stretch of the imagination the utopia many in politics and the media in the U.S. claim it to be.

We all like to have a "happy place" — somewhere over the rainbow where we imagine life to be perfect - don’t we? For many, that place used to be the Mediterranean: we all dreamed of a stone house among the vines. After the economic crash, I think a lot of people started to look towards Scandinavia for what they believed to be a less rampantly capitalistic form of society.

The difference is, few actually actively seek to move to Scandinavia, for obvious reasons: the weather is appalling, the taxes are the highest in the world, the cost of living is similarly ridiculous, the languages are impenetrable, the food is (still) awful for the most part and, increasingly, these countries are making it very clear they would prefer foreigners to stay away.


What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you find in how the rest of the world understands the Nordic countries?

Again, I think we've all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on them. The Nordic countries are, for example, depicted as paragons of political correctness, yet you still see racial stereotypes in the media here — the kind of thing which would be unthinkable in the U.S. Meanwhile, though it is true that these are the most gender-equal societies in the world, they also record the highest rates of violence towards women — only part of which can be explained by high levels of reporting of crime.

Denmark, meanwhile, promotes itself as a "green pioneer" and finger wags at the world about CO2 emissions, and yet it regularly beats the U.S. and virtually every other country on earth in terms of its per capita ecological footprint. For all their wind turbines, the Danes still burn a lot of coal and drive a lot of cars, their country is home to the world’s largest shipping company (Mærsk), and the region’s largest air hub.


Sweden is supposedly "neutral" (it’s not, and has not been for decades), yet since the days when it sold iron ore to Hitler, its economy has always benefited from its arms industry, which is one of the world’s largest.

The Norwegians have fallen prey to precisely the same kind of problems as other oil-rich states: their economy depends far too much on one industry (oil), they’ve taken their foot off the gas in terms of their work ethic, and now all young Norwegians want to do is be "something in the media" or open a cupcake place.

[The surprisingly fiery debate over whether Denmark is heaven on earth]

Politicians in the U.S. like Bernie Sanders praise Denmark for its relative income equality, its free universities, parental leave, subsidized childcare, and national health system. That all sounds pretty good, right?

It is fantastic in theory, except that, in Denmark, the quality of the free education and health care is substandard: They are way down on the PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] educational rankings, have the lowest life expectancy in the region, and the highest rates of death from cancer. And there is broad consensus that the economic model of a public sector and welfare state on this scale is unsustainable. The Danes’ dirty secret is that its public sector has been propped up by — now dwindling — oil revenues. In Norway’s case, of course, it’s no secret.


You describe the Danes as having a strong sense of work-life balance – specifically, being much more focused on life than work. What are the positives and negatives of that attitude?

Positives: Danes spend more time with their families. Negatives: Danes spend more times with their families. Plus, they have run up huge private debt levels, and no one answers the phone on a Friday afternoon.

Danes are also experiencing a rising debt level, and a lower proportion of people working. Are these worrying signs for its economy or the country’s model?

Yes, many economists have specifically warned of the Danes’ private debt levels. Perhaps more seriously, productivity has been somewhat stagnant and there is a dire skills shortage.

 Participants of the World Congress of Santa Clauses 2015 take part in the annual swim at Bellevue beach, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Scanpix Denmark/Erik Refner The World Congress of Santa Clauses 2015 take their annual swim north of Copenhagen, Denmark. REUTERS/Scanpix Denmark/Erik Refner
One thing that’s often glossed over among outsiders is the extraordinarily high tax level, which is high for the middle class as well as the wealthy. Do Danes think that they get their money’s worth in social services? Do you?

Denmark has the highest direct and indirect taxes in the world, and you don’t need to be a high earner to make it into the top tax bracket of 56% (to which you must add 25% value-added tax, the highest energy taxes in the world, car import duty of 180%, and so on). How the money is spent is kept deliberately opaque by the authorities. Danes do tend to feel that they get value for money, but we should not overlook the fact that the majority of Danes either work for, or receive benefits from, the welfare state.

Greater numbers of immigrants have been leading to rising xenophobia in some Nordic countries, as well as higher income inequality. Do you think these trends say anything about the strength of the Nordic model?

All of Europe is dealing with this issue, but of course smaller populations feel more threatened, and cynical right wing politicians (if you’ll forgive the tautology) take advantage of that fear. Also, there is no "Nordic model" when it comes to immigration and integration: there is the Swedish model (open door) and the Danish model (close the door and put up a "Go Away" sign), which the Norwegians and Finns are copying.

Denmark has won almost every happiness survey since 1973, but you describe them in the book as a “frosty, solemn bunch” who take a lot of anti-depressants. Do they really deserve to be consistently ranked as the world’s happiest country?

No, it’s a nonsense and, in fact, they have dropped from the top spot in recent surveys, mostly because they are not as rich as they once were. The sad take-away from that is, money does, in fact, make you happy. I don’t think they ever were the "happiest" people in the world, but you could argue they have been the most "satisfied." They are good at appreciating the small things in life and making the most of what they have — a legacy, I think, of experiencing the rough hand of geopolitics in the 18th and 19th centuries.

You emphasize, in the end, that there is a lot that we can learn from the Nordic countries. What is one of the best lessons?

At least aim for economic and gender equality. Everyone benefits, so it’s worth a shot, no?
Denmark Isn't MagicWhy Denmark isn’t the utopian fantasy Bernie Sanders describes
By Ana Swanson November 3, 2015
 
Miss Denmark Mette Riis Sorensen visits a shopping mall in Tokyo on Oct. 23. (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)
There's one country that keeps popping up in the debate among the Democratic candidates for president. It's not China, or Russia, or Iran. It's a little country of 5.6 million people that — beyond a vague image of tall, blond, egalitarian people who like pickled fish and minimalist design — few Americans probably know much about.

Denmark, and to a lesser extent the other Nordic countries, are surfacing in the Democratic debates as examples of relatively equal societies that provide generous benefits for their citizens, including affordable education, health care for all, and subsidized child care. This is mostly due to Bernie Sanders, who likes to use Denmark to explain his vision of democratic socialism. "I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people," Sanders said in the first Democratic debate on Oct. 13. ("But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America," Hillary Clinton responded.)

 Play Video 1:32
Clinton: 'It’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism'
 
0:00

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton responds to opponent Bernie Sanders's suggestion that the United States can learn from countries like Denmark. (CNN)
Sanders joins a long tradition of liberal politicians around the world who laud Denmark, Sweden and Norway (and sometimes Finland and Iceland, which aren't technically part of Scandinavia) for their equality and prosperity. These northern European countries enjoy a reputation for being peaceful, egalitarian, progressive, liberal and educated, and having excellent furniture and crime novels, too. For whatever reason, Scandinavia countries just seem to do it better — an idea that supporters and critics label "Nordic exceptionalism."

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 Michael Booth, photo courtesy of author. Michael Booth, photo courtesy of author.
But how much truth is there in the popular idea of Nordic exceptionalism? Michael Booth, a British journalist, examines this question in detail in a recent book, "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia." Booth, a U.K. native who has lived in Scandinavia for over a decade, plays the part of a cultural interpreter, examining, poking and prodding the reality of life in Nordic countries from every angle. Booth finds plenty to question in the rest of the world's assumptions about the Nordic miracle, but also lots that we can learn from them.


You say that many people around the world believe in Nordic exceptionalism without knowing very much at all about Nordic life. They can more easily picture the lives of some remote Amazonian tribe than the typical Swede or Dane. Why is it that the Nordic model has attracted so many fans, but relatively few visitors?

Denmark is a pretty good place to live but it is by no stretch of the imagination the utopia many in politics and the media in the U.S. claim it to be.

We all like to have a "happy place" — somewhere over the rainbow where we imagine life to be perfect - don’t we? For many, that place used to be the Mediterranean: we all dreamed of a stone house among the vines. After the economic crash, I think a lot of people started to look towards Scandinavia for what they believed to be a less rampantly capitalistic form of society.

The difference is, few actually actively seek to move to Scandinavia, for obvious reasons: the weather is appalling, the taxes are the highest in the world, the cost of living is similarly ridiculous, the languages are impenetrable, the food is (still) awful for the most part and, increasingly, these countries are making it very clear they would prefer foreigners to stay away.


What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you find in how the rest of the world understands the Nordic countries?

Again, I think we've all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on them. The Nordic countries are, for example, depicted as paragons of political correctness, yet you still see racial stereotypes in the media here — the kind of thing which would be unthinkable in the U.S. Meanwhile, though it is true that these are the most gender-equal societies in the world, they also record the highest rates of violence towards women — only part of which can be explained by high levels of reporting of crime.

Denmark, meanwhile, promotes itself as a "green pioneer" and finger wags at the world about CO2 emissions, and yet it regularly beats the U.S. and virtually every other country on earth in terms of its per capita ecological footprint. For all their wind turbines, the Danes still burn a lot of coal and drive a lot of cars, their country is home to the world’s largest shipping company (Mærsk), and the region’s largest air hub.


Sweden is supposedly "neutral" (it’s not, and has not been for decades), yet since the days when it sold iron ore to Hitler, its economy has always benefited from its arms industry, which is one of the world’s largest.

The Norwegians have fallen prey to precisely the same kind of problems as other oil-rich states: their economy depends far too much on one industry (oil), they’ve taken their foot off the gas in terms of their work ethic, and now all young Norwegians want to do is be "something in the media" or open a cupcake place.

[The surprisingly fiery debate over whether Denmark is heaven on earth]

Politicians in the U.S. like Bernie Sanders praise Denmark for its relative income equality, its free universities, parental leave, subsidized childcare, and national health system. That all sounds pretty good, right?

It is fantastic in theory, except that, in Denmark, the quality of the free education and health care is substandard: They are way down on the PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] educational rankings, have the lowest life expectancy in the region, and the highest rates of death from cancer. And there is broad consensus that the economic model of a public sector and welfare state on this scale is unsustainable. The Danes’ dirty secret is that its public sector has been propped up by — now dwindling — oil revenues. In Norway’s case, of course, it’s no secret.


You describe the Danes as having a strong sense of work-life balance – specifically, being much more focused on life than work. What are the positives and negatives of that attitude?

Positives: Danes spend more time with their families. Negatives: Danes spend more times with their families. Plus, they have run up huge private debt levels, and no one answers the phone on a Friday afternoon.

Danes are also experiencing a rising debt level, and a lower proportion of people working. Are these worrying signs for its economy or the country’s model?

Yes, many economists have specifically warned of the Danes’ private debt levels. Perhaps more seriously, productivity has been somewhat stagnant and there is a dire skills shortage.

 Participants of the World Congress of Santa Clauses 2015 take part in the annual swim at Bellevue beach, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Scanpix Denmark/Erik Refner The World Congress of Santa Clauses 2015 take their annual swim north of Copenhagen, Denmark. REUTERS/Scanpix Denmark/Erik Refner
One thing that’s often glossed over among outsiders is the extraordinarily high tax level, which is high for the middle class as well as the wealthy. Do Danes think that they get their money’s worth in social services? Do you?

Denmark has the highest direct and indirect taxes in the world, and you don’t need to be a high earner to make it into the top tax bracket of 56% (to which you must add 25% value-added tax, the highest energy taxes in the world, car import duty of 180%, and so on). How the money is spent is kept deliberately opaque by the authorities. Danes do tend to feel that they get value for money, but we should not overlook the fact that the majority of Danes either work for, or receive benefits from, the welfare state.

Greater numbers of immigrants have been leading to rising xenophobia in some Nordic countries, as well as higher income inequality. Do you think these trends say anything about the strength of the Nordic model?

All of Europe is dealing with this issue, but of course smaller populations feel more threatened, and cynical right wing politicians (if you’ll forgive the tautology) take advantage of that fear. Also, there is no "Nordic model" when it comes to immigration and integration: there is the Swedish model (open door) and the Danish model (close the door and put up a "Go Away" sign), which the Norwegians and Finns are copying.

Denmark has won almost every happiness survey since 1973, but you describe them in the book as a “frosty, solemn bunch” who take a lot of anti-depressants. Do they really deserve to be consistently ranked as the world’s happiest country?

No, it’s a nonsense and, in fact, they have dropped from the top spot in recent surveys, mostly because they are not as rich as they once were. The sad take-away from that is, money does, in fact, make you happy. I don’t think they ever were the "happiest" people in the world, but you could argue they have been the most "satisfied." They are good at appreciating the small things in life and making the most of what they have — a legacy, I think, of experiencing the rough hand of geopolitics in the 18th and 19th centuries.

You emphasize, in the end, that there is a lot that we can learn from the Nordic countries. What is one of the best lessons?

At least aim for economic and gender equality. Everyone benefits, so it’s worth a shot, no?
New research suggests that the American dream isn’t alive in Scandinavia

Despite liberal arguments that Denmark is so much better than the U.S. at social mobility, its poor kids are no more likely to go to college.
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/the-american-dream-isnt-alive-in-denmark/494141/

Danish-Americans have a measured living standard about 55 percent higher than the Danes in Denmark. Swedish-Americans have a living standard 53 percent higher than the Swedes, and Finnish-Americans have a living standard 59 percent higher than those back in Finland.
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-08-16/denmark-s-nice-yes-but-danes-live-better-in-u-s

this Danish Dream is a “Scandinavian Fantasy,” according to a new paper by Rasmus Landersø at the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit in Copenhagen and James J. Heckman at the University of Chicago. Low-income Danish kids are not much more likely to earn a middle-class wage than their American counterparts. What’s more, the children of non-college graduates in Denmark are about as unlikely to attend college as their American counterparts.
http://www.nber.org/papers/w22465
http://www.nber.org/papers/w22465.pdf
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Robots for a 15 dollar minimum wage! on: September 18, 2017, 01:41:41 PM

https://techxplore.com/news/2017-09-burger-robots.html
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics at the State & Municipal level on: September 16, 2017, 12:32:44 PM
"The heart and the fist" is a great book. Well worth reading.
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California’s poverty rate remains nation’s highest on: September 14, 2017, 10:14:25 PM
They will never learn. Every leftist thinks they will be the ones with the clipboards, telling others what to do.


I don't mean to beat up on California; it's a great place.  My beef is with leftism and all their lies and their failures.

Experiments in Democracy  It turns out that the state fighting hardest against income inequality has the highest poverty rate.  The state that pays people the most to be poor has the most poor people.  Incentive economics working!  The regulations in housing that protect the haves, hurt the have nots.  Laws like minimum wage that knock people out of their first job, also knock them out of their second, third and fourth jobs too.  Who knew?  (us)

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article172973181.html
California’s poverty rate remains nation’s highest

The state that bans drilling has no drilling revenues, and so on.  The state the promised pensions without revenues to pay them has budget challenges. 

The state that had no qualms, even linguistically, about making housing unaffordable with 'affordable housing laws' has the most homeless.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2017/09/12/75575/california-s-housing-costs-are-driving-its-no-1-po/
California's housing costs are driving its No. 1 poverty ranking

It's not like socialism is failing everywhere it's tried.  We still have the USSR and Chavez-Venezuela's shining examples...  okay, scrap that.

When will they ever learn? 
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela - the rabbit plan on: September 14, 2017, 10:13:03 PM
When they came for the rabbits...


We tried cash for clunkers and they tried the rabbit plan.

Has anybody ever tried ... entrepreneurial capitalism?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41265474

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has devised a "rabbit plan" to counter the economic war he says is being waged against his government by "imperialist forces".

Making Kim Jung Un sound sane, mainstream.
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ball game over folks on: September 14, 2017, 10:12:09 PM
People who don't like Trump are really not going to like President Duturte.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/09/14/donald-trump-the-wall-will-come-later-after-daca-amnesty-deal/

With Rush saying on his show they Ryan is going around in private there ain't going to be any wall he certainly is part of the problem

Yes.  Ryan has been consistently soft on illegal immigration.  At least he favors a wall, unlike the sovereignty denial party.  http://thehill.com/homenews/house/344765-paul-ryan-it-is-time-for-the-wall  
He was strongest on healthcare, the most prepared to stand up to Obama when it was being rammed down us.  I think he is strong on tax reform too, another area where nothing is happening.

Trump should wonder what his title would be today if he had run as the DACA amnesty President.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/trump-embraces-amnesty/539790/

Top 3 domestic issues all need action:

1.  "The wall will come later..."
Trump has his credibility resting on that.  I'm sure they will do something, eventually, if we all live long enough.

