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Israeli Spyware Can Steal Private Data From Apple, Google, Facebook – Reports

Sputnik – July 20, 2019

Israel-based NSO Group became the focus of public attention this spring, when the media reported that its software products are being used to hack WhatsApp messenger, as well as spy on the owners of Android and iOS smartphones.

Spyware from NSO Group can obtain user data from Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft servers, according to an article in The Financial Times.

While NSO has consistently rejected any espionage or hacking allegations, the company has never denied the development of such technology, prompting many questions among experts.

According to the Financial Times, the infected smartphone provides NSO’s Pegasus software with authentication keys for Google Drive, Facebook Messenger and iCloud cloud services. With this technology, Pegasus manages to bypass two-step authentication and email notification.

Users are not notified of suspicious activity.

Some information security experts doubt the effectiveness of Pegasus, but representatives of Amazon and Facebook have already promised to investigate and strengthen the security measures of their cloud services, if necessary.

It was revealed in May that WhatsApp had been targeted by NSO, according to Forbes.

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How NeoCon Billionaire Paul Singer Is Driving the Outsourcing of US Tech Jobs to Israel

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | June 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — With nearly 6 million Americans unemployed and regular bouts of layoffs in the U.S. tech industry, major American tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Intel Corporation are nonetheless moving key operations, billions in investments, and thousands of jobs to Israel — a trend that has largely escaped media attention or concern from even “America first” politicians. The fact that this massive transfer of investment and jobs has been so overlooked is particularly striking given that it is largely the work of a single leading neoconservative Republican donor who has given millions of dollars to President Donald Trump.

To make matters worse, many of these top tech companies shifting investment and jobs to Israel at record rates continue to collect sizable U.S. government subsidies for their operations while they move critical aspects of their business abroad, continue to layoff thousands of American workers, and struggle to house their growing company branches in Israel. This is particularly troubling in light of the importance of the tech sector to the overall U.S. economy, as it accounts for 7.1 percent of total GDP and 11.6 percent of total private-sector payroll.

Furthermore, many of these companies are hiring members of controversial Israeli companies — known to have spied on Americans, American companies, and U.S. federal agencies — as well as numerous members of Israeli military intelligence as top managers and executives. 

This massive transfer of the American tech industry has largely been the work of one leading Republican donor — billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who also funds the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Islamophobic and hawkish think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), and also funded the now-defunct Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).

Singer’s project to bolster Israel’s tech economy at the U.S.’ expense is known as Start-Up Nation Central, which he founded in response to the global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to use nonviolent means to pressure Israel to comply with international law in relation to its treatment of Palestinians.

This project is directly linked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in recent years has publicly mentioned that it has been his “deliberate policy” to have former members of Israel’s “military and intelligence units … merge into companies with local partners and foreign partners” in order to make it all but impossible for major corporations and foreign governments to boycott Israel.

In this report, MintPress identifies dozens of former members of an elite Israeli military intelligence unit who now hold top positions at Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

Singer’s nonprofit organization has acted as the vehicle through which Netanyahu’s policy has been realized, via the group’s close connections to the Israeli PM and Singer’s long-time support for Netanyahu and the Likud Party. With deep ties to Netanyahu, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and controversial tech companies — like Amdocs — that spied on the American government, this Singer-funded organization has formed a nexus of connections between the public and private sectors of both the American and Israeli economies with the single goal of making Israel the new technology superpower, largely at the expense of the American economy and government, which currently gives $3.2 billion in aid to Israel annually.

Researched and developed in Israel

In recent years, the top U.S. tech companies have been shifting many of their most critical operations, particularly research and development, to one country: Israel. A 2016 report in Business Insider noted that Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple had all opened up research and development (R&D) centers in recent years, with some of them having as many as three such centers in Israel, a country roughly the size of New Jersey. Other major tech companies that have also opened key operation and research centers in Israel include Sandisk, Nvidia, PayPal, Palantir and Dell. Forbes noted last year that the world’s top 10 tech companies were now “doing mission-critical work in Israel that’s core to their businesses back at HQ.”

Yet, some of these tech giants, particularly those based in the U.S., are heavily investing in their Israeli branches while laying off thousands of American employees, all while receiving millions of dollars in U.S. government subsidies funded by American taxpayers.

For example, Intel Corporation, which is the world’s second largest manufacturer of semiconductor computer chips and is headquartered in California, has long been a major employer in Israel, with over 10,000 employees in the Jewish state. However, earlier this year, Intel announced that it would be investing $11 billion in a new factory in Israel and would receive around $1 billion in an Israeli government grant for that investment. Just a matter of months after Intel announced its major new investment in Israel, it announced a new round of layoffs in the United States.

Yet this is just one recent example of what has become a trend for Intel. In 2018, Intel made public its plan to invest $5 billion in one of its Israeli factories and had invested an additional $15 billion in Israeli-created autonomous driving technology a year prior, creating thousands of Intel jobs in Israel. Notably, over that same time frame, Intel has cut nearly 12,000 jobs in the United States. While this great transfer of investment and jobs was undermining the U.S. economy and hurting American workers, particularly in the tech sector, Intel received over $25 million dollars in subsidies from the U.S. federal government.

A similar phenomenon has been occurring at another U.S.-based tech giant, Microsoft. Beginning in 2014 and continuing into 2018, Microsoft has laid off well over 20,000 employees, most of them Americans, in several different rounds of staff cuts. Over that same time period, Microsoft has been on a hiring spree in Israel, building new campuses and investing billions of dollars annually in its Israel-based research and development center and in other Israeli start-up companies, creating thousands of jobs abroad. In addition, Microsoft has been pumping millions of dollars into technology programs at Israeli universities and institutes, such as the Technion Institute. Over this same time frame, Microsoft has received nearly $197 million in subsidies from the state governments of Washington, Iowa and Virginia.

Though Israeli politicians and tech company executives have praised this dramatic shift as the result of Israel’s tech prowess and growing reputation as a technological innovation hub, much of this dramatic shift has been the work of the Netanyahu-tied Singer’s effort to counter a global movement aimed at boycotting Israel and to make Israel a global “cyber power.”

Start-Up Nation Central and the Neocons

In 2009, a book titled Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, written by American neoconservative Dan Senor and Jerusalem Post journalist Saul Singer (unrelated to Paul), quickly rose to the New York Times bestseller list for its depiction of Israel as the tech start-up capital of the world. The book — published by the Council on Foreign Relations, where Senor was then serving as Adjunct Senior Fellow — asserts that Israel’s success in producing so many start-up companies resulted from the combination of its liberal immigration laws and its “leverage of the business talents of young people with military experience.”