2.  Healthcare has an urgency with the current system in a downward (upward?) spiral.

3.  Tax reform:  This HAS to be done before year end, effective Jan 1, or the Republicans can run for reelection on their continuation of the Pelosi-Obama economic plan.  Even then it could be too late.

Most of the arguments and won't-get-it-done quotes are about process, not policy.  But when you don't pass anything, it becomes about policy.  The current law of the land is, no wall, O'care still in place and year 10 or 11 of Pelosi-Reid-Obama tax and spend programs.

Screw the Republican voters, conservatives, Trump voters and THEY WILL STAY HOME.

112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / They came for Jefferson on: September 13, 2017, 08:36:33 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371555.php

A couple of weeks ago progs were claiming it was insane to ask if antifa and Black Lives Matter would next come for the statues of Jefferson and Washington. This was obviously insane and deranged to ask, because Trump had asked it.

Well, guess what -- they came for the Thomas Jefferson statue at UVA. You know, the one that antifa claimed they were "protecting" from hypothetical harm from Nazi contamination.

Mostly lost in the general hysteria surrounding President Trump’s post-Charlottesville press conference a month ago was an excellent question he posed. Regarding the growing demand nationwide to tear down monuments to the Confederate States of America, he asked: "I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"
His remarks were characterized by historians as "absurd" and "unacceptable" and "ignorant" and dismissed as a "red herring." At The Daily Beast, John Avlon called Trump's comparison "immoral" and "dangerous." At Slate, Jamelle Bouie claimed Trump's question was "dumb," arguing that statues of Washington and Jefferson were safe because "the reason we memorialize them is not because of their slaveholding."


Well. Earlier this week around 100 "students, faculty and community members" gathered at of the University of Virginia and "[covered] a statue of Thomas Jefferson in a black shroud…adorning it with signs that dubbed the former president a 'racist' and a 'rapist.'" The protesters derided the statue as "an emblem of white supremacy," and demanded that it be "re-contextualized," lambasting the people who "fetishize the legacy of Jefferson," calling on the community to 'recognize Jefferson as a rapist, racist, and slave owner."

As George Orwell often said, always put your faith in mobs and angry racist propagandists.
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: REpubs => fools again on: September 13, 2017, 03:27:57 PM
I'm glad our republican congress is working on important things like this. It's not like there are more important things they promised.


"Who defines what a "hate" group is?  Don't liberals hate conservatives and vice a versa?"

I hate the leftist ideas and what they have done and are doing to this country.

The point in hate crime is the word, crime, there needs to be a crime involved.  Hate itself without a crime I think falls under free speech, impliedly including free thought.  Bad thoughts or animosity should be legal, ending at the point of where a person is inciting violence or committing a crime.

But if they commit a crime and if we enforce it and have a serious punishment for it, who cares about the hatred?
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / What Yahoo’s NSA Surveillance Means for Email Privacy on: September 13, 2017, 10:07:52 AM
https://protonmail.com/blog/yahoo-us-intelligence/

What Yahoo’s NSA Surveillance Means for Email Privacy
Posted on October 6, 2016 by Andy Yen

Updated October 7, 2016 with additional clarification and analysis of Yahoo’s denial
Dear ProtonMail Community,
Two weeks ago, we published a security advisory regarding the mass hacking of Yahoo. Unfortunately, due to recent events, we are issuing a second advisory regarding all US email providers.
What happened?
This week, it was revealed that as a result of a secret US government directive, Yahoo was forced to implement special surveillance software to scan all Yahoo Mail accounts at the request of the NSA and FBI. Sometime in early 2015, Yahoo secretly modified their spam and malware filters to scan all incoming email messages for the phrases in the court order and then siphoned those messages off to US intelligence. This is significant for several reasons:
 
This is the first known incident where a US intelligence directive has indiscriminately targeted all accounts as opposed to just the accounts of suspects. Effectively, all 500 million+ Yahoo Mail users were presumed to be guilty.
Instead of searching stored messages, this directive forced Yahoo to scan incoming messages in real-time.
Because ALL incoming email messages were targeted, this program spied on every person who emailed a Yahoo Mail account, violating the privacy of users around the world who may not even have been using a US email service.
 
What does this mean for US tech companies?
This is a terrible precedent and ushers in a new era of global mass surveillance. It means that US tech companies that serve billions of users around the world can now be forced to act as extensions of the US surveillance apparatus. The problem extends well beyond Yahoo. As was reported earlier, Yahoo did not fight the secret directive because Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and the Yahoo legal team did not believe that they could successfully resist the directive.
We believe that Yahoo’s assessment is correct. If it was possible to fight the directive, Yahoo certainly would have done so since they previously fought against secret FISA court orders in 2008. It does not make sense that US surveillance agencies would serve Yahoo Mail with such an order but ignore Gmail, the world’s largest email provider, or Outlook. There is no doubt that the secret surveillance software is also present in Gmail and Outlook, or at least there is nothing preventing Gmail and Outlook from being forced to comply with a similar directive in the future.  From a legal perspective, there is nothing that makes Yahoo particularly vulnerable, or Google particularly invulnerable.
Google and Microsoft have come out to deny they participated in US government mandated mass surveillance, but under a National Security Letter (NSL) gag order, Google and Microsoft would have no choice but to deny the allegations or risk breaking US law (our analysis of Yahoo’s denial is at the bottom of this post). Again ,there is no conceivable reason US intelligence would target Yahoo but ignore Gmail, so we must consider this to be the most probable scenario, particularly since gag orders have become the norm rather than the exception.
In effect, the US government has now officially co-opted US tech companies to perform mass surveillance on all users, regardless of whether they are under US jurisdiction or not. Given the huge amount of data that Google has, this is a truly scary proposition.
How does this impact ProtonMail?
ProtonMail’s secure email service is based in Switzerland and all our servers are located in Switzerland, so all user data is maintained under the protection of Swiss privacy laws. ProtonMail cannot be compelled to perform mass surveillance on our users, nor be compelled to act on behalf of US intelligence. ProtonMail also utilizes end-to-end encryption which means we do not have the capability to read user emails in the first place, so we couldn’t hand over user email data even if we wanted to.
However, since email is an open system, any unencrypted email that goes out of ProtonMail, to Yahoo Mail for example, could potentially have been swept up by these mass surveillance programs and sent to US government agencies. This is why if you want to avoid having your communications scanned and saved by US government agencies, it is important to invite friends, family, and colleagues to use non-US email accounts such as ProtonMail or other email services offered by European companies.
What can the rest of the world do about this?
Unfortunately, the tech sector today is entirely dominated by US companies. Just like Google has a monopoly on search, the US government has a near monopoly on mass surveillance. Even without US government pressure, most US tech companies also have perverse economic incentives to slowly chip away at digital privacy.
This week, we have again seen how easily the massive amounts of private data retained by US tech companies can be abused by US intelligence for their own purposes. Without alternatives to the US tech giants, the rest of the world has no choice but to consent to this. This is an unprecedented challenge, but it also presents an unprecedented opportunity, particularly for Europe.
Now is the time for Europe to invest in its own tech sector, unbeholden to outside interests. This is the only way the European community can continue to safeguard the European ideals of privacy, liberty, and freedom online. It is time for European governments and citizens to act before it is too late.
The only chance for privacy to prevail against these attacks is for the global community to support a new generation of web services which protect privacy by default. These services, such as ProtonMail’s encrypted email service, must operate with a business model where users can donate or pay for services, instead of giving up data and privacy. The security community also has an obligation to make these new service just as easy to use as the ones they replace.
Services such as secure email, search, and cloud storage are now vital to our lives. Their importance means that for the good of all citizens, we need to develop private alternatives that are aligned with users, and free from corporate greed and government overreach. Crowdfunded services like ProtonMail are rising to the challenge, but we need more support from the global community to successfully take on better funded US tech giants. Privacy matters, and your support is essential to ensure the Internet of the future is one that protects our rights.

Best Regards,
The ProtonMail Team
You can get a free secure email account from ProtonMail here.
You can support our mission by upgrading to a paid plan or donating so that we can grow beyond email.

Analysis of Yahoo Denial:

Yahoo, like every other US tech company, has issued a denial, basically denying Reuter’s account of the mass surveillance. Here is Yahoo’s denial, word for word:
“The article is misleading. We narrowly interpret every government request for user data to minimize disclosure. The mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems.”
It is curious that Yahoo’s response to this incident is only 29 words, but upon closer examination, it is a very carefully crafted 29 words. First, Yahoo calls the reports misleading. This is a curious choice of words because it does not claim that the report is false. Finally, Yahoo states that, “The mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems.” While this could be a true statement, it does NOT deny that the scanning could have been present on Yahoo’s systems in the past.
The same day as the Yahoo denial, the New York Times obtained independent verification of the Reuter’s story from two US government officials. This allowed the New York Times to confirm the following facts:
Yahoo is in fact under a gag order and from a legal standpoint, they cannot confirm the mass surveillance (in other words, they must deny the story or avoid making any statements that would be seen as a confirmation).
The Yahoo mass data collection did in fact take place, but the collection is no longer occurring at present time. Thus, we now understand the disingenuous wording of the last sentence in Yahoo’s statement.
Yahoo’s denial (or non-denial, as the case may be), followed immediately by confirmation by the NYT demonstrates the new reality that denials by US tech companies cannot really be taken at face value anymore. It is not that US tech companies are intentionally trying to mislead their customers, but many times, they have no choice due to the gag orders that now inevitably accompany any government requests. If statements from US tech companies turn out to be suspect (as in the Yahoo example), the likelihood of the public ever knowing the truth becomes highly unlikely, and this brings us to a dangerous place.

About the Author

Andy Yen
Andy is the Co-Founder of ProtonMail. He is a long time advocate of privacy rights and has spoken at TED, SXSW, and the Asian Investigative Journalism Conference about online privacy issues. Previously, Andy was a research scientist at CERN and has a PhD in Particle Physics from Harvard University. You can watch his TED talk online to learn more about ProtonMail's mission.
 
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Antifa Militants Ready To Break Bones, Invade Homes on: September 12, 2017, 09:57:48 PM
https://hotair.com/archives/2017/09/09/antifa-militants-ready-break-bones-invade-homes/

Antifa Militants Ready To Break Bones, Invade Homes
JOHN SEXTON
Posted at 8:31 pm on September 9, 2017

Reveal published a story Tuesday titled “Antifa has a rapid response team that targets alt-right organizers.” The kind of targeting the article describes is not just keeping an eye out for people on the streets, this is more organized and specific behavior that results in a published hit list of right-wing targets. In this case, “hit list” is not a metaphor. This is the list of people Antifa members plan to hit and injure if they encounter them. Reveal reporter Will Carless spoke to one of the “most militant” members of the Bay Area Antifa, a guy called Dominic who sees himself as a “Nazi hunter.” Dominic is ready to take his street battle into his target’s homes if necessary:


One antifa activist, who would give only the name “Dominic,” talked proudly in a series of interviews with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting about forming this broader alliance of “Nazi hunters” to seek out, reveal and fight these enemies wherever they might show up. Their goal became even more specific after Charlottesville: to prevent more casualties like that of activist Heather Heyer.

“We’ll go to their house, I’ll put it that way. We’ll go to their house,” said Dominic, an imposing, muscular man in his 30s. “I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I want those people to stop it. If I have to put Richard Spencer or Nathan Damigo into the hospital critically, and it would have saved Heather Heyer’s life or the next potential Heather Heyer, I would do it without question.”
Dominic’s targets don’t have to be actual Nazis, white supremacists or extremists. As the story points out, sometimes anyone on the right will do:

At about 3 p.m., Dominic and his crew got word that a handful of people had been spotted by one of their lookouts holding a banner reading, “Love Free Speech, Unafraid of Fake News, Ask Me My Point of View.”…

The handful of conservative protesters at Fisherman’s Wharf soon was surrounded by the black-clad group, who screamed at them, telling them to get out of town.

“They were way more aggressive and intimidating than the protesters, to be honest,” said Mike Gaughan, a pedicab driver who witnessed the confrontation.
In preparing for right-wing rallies scheduled to take place in San Francisco and Berkeley last month, Dominic and the other militants put together an 8-page handout on who might show up and added a one-page “Know Your Nazi” hit list with pictures of nine individuals including Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson. Gibson has denounced Nazis and white supremacists several times recently but he is on the list because some actual white supremacists have shown up at his previous events.

You’ve probably seen the video of what happened when Gibson and two members of his group showed up in Berkeley (and if you haven’t read Matt Labash’s story on it, it’s here). If you wondered how so many of the Antifa members recognized him instantly, it’s because his photo was on the hit list:



Gibson escaped the mob by slipping behind a line of police down the street. One of the people he was with, Keith Campbell, wasn’t so lucky. Campbell was hit in the head, collapsed on the ground and was then kicked by Antifa members. Asked about this response, Dominic tells Reveal, “What does he deserve? He deserves potentially stitches or broken bones.” He adds, “He wasn’t gonna get killed that day, we were strategic.”

We could see more of this as soon as tomorrow. Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer group is scheduled to hold a rally in Portland and Rose City Antifa is expected to counter-protest.
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: September 12, 2017, 09:15:27 PM
just enforces my theory that this repulsive woman , if she had lived in different times would have been as murderous and violent as anyone in history to get and maintain her power.

This IS SICK:

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/09/12/hillary-clinton-i-wanted-to-make-voodoo-dolls-of-reporters-lawmakers-and-stick-them-with-pins/

https://reason.com/blog/2017/09/12/hillary-clinton-cersei-what-happened

Of Course Hillary Clinton Identifies with Cersei Lannister. They Are the Same Person.
"What Happened" invites readers to make an unflattering comparison with the mad queen of Westeros.
Robby Soave|Sep. 12, 2017 1:50 pm
Queen Hillary
Dennis Van Tine/ZUMA Press/Newscom

What's the difference between Game of Thrones character Cersei Lannister and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton? One is an entitled narcissist who quietly supported her lecherous husband (whom she clearly loathed) when it was politically convenient, then insisted it was her turn to rule (even though it wasn't), chose boot-lickers, ass-kissers, and elitist bankers as her advisors while alienating more competent and better-liked people who might have helped her, exacted petty vengeance on imagined enemies, escaped justice and the judgment of the people by destroying her main rival—the charismatic, income-inequality obsessed populist—with an explosive cheat, and was left confused why so many people in her country would rather be ruled by a complete political unknown who tells it like it is.

The other fucks her twin brother.

It comes as little surprise Clinton identifies with the mad queen. In What Happened, her new book about losing the presidential election to Donald Trump, Clinton writes:

Crowds at Trump rallies called for my imprisonment more times than I can count. They shouted, 'Guilty! Guilty!' like the religious zealots in Game of Thrones chanting 'Shame! Shame!' while Cersei Lannister walked back to the Red Keep."

Assuming this reference is genuine—and not something ham-fistedly inserted into the book by a culturally-woke ghostwriter—it's actually a bit revealing. It's true that Cersei is a tragic, occasionally sympathetic figure. But she's also one of the villains of the story: a manifestly incompetent ruler whose greatest talent is hurting every person who crosses her. She doesn't represent any ideology or philosophy beyond naked self-promotion. More than any other claimant for the Iron Throne of Westeros, she wants to rule because she believes it is her turn.

That Clinton would actively invite readers to make this comparison is, um, probably a partial answer to the question asked by the book's title. What happened? Nobody wants to vote for a Cersei.

117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: how to turn a 20 trillion debt into 40 trillion -> on: September 12, 2017, 07:36:36 PM

MOAR. FREE. SH*T!

I'm sure it will work out well.
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fix the Federal Spending Baseline First on: September 12, 2017, 07:09:02 PM
Nothing will be done. Until it's far too late.


https://economics21.org/html/fix-federal-spending-baseline-first-2559.html

Fix the Federal Spending Baseline First
Charles Blahous
SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 BUDGET
Of late there has been controversy among budget wonks as to whether lawmakers should use a “current law” or “current policy” baseline to score the effects of tax reform in the budget process.  Though this is a prototypically arcane procedural fight, it bears enormous implications for federal finances.  The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) has sounded an alarm against the possible use of a current tax policy baseline, calling it a “gimmick” that would add enormously to federal debt.  The competing argument is typified by a recent column from Manhattan’s own Brian Riedl, who finds that a current tax policy baseline is necessary for consistent treatment of taxes and spending.