“The West needs innovation; Israel’s got it,” wrote Senor and Singer. In a post-publication interview with the blog Freakonomics, Senor asserted that service in the Israeli military was crucial to Israel’s tech sector success, stating that:

“Certain units have become technology boot camps, where 18- to 22-year-olds get thrown projects and missions that would make the heads spin of their counterparts in universities or the private sector anywhere else in the world. The Israelis come out of the military not just with hands-on exposure to next-gen technology, but with training in teamwork, mission orientation, leadership, and a desire to continue serving their country by contributing to its tech sector — a source of pride for just about every Israeli.”

The book, in addition to the many accolades it received from the mainstream press, left a lasting impact on top Republican donor Paul Singer, known for funding the most influential neoconservative think tanks in America, as noted above. Paul Singer was so inspired by Senor and Singer’s book that he decided to spend $20 million to fund and create an organization with a similar name. He created the Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC) just three years after the book’s release in 2012.

To achieve his vision, Singer – who is also a top donor to the Republican Party and Trump – tapped Israeli economist Eugene Kandel, who served as Netanyahu’s national economic adviser and chaired the Israeli National Economic Council from 2009 to 2015.

Senor was likely directly involved in the creation of SUNC, as he was then employed by Paul Singer and, with neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, co-founded the FPI, which Singer had long funded before it closed in 2017. In addition, Dan Senor’s sister, Wendy Singer (unrelated to either Paul or Saul), long-time director of Israel’s AIPAC office, became the organization’s executive director.

SUNC’s management team, in addition to Eugene Kandel and Wendy Singer, includes Guy Hilton as the organization’s general manager. Hilton is a long-time marketing executive at Israeli telecommunications company Amdocs, where he “transformed” the company’s marketing organization. Amdocs was once highly controversial in the United States after it was revealed by a 2001 Fox News investigation that numerous federal agencies had investigated the company, which then had contracts with the 25 largest telephone companies in the country, for its alleged role in an aggressive espionage operation that targeted the U.S. government. Hilton worked at Microsoft prior to joining Amdocs.

Beyond the management team, SUNC’s board of directors includes Paul Singer, Dan Senor and Terry Kassel — who work for Singer at his hedge fund, Elliott Management — and Rapheal Ouzan. Ouzan was an officer in the elite foreign military intelligence unit of Israel, Unit 8200, who co-founded BillGuard the day after he left that unit, which is often compared to the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA). Within five months of its founding, BillGuard was backed by funding from PayPal founder Peter Thiel and former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt. Ouzan is also connected to U.S. tech companies that have greatly expanded their Israeli branches since SUNC’s founding — such as Microsoft, Google, PayPal and Intel, all of which support Ouzan’s non-profit Israel Tech Challenge.

According to reports from the time published in Haaretz and Bloomberg, SUNC was explicitly founded to serve as “a foreign ministry for Israel’s tech industry” and “to strength Israel’s economy” while also aiming to counter the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to use a nonviolent boycott to end the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Israeli apartheid, as well as the growth of illegal Jewish-only settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

Since its founding, SUNC has sought to transfer tech jobs from foreign companies to Israel by developing connections and influence with foreign governments and companies so that they “deepen their relationship with Israel’s tech industry.” Though SUNC has since expanded to include other sectors of the Israeli “start-up” economy, its focus has long remained on Israel’s tech, specifically its cybersecurity industry. Foreign investment in this single Israeli industry has grown from $227 million in 2014 to $815 million in 2018.

In addition to its own activities, SUNC appears to be closely linked to a similar organization, sponsored by Coca Cola and Daimler Mercedes Benz, called The Bridge, which also seeks to connect Israeli start-up companies with large international corporations. Indeed, SUNC, according to its website, was actually responsible for Daimler Mercedes Benz’s decision to join The Bridge, thanks to a delegation from the company that SUNC hosted in Israel and the connections made during that visit.

Teaming up with Israel’s Unit 8200

Members of Israel’s signals intelligence Unit 8200 work under a Saudi flag. Photo | Moti Milrod

Notably, SUNC has deep ties to Israel’s military intelligence unit known as Unit 8200 and, true to Start Up Nation’s praise of IDF service as key to Israel’s success, has been instrumental in connecting Unit 8200 alumni with key roles in foreign companies, particularly American tech companies. For instance, Maty Zwaig, a former lieutenant colonel in Unit 8200, is SUNC’s current director of human capital programs, and SUNC’s current manager of strategic programs, Tamar Weiss, is also a former member of the unit.

One particularly glaring connection between SUNC and Unit 8200 can be seen in Inbal Arieli, who served as SUNC’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships from 2014 to 2017 and continues to serve as a senior adviser to the organization. Arieli, a former lieutenant in Unit 8200, is the founder and head of the 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP), which was the first start-up accelerator in Israel aimed at harnessing “the vast network and entrepreneurial DNA of [Unit] 8200 alumni” and is currently one of the top company accelerators in Israel. Arieli was the top executive at 8200 EISP while working at SUNC.

Another key connection between SUNC and Unit 8200 is SUNC’s promotion of Team8, a company-creation platform whose CEO and co-founder is Nadav Zafrir, former commander of Unit 8200. In addition to prominently featuring Team8 and Zafrir on the cybersecurity section of its website, SUNC also sponsored a talk by Zafrir and an Israeli government economist at the World Economic Forum, often referred to as “Davos,” that was attended personally by Paul Singer.

Team8’s investors include Google’s Eric Schmidt, Microsoft, and Walmart — and it recently hired former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, retired Admiral Mike Rogers. Team8 described the decision to hire Rogers as being “instrumental in helping strategize” Team8’s expansion in the United States. However, Jake Williams, a veteran of NSA’s Tailored Access Operations hacking unit, told CyberScoop:

“Rogers is not being brought into this role because of his technical experience. … It’s purely because of his knowledge of classified operations and his ability to influence many in the U.S. government and private-sector contractors.”

In addition to connections to Unit 8200-linked groups like Team8 and 8200 EISP, SUNC also directly collaborates with the IDF in an initiative aimed at preparing young Israeli women to serve in Unit 8200. That initiative, called the CyberGirlz Club, is jointly funded by Israel’s Defense Ministry, SUNC and the Rashi Foundation, the philanthropic organization set up by the Leven family of Perrier-brand water, which has close ties to the Israeli government and IDF.

“Our aim is to bring the girls to this process already skilled, with the knowledge needed to pass the exams for Unit 8200 and serve in the military as programmers,” Zwaig told Israel National News.

Seeding American tech

The connections between SUNC and Unit 8200 are troubling for more than a few reasons, one of which being that Unit 8200, often likened to the U.S.’ NSA, closely coordinates with Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, and is responsible for 90 percent of the intelligence material obtained by the Israeli government, according to its former commander Yair Cohen. Cohen told Forbes in 2016, that “there isn’t a major operation, from the Mossad or any intelligence security agency, that 8200 is not involved in.” For obvious reasons, the fact that an organization founded by an American billionaire is actively promoting the presence of former military intelligence officers in foreign companies, specifically American companies, while also promoting the transfer of jobs and investment to that same country, is very troubling indeed.