I usually strive in my columns to provide a high ratio of factual information relative to interpretation and opinion.  However, it is difficult to enter this dispute without resort to significant interpretation and value judgments, so I want to be especially transparent here about my own subjective views.  In sum, I agree with CRFB that the use of current policy baselines is dangerously likely to lead to worse fiscal outcomes, for reasons I will detail later in this piece.  On the other hand, Riedl is correct to observe that using a current policy baseline for taxes would be a step toward more consistent, balanced treatment of taxes and spending.

First, the factual background.  As Riedl covers well in his piece, Congress’s scorekeeping rules (by which the Congressional Budget Office abides) exhibit significant inconsistencies.  Many areas of legislation, most especially tax law, are scored against a literal current law baseline, even if that current law would produce a sudden policy change.  So for example, if a particular existing tax provision is set to expire by a date certain, CBO assumes it will in fact do so, even if this would result in a sudden increase in tax assessments that most observers do not believe lawmakers will allow.  Accordingly, pending bills to extend current tax policies are typically scored as adding to the federal deficit. This reflects the (in my opinion, reasonable) view that CBO should score current law as it is, and not make speculative judgments as to the actions legislators will take to change the law.

This approach is not taken, however, with many areas of federal spending.  CBO assumes that discretionary appropriations will continue indefinitely even if under law they would expire at the end of the fiscal year.  And in perhaps the single most significant departure from current-law baselining, CBO is instructed to assume that Social Security and Medicare will make full benefit and insurance payments far beyond the amounts the programs are permitted by law to spend from their limited trust fund resources.  In other words, with respect to Social Security and Medicare, CBO is directed to assume that lawmakers will pass future legislation to effectuate large spending increases in those programs, far beyond what is authorized in current law.  Thus, there is no procedural barrier to increasing spending as long as it doesn’t exceed the spending increase assumed in the baseline, in which case lawmakers are not charged with adding to the deficit.

I first wrote about this phenomenon when explaining the finances of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): that it would improve federal finances only relative to Congress’s scoring baseline (with its assumption of future Medicare spending increases) while it was unambiguously a fiscal worsening relative to previous law.  At that time, my purpose was purely explanatory; I was agnostic as to whether the scorekeeping rules should change.  Since then I have come to believe that they should.  As Riedl explains, the rules are inconsistent and bias federal budget policy toward higher spending and higher taxes.  They create a host of other problems as well, about which I have written before but will not repeat here.   It was encouraging to see House Budget Committee then-Chairman Tom Price introduce legislation to address this problem before assuming the position of HHS Secretary.

Over the years various justifications have been offered for the scorekeeping baseline’s quirky treatment of Social Security and Medicare spending.  One suggestion is that this treatment is necessary to provide lawmakers with appropriate positive incentives.  Changing to literal current-law scoring for Social Security and Medicare would always show those programs being prevented from falling into the red, due to the curtailment of their spending authorities upon depletion of their trust funds. It is feared that incorporating this fail-safe assumption into the baseline would eliminate the credit lawmakers receive for legislating to align those programs’ benefit and tax schedules (because the baseline would already show them to remain in balance regardless).  I was once receptive to this belief, but the empirical evidence has shown it to be incorrect.

The currently-used spending baseline actually doesn’t create an effective incentive for lawmakers to address Social Security and Medicare financing gaps.  Instead of a stick (e.g., penalizing them for financing Social Security and Medicare shortfalls with debt) it offers a carrot (rewarding them for balancing program finances).   The relative incentive of the carrot is no stronger than the stick would be and in any case, does not justify treating entitlement spending differently from taxes.  The same rationale could be employed to argue that lawmakers should get a spendable scorekeeping credit simply for allowing current tax policies to expire, rather than being penalized for extending them.
Lawmakers respond much more to the negative incentive of being penalized for exacerbating deficits, than to the positive incentive of producing budget savings.  For example, Congress’s budget procedures erect barriers to adding to the federal deficit; they do not provide significant rewards for net improvements to the fiscal outlook.  The fiscal results are predictable, and were manifested most damagingly in the ACA.  Lawmakers didn’t seek credit for improving the fiscal outlook via the ACA’s Medicare cost-containment provisions – instead they concurrently spent those illusory savings on a massive new health entitlement.  This could not have happened if the budget rules had recognized lawmakers’ pre-existing statutory obligation to maintain balance in the Medicare HI trust fund, which would have accurately shown the ACA adding to federal deficits.

In fact, lawmakers are actually under great pressure to demonstrate that they are not balancing the budget on the backs of Social Security and Medicare.  Thus, they do not reap political benefits from the current scorekeeping practice of crediting them with large budgetary savings simply for upholding pre-existing Social Security and Medicare law.  Consequently, the advantaged treatment given to these programs in the budget rules is not an inducement for good fiscal behavior but rather an invitation to fiscal irresponsibility – an invitation that lawmakers have accepted in the past and almost certainly will again.

As CRFB correctly notes, the best fiscal behavior will occur if the budget baseline makes it harder, not easier, for lawmakers to add to the federal deficit. But to be both effective and fair, this principle needs to be applied with equal force on the spending side. It is fruitless to apply the principle only selectively – for example, by blocking the use of a current-policy baseline for taxes, while its equivalent on the spending side continues to permit the passage of large spending expansions such as the ACA.

With all this said, let’s examine the three scorekeeping alternatives on the table:
1)      Continue current-law scorekeeping for taxes, but make the rules consistent by applying it also to entitlement spending.
2)      Continue current-policy scorekeeping for entitlement spending, but make the rules consistent by applying it also to tax policy.
3)      Continue to use current-law scorekeeping for taxes and current-policy scorekeeping for entitlement spending.

#3, where we are now, is clearly bad.  It is inconsistent, incorrect and biases policy in the direction of higher spending and higher taxes, which is the essence of our budget problem. #1 is by contrast methodologically consistent and would produce the best fiscal outcomes.

Which of #2 or #3 is better/worse is a value judgment and a tough call.  #2 opens the door wider to higher deficits, while #3 opens the door wider to higher taxes.  Assuming spending policies are the same either way, this basically comes down to whether you are more concerned about higher taxes or higher debt.  This is largely a function of whether you believe today’s or tomorrow’s taxpayers should be stuck with increased tax burdens.  I have an opinion on that question but it’s just that -- an opinion, with which others could reasonably disagree.  A true deficit hawk would favor choice #1 – consistently applying current-law scorekeeping to both the mandatory spending and tax sides, while strengthening safeguards against additional deficit spending.

Hence, choosing between options #2 and #3 for the tax baseline bypasses the central scorekeeping question, while not offering either side an unassailably correct position.  Because of this, and given both legislative history and current projections, budget watchdogs should prioritize getting the spending baseline right first and foremost. 
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Article: Racism: the ineradicable sin? - by our friend Fay Voshell on: September 12, 2017, 03:14:29 PM

For the left, this is how they justify their aggression against the Neo-Kulaks.
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: September 11, 2017, 09:22:56 PM
Unless, and until China's feet are held to the fire, this is just pissing in the wind.



Just over a week after North Korea's test of a nuclear device, the United States has secured a fresh set of U.N. sanctions against the country. The speed with which the United Nations Security Council adopted these measures is unprecedented — sanctions on North Korea ordinarily take weeks of back and forth with China, North Korea's main defender, as well as consultations with Russia. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley even thanked China, in particular Chinese President Xi Jinping. The new U.N. sanctions will bite deeper into the North Korean economy than those past, but fall short of the sweeping measures included in a version leaked Sept. 7.

That draft included a full ban on a range of oil products sold to North Korea, a freeze on the assets and travel of top North Korean leaders — including Kim Jong Un — as well blacklisting military-controlled airline Air Koryo. These broad measures — particularly the oil embargo — were unpalatable for both China and Russia, neither of which wants to see North Korea collapse. Negotiations toward the end of the week led to a second draft of the resolution, circulated Sept. 10.

The sanctions as adopted will cap refined petroleum shipments into North Korea at 2 million barrels per year (compared with 2.19 million in 2016) and crude oil to current levels (estimated at 10,000 barrels per day). They will also fully ban condensates and natural gas liquids. The biggest blow to the North Korean economy, however, is a ban on the purchase of the country's textile exports. In 2016, textiles accounted for around $752 million of North Korean exports, out of an estimated total of $3 billion. Aug. 5 U.N. measures following intercontinental ballistic missile tests went after coal, which accounts for about a third of North Korea's total exports.

The new sanctions are evidently a compromise solution, though, because Russia and China are keen to leave North Korean lifelines in place. A full oil embargo wasn't enacted, although initially proposed. Sanctions also did not blacklist Kim himself or North Korea's singular airline. And, unlike the earlier draft, the current resolution leaves in place an exception allowing Russia to transship coal through the North Korean port of Rajin via rail. The new resolution also fails to include hoped-for sweeping allowances when it comes to forceful inspections of North Korean vessels. Instead, countries must have permission from the state that flagged the vessel and can only inspect it on reasonable grounds. The measures also omitted a full ban on foreign labor. Rather, countries employing foreign workers would need to seek approval by a U.N. Security Council committee, with an exception given for existing contracts. North Korea's 50,000-100,000 overseas workers earn $1.2 billion to $2.3 billion each year, primarily in foreign currency that can be used to make overseas purchases.

The text of the resolution includes calls for further work to reduce tensions with the goal of a settlement and peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — language that is in line with Chinese and Russian statements. The North Korean Foreign Ministry warned that the United States would pay a price if the sanctions passed, and another test in the coming days would be characteristic of Pyongyang. These measures will do little to actually prevent North Korea from pursuing its nuclear deterrent — the country has numerous ways of sustaining itself amid economic hardship, as it proved during a massive famine that ran from 1994-1998. These new sanctions will be just as difficult to enforce as those in the past, and North Korea's timeline to gain a credible nuclear deterrent keeps getting shorter.
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Imagine a world without islam on: September 11, 2017, 12:47:03 PM



I bet you can, if you try.
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Not enough white gangs so designation dropped by Portland on: September 11, 2017, 12:31:18 PM

Beyond stupid, but not unexpected.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Surprise retirements on: September 10, 2017, 02:30:12 PM

More RINOs need to go.
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / HACKERS GAIN DIRECT ACCESS TO US POWER GRID CONTROLS on: September 09, 2017, 01:01:27 PM
https://www.wired.com/story/hackers-gain-switch-flipping-access-to-us-power-systems/

HACKERS GAIN DIRECT ACCESS TO US POWER GRID CONTROLS

IN AN ERA of hacker attacks on critical infrastructure, even a run-of-the-mill malware infection on an electric utility’s network is enough to raise alarm bells. But the latest collection of power grid penetrations went far deeper: Security firm Symantec is warning that a series of recent hacker attacks not only compromised energy companies in the US and Europe but also resulted in the intruders gaining hands-on access to power grid operations—enough control that they could have induced blackouts on American soil at will.
Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey—none of which Symantec will name—their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.
“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage ... being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”

Never before have hackers been shown to have that level of control of American power company systems, Chien notes. The only comparable situations, he says, have been the repeated hacker attacks on the Ukrainian grid that twice caused power outages in the country in late 2015 and 2016, the first known hacker-induced blackouts.

The Usual Suspects
Security firms like FireEye and Dragos have pinned those Ukrainian attacks on a hacker group known as Sandworm, believed to be based in Russia. But Symantec stopped short of blaming the more recent attacks on any country or even trying to explain the hackers' motives. Chien says the company has found no connections between Sandworm and the intrusions it has tracked. Nor has it directly connected the Dragonfly 2.0 campaign to the string of hacker intrusions at US power companies—including a Kansas nuclear facility—known as Palmetto Fusion, which unnamed officials revealed in July and later tied to Russia.
Chien does note, however, that the timing and public descriptions of the Palmetto Fusion hacking campaigns match up with its Dragonfly findings. “It’s highly unlikely this is just coincidental,” Chien says. But he adds that while the Palmetto Fusion intrusions included a breach of a nuclear power plant, the most serious DragonFly intrusions Symantec tracked penetrated only non-nuclear energy companies, which have less strict separations of their internet-connected IT networks and operational controls.

As Symantec's report on the new intrusions details, the company has tracked the Dragonfly 2.0 attacks back to at least December of 2015, but found that they ramped up significantly in the first half of 2017, particularly in the US, Turkey, and Switzerland. Its analysis of those breaches found that they began with spearphishing emails that tricked victims into opening a malicious attachment—the earliest they found was a fake invitation to a New Year's Eve party—or so-called watering hole attacks that compromise a website commonly visited by targets to hack victims' computers.
Those attacks were designed to harvest credentials from victims and gain remote access to their machines. And in the most successful of those cases, including several instances in the US and one in Turkey, the attackers penetrated deep enough to screenshot the actual control panels for their targets' grid operations—what Symantec believes was a final step in positioning themselves to sabotage those systems at will. "That’s exactly what you’d do if you were to attempt sabotage," he says. "You’d take these sorts of screenshots to understand what you had to do next, like literally which switch to flip."
And if those hackers did gain the ability to cause a blackout in the US, why did they stop short? Chien reasons that they may have been seeking the option to cause an electric disruption but waiting for an opportunity that would be most strategically useful—say, if an armed conflict broke out, or potentially to issue a well-timed threat that would deter the US from using its own hacking capabilities against another foreign nation's critical infrastructure. "If these attacks are from a nation state," Chien says, "one would expect sabotage only in relation to a political event."

The Ukrainian Precedent
Not every group of hackers has shown that kind of restraint. Hackers now believed to be the Russian group Sandworm used exactly the sort of access to electricity control interfaces that Symantec describes Dragonfly having to shut off the power to a quarter million Ukrainians in December 2015. In one case they took over the remote help desk tool of a Ukrainian energy utility to hijack engineers' mouse controls and manually clicked through dozens of circuit breakers, turning off the power to tens of thousands of people as the engineers watched helplessly.

Operations like that one and a more automated blackout attack a year later have made Russia the first suspect in any grid-hacking incident. But Symantec notes that the hackers mostly used freely available tools and existing vulnerabilities in software rather than previously unknown weaknesses, making any attribution more difficult. They found some Russian-language strings of code in the malware used in the intrusions, but also some hints of French. They note that either language could be a "false flag" meant to throw off investigators.
In naming the hacking campaign Dragonfly, however, Symantec does tie it to an earlier, widely analyzed set of intrusions also aimed at the US and European energy sectors, which stretched from as early as 2010 to 2014. The hackers behind that series of attacks, called Dragonfly by Symantec but also known by the names Energetic Bear, Iron Liberty, and Koala, shared many of the same characteristics as the more recent Dragonfly 2.0 attacks, Symantec says, including infection methods, two pieces of malware used in the intrusions, and energy sector victims. And both the security firm Crowdstrike and the US government have linked those earlier Dragonfly attacks with the Kremlin—a report published by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI last December included the group on its list of known Russian-government hacking operations.

Symantec says it has assisted the power companies that experienced the deepest penetrations, helping them eject the hackers from their networks. The firm also sent warnings to more than a hundred companies about the Dragonfly 2.0 hackers, as well as to the Department of Homeland Security and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which is responsible for the stability of the US power grid. NERC didn't immediate answer WIRED's request for comment on Symantec's findings, but DHS spokesperson Scott McConnell wrote in a statement that "DHS is aware of the report and is reviewing it," and "at this time there is no indication of a threat to public safety."
But Symantec's Chien nonetheless warns any company that thinks it may be a target of the hackers to not only remove any malware it has identified as the group's calling card but also to refresh their staff's credentials. Given the hackers' focus on stealing those passwords, even flushing all malware out of a targeted network might not prevent hackers from gaining a new foothold if they still have employees' working logins.
The Dragonfly hackers remain active even today, Chien warns, and electric utilities should be on high alert. Given that the group has, in some form, been probing and penetrating energy utility targets for the past seven years, don't expect them to stop now.
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glick: When Great Institutions Lie on: September 09, 2017, 12:50:54 PM


David Burge‏
@iowahawkblog

1. Identify a respected institution.
2. kill it.
3. gut it.
4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.
#lefties
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pick one on: September 09, 2017, 10:35:35 AM
https://i2.wp.com/www.powerlineblog.com/ed-assets/2017/09/Salon-Hedlines.jpeg

127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 14 year old boy transisitioning changes his mind on: September 08, 2017, 10:32:01 PM

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/munchausen-syndrome-by-proxy-topic-overview#1

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy - Topic Overview
Listen
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MUNCHAUSEN SYNDROME BY PROXY
 Topic Overview
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What is Munchausen syndrome by proxy?



Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability. Because vulnerable people are the victims, MSBP is a form of child abuse or elder abuse.

Note: Since most cases of MSBP are between a caregiver (usually a mother) and a child, the rest of this topic will describe that relationship. But it is important to remember that MSBP can involve any vulnerable person who has a caregiver.

The caregiver with MSBP may:

Lie about the child's symptoms.
Change test results to make a child appear to be ill.
Physically harm the child to produce symptoms.
Victims are most often small children. They may get painful medical tests they don't need. They may even become seriously ill or injured or may die because of the actions of the caregiver.

Children who are victims of MSBP can have lifelong physical and emotional problems and may have Munchausen syndrome as adults. This is a disorder in which a person causes or falsely reports his or her own symptoms.

What causes Munchausen syndrome by proxy?

Doctors aren't sure what causes it, but it may be linked to problems during the abuser's childhood. Abusers often feel like their life is out of control. They often have poor self-esteem and can't deal with stress or anxiety.

The attention that caregivers get from having a sick child may encourage their behavior. Caregivers may get attention not only from doctors and nurses but also from others in their community. For example, neighbors may try to help the family in many ways-such as by doing chores, bringing meals, or giving money.
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 14 year old boy transisitioning changes his mind on: September 08, 2017, 08:44:49 PM

And the left continues it's long march towards ruining lives and mainstreaming mental illness.

129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon on the NorKs (China and Russia too) on: September 08, 2017, 03:38:59 PM
Michael Yon
September 5 at 12:02pm ·

NORK: Just after the latest detonation, I asked a well-connected friend what he and his contacts think.

He is connected very high in the USG. One day, he took me up to Condoleeza Rice's office but she was not around. I always liked her and would have been good to say hello. She should have ran for President.

His response:

Sorry for the late response. I thought it was a posting and I saved it for reading. I didn't see it was a question just to me.

Anyway, my contacts at DoD and DoS say different things, mostly tracking their mission, but agree, in different words, on one thing:
The test is a red line and the bet by Russia, China, and DPRK is that the US will not cross it.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the DPRK is the sock puppet of an international conspiracy headed by Russia and China to destabilize the Pacific and the adjacent east and southeast Asian landmass.

To not cross the red line and PUNISH the DPRK is to throw Seoul under the bus, which is exactly the same as throwing Japan and the wider southeast Asian nations, plus Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and in the long run, India under the bus. American credibility is being severely tested, which is precisely the goal of China and Russia. The DPRK is the low risk/high reward stooge in this massive geopolitical power play, but given their resources and dependence on the kindness of "strangers", they have no choice in this game of brinkmanship.

Generally, both the DoD and DoS agree that war is the only long term solution to this issue. It is an international crisis perpetrated by wanna-be global powers to bring down the US's influence in the Pacific and diminish the US maritime reach (military, trade, influence, and defense).

Put the foreign policy of the Obama and Clinton administrations into the equation, you will see why Russia and China are playing this game. They may actually have US nuclear codes (they've no doubt changed by now, but merely knowing old ones says a lot about the new ones). Obama did publicly release the exact, precise, number of nuclear weapons, from which any idiot could accurately extrapolate the various platforms, throws, and targets. In other words, our national nuclear arsenal has been compromised for eight years.

Given Obama's radical draw down of the defense budget and the wear and tear on our existing equipment in the Middle East (don't doubt Iran is in on this deal with Russia and China), the US is clearly in a compromised offensive posture.

But, to allow DPRK to get away with this provocation means we lose the Pacific and China will see this as a green light to run amok and seize whatever they want and intimidate the rest.

Generally, my contacts see war or capitulation.

130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rickards on the NorKs on: September 08, 2017, 12:16:36 PM
https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/09/04/n-korea-has-already-beaten-the-world-to-the-punch.html

Well worth watching.
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Even Miss Lindsey sees it on: September 08, 2017, 12:12:45 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371472.php

Lindsey Graham Wants Comey to Testify Again About Exonerating Hillary Clinton Before Investigation Had Interviewed Key Subjects: "This Doesn't Add Up and I Smell a Rat"
I'm sure the evidence has all been bleach-bitted to the point where even the component atoms are sparkling white, but good on Graham for tugging on this thread.

He should definitely grill Comey on the question proposed by Sean M. Davis: if the decision was already made, why were Hillary Clinton's minions all given Get Out of Jail Free immunity cards for their inconsequential testimony?

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wants former FBI Director James Comey to testify again to Congress after new details emerged last week about the Hillary Clinton email case.
"This doesn't add up, and I smell a rat here," Graham told Fox News on Thursday.

...

"He needs to come back to the committee," Graham said.

Graham said he wants to know whether Comey had "predetermined the result" of the Clinton investigation before she and her aides were interviewed, "contrary" to his testimony.

Graham told Fox News he has reason to believe the "real reason may have been some email between the DNC and the Justice Department about the scope of the Clinton investigation."
That last bit is intriguing -- I think he's suggesting there's an undisclosed, hidden email that sharply limited what Comey was asked to investigate, in order to make it appear a full investigation had been conducted when in fact his ambit was only limited to, say, researching whether or not "intent" could be read into a law which deliberately excludes "intent" as a requirement.
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Hyperinflation on: September 08, 2017, 11:55:06 AM
We will be getting this firsthand at some point.



This week I got my first billion bolivar check, Bs. 1,850,000,000.00 to be exact. I've come a long way from my first monthly paycheck of Bs. 800.00! Or have I? Let's do the math.

Back then, 1960, the exchange rate was Bs. 3.35 per US dollar.
The Chavistas knocked three zeros off the new bolivar fuerte (BsF).
The exchange rate on Wednesday was 19,490, I got 18,500.

   Bolivares       Rate  US dollar
      800.00       3.35     238.80
1,850,000.00  18.500.00     100.00


The country has run out of cash and the government can't afford to print new bills, they don't have the money or the credit to pay for them! This has forced the banks to limit the cash withdrawals to BsF. 30,000 per day (some banks less), which is all of $1.50 per day. Were it not for credit/debit cards and bank transfers commerce would be paralyzed. I need the cash mostly to buy stuff from street vendors some of whom have yet to get a point of sale device. One third of yesterday's BsF. 30,000 went to pay for a 2 Kg. papaya. Yesterday I made nine debit card purchases, mostly food, for BsF.128,256.00, on average less that a dollar each purchase.

Hyperinflation is just plain crazy! It's hard to imagine the details until you are in the midst of it.
 
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Libertarian party's biggest problem is Libertarians on: September 07, 2017, 09:20:16 PM
From Ace.mu.nu


Democratic Party: We're so brain-dead, we're on track to completely destroy ourselves by 2020.
Libertarian Party: Hold my beer:



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Libertarianism.org ✔ @libertarianism
Islamic teachings are consistent w many libertarian principles, such as tolerance, property rights & individualism. http://bit.ly/2eZ18lZ
12:08 PM - Sep 5, 2017
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Islamic teachings contribute to or are consistent with many libertarian principles, such as tolerance, property rights, and the strength of individuals.
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134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: September 06, 2017, 10:25:43 PM
Is there anyone on the planet who doesn't have a right to our tax dollars and citizenship? Who?


I suggest a bipartisanship deal

we grant all the illegal kids citizenship

and their parents. 

Thus the Repubs will be so *NICE* and *HUMANE*  and be *WHO WE  ARE* (speak for yourself Obama )

and we only require one thing.  That they can stay in this country only if for the rest of their lives they vote for Republicans. 

If recommend that we will see the DNC sending over the boarder by bullet trains.

We all know as Rush apply puts it , this is a Dem Party voter drive.

They can't bribe enough people here to vote for them so ship em in as fast as possible.


135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Journolist word of the day: on: September 06, 2017, 06:11:23 PM
https://pjmedia.com/video/the-media-really-likes-using-one-word-to-describe-trumps-daca-decision-cruel/


The Media Really Likes Using One Word to Describe Trump's DACA Decision-- 'Cruel'
 BY PJ VIDEO SEPTEMBER 6, 2017

Grabien released this montage proving that the mainstream media has an echo chamber; that they all like to use the same exact words to describe current events. In the case of President Trump rescinding the DACA protections, they all used the same word, "cruel." CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CNBC, Univision... all the same word. But there's no bias here, no way!

Is Trump's DACA decision "cruel"?

136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: time to fight back on: September 05, 2017, 08:23:19 AM
Trump who said he did not want to hurt Hillary can see that , as expected, she is doing everything she can to destroy him.  Time to get the independent counsel to investigate Comey Lynn, Brock and her. 

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/09/04/hillary-endorses-media-site-created-by-former-adviser-targeted-at-clinton-voters/

Monica Crowley was on the John Batchelor radio show last week or so and said she had heard from people close up that Hillary is listening to the NY feminist crowd and planning on running again though Bill does not agree and knows her chance has come and gone and thinks she is too old

Until she is 6 feet under she will be "running".

I sure hope she does!

137  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: That SLC arrest of a nurse on: September 04, 2017, 02:50:58 PM

Unless there are elements currently unknown that will vindicate the officers, SLC will be writing a very big check to the nurse and the officers involved are in some very deep kimchee.
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / All This 'True Conservative' Talk About 'Principles' Is Just Another Lie on: September 04, 2017, 10:11:21 AM
https://townhall.com/columnists/KurtSchlichter/2017/09/04/all-this-true-conservative-talk-about-principles-is-just-another-lie-n2376699

All This 'True Conservative' Talk About 'Principles' Is Just Another Lie
Kurt Schlichter |Posted: Sep 04, 2017 12:01 AM 



After two years of lectures about “principles” and “the Rule of law” by the establishment-loving hacks furious that normal Americans rejected them and elected Donald Trump, their performance last week demonstrated that their high-minded dedication to conservatism is all a fraud. It’s not about “principles” or “the Rule of Law.” It’s only about holding on to power – theirs.

            Let’s take the latest in a seemingly endless series of #fails from that smarmy dope Paul Ryan, King of the Fredocons. First, he rushed to help out the liberals with their ridiculous narrative about how Donald Trump is a “Nazi” (Wait, I thought the narrative memo had him being a Russian fifth columnist – damn, our president sure is versatile!). You couldn’t keep Ryan from eagerly jumping in with his usual more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger-about-Trump thing to help the left push its latest meme. Antifa though? Not so fast! Ryan, the poodle that he is, obediently waited until Nancy Pelosi led the way and offered some tepid words about these commie blackshirts and their thirst for blood before Brave Sir Ryan ran out and offered some tepid words about these commie blackshirts and their thirst for blood.

            Paul Ryan is a guy who can’t even take his own side in a fight – or, more to the point, our side in a fight.       Now, a quick quiz: When Donald Trump proposed to keep his promise to the Republican voters who elected him and end the unconstitutional DACA program that the Obama administration enacted to ignore duly-enacted immigration laws, what did Passive Paul do?


A. Ryan immediately offered his support for the president undoing this Rule of Law abomination that Ryan expressly called “unconstitutional” on Fox back in October 2014.

B. Ryan immediately demanded the president not undo this Rule of Law abomination that Ryan expressly called “unconstitutional” on Fox back in October 2014.

C. Ryan immediately asked someone to explain what the phrase “keep his promise to the Republican voters who elected him” means.

D. B and C

            So, for the benefit of us suckers, basically Ryan was against DACA when it couldn’t be undone, but is now panicking when it can be undone because it might actually be undone – unless President Trump lets Ryan roll him, in which case he deserves to be laughed at in exactly the way his Never Trump enemies will laugh at him.

            Gosh, this DACA two-step kind of reminds me of Obamacare and how gung-ho the True Conservatives were to repeal it when they couldn’t repeal it and how suddenly they turned ungung-ho when they actually could. Weird. If I was cynical, I’d say that it seems like the establishment GOP has been lying to our faces for years and years, but that couldn’t be true because our establishment betters have principles and stuff.


            Of course, it’s not just the Wisconsin Wimp shifting into conservagimp mode. Soon-to-be-former Senator Jeff Flake, that braying doofus, naturally joined the cave-in chorus. Ben Sasse, Flake’s braying doofus doppelgänger, probably joined in, but I refuse to spend valuable time looking at his tedious Twitter feed to find out. And since it involved betraying Republicans, you have got to assume John “Blue Falcon” McCain is in on it too.

            Yeah, because “principles” and stuff. Because enforcing the law is the most important thing there is, except for doing what the rich guys who fund the establishment want. That’s really the most important thing.

            Yeah, so after nearly two years of tiresome finger-wagging about “the Rule of Law” and how we need to put our “principles” above our desire for “winning,” the whole sordid scam we always knew it always was is revealed for the world to see. They can’t hide it anymore and they aren’t even trying. Their glorious “conservative principles” aren’t principles at all but a skeevy ploy designed to tie our hands and keep us from pursuing policy goals our establishment coalition partners disfavor. They want open borders. They want illegals. They want cheap foreign labor that doesn’t get uppity to man their donors’ corporations so the Captains of Crony Capitalism don’t have to fuss with American workers who won’t tolerate being treated like chattel. Yeah, “we’re better than that” all right – if you mean that we are better than enforcing the laws the American people passed through a constitutional process if the ruling class decides it doesn’t like them.


            “The Rule of Law” is for us, not for them. “The Rule of Law” was supposed to be a shield to protect us from the ravages of the powerful, but our Truer-Than-You Cons use it as a sword to cut our legs out from under us and keep us from defending our own interests.

            Oh, you can’t possibly exercise the power against our leftist enemies that they always exercise against you. Because principles.

            Oh, you can’t possibly be uncouth and actually fight back against our enemies. Because principles.

            Oh, a principle is getting in the way of something the establishment wants? What’s a principle?

            So now, suddenly, Congress is moving to try and keep DACA alive through – gasp! – legislation, though that’s probably not going to happen since most GOP legislators understand that amnesty is ballot box poison. See, that’s why they loved DACA – they can’t pass it as a law, so they simply feigned outrage for the benefit of us rubes when Obama did exactly what they wanted with his pen.


            And in the most Congressional GOP move of all possible Congressional GOP moves, they now want to try to pass a proposed DACA fix using Democrat votes and so their proposed deal to the Democrats – who really, really want 800,000 future voters – is to trade it for…wait for it…still waiting…nothing. The GOP isn’t asking for anything. No new limits on immigrants, no reform of chain immigration, certainly no wall. Nothing. I hope the dealer tries out this innovative new negotiation strategy on me the next time I bargain to lease a fine German sports sedan.

            Actually, the GOP does get something – shafted, as usual. Yeah, their deal is we give you Democrats what you want and, in exchange, you call us racists when Elizabeth Warren proposes to declare all these middle-aged Dreamer kids US citizens. Because, you know, they had dreams and stuff.

            Pathetic. You know, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the real reason the Republicans don’t want to end the filibuster to allow them to pass legislation is that they would then be expected to pass legislation that their voters want and the GOP establishment doesn’t.

            Here’s the thing. There are two parties in America, one to the right and one to the left. The left/right spectrum used to be the only axis that mattered, and the coalitions within the parties fit pretty well, if not perfectly. But the bipartisan establishment, the meritless meritocracy that rules us, grew more arrogant even as it grew more inept. It ignored problems and troubling trends even as it cashed-in for itself over the decades. I remember working in Congress back in Washington in 1986, and the region was not rich and it was not fancy. But now it’s fantastically rich and fantastically fancy. But the establishment ignored the normals out in America as it gorged on the fruits of the normals’ labor, and that’s why a second axis arose and intersected with the American politician spectrum. This new axis measures pro- or con- regarding the status quo and the ruling class. So now there are really four political parties stuffed into two political party infrastructures:

Right, pro-establishment (The RINOs)
Right, anti-establishment (The Trump voters)
Left, pro-establishment (Hillary’s snobby urban corporatist jerk corps)
Left, anti-establishment (The Bernie/Warren/Stalin Axis of Venezuela)

            This explains why we see the DC establishment unifying to protect its power and privilege – and holding us normals in utter contempt. Most Democrat senators and Republican senators have much more in common with each other than with us – to the GOP establishment, Trump’s clearly the bigger threat than a counterpart across the aisle. It also explains why you hear about Bernie supporters who went for Trump instead of Felonia von Pantsuit. That’s the fault line – the desire to keep or destroy this monstrous status quo. This new axis will reshape the political parties as their uncomfortable coalitions jockey for control of their respective party’s infrastructure (Yeah, the Dems have big problems too). Hell, it may reshape – violently – our whole country if we aren’t careful.