Particularly troubling is the fact that, since SUNC’s founding, the number of former Unit 8200 members in top positions in American tech companies has skyrocketed. Based on a non-exhaustive analysis conducted by Mintpress of over 200 LinkedIn accounts of former Israeli military intelligence and intelligence officers in three major tech companies, numerous former Unit 8200 alumni were found to currently hold top managerial or executive positions in Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

At Microsoft, managers for at least 15 of the company’s products and programs — including Microsoft’s lead managers for engineering, product strategy, threat analytics and cloud business intelligence — publicly listed their affiliation with Unit 8200 on their LinkedIn accounts. In addition, the general manager of Microsoft’s Israeli Research and Development Center is also a former member of Unit 8200. In total, of the 200 accounts analyzed, 50 of them currently worked for Microsoft.

Similarly, at Google, 28 former Unit 8200 members at the company were identified from their LinkedIn accounts. Among them are Google’s Engineering Director, its strategic partner manager, two growth marketing leads, its lead technical manager, and six product and program managers, including Google’s manager for trust and safety search.

Facebook also has several Unit 8200 members in prominent positions, though fewer than Google and Microsoft. MintPress identified at least 13 Unit 8200 alumni working for Facebook, including its director of engineering, lead manager for express wi-fi, and technical program manager. Notably, Facebook has spent the last several years collaborating with Israel’s government to censor Israel’s critics.

Of course, there is likely much more influence of Unit 8200 on these companies than this non-exhaustive analysis revealed, given that many of these companies acquired several Israeli start-ups run by and staffed by many Unit 8200 alumni who subsequently went on to found new companies and start-ups a few years or shortly after acquisition. Furthermore, due to the limitations of LinkedIn’s set-up, MintPress was not able to access the complete list of Unit 8200 alumni at these three tech companies, meaning that the eye-opening numbers found were generated by a relatively small sample.

This jump in Unit 8200 members in top positions in tech companies of global importance is actually a policy long promoted by Netanyahu, whose long-time economic adviser is the chief executive at SUNC. During an interview with Fox News last year, Netanyahu was asked by Fox News host Mark Levin if the large growth seen in recent years in Israel’s technology sector was part of Netanyahu’s plan. Netanyahu responded, “That’s very much my plan … It’s a very deliberate policy.” He later added that “Israel had technology because the military, especially military intelligence, produced a lot of capabilities. These incredibly gifted young men and women who come out of the military or the Mossad, they want to start their start-ups.”

Netanyahu further outlined this policy at the 2019 Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv, where he stated that Israel’s emergence as one of the top five “cyber powers” had “required allowing this combination of military intelligence, academia and industry to converge in one place” and that this further required allowing “our graduates of our military and intelligence units to merge into companies with local partners and foreign partners.” The direct tie-ins of SUNC to Netanyahu and the fact that Paul Singer has also been a long-time political donor and backer of Netanyahu suggest that SUNC is a key part of Netanyahu’s policy of placing former military intelligence and intelligence operatives in strategic positions in major technology companies.

Notably, just as SUNC was founded to counter the BDS movement, Netanyahu has asserted that this policy of ensuring Israel’s role as a “cyber power” is aimed at increasing its diplomatic power and specifically undermining BDS as well as the United Nations, which has repeatedly condemned Israel’s government for war crimes and violations of international law in relation to the Palestinians.

Building the bi-national surveillance state

Top U.S. tech companies have filled top positions with former members of Israeli military intelligence and moved strategic and critical operations to Israel, boosting Israel’s economy at the expense of America’s, and SUNC’s role in this marked shift merits scrutiny.

A powerful American billionaire has built an influential organization with deep connections to the U.S.-Israel lobby (AIPAC), an Israeli company that has been repeatedly investigated for spying on the U.S. government (Amdocs), and the elite Israeli military intelligence unit (Unit 8200) that has used its influential connections to the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector to dramatically shift the operations and make-up of major companies in a critical sector of the U.S. economy.

Further consider that U.S. government documents leaked by Edward Snowden have flagged Israel as “leading threat” to the infrastructure of U.S. financial and banking institutions, which use much of the software produced by these top tech companies, and have also flagged Israel as a top espionage threat. One U.S. government document cited Israel as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the U.S. behind Russia and China. Thus, Paul Singer’s pet project in Start-Up Nation Central has undermined not only the U.S. economy but arguably U.S. national security as well.

This concern is further exacerbated by the deep ties connecting top tech companies like Microsoft and Google to the U.S. military. Microsoft and Google are both key military contractors — Microsoft in particular, given that it is set to win a lucrative contract for the Pentagon’s cloud management and has partnered with the Department of Defense to produce a “secure” election system known as ElectionGuard that is set to be implemented in some U.S. states for the 2020 general election.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sniper-killing journalist game pulled after outcry over ‘Breaking News’ mission

RT | May 19, 2019

A popular sniper-mission video game encouraging players to assassinate a journalist has been pulled by its developer after media reports exposed the controversial shooting scene.

‘Sniper 3D Assassin’ was a free game on Apple devices as well as gaming platform Steam, and was available on Amazon, Google and Microsoft app stores.

New York Times journalist Jamal Jordan tweeted about the journalist killing mission after his nephew showed him the game.

The ‘Breaking News’ mission tells players to make a journalist “famous in a different way,” by shooting them after they receive documents from a police officer. When the mission ends, the screen reads, “That’s a cover story.”

Revelations about the journalist murder mission game were received with horror on Twitter, especially by media workers.

Developers from TFG Co. pulled the game after it was contacted by the HuffPost, insisting it had been “fictional” and intended for “mature audiences.”

“At TFG, we work to create games that bring fun and entertainment to users all around the world,” CTO Mac-Vicar said. “As such, we take feedback from our players very seriously. After listening to our community today, we have decided to remove the mission ‘Breaking News’ from the game.”

The game was released in 2014 and had 10 million downloads in its first month. At one stage in 2016 it was the most downloaded game on Apple’s App Store.

May 19, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Banned by Amazon and Purged by the Neocons

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • March 26, 2019

Over the last decade, Amazon has gained a near-total monopoly over Internet book sales, and late last month, we saw the dangerous consequences of such intellectual control as the company suddenly banned dozens of books, many of them of excellent scholarly quality. Apparently, activist organizations such as the ADL and the SPLC had succeeded in pressuring the company to ban those works to avoid any risk that American readers might become “confused” on certain controversial historical matters.

In an extremely ironic twist, several outstanding works of black historiography were banned at the height of Black History Month, presumably because they provided a far more complex and nuanced view of the historical relations between blacks and Jews than the ADL and those in its orbit have long promoted. In particular, one of the volumes published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, which I had only discovered and read last year, seemed to conclusively demonstrate that the circumstances of the ADL’s own establishment a century ago were almost exactly contrary to what I had long believed based upon my standard history books.

Clearly, the ADL was loath to have others discover these same facts, and must be pleased that Amazon has now banned the work in question. I covered this and the various other Amazon book banning in a lengthy article a couple of weeks ago.

Although various people have discussed plans aimed at pressuring Amazon to retract its policy and I have even provided them some suggestions in that regard, it is not at all clear whether a company with a market value of nearly $900 billion will be swayed by a few intellectual malcontents. Indeed, the far greater likelihood is that large numbers of additional books will eventually be “disappeared.”

This small webzine was founded with a mission of providing “interesting, important, and controversial perspectives largely excluded from the American mainstream media.” Therefore, it seems natural to extend this policy to cover books, and I have now added a new Bookstore Section, allowing interested readers to browse and order those texts that Amazon has banned, in most cases directly from the websites of the particular publisher. As a start, I have stocked it with the hundred-odd books banned by Amazon but still available elsewhere on the Internet.

A half-century ago in a totally different America, publishers sometimes trumpeted the fact that their books had been “Banned in Boston,” which vastly increased their sales in many other parts of the country. Since past sales of the banned books had hardly been great, it seems not impossible that the notoriety associated with their removal might actually boost their visibility and purchase sufficiently to render the policy counter-productive.

After all, Amazon eagerly sells many millions of books these days, including Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, and how-to manuals for producing homemade explosives to be used in domestic terrorist attacks. Yet the hundred-odd books now provided in my new system are apparently believed to contain ideas so horrifically dangerous that Amazon has chosen to violate its longstanding policy of intellectual freedom and ban them. Perhaps you should consider purchasing a couple of them and deciding for yourself.

I’m only familiar with a small fraction of the banned books, but can highly recommend the following half dozen:

The works provided in this Bookstore section may be filtered based on Topic, Author, or Period, and the first of these criteria may provide some intriguing clues as to why they were selected for elimination from among Amazon’s endless millions, along with suggestions of the source of the pressure. George Orwell famously observed that those who control the past control the future, and those who control the present control the past. Therefore, we should hardly be surprised that the overwhelming majority of the banned books fall into the category of scholarly texts dealing with important historical events.

More than two-thirds of the books focus on the subject of “Jews” and over half deal with the Holocaust in particular. Indeed, it appears that the Amazon ban now now encompasses virtually all Holocaust books that substantially deviate from the orthodox framework promoted by the ADL and its allies, which is currently enforced by the threat of fines and prison sentences throughout most of Europe. These include several of the texts I had relied upon for my long 2018 article American Pravda: Holocaust Denial, but which I had fortunately purchased at Amazon before they were banned.

Aside from now providing convenient access to what the Amazon Corporation officially ranks as the hundred most dangerous books in the history of the world, I’m also pleased to be able to resurrect the collected writings of a very prominent conservative writer and intellectual purged from National Review nearly thirty years ago, during the early stages of the Neocon takeover of the conservative movement.

Although the name of Joseph Sobran may be somewhat unfamiliar to younger conservatives, during the 1970s and 1980s he possibly ranked second only to founder William F. Buckley, Jr. in this influence in mainstream conservative circles, as partly suggested by the nearly 400 articles he published for NR during that period. By the late 1980s, he had grown increasingly concerned that growing Neocon influence would embroil America in future foreign wars, and his occasional sharp statements in that regard were branded “anti-Semitic” by his Neocon opponents, who eventually prevailed upon Buckley to purge him. The latter provided the particulars in a major section of his 1992 book-length essay In Search of Anti-Semitism.

Oddly enough, Sobran seems to have only very rarely discussed Jews, favorably or otherwise, across his decades of writing, but even just that handful of less than flattering mentions was apparently sufficient to draw their sustained destructive attacks on his career, and he eventually died in poverty in 2010 at the age of 64. Sobran had always been known for his literary wit, and his unfortunate ideological predicament eventually led him to coin the aphorism “An anti-Semite used to mean a man who hated Jews. Now it means a man who is hated by Jews.”

Following his defenestration from National Review, he spent about a dozen years as a syndicated columnist, while providing a small monthly conservative newsletter called Sobran’s. I’m very pleased to have now made arrangements to republish his complete archives of that period, currently totaling just nearly 650 columns and a half-million words, but probably due to rise as additional writings are located and added.

The obvious similarities between between the purge of a leading conservative writer thirty years ago and the banning of various books from Amazon thirty days ago provides an intriguing glimpse in the underlying nature of American political life, and the forces that can shape its trajectory. Writers, authors, and other intellectuals constitute a minuscule fraction of our society, yet removing or muzzling just a few of these can have enormous influence upon the social and political directions eventually taken by our country.

Books banned by Amazon but available here:
The Unz Review Bookstore

March 27, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye to the Internet: Interference by Governments Is Already Here

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.03.2019

There is a saying attributed to the French banker Nathan Rothschild that “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” Conservative opinion in the United States has long suspected that Rothschild was right and there have been frequent calls to audit the Federal Reserve Bank based on the presumption that it has not always acted in support of the actual interests of the American people. That such an assessment is almost certainly correct might be presumed based on the 2008 economic crash in which the government bailed out the banks, which had through their malfeasance caused the disaster, and left individual Americans who had lost everything to face the consequences.

Be that as it may, if there were a modern version of the Rothschild comment it might go something like this: “Give me control of the internet and no one will ever more know what is true.” The internet, which was originally conceived of as a platform for the free interchange of information and opinions, is instead inexorably becoming a managed medium that is increasingly controlled by corporate and government interests. Those interests are in no way answerable to the vast majority of the consumers who actually use the sites in a reasonable and non-threatening fashion to communicate and share different points of view.

The United States Congress started the regulation ball rolling when it summoned the chief executives of the leading social media sites in the wake of the 2016 election. It sought explanations regarding why and how the Russians had allegedly been able to interfere in the election through the use of fraudulent accounts to spread information that might have influenced some voters. In spite of the sound and fury, however, all Congress succeeded in doing was demonstrating that the case against Moscow was flimsy at best while at the same time creating a rationale for an increased role in censoring the internet backed by the threat of government regulation.

Given that background, the recent shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and at mosques in Christchurch New Zealand have inevitably produced strident demands that something must be done about the internet, with the presumption that the media both encouraged and enabled the attacks by the gunmen, demented individuals who were immediately labeled as “white supremacists.” One critic puts it this way, “Let’s be clear, social media is the lifeblood of the far-right. The fact that a terror attack was livestreamed should tell us that this is a unique form for violence made for the digital era. The infrastructure of social media giants is not merely ancillary to the operations of terrorists — it is central to it [and] social media giants assume a huge responsibility to prevent and stop hate speech proliferating on the internet. It’s clear the internet giants cannot manage this alone; we urgently need a renewed conversation on internet regulation… It is time for counter-terrorism specialists to move into the offices of social media giants.”