            The fact is that the establishment doesn’t care about “the Rule of Law” or “principles” – it cares about its own power and maintaining the status quo. So keep that in mind the next time you hear some establishment snob lecturing you on how you are morally obligated not to do anything to advance you own interests because of “principles.”

            It’s all just another lie.
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: September 03, 2017, 09:22:32 PM

So what. Just do the Facebook thing and say wonderful things to each other all day long.



FaceHUGGERbook

140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Eyes on: September 03, 2017, 09:19:17 PM
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: MY question to Andrew on: September 03, 2017, 07:19:04 PM
Questions unasked by the professional journalists, and the republican wing of the DNC.



Is, what do we do about this now?  I am not inclined to just drop this and let /Clinton / Obama off?

Could anyone imagine the uproar from the Compost and Pravda and Complicit news network if a Republican President had subverted the law in this way?

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/451053/not-comeys-decision-exonerate-hillary-obamas-decision

Right and we all knew it when it happened.  If words mean anything, Comey was the lead investigator at best, not the prosecutor by any stretch.  When the AG recused, shouldn't that responsibility go up the chain, maybe downward, not sideways?


142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The 2016 Election is Not Reversible on: September 03, 2017, 11:51:42 AM
https://amgreatness.com/2017/08/31/2016-election-not-reversible/


The 2016 Election is Not Reversible
By Angelo Codevilla| August 31, 2017



Today, the bipartisan ruling class, which the electorate was trying to shed by supporting anti-establishment candidates of both parties in 2016, feels as if it has dodged the proverbial bullet. The Trump administration has not managed to staff itself—certainly not with anti-establishment people—and may never do so. Because the prospect of that happening brought the ruling class’s several elements together and energized them as never before, today, prospects of more power with fewer limits than ever eclipse the establishment’s fears of November 2016.

But the Left’s celebrations are premature, at best. As I explained a year ago, by 2016 the ruling class’s dysfunctions and the rest of the country’s resentment had pushed America over the threshold of a revolution; one in which the only certainty is the near impossibility of returning to the republican self-government of the previous two centuries. The 2016 election is not reversible, because it was but the first stage of a process that no one can control and the end of which no one can foresee.


Trump’s troubles

The Left’s optimism is not unfounded. Trump, in his Afghanistan speech, told his voters that he is reversing a campaign promise because he was instructed that his, and their, basic instincts on foreign affairs are wrong. Similarly influenced, he is continuing to use unappropriated funds to subsidize insurance companies that practice Obamacare even though a Federal Court held this to be unconstitutional—far from undoing it as he had promised. Nevertheless he complies with rulings by single judges that overturn major political commitments of his. Unforced errors, all.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the Republican majorities in the Senate and House reject responsibility for failing to repeal Obamacare and even for failing to pass ordinary appropriations bills. They take every occasion to distance themselves from Trump, notably imputing to him insufficient disdain for racism and other political taboos. When Corporate America withdrew from the president’s business council, it premised this officious separation on implicit accusations of the same sort. In short, the Republican establishment now joins Hillary Clinton in leveling “deplorable” allegations against Trump and, above all, of his supporters. Nevertheless, Trump agreed to endorse that establishment’s candidate in the Alabama senatorial primary against one of his own supporters. Counterintuitive.


Not incidentally, he well-nigh cleansed his White House staff of people who had supported his election, and put it in the hands of persons who just as easily could have been in a Clinton White House—people who agree with the press that their job is to control Trump. Secretary of State Tillerson’s remark that the President’s words on America’s values are merely his private opinion epitomizes this transfer of effective power.

With the Left in full cry, the Republican majorities in the House and Senate put no legislative obstacles in the way of the “resistance” to the 2016 election. These Republicans, having now effectively demonstrated that the arguments that won them four consecutive election cycles were insincere, can no longer reprise them. Believing that the 2016 elections were an anomaly the effects of which they are containing, that Trump will pass and the “resistance” with him, they move from putting distance between themselves and Trump to defining themselves against him and with “moderate Democrats”  in concert with whom they hope to enjoy their powers.

Trump himself, far from leading public opinion from the bulliest of pulpits, limits himself to “tweets” of 140 characters, which observers from all sides characterize as “plaintive.” In short, the ruling class’s “resistance” met feeble resistance—that is, insofar as it concerns Donald Trump.


Donald Trump is not and never has been the issue. With or without Trump, the nightmare of those who resist the 2016 election was, is, and will remain the voters who have chosen and will continue to choose candidates who they believe are committed to reducing the ruling class’s privileges and pretensions. 

It’s the contempt, stupid!

That is why the “resistance” has increased rather than diminished the 2016 election’s import as a revolutionary event. To ordinary Americans, the winds that now blow downwind from society’s commanding heights make the country seem more alien than ever before. More than ever, academics, judges, the media, corporate executives, and politicians of all kinds, having arrogated moral legitimacy to their own socio-political identities, pour contempt upon the rest of America. Private as well as public life in our time is subject to their escalating insults, their unending new conditions on what one may or may not say, even on what one must say, to hold a job or otherwise to participate in society.

As I  have argued at length elsewhere, the cultural division between privileged, government-connected elites and the rest of the country has turned twenty-first century politics in America into a cold civil war between hostile socio-political identities.

During the 2016 primaries the U.S electorate’s obvious, consistent, attempt to affirm its identity in contrast with those of the ruling class set aside concerns about particular policies. It produced Donald Trump as the Republican candidate because his campaign was all about identifying himself with those Americans who had felt most keenly the abuse coming from above. Socialist Bernie Sanders almost became the Democratic candidate (but for his party machinery’s interference) by showing that he was even more in tune than Clinton with his constituency’s arrogation of moral supremacy over the rest of the country. In sum, the 2016 elections were won and lost on the ground of this new kind of identity politics.

The ruling class and its Democratic Party had been practicing identity politics with increasing intensity for more than a generation. The elections’ outcome convinced them that they needed to engage in it just about exclusively, and in a warlike manner. Possessed of the modern administrative state’s manifold levers of power, they expect to win that war. That is unlikely, if only because its components’ notions of their respective identities’ demands are ever expanding. Hence they preclude imposing any extended peace among themselves, never mind with the rest of America. This impossibility of socio-political peace is the reason why the revolution in which we are living is just getting started.

By contrast, however, the post 2016 Republican Party is perhaps even more wary than ever of embodying the socio-political identities of the people who have been voting Republican. Hence, with the Republican Party disqualifying itself from the battle that is actually taking place, there is no political vehicle that exists by which Americans may challenge the ruling class.

There is much demand for such a vehicle. How may the political marketplace supply it?

What now?

President Donald Trump is the obvious, first-order answer. Anyone possessed of the enormous institutional and political powers of the modern U.S. presidency is better placed to make victims than to be one. Most recently, Barack Obama showed that the practical limit of a “stop me if you can” presidency is the one-third of the Senate needed to block impeachment. Obama decided not to enforce laws on the books and to create new ones by executive order. When courts intervened, he ignored them. Always, he accompanied his “pen and phone” actions with explanations that excited his supporters’ support while casting aspersions on the people they love to hate. For better or worse, Americans who wanted to reverse what Obama had done rejected outright candidates who they felt would be hampered by the Republican Party. And they were less moved by Constitutional scholar Ted Cruz than by Donald Trump, whose demeanor promised that he would do for them what Obama had done to them.

Let us be clear: the 2016 electorate chose Trump and they saw Trump as the vehicle by which to challenge the ruling class. During the first half of 2017, the Republican Party finished discrediting itself as a possible vehicle for that job. Since this is so, were Donald Trump seriously to bid for the presidency in 2020, it would have to be by leading a new party focused on the identities of anti-ruling class Americans. Carrying the Republican label would be an impossible burden.

Were an energetic, unambiguous, unapologetic Trump to affirm the majority of Americans’ political identity, not all Republicans would follow. Nor does he need them all. By bringing new elements into his following and, yes, by dropping some Republicans from it, Trump would effectively build a new party, with intact credibility. The departure of major corporations from his business council—big business is deeply unpopular on Main Street America—is an example of  how to gain by shedding baggage. At any rate, it was never possible that the entire Republican Party would represent America against the ruling class.

Let us be clear: the 2016 electorate chose Trump and they saw Trump as the vehicle by which to challenge the ruling class. During the first half of 2017, the Republican Party finished discrediting itself as a possible vehicle for that job. Since this is so, were Donald Trump seriously to bid for the presidency in 2020, it would have to be by leading a new party focused on the identities of anti-ruling class Americans. Carrying the Republican label would be an impossible burden.
But by the same token, each action taken by anyone who is creating a new movement must speak for itself more loudly and clearly than the words used to explain that action. Democracy does not tolerate pairing big words with small accomplishments. Today, Trump’s role in fulfilling the political marketplace’s demand is up to him even more than it was in 2016. But now as then, America’s open political marketplace invites all. The anti ruling class constituency is bigger than ever. If Trump does not lead it, someone else will.

2020 politics

Regardless of what Trump does or does not do, America’s cold civil war is likely to be waged between three or four sets of constituencies, each with its own identity. Herewith one estimate of how and why each may fare in the elections of 2020.

The ruling class’s set—educators, blacks, never-married women, government employees, corporate executives, etc. will enter the contest with enormous advantages in organization, and with a near monopoly of favorable media attention. But its constituencies seem to be contracting a bit rather than expanding. Disillusionment of some blacks with the rewards received for faithfulness, and of young people with the Democratic Party’s bureaucratization, demonstrate key weaknesses in this coalition, as does its substitution of insult and penalty for attempts to convince those outside of it. Nevertheless, almost surely, the Democratic Party will be the #1 or #2 recipient of popular and electoral votes.

It is impossible to tell at this point to what extent the Democratic party may lose the farthest Left  parts of its left wing. That is because the Party’s extreme Left—violent in word and deed—has been its only area of growth and enthusiasm. But while the Left’s defection would surely push the Party leftward and could harm its prospects, it is difficult to imagine it putting a dent in the party’s rock-solid organization, never mind contending for electoral votes.

The ruling class’s violent “resistance” to the 2016 results has whipped together the coalition that elected Trump in 2016. That coalition, consists of that three-fourths of Republican voters  dissatisfied with the Party’s leadership and who now hate it, anti-establishment independents, and even Democrats turned off by their Party’s anti-nationalism as well as its embrace of abortion and homosexuality. Its growth has been independent of Trump’s political fortunes. Regardless of the name that it may adopt, given competent leadership, it can be forged into the anti-establishment vehicle for which the political marketplace has been clamoring. It has a solid shot at overtaking the Democratic party in popular and electoral votes.

In 2020, the Republican presidential nomination will not be worth having. It is by no means clear why anyone looking for relief and protection from ruling class rule would vote Republican. Judging from Republican leaders in Congress and from The Wall Street Journal, the GOP has only to present itself as the alternative to rule by Democrats and cite some well crafted, subtle differences in policy to reap the bountiful harvests of votes it has received in recent cycles. Besides, the Party is awash in money. In 2016, this line of thought produced $150 million to promote Jeb Bush’s primary presidential candidacy, which yielded a total of three delegates out of almost 2500. In 2020, the Party having proved that life under Republican majorities in both Houses and a Republican president is no less subject to ruling class outrages than it was under Democrats, this line of thinking is likely to yield even less. Hence, the only near-certainty about politics in 2020 is that the Republican Party’s presidential candidate will come in a distant third.

In 2020, the Republican presidential nomination will not be worth having. It is by no means clear why anyone looking for relief and protection from ruling class rule would vote Republican.
If then—a not so big if—the Democratic party failed to secure a majority of electoral votes, the Constitution would turn the election over to the House of Representatives, each state having one vote. Given America’s demographics, the majority of states has a majority of conservative Republican congressmen. Unless these Congressmen were to commit political suicide by associating themselves with the candidate who got the least votes just because of the label Republican, they would identify with the coalition that Trump started in 2016. Their votes would be signatures on the new party’s birth certificate.

For the revolution’s next stage, the number of contenders would be down to two again.

About the Author: Angelo Codevilla
Angelo Codevilla
Angelo M. Codevilla is a fellow of the Claremont Institute, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace, Hoover Institution Press, 2014
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / You ARE the Product on: September 02, 2017, 08:23:08 PM
https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/john-lanchester/you-are-the-product

You Are the Product
John Lanchester

BUYThe Attention Merchants: From the Daily Newspaper to Social Media, How Our Time and Attention Is Harvested and Sold by Tim Wu
Atlantic, 416 pp, £20.00, January, ISBN 978 1 78239 482 2
BUYChaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine by Antonio García Martínez
Ebury, 528 pp, £8.99, June, ISBN 978 1 78503 455 8
BUYMove Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon have Cornered Culture and What It Means for All of Us by Jonathan Taplin
Macmillan, 320 pp, £18.99, May, ISBN 978 1 5098 4769 3

At the end of June, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had hit a new level: two billion monthly active users. That number, the company’s preferred ‘metric’ when measuring its own size, means two billion different people used Facebook in the preceding month. It is hard to grasp just how extraordinary that is. Bear in mind that thefacebook – its original name – was launched exclusively for Harvard students in 2004. No human enterprise, no new technology or utility or service, has ever been adopted so widely so quickly. The speed of uptake far exceeds that of the internet itself, let alone ancient technologies such as television or cinema or radio.

Also amazing: as Facebook has grown, its users’ reliance on it has also grown. The increase in numbers is not, as one might expect, accompanied by a lower level of engagement. More does not mean worse – or worse, at least, from Facebook’s point of view. On the contrary. In the far distant days of October 2012, when Facebook hit one billion users, 55 per cent of them were using it every day. At two billion, 66 per cent are. Its user base is growing at 18 per cent a year – which you’d have thought impossible for a business already so enormous. Facebook’s biggest rival for logged-in users is YouTube, owned by its deadly rival Alphabet (the company formerly known as Google), in second place with 1.5 billion monthly users. Three of the next four biggest apps, or services, or whatever one wants to call them, are WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, with 1.2 billion, 1.2 billion, and 700 million users respectively (the Chinese app WeChat is the other one, with 889 million). Those three entities have something in common: they are all owned by Facebook. No wonder the company is the fifth most valuable in the world, with a market capitalisation of $445 billion.

Zuckerberg’s news about Facebook’s size came with an announcement which may or may not prove to be significant. He said that the company was changing its ‘mission statement’, its version of the canting pieties beloved of corporate America. Facebook’s mission used to be ‘making the world more open and connected’. A non-Facebooker reading that is likely to ask: why? Connection is presented as an end in itself, an inherently and automatically good thing. Is it, though? Flaubert was sceptical about trains because he thought (in Julian Barnes’s paraphrase) that ‘the railway would merely permit more people to move about, meet and be stupid.’ You don’t have to be as misanthropic as Flaubert to wonder if something similar isn’t true about connecting people on Facebook. For instance, Facebook is generally agreed to have played a big, perhaps even a crucial, role in the election of Donald Trump. The benefit to humanity is not clear. This thought, or something like it, seems to have occurred to Zuckerberg, because the new mission statement spells out a reason for all this connectedness. It says that the new mission is to ‘give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together’.

Hmm. Alphabet’s mission statement, ‘to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’, came accompanied by the maxim ‘Don’t be evil,’ which has been the source of a lot of ridicule: Steve Jobs called it ‘bullshit’.​1 Which it is, but it isn’t only bullshit. Plenty of companies, indeed entire industries, base their business model on being evil. The insurance business, for instance, depends on the fact that insurers charge customers more than their insurance is worth; that’s fair enough, since if they didn’t do that they wouldn’t be viable as businesses. What isn’t fair is the panoply of cynical techniques that many insurers use to avoid, as far as possible, paying out when the insured-against event happens. Just ask anyone who has had a property suffer a major mishap. It’s worth saying ‘Don’t be evil,’ because lots of businesses are. This is especially an issue in the world of the internet. Internet companies are working in a field that is poorly understood (if understood at all) by customers and regulators. The stuff they’re doing, if they’re any good at all, is by definition new. In that overlapping area of novelty and ignorance and unregulation, it’s well worth reminding employees not to be evil, because if the company succeeds and grows, plenty of chances to be evil are going to come along.