It’s the wrong thing to do, in part because intelligence and police services already spend a great deal of time monitoring chat on the internet. And the premise that most terrorists who use the social media can be characterized as the enemy du jour “white supremacists” is also patently untrue. Using the national security argument to place knuckle dragging “counter-terrorism specialists” in private sector offices would be the last thing that anyone would reasonably want to do. If one were to turn the internet into a government regulated service it would mean that what comes out at the other end would be something like propaganda intended to make the public think in ways that do not challenge the authority of the bureaucrats and politicians. In the US, it might amount to nothing less than exposure to commentary approved by Mike Pompeo and John Bolton if one wished to learn what is going on in the world.

Currently I and many other internet users appreciate and rely on the alternative media to provide viewpoints that are either suppressed by government or corporate interests or even contrary to prevailing fraudulent news accounts. And the fact is that the internet is already subject to heavy handed censorship by the service providers, which one friend has described as “Soviet era” in its intensity, who are themselves implementing their increasingly disruptive actions to find false personas and to ban as “hate speech” anything that is objected to by influential constituencies.

Blocking information is also already implemented by various countries through a cooperative arrangement whereby governments can ask search engines to remove material. Google actually documents the practice in an annual Transparency Report which reveals that government requests to remove information have increased from less than 1,000 per year in 2010 to nearly 30,000 per year currently. Not surprisingly, Israel and the United States lead the pack when it comes to requests for deletions. Since 2009 the US has asked for 7,964 deletions totaling 109,936 items while Israel has sought 1,436 deletions totally 10,648 items. Roughly two thirds of Israeli and US requests were granted.

And there is more happening behind the scenes. Since 2016, Facebook representatives have also been regularly meeting with the Israeli government to delete Facebook accounts of Palestinians that the Israelis claim constitute “incitement.” Israel had threatened Facebook that non-compliance with Israeli deletion orders would “result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country.” Facebook chose compliance and, since that time, Israeli officials have been “publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders.” It should be noted that Facebook postings calling for the murder of Palestinians have not been censored.

And censorship also operates as well at other levels unseen, to include deletion of millions of old postings and videos to change the historical record and rewrite the past. To alter the current narrative, Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook all have been pressured to cooperate with pro-Israel private groups in the United States, to include the powerful Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL is working with social media “to engineer new solutions to stop cyberhate” by blocking “hate language,” which includes any criticism of Israel that might be construed as anti-Semitism by the new expanded definition that is being widely promoted by the US Congress and the Trump Administration.

Censorship of information also increasingly operates in the publishing world. With the demise of actual bookstores, most readers buy their books from media online giant Amazon, which had a policy of offering every book in print. On February 19, 2019, it was revealed that Amazon would no longer sell books that it considered too controversial.

Government regulation combined with corporate social media self-censorship means that the user of the service will not know what he or she is missing because it will not be there. And once the freedom to share information without restraint is gone it will never return. On balance, free speech is intrinsically far more important than any satisfaction that might come from government intrusion to make the internet less an enabler of violence. If history teaches us anything, it is that the diminishment of one basic right will rapidly lead to the loss of others and there is no freedom more fundamental than the ability to say or write whatever one chooses, wherever and whenever one seeks to do so.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Suppression of Truth in the Land of Lies: An Oxymoron

By Edward Curtin | Behind the Curtain | September 25, 2018

If you are interested in reading the definitive book that demolishes the official lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001 – 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth – then Amazon has a great deal for you. While they conveniently do not offer new copies of this book that was published on September 11th, having reported it “out of print” and currently “out of stock,” after never having had it in stock, they allegedly offer 3 used paperback copies from other sellers for sale prices that are quite affordable: $917.04, $1060.20, and $1,500.

If that 4 or 20 cents would bring you over budget, I would be glad to provide either amount.

Don’t these sound like great deals for a book that proves that the justification for the “war on terror” and the slaughter of millions of people is one of the biggest propaganda operations in modern history? It’s always good to know you have a friend who can conveniently provide you with access to the truth at a fair price.

I must say, however, that Amazon offers a slightly better deal for another book they also never directly sold for some odd reason – Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte – a book that exposes the CIA infiltration of the major media throughout the world. You can allegedly pick that one up through Amazon’s kind medium services for either $900 or $997.09, but that’s for a hardcover.

One person reports having seen a used copy of 9/11 Unmasked appear at amazon.co.uk one week after its official publication date of September 11 (an odd fact in itself), and when he ordered it, the book never arrived. When he contacted the seller, he received a message from Amazon saying that the order had been cancelled, but no reason was given. When the person tried to post a negative review of the seller, Amazon refused to publish it.

These days truth is temporarily out of stock. No reason given. People and books just disappear in this land of make-believe.

If it bothers you a bit that Amazon, through its Amazon Web Services, provides the CIA and other intelligence agencies with a “Secret Region” cloud service that complements Jeff Bezos’s other business, The Washington Post, don’t be alarmed. I have conveyed a question through a certain medium’s mediumship to the deceased Frank Wisner, who is presumably beyond the clouds. He was the CIA’s architect of what he called his “mighty Wurlitzer,” on which he could play any propaganda tune he wanted through the CIA’s penetration through a covert action campaign of the mass media, journalists, student groups, women’s groups, and more. I have asked him if there is anything untoward about any of these strange arrangements that so many readers of my review of 9/11 Unmasked have complained about: that for some strange reason they have been unable to get the book through Amazon.

As I hopefully await the medium’s response from Wisner, you may get impatient. In that case you can immediately purchase the book through the publisher, Interlink Publishing, for $20. It should save you quite a bit of time waiting. But I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

September 25, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

No bad reviews? Amazon employees might have deleted them for bribes

RT | September 17, 2018

Some Amazon employees have reportedly been bribed by sellers to remove bad reviews of products sold through the online retail giant. The average bribe is around $300 per review, with most of the demand coming from China.

The retail giant has launched an internal investigation into the shady practice, with a probe ongoing since May, when Eric Broussard, Amazon’s vice president, was reportedly notified of the problem, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The transactions were facilitated by middlemen who used the messaging service WeChat in China.

Citing people familiar with the scheme, the WSJ reported that it costs around $300 to delete one review. However, brokers prefer to trade wholesale, with the minimum number of reviews for removal standing at five.

Depending on the type of data and its volume, the brokers also charge between $80 and $2,000 for coveted data.

Up for grabs are internal sales statistics, including keywords, as well as an option to delete reviews or buy customers’ email addresses.

One of the incentives prompting Amazon workers to go down this slippery slope and violate strict internal regulations that ban sharing sales and customer data, is the relatively low wages they receive in China, the publication notes.

Amazon has come under fire in the past for underpaying its employees and forcing them to work in harrowing conditions not only in China, but also across Europe and in the US. An undercover journalist working at an Amazon warehouse in Staffordshire, UK reported that workers are forced to pee in bottles so as not to miss work targets. In the US, a group of employees recently complained of exhaustion, dehydration and fatigue, as they were working without air-conditioning in the company’s warehouse in Minnesota.

At the moment, several suspected bribery cases, including one in the US, are reportedly being investigated by Amazon.

A spokesperson for the company has confirmed that the probe is ongoing, noting that it has been taking steps to avert the malpractice happening in the future by installing systems that would restrict workers’ access and monitor their actions.

While the trustworthiness of online reviews is crucial for businesses like Amazon, since online buyers are not able to examine a product themselves, it has long been plagued by the problem of fake reviews.

FakeSport.com founder Saoud Khalifah has recently estimated that some 30 percent of Amazon reviews are probably fake, with the number nearing 95 percent for “Chinese no-name companies.”

Read more:

What about your workers? Amazon’s Bezos gets grief for $2bn fund to help homeless & children

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | | 9 Comments

Revisionist History Books Banned by Amazon

By Michael Hoffman • Unz Review • August 25, 2018

On August 13, 2018 Amazon banned Judaism’s Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded, which was published in 2011 and sold by Amazon for the past seven years. Along with the much larger study, Judaism Discovered, (sold by Amazon since 2008), it has had an international impact both as a softcover volume as well as a digital book circulating on the Amazon Kindle.

Sales to India, Japan and the Middle East were rapidly growing. The digital Kindle format is particularly important for the free circulation of books because it bypasses borders and customs and hurdles over the prohibitive cost of shipping which the US Postal Service imposed on mail to overseas destinations several years ago (eliminating economical surface mail).

Amazon has also banned The Great Holocaust Trial: The Landmark Battle for the Right to Doubt the West’s Most Sacred Relic (sold by Amazon since 2010).

These volumes maintain a high standard of scholarly excellence, had a majority of favorable reviews by Amazon customers, are free of hatred and bigotry and have sold thousands of copies on Amazon. Out of the blue we were told that suddenly “Amazon KDP” discovered that the books are in violation of Amazon’s “content guidelines.” Asking for documentation of the charge results in no response. It is enough that the accusation has been tendered. The accused are guilty until proved innocent, although how proof of innocence is presented is anyone’s guess. There is no appeals process. This is what is known as “Tech Tyranny.”

There is a nationwide purge underway that amounts to a new McCarthyism — blacklisting and banning politically incorrect speech and history books under the rubric of “hate speech” accusations, initiated in part by two Zionist thought police organizations, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It’s a flimsy pretext for censoring controversial scholarly books that can’t be refuted.

In addition to our books being hate-free, we note that there are hundreds of hate-filled Zionist and rabbinic books brimming with ferocious bigotry for Palestinians, Germans and goyim in general, which are sold by Amazon.

In 1997, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen wrote Hitler’s Willing Executioners, one of the most racist books of the modern age. In it he purported to demonstrate that the Nazi “holocaust” stemmed from an ingrained German predisposition to murder Jews. His book promulgating a theory of a genetic homicidal trait infecting an entire nation of people is proudly sold by Amazon and, if the current zeitgeist persists, it will never be banned by Amazon. The target of Mr. Goldhagen’s hatred are Germans. Consequently, his is the right kind of hate— the approved hate that does not offend the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Many dozens of books containing savage attacks on Christianity are sold by Amazon. These volumes are immune from removal and suppression.

Meanwhile, the censors demand for their own media (Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, owns the Washington Post newspaper) freedom of expression for the writers they employ and the speech of which they approve. In this two tiered ethical system we observe the familiar hallmark of revolutionary tyranny: the insiders demand and grant to themselves and their comrades the freedom they deny to outsiders, using the “hate” imputation as their excuse.

Our critique of Orthodox Judaism in our books constitutes a radical reassessment founded upon the depth of the documents and arguments we marshal in the course of advancing our thesis. Our powerful and original scholarship employed in our study of Orthodox Judaism is never “anti-Semitic” and never hateful. This would be easy to prove if there were an Amazon “tribunal” fair enough to consider a little something known as evidence.

Inside both Judaism Discovered (on p. 39) and Judaism’s Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded (on p. 25) there are statements addressed “to the Judaic reader,” explaining our love and concern for their welfare and liberation. No book of “anti-Semitic hate” would ever print any such charitable and compassionate statements!

To create a special category of informed theological criticism that is banned from the Amazon Kindle is a grave disservice to the advancement of learning. To make an exception for Orthodox Judaism forbidding the sale of the best scholarship critical of it, does no favors to Judaic people. Many Judaic persons don’t approve of this type of suppression and censorship of books and desire access to our information.

Our information is persuasive. It has the potential to liberate Judaic people from the bondage of the Talmudic micromanagement of their lives, and all people from the hatred and racism toward the goyim which problematic sacred rabbinic texts have fomented. If we are wrong, show us where we are wrong, don’t signal through censorship that our facts are too explosive to be handled by inquiring minds; that type of suppression will only blowback on the censors.

It’s time that someone, including multi-billionaire Bezos, had the fortitude to stand-up to the virulent book banning lobby that continues to engage in one of the lowest forms of ignorance and superstition known to history: silencing a writer who can’t be refuted by free and fair debate.

Amazon’s monopoly over the sale of books is so extensive that to be banned by Amazon is, in many cases, tantamount to a death sentence for a book. The public ought to know of the shameful tactics of the hypocrites who are so fearful of the radical scholarship for which they have no credible answer, that they must ban the books that contain irrefutable challenges to their sacred dogmas.

August 25, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amazon Censors Bad Reviews of Hillary Clinton’s New Book

OffGuardian | September 15, 2107

Hillary Clinton’s book “What Happened”, a memoir of a fairly disastrous and ridiculously expensive Presidential campaign, went on sale a few days ago. Within hours it had over 1500 reviews on Amazon, many of them very, very negative.

Amazon responded by deleting over 900 of them. 95% of those left are 5 star reviews. Zero Hedge has a great selection of screengrabs showing the progression.

Putting aside the questions of corruption and corporate censorship, this is not new ground for Clinton’s camp, or for power structures in general. During the early stages of the Ukrainian coup in 2014, many mainstream news outlets (and especially the Guardian ) responded to dissension in the comments by deleting swaths of them. That policy is the very reason this website exists.

During the Presidential election the press was filled to the brim with babble, that never once touched on some important issues. American TV networks cut-off people mid-interview for saying the wrong thing. Three. Separate. Times. The media completely denied Clinton was sick, deriding it as a “conspiracy theory”, until she literally collapsed in the street. Some newspapers are already claiming the hate for her book is just misogyny.