Google and Facebook have both been walking this line from the beginning. Their styles of doing so are different. An internet entrepreneur I know has had dealings with both companies. ‘YouTube knows they have lots of dirty things going on and are keen to try and do some good to alleviate it,’ he told me. I asked what he meant by ‘dirty’. ‘Terrorist and extremist content, stolen content, copyright violations. That kind of thing. But Google in my experience knows that there are ambiguities, moral doubts, around some of what they do, and at least they try to think about it. Facebook just doesn’t care. When you’re in a room with them you can tell. They’re’ – he took a moment to find the right word – ‘scuzzy’.

That might sound harsh. There have, however, been ethical problems and ambiguities about Facebook since the moment of its creation, a fact we know because its creator was live-blogging at the time. The scene is as it was recounted in Aaron Sorkin’s movie about the birth of Facebook, The Social Network. While in his first year at Harvard, Zuckerberg suffered a romantic rebuff. Who wouldn’t respond to this by creating a website where undergraduates’ pictures are placed side by side so that users of the site can vote for the one they find more attractive? (The film makes it look as if it was only female undergraduates: in real life it was both.) The site was called Facemash. In the great man’s own words, at the time:

I’m a little intoxicated, I’m not gonna lie. So what if it’s not even 10 p.m. and it’s a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland dormitory facebook is open on my desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics. I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of some farm animals and have people vote on which is the more attractive … Let the hacking begin.

As Tim Wu explains in his energetic and original new book The Attention Merchants, a ‘facebook’ in the sense Zuckerberg uses it here ‘traditionally referred to a physical booklet produced at American universities to promote socialisation in the way that “Hi, My Name Is” stickers do at events; the pages consisted of rows upon rows of head shots with the corresponding name’. Harvard was already working on an electronic version of its various dormitory facebooks. The leading social network, Friendster, already had three million users. The idea of putting these two things together was not entirely novel, but as Zuckerberg said at the time, ‘I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.’

Wu argues that capturing and reselling attention has been the basic model for a large number of modern businesses, from posters in late 19th-century Paris, through the invention of mass-market newspapers that made their money not through circulation but through ad sales, to the modern industries of advertising and ad-funded TV. Facebook is in a long line of such enterprises, though it might be the purest ever example of a company whose business is the capture and sale of attention. Very little new thinking was involved in its creation. As Wu observes, Facebook is ‘a business with an exceedingly low ratio of invention to success’. What Zuckerberg had instead of originality was the ability to get things done and to see the big issues clearly. The crucial thing with internet start-ups is the ability to execute plans and to adapt to changing circumstances. It’s Zuck’s skill at doing that – at hiring talented engineers, and at navigating the big-picture trends in his industry – that has taken his company to where it is today. Those two huge sister companies under Facebook’s giant wing, Instagram and WhatsApp, were bought for $1 billion and $19 billion respectively, at a point when they had no revenue. No banker or analyst or sage could have told Zuckerberg what those acquisitions were worth; nobody knew better than he did. He could see where things were going and help make them go there. That talent turned out to be worth several hundred billion dollars.

Jesse Eisenberg’s brilliant portrait of Zuckerberg in The Social Network is misleading, as Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook manager, argues in Chaos Monkeys, his entertainingly caustic book about his time at the company. The movie Zuckerberg is a highly credible character, a computer genius located somewhere on the autistic spectrum with minimal to non-existent social skills. But that’s not what the man is really like. In real life, Zuckerberg was studying for a degree with a double concentration in computer science and – this is the part people tend to forget – psychology. People on the spectrum have a limited sense of how other people’s minds work; autists, it has been said, lack a ‘theory of mind’. Zuckerberg, not so much. He is very well aware of how people’s minds work and in particular of the social dynamics of popularity and status. The initial launch of Facebook was limited to people with a Harvard email address; the intention was to make access to the site seem exclusive and aspirational. (And also to control site traffic so that the servers never went down. Psychology and computer science, hand in hand.) Then it was extended to other elite campuses in the US. When it launched in the UK, it was limited to Oxbridge and the LSE. The idea was that people wanted to look at what other people like them were doing, to see their social networks, to compare, to boast and show off, to give full rein to every moment of longing and envy, to keep their noses pressed against the sweet-shop window of others’ lives.

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This focus attracted the attention of Facebook’s first external investor, the now notorious Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Again, The Social Network gets it right: Thiel’s $500,000 investment in 2004 was crucial to the success of the company. But there was a particular reason Facebook caught Thiel’s eye, rooted in a byway of intellectual history. In the course of his studies at Stanford – he majored in philosophy – Thiel became interested in the ideas of the US-based French philosopher René Girard, as advocated in his most influential book, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World. Girard’s big idea was something he called ‘mimetic desire’. Human beings are born with a need for food and shelter. Once these fundamental necessities of life have been acquired, we look around us at what other people are doing, and wanting, and we copy them. In Thiel’s summary, the idea is ‘that imitation is at the root of all behaviour’.

Girard was a Christian, and his view of human nature is that it is fallen. We don’t know what we want or who we are; we don’t really have values and beliefs of our own; what we have instead is an instinct to copy and compare. We are homo mimeticus. ‘Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and who turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires.’ Look around, ye petty, and compare. The reason Thiel latched onto Facebook with such alacrity was that he saw in it for the first time a business that was Girardian to its core: built on people’s deep need to copy. ‘Facebook first spread by word of mouth, and it’s about word of mouth, so it’s doubly mimetic,’ Thiel said. ‘Social media proved to be more important than it looked, because it’s about our natures.’ We are keen to be seen as we want to be seen, and Facebook is the most popular tool humanity has ever had with which to do that.

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The view of human nature implied by these ideas is pretty dark. If all people want to do is go and look at other people so that they can compare themselves to them and copy what they want – if that is the final, deepest truth about humanity and its motivations – then Facebook doesn’t really have to take too much trouble over humanity’s welfare, since all the bad things that happen to us are things we are doing to ourselves. For all the corporate uplift of its mission statement, Facebook is a company whose essential premise is misanthropic. It is perhaps for that reason that Facebook, more than any other company of its size, has a thread of malignity running through its story. The high-profile, tabloid version of this has come in the form of incidents such as the live-streaming of rapes, suicides, murders and cop-killings. But this is one of the areas where Facebook seems to me relatively blameless. People live-stream these terrible things over the site because it has the biggest audience; if Snapchat or Periscope were bigger, they’d be doing it there instead.

In many other areas, however, the site is far from blameless. The highest-profile recent criticisms of the company stem from its role in Trump’s election. There are two components to this, one of them implicit in the nature of the site, which has an inherent tendency to fragment and atomise its users into like-minded groups. The mission to ‘connect’ turns out to mean, in practice, connect with people who agree with you. We can’t prove just how dangerous these ‘filter bubbles’ are to our societies, but it seems clear that they are having a severe impact on our increasingly fragmented polity. Our conception of ‘we’ is becoming narrower.

This fragmentation created the conditions for the second strand of Facebook’s culpability in the Anglo-American political disasters of the last year. The portmanteau terms for these developments are ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’, and they were made possible by the retreat from a general agora of public debate into separate ideological bunkers. In the open air, fake news can be debated and exposed; on Facebook, if you aren’t a member of the community being served the lies, you’re quite likely never to know that they are in circulation. It’s crucial to this that Facebook has no financial interest in telling the truth. No company better exemplifies the internet-age dictum that if the product is free, you are the product. Facebook’s customers aren’t the people who are on the site: its customers are the advertisers who use its network and who relish its ability to direct ads to receptive audiences. Why would Facebook care if the news streaming over the site is fake? Its interest is in the targeting, not in the content. This is probably one reason for the change in the company’s mission statement. If your only interest is in connecting people, why would you care about falsehoods? They might even be better than the truth, since they are quicker to identify the like-minded. The newfound ambition to ‘build communities’ makes it seem as if the company is taking more of an interest in the consequence of the connections it fosters.

Fake news is not, as Facebook has acknowledged, the only way it was used to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. On 6 January 2017 the director of national intelligence published a report saying that the Russians had waged an internet disinformation campaign to damage Hillary Clinton and help Trump. ‘Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations – such as cyber-activity – with overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls”,’ the report said. At the end of April, Facebook got around to admitting this (by then) fairly obvious truth, in an interesting paper published by its internal security division. ‘Fake news’, they argue, is an unhelpful, catch-all term because misinformation is in fact spread in a variety of ways:

Information (or Influence) Operations – Actions taken by governments or organised non-state actors to distort domestic or foreign political sentiment.

False News – News articles that purport to be factual, but which contain intentional misstatements of fact with the intention to arouse passions, attract viewership, or deceive.

False Amplifiers – Co-ordinated activity by inauthentic accounts with the intent of manipulating political discussion (e.g. by discouraging specific parties from participating in discussion, or amplifying sensationalistic voices over others).

Disinformation – Inaccurate or manipulated information/content that is spread intentionally. This can include false news, or it can involve more subtle methods, such as false flag operations, feeding inaccurate quotes or stories to innocent intermediaries, or knowingly amplifying biased or misleading information.

The company is promising to treat this problem or set of problems as seriously as it treats such other problems as malware, account hacking and spam. We’ll see. One man’s fake news is another’s truth-telling, and Facebook works hard at avoiding responsibility for the content on its site – except for sexual content, about which it is super-stringent. Nary a nipple on show. It’s a bizarre set of priorities, which only makes sense in an American context, where any whiff of explicit sexuality would immediately give the site a reputation for unwholesomeness. Photos of breastfeeding women are banned and rapidly get taken down. Lies and propaganda are fine.

The key to understanding this is to think about what advertisers want: they don’t want to appear next to pictures of breasts because it might damage their brands, but they don’t mind appearing alongside lies because the lies might be helping them find the consumers they’re trying to target. In Move Fast and Break Things, his polemic against the ‘digital-age robber barons’, Jonathan Taplin points to an analysis on Buzzfeed: ‘In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News and others.’ This doesn’t sound like a problem Facebook will be in any hurry to fix.

The fact is that fraudulent content, and stolen content, are rife on Facebook, and the company doesn’t really mind, because it isn’t in its interest to mind. Much of the video content on the site is stolen from the people who created it. An illuminating YouTube video from Kurzgesagt, a German outfit that makes high-quality short explanatory films, notes that in 2015, 725 of Facebook’s top one thousand most viewed videos were stolen. This is another area where Facebook’s interests contradict society’s. We may collectively have an interest in sustaining creative and imaginative work in many different forms and on many platforms. Facebook doesn’t. It has two priorities, as Martínez explains in Chaos Monkeys: growth and monetisation. It simply doesn’t care where the content comes from. It is only now starting to care about the perception that much of the content is fraudulent, because if that perception were to become general, it might affect the amount of trust and therefore the amount of time people give to the site.

Zuckerberg himself has spoken up on this issue, in a Facebook post addressing the question of ‘Facebook and the election’. After a certain amount of boilerplate bullshit (‘Our goal is to give every person a voice. We believe deeply in people’), he gets to the nub of it. ‘Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 per cent of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.’ More than one Facebook user pointed out that in their own news feed, Zuckerberg’s post about authenticity ran next to fake news. In one case, the fake story pretended to be from the TV sports channel ESPN. When it was clicked on, it took users to an ad selling a diet supplement. As the writer Doc Searls pointed out, it’s a double fraud, ‘outright lies from a forged source’, which is quite something to have right slap next to the head of Facebook boasting about the absence of fraud. Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter and founder of the long-read specialist Medium, found the same post by Zuckerberg next to a different fake ESPN story and another piece of fake news purporting to be from CNN, announcing that Congress had disqualified Trump from office. When clicked-through, that turned out to be from a company offering a 12-week programme to strengthen toes. (That’s right: strengthen toes.) Still, we now know that Zuck believes in people. That’s the main thing.

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A neutral observer might wonder if Facebook’s attitude to content creators is sustainable. Facebook needs content, obviously, because that’s what the site consists of: content that other people have created. It’s just that it isn’t too keen on anyone apart from Facebook making any money from that content. Over time, that attitude is profoundly destructive to the creative and media industries. Access to an audience – that unprecedented two billion people – is a wonderful thing, but Facebook isn’t in any hurry to help you make money from it. If the content providers all eventually go broke, well, that might not be too much of a problem. There are, for now, lots of willing providers: anyone on Facebook is in a sense working for Facebook, adding value to the company. In 2014, the New York Times did the arithmetic and found that humanity was spending 39,757 collective years on the site, every single day. Jonathan Taplin points out that this is ‘almost fifteen million years of free labour per year’. That was back when it had a mere 1.23 billion users.

Taplin has worked in academia and in the film industry. The reason he feels so strongly about these questions is that he started out in the music business, as manager of The Band, and was on hand to watch the business being destroyed by the internet. What had been a $20 billion industry in 1999 was a $7 billion industry 15 years later. He saw musicians who had made a good living become destitute. That didn’t happen because people had stopped listening to their music – more people than ever were listening to it – but because music had become something people expected to be free. YouTube is the biggest source of music in the world, playing billions of tracks annually, but in 2015 musicians earned less from it and from its ad-supported rivals than they earned from sales of vinyl. Not CDs and recordings in general: vinyl.

Something similar has happened in the world of journalism. Facebook is in essence an advertising company which is indifferent to the content on its site except insofar as it helps to target and sell advertisements. A version of Gresham’s law is at work, in which fake news, which gets more clicks and is free to produce, drives out real news, which often tells people things they don’t want to hear, and is expensive to produce. In addition, Facebook uses an extensive set of tricks to increase its traffic and the revenue it makes from targeting ads, at the expense of the news-making institutions whose content it hosts. Its news feed directs traffic at you based not on your interests, but on how to make the maximum amount of advertising revenue from you. In September 2016, Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of the Guardian, told a Financial Times conference that Facebook had ‘sucked up $27 million’ of the newspaper’s projected ad revenue that year. ‘They are taking all the money because they have algorithms we don’t understand, which are a filter between what we do and how people receive it.’

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This goes to the heart of the question of what Facebook is and what it does. For all the talk about connecting people, building community, and believing in people, Facebook is an advertising company. Martínez gives the clearest account both of how it ended up like that, and how Facebook advertising works. In the early years of Facebook, Zuckerberg was much more interested in the growth side of the company than in the monetisation. That changed when Facebook went in search of its big payday at the initial public offering, the shining day when shares in a business first go on sale to the general public. This is a huge turning-point for any start-up: in the case of many tech industry workers, the hope and expectation associated with ‘going public’ is what attracted them to their firm in the first place, and/or what has kept them glued to their workstations. It’s the point where the notional money of an early-days business turns into the real cash of a public company.

Martínez was there at the very moment when Zuck got everyone together to tell them they were going public, the moment when all Facebook employees knew that they were about to become rich:

I had chosen a seat behind a detached pair, who on further inspection turned out to be Chris Cox, head of FB product, and Naomi Gleit, a Harvard grad who joined as employee number 29, and was now reputed to be the current longest-serving employee other than Mark.

Naomi, between chats with Cox, was clicking away on her laptop, paying little attention to the Zuckian harangue. I peered over her shoulder at her screen. She was scrolling down an email with a number of links, and progressively clicking each one into existence as another tab on her browser. Clickathon finished, she began lingering on each with an appraiser’s eye. They were real estate listings, each for a different San Francisco property.

Martínez took note of one of the properties and looked it up later. Price: $2.4 million. He is fascinating, and fascinatingly bitter, on the subject of class and status differences in Silicon Valley, in particular the never publicly discussed issue of the huge gulf between early employees in a company, who have often been made unfathomably rich, and the wage slaves who join the firm later in its story. ‘The protocol is not to talk about it at all publicly.’ But, as Bonnie Brown, a masseuse at Google in the early days, wrote in her memoir, ‘a sharp contrast developed between Googlers working side by side. While one was looking at local movie times on their monitor, the other was booking a flight to Belize for the weekend. How was the conversation on Monday morning going to sound now?’

When the time came for the IPO, Facebook needed to turn from a company with amazing growth to one that was making amazing money. It was already making some, thanks to its sheer size – as Martínez observes, ‘a billion times any number is still a big fucking number’ – but not enough to guarantee a truly spectacular valuation on launch. It was at this stage that the question of how to monetise Facebook got Zuckerberg’s full attention. It’s interesting, and to his credit, that he hadn’t put too much focus on it before – perhaps because he isn’t particularly interested in money per se. But he does like to win.