Separate from the personal political agenda – Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, was a big Clinton supporter – there is the ever-present cause of every self-respecting American: money. Simon & Schuster already paid Clinton an $8 million advance, which they are very unlikely to make back.

Amazon is no stranger to corruption, it is well documented how small a percentage of its taxes it pays, it would be foolish to assume that practices of that type end there. It’s possible, even likely, that certain publishers, movie studios, television networks etc, already pay Amazon to publish good reviews (real or not) and delete bad reviews. Bad reviews could sink this book before it gets anywhere, so there is every motive.

In this instance Amazon released a statement claiming that the reviews were clearly fake because none of the people had confirmed purchases of the book, and it had not been on sale very long. True or not, this misses the point. It can’t be up to a nameless authority to decide which views are censored and which allowed to stand.

Again and again we see attempts to create a real-life Brave New World, in which we are expected to simply pretend we didn’t see things, didn’t hear things, don’t know things. It doesn’t work. Everybody knows about Clinton’s background, whether CNN tells them or not. You can find out the truth of Syria with a simple google search. The Ghostbusters remake was terrible. Wikileaks has five million twitter followers.

In a way, what we have here is a perfect microcosm of the last Presidential election. Clinton writes a book in which she (apparently) comes over as bitter and unlikable, the public review it badly, and then the billionaire donor, owner of both a multinational mega-corporation and the Washington Post, has his machinery click into gear to pretend it didn’t happen.

You’d think they’d have learned it doesn’t work, by now.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | June 26, 2017

“We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, dissenting in Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)

The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers “inconvenient laws” aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”

It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.

In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.

By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as “traffic shaping” —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.

The government, however, doesn’t even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”

Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.

Using this rationale, the government has justified hacking into and collecting an estimated 180 million user records from Google and Yahoo data centers every month because the data travels over international fiber-optic cables. The NSA program, dubbed MUSCULAR, is carried out in concert with British intelligence.

No wonder the NSA appeared so unfazed about the USA Freedom Act, which was supposed to put an end to the NSA’s controversial collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls.

The NSA had already figured out a way to accomplish the same results (illegally spying on Americans’ communications) without being shackled by the legislative or judicial branches of the government.

The USA Freedom Act was just a placebo pill intended to make the citizenry feel better and let the politicians take credit for reforming mass surveillance. In other words, it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control, corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring, militarized banana republic.

In fact, more than a year before politicians attempted to patch up our mortally wounded privacy rights with the legislative band-aid fix that is the USA Freedom Act, researchers at Harvard and Boston University documented secret loopholes that allow government agents to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S. citizens.

Mind you, this metadata collection now being carried out overseas is just a small piece of the surveillance pie.

The government and its corporate partners have a veritable arsenal of surveillance programs that will continue to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret black ops budget.

In other words, the surveillance state is alive and well and kicking privacy to shreds in America.

On any given day, the average American going about his daily business is monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

We have now moved into a full-blown police state that is rapidly shifting into high-gear under the auspices of the surveillance state.

Not content to merely transform local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are working to turn the nation’s police officers into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.

Add in the fusion centers, city-wide surveillance networks, data clouds conveniently hosted overseas by Amazon and Microsoft, drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras, and biometric databases, and you’ve got the makings of a world in which “privacy” is reserved exclusively for government agencies.

Thus, the NSA’s “technotyranny”  is the least of our worries.

A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing cannot be reformed from the inside out.

Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have managed to shut down the government’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages, transactions, communications and activities.

Even with restrictions on its ability to collect mass quantities of telephone metadata, the government and its various spy agencies, from the NSA to the FBI, can still employ an endless number of methods for carrying out warrantless surveillance on Americans, all of which are far more invasive than the bulk collection program.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people.

And of course that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine. Indeed, Facebook, Amazon and Google are among the government’s closest competitors when it comes to carrying out surveillance on Americans, monitoring the content of your emails, tracking your purchases, exploiting your social media posts and turning that information over to the government.

“Few consumers understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the information is being used,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Most Americans emit a stream of personal digital exhaust — what they search for, what they buy, who they communicate with, where they are — that is captured and exploited in a largely unregulated fashion.”

It’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked.

We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses.

All of those internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers to them as “(data) pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smart watches that can monitor our blood pressure and the smart phones that let us pay for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

For instance, imagine what the NSA could do (and is likely already doing) with voiceprint technology, which has been likened to a fingerprint. Described as “the next frontline in the battle against overweening public surveillance,” the collection of voiceprints is a booming industry for governments and businesses alike.

As The Guardian reports, “voice biometrics could be used to pinpoint the location of individuals. There is already discussion about placing voice sensors in public spaces… multiple sensors could be triangulated to identify individuals and specify their location within very small areas.”

Suddenly the NSA’s telephone metadata program seems like child’s play compared to what’s coming down the pike.

That, of course, is the point.

The NSA is merely one small part of the shadowy Deep State comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under surveillance and, thus, under control.

For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.

In other words, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its domestic surveillance efforts.

At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability and a representative government by an establishment culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”

Incredibly, there are still individuals who insist that they have nothing to fear from the police state and nothing to hide from the surveillance state, because they have done nothing wrong.

To those sanctimonious few, secure in their delusions, let this be a warning.

There is no safe place and no watertight alibi.

The danger posed by the American police/surveillance state applies equally to all of us: lawbreaker and law-abider alike, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, blue collar and white collar, and any other distinction you’d care to trot out.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in an age of too many laws, too many prisons, too many government spies, and too many corporations eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the American taxpayer, we are all guilty of some transgression or other.

Eventually, we will all be made to suffer the same consequences in the electronic concentration camp that surrounds us.

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’?

By Kip Hansen | Climate Etc. | February 26, 2017

‘Alternative facts’ is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives. The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case. – Wikipedia

So . . . what exactly is a ‘fact’?  From the Wikipedia:

A fact is something that has occurred or is correct.

Facts may be checked by reason, experiment, personal experience, or may be argued from authority.

In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.

With this context, it is not surprising that there are competing ‘facts’ of which their proponents are equally certain. ‘Facts’ are being confused with hypotheses and theories, and too many ‘facts’ are being asserted by authority.

So . . . what’s wrong with ‘alternative facts?’

Nothing — absolutely nothing. Quite the opposite, really. Alternative facts are what we use to learn new things about the world around us. Science is the subject of using alternative facts to come to a better understanding. Discovering that there are alternative facts about something – even better, seemingly contradictory facts – is what points us to an area of study that promises the reward of new insights into the natural world.