The solution was to take the huge amount of information Facebook has about its ‘community’ and use it to let advertisers target ads with a specificity never known before, in any medium. Martínez: ‘It can be demographic in nature (e.g. 30-to-40-year-old females), geographic (people within five miles of Sarasota, Florida), or even based on Facebook profile data (do you have children; i.e. are you in the mommy segment?).’ Taplin makes the same point:

If I want to reach women between the ages of 25 and 30 in zip code 37206 who like country music and drink bourbon, Facebook can do that. Moreover, Facebook can often get friends of these women to post a ‘sponsored story’ on a targeted consumer’s news feed, so it doesn’t feel like an ad. As Zuckerberg said when he introduced Facebook Ads, ‘Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.’

That was the first part of the monetisation process for Facebook, when it turned its gigantic scale into a machine for making money. The company offered advertisers an unprecedentedly precise tool for targeting their ads at particular consumers. (Particular segments of voters too can be targeted with complete precision. One instance from 2016 was an anti-Clinton ad repeating a notorious speech she made in 1996 on the subject of ‘super-predators’. The ad was sent to African-American voters in areas where the Republicans were trying, successfully as it turned out, to suppress the Democrat vote. Nobody else saw the ads.)

The second big shift around monetisation came in 2012 when internet traffic began to switch away from desktop computers towards mobile devices. If you do most of your online reading on a desktop, you are in a minority. The switch was a potential disaster for all businesses which relied on internet advertising, because people don’t much like mobile ads, and were far less likely to click on them than on desktop ads. In other words, although general internet traffic was increasing rapidly, because the growth was coming from mobile, the traffic was becoming proportionately less valuable. If the trend were to continue, every internet business that depended on people clicking links – i.e. pretty much all of them, but especially the giants like Google and Facebook – would be worth much less money.

Facebook solved the problem by means of a technique called ‘onboarding’. As Martínez explains it, the best way to think about this is to consider our various kinds of name and address.

For example, if Bed, Bath and Beyond wants to get my attention with one of its wonderful 20 per cent off coupons, it calls out:

Antonio García Martínez
1 Clarence Place #13
San Francisco, CA 94107

If it wants to reach me on my mobile device, my name there is:

38400000-8cfo-11bd-b23e-10b96e40000d

That’s my quasi-immutable device ID, broadcast hundreds of times a day on mobile ad exchanges.

On my laptop, my name is this:

07J6yJPMB9juTowar.AWXGQnGPA1MCmThgb9wN4vLoUpg.BUUtWg.rg.FTN.0.AWUxZtUf

This is the content of the Facebook re-targeting cookie, which is used to target ads-are-you based on your mobile browsing.

Though it may not be obvious, each of these keys is associated with a wealth of our personal behaviour data: every website we’ve been to, many things we’ve bought in physical stores, and every app we’ve used and what we did there … The biggest thing going on in marketing right now, what is generating tens of billions of dollars in investment and endless scheming inside the bowels of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, is how to tie these different sets of names together, and who controls the links. That’s it.

Facebook already had a huge amount of information about people and their social networks and their professed likes and dislikes.​2 After waking up to the importance of monetisation, they added to their own data a huge new store of data about offline, real-world behaviour, acquired through partnerships with big companies such as Experian, which have been monitoring consumer purchases for decades via their relationships with direct marketing firms, credit card companies, and retailers. There doesn’t seem to be a one-word description of these firms: ‘consumer credit agencies’ or something similar about sums it up. Their reach is much broader than that makes it sound, though.​3 Experian says its data is based on more than 850 million records and claims to have information on 49.7 million UK adults living in 25.2 million households in 1.73 million postcodes. These firms know all there is to know about your name and address, your income and level of education, your relationship status, plus everywhere you’ve ever paid for anything with a card. Facebook could now put your identity together with the unique device identifier on your phone.

That was crucial to Facebook’s new profitability. On mobiles, people tend to prefer the internet to apps, which corral the information they gather and don’t share it with other companies. A game app on your phone is unlikely to know anything about you except the level you’ve got to on that particular game. But because everyone in the world is on Facebook, the company knows everyone’s phone identifier. It was now able to set up an ad server delivering far better targeted mobile ads than anyone else could manage, and it did so in a more elegant and well-integrated form than anyone else had managed.

So Facebook knows your phone ID and can add it to your Facebook ID. It puts that together with the rest of your online activity: not just every site you’ve ever visited, but every click you’ve ever made – the Facebook button tracks every Facebook user, whether they click on it or not. Since the Facebook button is pretty much ubiquitous on the net, this means that Facebook sees you, everywhere. Now, thanks to its partnerships with the old-school credit firms, Facebook knew who everybody was, where they lived, and everything they’d ever bought with plastic in a real-world offline shop.​4 All this information is used for a purpose which is, in the final analysis, profoundly bathetic. It is to sell you things via online ads.

The ads work on two models. In one of them, advertisers ask Facebook to target consumers from a particular demographic – our thirty-something bourbon-drinking country music fan, or our African American in Philadelphia who was lukewarm about Hillary. But Facebook also delivers ads via a process of online auctions, which happen in real time whenever you click on a website. Because every website you’ve ever visited (more or less) has planted a cookie on your web browser, when you go to a new site, there is a real-time auction, in millionths of a second, to decide what your eyeballs are worth and what ads should be served to them, based on what your interests, and income level and whatnot, are known to be. This is the reason ads have that disconcerting tendency to follow you around, so that you look at a new telly or a pair of shoes or a holiday destination, and they’re still turning up on every site you visit weeks later. This was how, by chucking talent and resources at the problem, Facebook was able to turn mobile from a potential revenue disaster to a great hot steamy geyser of profit.

What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does – ‘connect’, ‘build communities’ – and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.

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I’m left wondering what will happen when and if this $450 billion penny drops. Wu’s history of attention merchants shows that there is a suggestive pattern here: that a boom is more often than not followed by a backlash, that a period of explosive growth triggers a public and sometimes legislative reaction. Wu’s first example is the draconian anti-poster laws introduced in early 20th-century Paris (and still in force – one reason the city is by contemporary standards undisfigured by ads). As Wu says, ‘when the commodity in question is access to people’s minds, the perpetual quest for growth ensures that forms of backlash, both major and minor, are all but inevitable.’ Wu calls a minor form of this phenomenon the ‘disenchantment effect’.

Facebook seems vulnerable to these disenchantment effects. One place they are likely to begin is in the core area of its business model – ad-selling. The advertising it sells is ‘programmatic’, i.e. determined by computer algorithms that match the customer to the advertiser and deliver ads accordingly, via targeting and/or online auctions. The problem with this from the customer’s point of view – remember, the customer here is the advertiser, not the Facebook user – is that a lot of the clicks on these ads are fake. There is a mismatch of interests here. Facebook wants clicks, because that’s how it gets paid: when ads are clicked on. But what if the clicks aren’t real but are instead automated clicks from fake accounts run by computer bots? This is a well-known problem, which particularly affects Google, because it’s easy to set up a site, allow it to host programmatic ads, then set up a bot to click on those ads, and collect the money that comes rolling in. On Facebook the fraudulent clicks are more likely to be from competitors trying to drive each others’ costs up.

The industry publication Ad Week estimates the annual cost of click fraud at $7 billion, about a sixth of the entire market. One single fraud site, Methbot, whose existence was exposed at the end of last year, uses a network of hacked computers to generate between three and five million dollars’ worth of fraudulent clicks every day. Estimates of fraudulent traffic’s market share are variable, with some guesses coming in at around 50 per cent; some website owners say their own data indicates a fraudulent-click rate of 90 per cent. This is by no means entirely Facebook’s problem, but it isn’t hard to imagine how it could lead to a big revolt against ‘ad tech’, as this technology is generally known, on the part of the companies who are paying for it. I’ve heard academics in the field say that there is a form of corporate groupthink in the world of the big buyers of advertising, who are currently responsible for directing large parts of their budgets towards Facebook. That mindset could change. Also, many of Facebook’s metrics are tilted to catch the light at the angle which makes them look shiniest. A video is counted as ‘viewed’ on Facebook if it runs for three seconds, even if the user is scrolling past it in her news feed and even if the sound is off. Many Facebook videos with hundreds of thousands of ‘views’, if counted by the techniques that are used to count television audiences, would have no viewers at all.

A customers’ revolt could overlap with a backlash from regulators and governments. Google and Facebook have what amounts to a monopoly on digital advertising. That monopoly power is becoming more and more important as advertising spend migrates online. Between them, they have already destroyed large sections of the newspaper industry. Facebook has done a huge amount to lower the quality of public debate and to ensure that it is easier than ever before to tell what Hitler approvingly called ‘big lies’ and broadcast them to a big audience. The company has no business need to care about that, but it is the kind of issue that could attract the attention of regulators.

That isn’t the only external threat to the Google/Facebook duopoly. The US attitude to anti-trust law was shaped by Robert Bork, the judge whom Reagan nominated for the Supreme Court but the Senate failed to confirm. Bork’s most influential legal stance came in the area of competition law. He promulgated the doctrine that the only form of anti-competitive action which matters concerns the prices paid by consumers. His idea was that if the price is falling that means the market is working, and no questions of monopoly need be addressed. This philosophy still shapes regulatory attitudes in the US and it’s the reason Amazon, for instance, has been left alone by regulators despite the manifestly monopolistic position it holds in the world of online retail, books especially.

The big internet enterprises seem invulnerable on these narrow grounds. Or they do until you consider the question of individualised pricing. The huge data trail we all leave behind as we move around the internet is increasingly used to target us with prices which aren’t like the tags attached to goods in a shop. On the contrary, they are dynamic, moving with our perceived ability to pay.​5 Four researchers based in Spain studied the phenomenon by creating automated personas to behave as if, in one case, ‘budget conscious’ and in another ‘affluent’, and then checking to see if their different behaviour led to different prices. It did: a search for headphones returned a set of results which were on average four times more expensive for the affluent persona. An airline-ticket discount site charged higher fares to the affluent consumer. In general, the location of the searcher caused prices to vary by as much as 166 per cent. So in short, yes, personalised prices are a thing, and the ability to create them depends on tracking us across the internet. That seems to me a prima facie violation of the American post-Bork monopoly laws, focused as they are entirely on price. It’s sort of funny, and also sort of grotesque, that an unprecedentedly huge apparatus of consumer surveillance is fine, apparently, but an unprecedentedly huge apparatus of consumer surveillance which results in some people paying higher prices may well be illegal.

Perhaps the biggest potential threat to Facebook is that its users might go off it. Two billion monthly active users is a lot of people, and the ‘network effects’ – the scale of the connectivity – are, obviously, extraordinary. But there are other internet companies which connect people on the same scale – Snapchat has 166 million daily users, Twitter 328 million monthly users – and as we’ve seen in the disappearance of Myspace, the onetime leader in social media, when people change their minds about a service, they can go off it hard and fast.

For that reason, were it to be generally understood that Facebook’s business model is based on surveillance, the company would be in danger. The one time Facebook did poll its users about the surveillance model was in 2011, when it proposed a change to its terms and conditions – the change that underpins the current template for its use of data. The result of the poll was clear: 90 per cent of the vote was against the changes. Facebook went ahead and made them anyway, on the grounds that so few people had voted. No surprise there, neither in the users’ distaste for surveillance nor in the company’s indifference to that distaste. But this is something which could change.

The other thing that could happen at the level of individual users is that people stop using Facebook because it makes them unhappy. This isn’t the same issue as the scandal in 2014 when it turned out that social scientists at the company had deliberately manipulated some people’s news feeds to see what effect, if any, it had on their emotions. The resulting paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was a study of ‘social contagion’, or the transfer of emotion among groups of people, as a result of a change in the nature of the stories seen by 689,003 users of Facebook. ‘When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.’ The scientists seem not to have considered how this information would be received, and the story played quite big for a while.

Perhaps the fact that people already knew this story accidentally deflected attention from what should have been a bigger scandal, exposed earlier this year in a paper from the American Journal of Epidemiology. The paper was titled ‘Association of Facebook Use with Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study’. The researchers found quite simply that the more people use Facebook, the more unhappy they are. A 1 per cent increase in ‘likes’ and clicks and status updates was correlated with a 5 to 8 per cent decrease in mental health. In addition, they found that the positive effect of real-world interactions, which enhance well-being, was accurately paralleled by the ‘negative associations of Facebook use’. In effect people were swapping real relationships which made them feel good for time on Facebook which made them feel bad. That’s my gloss rather than that of the scientists, who take the trouble to make it clear that this is a correlation rather than a definite causal relationship, but they did go so far – unusually far – as to say that the data ‘suggests a possible trade-off between offline and online relationships’. This isn’t the first time something like this effect has been found. To sum up: there is a lot of research showing that Facebook makes people feel like shit. So maybe, one day, people will stop using it.​6

*

What, though, if none of the above happens? What if advertisers don’t rebel, governments don’t act, users don’t quit, and the good ship Zuckerberg and all who sail in her continues blithely on? We should look again at that figure of two billion monthly active users. The total number of people who have any access to the internet – as broadly defined as possible, to include the slowest dial-up speeds and creakiest developing-world mobile service, as well as people who have access but don’t use it – is three and a half billion. Of those, about 750 million are in China and Iran, which block Facebook. Russians, about a hundred million of whom are on the net, tend not to use Facebook because they prefer their native copycat site VKontakte. So put the potential audience for the site at 2.6 billion. In developed countries where Facebook has been present for years, use of the site peaks at about 75 per cent of the population (that’s in the US). That would imply a total potential audience for Facebook of 1.95 billion. At two billion monthly active users, Facebook has already gone past that number, and is running out of connected humans. Martínez compares Zuckerberg to Alexander the Great, weeping because he has no more worlds to conquer. Perhaps this is one reason for the early signals Zuck has sent about running for president – the fifty-state pretending-to-give-a-shit tour, the thoughtful-listening pose he’s photographed in while sharing milkshakes in (Presidential Ambitions klaxon!) an Iowa diner.

Whatever comes next will take us back to those two pillars of the company, growth and monetisation. Growth can only come from connecting new areas of the planet. An early experiment came in the form of Free Basics, a program offering internet connectivity to remote villages in India, with the proviso that the range of sites on offer should be controlled by Facebook. ‘Who could possibly be against this?’ Zuckerberg wrote in the Times of India. The answer: lots and lots of angry Indians. The government ruled that Facebook shouldn’t be able to ‘shape users’ internet experience’ by restricting access to the broader internet. A Facebook board member tweeted that ‘anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?’ As Taplin points out, that remark ‘unwittingly revealed a previously unspoken truth: Facebook and Google are the new colonial powers.’

So the growth side of the equation is not without its challenges, technological as well as political. Google (which has a similar running-out-of-humans problem) is working on ‘Project Loon’, ‘a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space, designed to extend internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide’. Facebook is working on a project involving a solar-powered drone called the Aquila, which has the wingspan of a commercial airliner, weighs less than a car, and when cruising uses less energy than a microwave oven. The idea is that it will circle remote, currently unconnected areas of the planet, for flights that last as long as three months at a time. It connects users via laser and was developed in Bridgwater, Somerset. (Amazon’s drone programme is based in the UK too, near Cambridge. Our legal regime is pro-drone.) Even the most hardened Facebook sceptic has to be a little bit impressed by the ambition and energy. But the fact remains that the next two billion users are going to be hard to find.

That’s growth, which will mainly happen in the developing world. Here in the rich world, the focus is more on monetisation, and it’s in this area that I have to admit something which is probably already apparent. I am scared of Facebook. The company’s ambition, its ruthlessness, and its lack of a moral compass scare me. It goes back to that moment of its creation, Zuckerberg at his keyboard after a few drinks creating a website to compare people’s appearance, not for any real reason other than that he was able to do it. That’s the crucial thing about Facebook, the main thing which isn’t understood about its motivation: it does things because it can. Zuckerberg knows how to do something, and other people don’t, so he does it. Motivation of that type doesn’t work in the Hollywood version of life, so Aaron Sorkin had to give Zuck a motive to do with social aspiration and rejection. But that’s wrong, completely wrong. He isn’t motivated by that kind of garden-variety psychology. He does this because he can, and justifications about ‘connection’ and ‘community’ are ex post facto rationalisations. The drive is simpler and more basic. That’s why the impulse to growth has been so fundamental to the company, which is in many respects more like a virus than it is like a business. Grow and multiply and monetise. Why? There is no why. Because.

Automation and artificial intelligence are going to have a big impact in all kinds of worlds. These technologies are new and real and they are coming soon. Facebook is deeply interested in these trends. We don’t know where this is going, we don’t know what the social costs and consequences will be, we don’t know what will be the next area of life to be hollowed out, the next business model to be destroyed, the next company to go the way of Polaroid or the next business to go the way of journalism or the next set of tools and techniques to become available to the people who used Facebook to manipulate the elections of 2016. We just don’t know what’s next, but we know it’s likely to be consequential, and that a big part will be played by the world’s biggest social network. On the evidence of Facebook’s actions so far, it’s impossible to face this prospect without unease.

144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MSM-DNC hiding Comey-Hillary story on: September 02, 2017, 02:41:34 PM
https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/scott-whitlock/2017/09/01/nets-censor-bombshell-comey-didnt-wait-facts-rescue-hillary


Nets Censor Bombshell That Comey Didn’t Wait for Facts to Rescue Hillary
  
By Scott Whitlock | September 1, 2017 11:53 AM EDT

Conclusion first, facts second. That, allegedly, was the mentality of ex-FBI Director James Comey in dealing with Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal. Yet this revelation was ignored by ABC, CBS and NBC on Thursday and Friday. Comey, who was fired by Donald Trump in May, decided against criminal charges of Hillary Clinton before 17 interviews of witnesses were even complete. Fox News, MSNBC and CNN all highlighted the story.

Yet, despite a combined nine and a half hours of air time on Thursday night and Friday morning, the networks couldn’t be bothered. To be clear, the reason for ignoring this damning development WASN’T Hurricane Harvey. That natural disaster (deservedly so) garnered a lot of coverage.


But NBC’s Today, a four hour program, on Friday devoted four minutes and two seconds to finding the best new coffee maker. CBS This Morning looked at the future of Uber for three minutes and 53 seconds. (CBS News covered the story, but online.)  

ABC’s Good Morning America promoted “Force Friday” for two minutes and 17 seconds. Force Friday celebrates the release of new Star Wars toys. ABC is owned by Disney, the company that owns the sci-fi franchise. GMA made sure to tell viewers they could purchase toys on Walmart.com, a sponsor of the show. What was that journalists were saying about collusion and shady connections between powerful forces?  

Clearly, there was time for Comey on the networks.

Fox News Special Report host Bret Baier found the news to be a “fascinating development” and informed viewers: “Senate Republicans say they have evidence that then-FBI director James Comey came to his conclusions on the Clinton case long before all the facts were in about Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.”

Fox reporter Catherine Herridge explained:

According to senior Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI records indicate that former Director James Comey drafted a conclusion apparently exonerating Hillary Clinton the e-mail case two months before the investigation was over and before the FBI interviewed Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, IT specialist Brian Pagliano and Clinton herself. The FBI transcripts from interviews with two senior Comey aides are now coming to light after a records request from the Republican leaders on the Senate committee. They said it appears that in April or early May 2016, Comey had decided against criminal charges before 17 interviews were complete. Writing to the FBI, the Senators added, “Conclusion first, fact gathering second. That's no way to run investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard.” After he was fired by President Trump, Comey told Congress Loretta Lynch was the one who had politicized the e-mail case.
The ignoring of this twist in the Comey story is a contrast to the coverage of the ex-FBI Director’s congressional testimony. In June, excited CBS journalists touted, “historic” “history” that could shape U.S. “History.”

Thursday’s revelations were less historic, apparently.

A transcript of the FNC segment is below:



BRET BAIER: A fascinating twist tonight on the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. Senate Republicans say they have evidence that then-FBI director James Comey came to his conclusions on the Clinton case long before all the facts were in about Clinton’s mishandling of classified information. Chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge is here tonight to explain. Good evening, Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Well, thank you, Bret. According to senior Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI records indicate that former Director James Comey drafted a conclusion apparently exonerating Hillary Clinton the e-mail case two months before the investigation was over and before the FBI interviewed Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, IT specialist Brian Pagliano and Clinton herself. The FBI transcripts from interviews with two senior Comey aides are now coming to light after a records request from the Republican leaders on the Senate committee. They said it appears that in April or early May 2016, Comey had decided against criminal charges before 17 interviews were complete. Writing to the FBI, the Senators added, “Conclusion first, fact gathering second. That's no way to run investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard.” After he was fired by President Trump, Comey told Congress Loretta Lynch was the one who had politicized the e-mail case.

SENATOR RICHARD BURR: Was your decision influenced by the Attorney General’s tarmac meeting with the former President Bill Clinton?

JAMES COMEY: Yes, ultimately in a conclusive way.

BURR: Were there other things that contributed the you can describe in an open session?

COMEY: At one point, the Attorney General attorney general have your directive enough to call it an investigation but to instead call it a matter.

HERRIDGE: But the new time line shows that Comey was drafting his statement even before the tarmac meeting. This finding comes a day after the FBI said it denied request for Clinton e-mails citing a lack of interest. Bret?

145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 'Merica! on: September 01, 2017, 10:41:02 PM
https://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2017/08/31/merica-redneck-army-saves-natl-guard-video-from-texas-brought-to-attention-of-a-certain-cartoonist/

Has anyone ever been saved by a Prius? Ever?


146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India/Indian Ocean (and India-afpakia and India-China) on: September 01, 2017, 10:21:29 PM
I used to subscribe to Stratfor and was generally impressed with it, perhaps because I had no first hand knowledge of the topics they wrote about. Wrt India, since I know the subject matter somewhat, I find there writing quite superficial and also inaccurate. Not sure they have reporting strength on India. As an example:
"Control of Pakistan would help India meet two strategic objectives. The first is access to water resources from the Indus River Valley. The Indus River Valley lies in Chinese, Indian and Pakistani territory. From India’s point of view, control over Pakistan is necessary to ensure water and hydroelectricity to its northern cities." This is quite a misleading statement, infact India controls most of the river waters already and has been quite generous with giving Pak water as a lower riparian thro the Indus water treaty. Current thinking is that India should abrogate the treaty if Pak does not behave.


Your ground truth knowledge is very useful. Thanks.





147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comey is a corrupt scumbag, Part whatever on: September 01, 2017, 09:01:56 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371393.php

September 01, 2017

James Comey Told Congress He Didn't Make a Decision on Hillary Clinton Until After all Interviews, Despite Having Drawn Up Draft Exoneration Statement Months and Months Before
Straight-shooter. Wears a sheriff's star of pure gold alloyed with Resolute Integrity.

Also, a genuine Democrat Tool.

The new revelation that James Comey circulated a draft of a statement he wrote as FBI director exonerating Hillary Clinton in last year’s email investigation appears to be at odds with what he told a House panel last September.
“If colleagues of ours believe I am lying about when I made this decision, please urge them to contact me privately so we can have a conversation about this,” Comey said during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 28, 2016.

“All I can do is tell you again, the decision was made after that because I didn’t know what was going to happen in that interview,” he added.

That statement, which Politico flagged on Thursday, appears to conflict with the revelation on Thursday that two of Comey’s top aides at the FBI said in transcribed interviews last year that Comey circulated drafts clearing Clinton as early as last April, months before he actually publicly cleared the former secretary of state, who had been under investigation for mishandling classified information on her private email server.

Sean M. Davis had a good point yesterday on Twitter: If Comey had drafted his girl's Get Out of Jail Free pass in April, what the hell was he doing issuing immunity to all of Hillary's cronies before Fake-Interviewing them? Having fixed the outcome, was he now just making sure there were no witnesses left unimmunized who could disturb the fix?

148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN Host Takes Bullhorn and Whips Up Antifa Crowd; on: September 01, 2017, 04:09:42 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371382.php

CNN Host Takes Bullhorn and Whips Up Antifa Crowd;
CNN Refusing to Answer Questions About Incident
W. Kamau Bell hosts Perspectives, a community outreach program that runs from 4:15am to 4:25 am.

And he's now leading Antifa chants.

Tucker Carlson discussed this last night.

149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / former FBI agent battling Deputy Director said there is a 'cancer' inside FBI on: August 31, 2017, 09:18:23 PM
https://www.circa.com/story/2017/08/30/politics/former-fbi-agent-battling-deputy-director-mccabe-said-there-is-a-cancer-inside-the-fbi

A former FBI agent battling Deputy Director McCabe said there is a 'cancer' inside the FBI
 
By Sara A. Carter



When the FBI launched an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one of the bureau’s top former counterterrorism agents believed that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe would have to recuse himself from the investigation.

Former Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz was one of the bureau’s top intelligence analysts and terrorism experts but resigned from the bureau five years ago after she said she was harassed and her career was blocked by top FBI management. She filed a formal sexual discrimination complaint against the bureau in 2013 and it was Flynn, among many others, who publicly came to her aide.

In her first on-camera interview she described the retaliation from McCabe and others in the bureau as “vicious.”

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 11, 2017, while testifying before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A 16-year veteran with outstanding work performance reviews and accomplishments, Gritz alleges McCabe, along with other senior management, made it impossible for her to do her job and obstructed her ability to move up the ranks.

She eventually filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint [EEOC] in 2013 for sexual discrimination and a hostile work environment against McCabe and other superiors. In 2012 she received the only negative review in her career with the FBI, and it was conducted by the same supervisor she had named in her EEOC.

She told Circa, current senior level management, including McCabe, created a “cancer like” bureaucracy striking fear into FBI agents and causing others to resign. She eventually resigned herself, but her case is still pending.

“They’ve poisoned the 7th floor,” said Gritz, referring to the actual floor where management is housed in the FBI’s Hoover Building. “There’s a cancer there of a group of people. You’ve seen it with some of the recent reports of leaks, conflicts of interest, you see it in my case. The level of integrity is lacking. I have never seen or heard of the amount of conflicts of interest, or leading by fear.”

McCabe, who is under three separate federal inquiries, did not respond to requests for comment.

Gritz, who at the time of her official complaint was on detail to the CIA, did not fight her battle alone. Many senior U.S. government officials who had worked with her throughout her career defended her openly. One of her biggest supporters was Flynn, who then was the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as first reported by Circa.

Earlier this year, a highly-classified phone conversation between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was leaked to the press, prompting his removal as top national security advisor for President Trump. The classified leak and the fact that McCabe plays a central role in the Russia investigation has left Gritz deeply concerned for Flynn.

Five years later she’s waiting for resolution to her pending case and now she believes that those who retaliated against her, including McCabe, may have also retaliated against Flynn for his unwavering support for her. Flynn gave a rare interview to NPR in 2015 defending Gritz against McCabe.

“When I heard Michael Flynn was being brought under investigation, I wondered if they would go after him,” said Gritz, recalling the letter Flynn wrote on his Department of Defense stationary. “I still believe McCabe should have recused himself from the investigation into Flynn.”

Flynn had worked with Gritz extensively during her tenure on joint terrorism related assignments between the DOD and FBI wrote a letter on Pentagon stationary testifying to her character and work ethic. Other top military officials also wrote letters of testimony on behalf of Gritz, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. Keith Alexander and retired Navy Rear Admiral B. L. Losey, who served both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama as the White House’s National Security Council Director for Combatting Terrorism, according to documents obtained by Circa.

The FBI’s attorney tried to block testimony from her supporters, including Flynn’s letter, in 2014, memos obtained by Circa show.

“They couldn’t block the testimony,” said Gritz, who smiled as she recalled the judge reprimanding the FBI for trying to block the testimony.
FBI agents’ concerns became more pronounced when a highly-classified piece of evidence -- an intercepted conversation between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak -- suddenly leaked to the news media and prompted Flynn’s resignation as Trump’s top security adviser.

“He thought what had been done to me was totally wrong at a time when we need counterterrorism expertise—to push out someone he considered a rising star was unacceptable.”

She said when FBI agents requested to write letters on her behalf they were stopped by their supervisors and coworkers who wanted to defend her were fearful.

“You could say my name, walking down the hall and if one of them hears it you’re in trouble,” she said, referencing McCabe and his close colleagues.
In June, a Circa investigation revealed that two weeks after Gritz filed her EEOC complaint, McCabe referred her for an Office of Professional Responsibility investigation for timecard irregularities.

Although the FBI claimed they had filed their OPR investigation prior to Gritz’s EEOC, McCabe’s own sworn testimony painted a much different picture. Gritz’s case, which is still pending, was required McCabe to submit to a sworn statement. In his testimony he recounted a conversation on June 19, 2012 in which he authorized the OPR investigation of Gritz after one of his deputies told him she was about to file a complaint, as reported by Circa.

And McCabe is also challenged with an Office of Special Counsel investigation.

The embattled former agent filed a complaint in April, alleging McCabe violated the Hatch Act, as reported by Circa in June.

The OSC is the government’s main whistle blower agency. The Hatch Act prohibits FBI employees from engaging "in political activity in concert with a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group." McCabe appeared to be participating in his wife’s unsuccessful bid for Virginia State Senate in 2015, according to Gritz and documents obtained by Circa.

The Justice Department Inspector General investigation is also investigating McCabe after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, alleged McCabe may not have properly disclosed the roughly $700,000 in campaign contributions to his Democratic wife on his ethics report and should have recused himself from the Clinton server case.


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined at left by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, leads a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, on attempts to influence American elections, with a focus on Russian meddling in the last presidential race. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Gritz is hoping she will have resolution on her case soon but more importantly she said “I just want the bureau to get back to where it should be.”


As for McCabe, she said “I don’t feel that Andy McCabe was honest to me. The conflicts of interest many of agents see right away. A lot of agents, analysts, former, current, retired are appalled that if they did similar they would have already been fired or at least on leave without pay.”


Sara A. Carter is a national and international award-winning investigative reporter whose stories have ranged from national security, terrorism, immigration and front line coverage of the wars i...

150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comey started drafting statement exonerating Hillary Clinton before FBI intervie on: August 31, 2017, 09:05:26 PM
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/james-comey-started-drafting-statement-exonerating-hillary-clinton-before-fbi-interviewed-her-aides/article/2633095

James Comey started drafting statement exonerating Hillary Clinton before FBI interviewed her, aides
by Melissa Quinn | Aug 31, 2017, 1:40 PM 


Former FBI Director James Comey started to draft a statement exonerating Hillary Clinton in the bureau's investigation into her use of a private email server before the FBI interviewed her or her key witnesses, the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday.

"Conclusion first, fact-gathering second — that's no way to run an investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Judiciary Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a letter to the FBI.


The Judiciary Committee reviewed transcripts, which were heavily redacted, indicating Comey began drafting the exoneration statement in April or May 2016, before the FBI interviewed up to 17 key witnesses, including Clinton and some of her close aides.

Comey's work on the statement also came before the Justice Department entered into immunity agreements with Cheryl Mills, Clinton's chief of staff while she was Secretary of State, and Heather Samuelson, who served as the State Department's White House liaison.

Comey announced in July 2016 the FBI wouldn't recommend criminal charges against Clinton.

Democrats in Congress alleged last fall that Comey's actions in the FBI's investigation into Clinton's email use violated the Hatch Act, which caused the Office of Special Counsel to launch an investigation.

During its investigation, the Office of Special Counsel interviewed James Rybicki, Comey's chief of staff, and Trisha Anderson, the principal deputy general counsel of national security and cyberlaw, who were close to Comey at the FBI.

The Office of Special Counsel shared those interview transcripts at Grassley's urging after Comey was fired.

In their interview with Anderson, the Office of Special Counsel asked when she first learned Comey was planning to make a public statement about the Clinton investigation.


"I'm not entirely sure exactly when the idea of the public statement first emerged," Anderson said. "It was, I can't, I can't put a precise timeframe on it, but [redacted] ... And then I believe it was in early May of 2016 that the director himself wrote a draft of that statement."

In his interview, Rybicki told the Office of Special Counsel that Comey emailed several people in the spring "to say, you know, again knowing sort of where—knowing the direction the investigation is headed, right, what would be the most forward-leaning thing we could do."

When asked whether the Comey statement was drafted in either April or early May, before Clinton herself was interviewed by the FBI, Rybicki said that was correct.

In their letter to the FBI, Grassley and Graham requested drafts of Comey's statement closing the Clinton email investigation, including his initial draft from April or May and his final statement. The senators also asked for all records related to communications from FBI officials related to Comey's draft statement, and records provided to the Office of Special Counsel.

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