Out in today’s world of U.S. Two-Party Politics – an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque landscape being repainted daily in the “news” and “social” media – a lot of ill-mannered, Queen-of-Hearts-style nonsense is being churned out by turning this perfectly good and useful idea – alternative facts – into a mockery of truth-finding — turning Truth into an one-word oxymoron.

Facts vs factoids

Much of what we know as facts, and much of what are presented to us as facts, are more correctly characterized as “factoids” – a word believed coined by Norman Mailer – which has two closely related meanings:

1) a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it is not actually true, or an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print.

a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it is not actually or strictly true, or an invented fact either deliberately created or created by sloppy thinking, poor logic skills, lack of critical thinking or poor journalism believed to be true because it appears in print, in a journal article, in mainstream or social media, on a web site or has ‘gone viral’ on the Internet.

2) a brief or trivial item of news or information.

Factoids are often presented to us as numbers – which influence us to find them somehow truer or more believable – or are presented as impossibly simplistic assertions about complex topics. Factoids most often are used rhetorically [as in argument, debate, or propaganda] in opposition to other facts in a fact-vs-fiction construction, explicitly stated or implied – “Here are the facts!” – implying that all else is fiction, all other ‘facts’ are false.

Tied to the use of factoids is the principle of “Only One Fact”. This is the rampantly popular idea that for each subject there exists only one fact (or set of related facts) and, from that, it follows that all other statements on the subject are falsehoods, lies, or errors. We hear this in common speech: “The fact is…” and we see on single issue websites “The Facts are…”. This “Only One Fact” version of reality is a serious cognitive malfunction – and leads to serious critical thinking errors.

Climate science, and the never-ending debate about its implications, is particularly rife with Factoids and Alternative Factoids. Each side, mostly from the extreme edges of the field, sling factoids at one another in endless streams of numbers, graphs, trend-lines, echo-chamber talking-points (prepared by their own side’s experts) – spiced with a truly incredible number and variety of personal opinions presented as if they were facts.

Once we weed out the truly daft opinions, the obvious non-physical misunderstandings and the delicious-and-nutty fruit-cakery served up from the far edges of climate alarm and hard-core “its all a big hoax” skepticism alike, we are still left with a huge number of seemingly true statements, facts, that seem to contradict each other, sometimes apparently in direct opposition.

Competing ‘facts’ about the Amazon

How’s that, you ask?  Let’s look at an example. It has long been considered a fact, and still is by almost all environmental movements, that:

[T]he Amazon forests are pristine forests, never touched by humans…. the rain forests of the Amazon were untouched by human hands before the arrival of European explorers in the 15th century. [The Amazon is] an old-growth forest — primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest  — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community [a biological community of plants, animals, and fungi which, through the process of ecological succession the development of vegetation in an area over time, had reached a steady state].

Yet, reappearing again in the science press this week is the story of ancient earthworks deep in the Amazon forest:

Deep in the Amazon, the rain forest once covered ancient secrets. Spread across hundreds of thousands of acres are massive, geometric earthworks. The carvings stretch out in circles and squares that can be as big as a city block, with trenches up to 12 yards wide and 13 feet deep. They appear to have been built up to 2,000 years ago.” The study [ doi: 10.1073/pnas.1614359114 ] states “We reconstructed environmental evidence from the geoglyph region and found that earthworks were built within man-made forests that had been previously managed for millennia.

The existence of these earthworks, and their antiquity are facts – actualities, they really exist and strong, replicable evidence exists for the dates of creation.

The facts reported by Watling et al. (2017) in regard to the earthworks are not only alternative to our accepted facts [above] about the Amazon; they directly contradict long-standing, almost universally-accepted, facts.  It is because they are contradictory that we can begin to develop a new and better understanding of the ecology of the Amazon rainforests, their history, their evolution and the South American nations within whose boundaries these forests exist, can create national policies based on this better understanding.

By combining the two sets of seemingly contradictory facts– alternative facts, we can see that while the Amazonian forests are certainly old-growth forests, having existed in their current states for hundreds, up to thousands, of years, they are not “virgin forest, primeval forest” at all but have actually been created by long-term interactions with the human civilizations that lived within them.

This is not a trivial example of “new discoveries lead to better understanding”, though it could be viewed that way. There has been a long constant stream of alternative facts to the background fact of a pristine, primeval Amazon. The investigation of a soil type named “Terra Preta” (Portuguese for “black soil”) began producing alternative facts in the 1960s and they have rolled out regularly since. Yet it was fact not long ago, despite these alternative facts, that the land of the Amazon was relatively useless for agriculture.

Now we see that there is very strong evidence that the Amazon is not being newly deforested but is apparently being re-cleared, re-claimed as arable land. It is land that in the past was cleared and used for agriculture, speculatively thought to be a sort of ancient perma-culture, and for the building of extensive towns and cities.

Example: climate science ‘alternative facts’

Consider the following statement:

“Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 0.8° Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

Well, we have a fact – “Earth’s average surface temperature has risen”; a number related to the magnitude of the temperature increase (which must be considered subject to some degree of factual uncertainty);  and a time period. The statement can be considered, factual (subject to some caveats) or true. However, the statement implies causation — that the warming was caused by the Industrial Revolution–which makes it a factoid because the cause of the warming is a hypothesis.

Consider the following alternative statement:

“Earth’s average surface temperature has risen for the last several hundred years, since the depths of the Little Ice Age*, and by about 0.8° since the mid-19th century, which is the beginning of the instrumental temperature record.”

[* = “three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming.”]

This statement is equally true but again implies causation – “since the depths of the LIA”.

It is possible to construct a clear Fact about changes in global mean surface temperature changes and the associated uncertainties. However the IPCC’s mandate to focus on man-made climate change resulted in a conclusion dictated by their mandate that is arguably a factoid.

Conclusion

Not all alternative facts lead to a better understanding. Some just stand in opposition to one another until such time as new and better facts or evidence emerge from the confusion to help clarify the situation. Those new facts or evidence will be, at first, Alternative Facts – they should not necessarily be expected to match either of the preferred climate science factoids above.

As these new alternative facts emerge, they should be embraced and seriously considered by all sides and positions in the climate debate. Those new, alternative facts –those few that survive the fire of massive open public review– will lead to better understandings of the physical actualities of Earth’s climate which in turn will allow policy makers to make better climate policy.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Industry-Dominated Group Writes Drone Privacy “Best Practices” That Don’t Deserve the Name

By Jay Stanley | ACLU | June 15, 2016

An industry-dominated “multistakeholder process” convened by the Commerce Department recently produced a set of voluntary privacy “best practices” for commercial drones that are so riddled with exceptions and vague language that companies could engage in all sorts of practices that would violate the public’s privacy expectations, while still claiming to comply with these guidelines.

The idea of the process was to produce a set of voluntary best practices to ensure that commercial drone use protects privacy rights. It was convened at the direction of President Obama in an executive order on drone privacy that he issued in February 2015.

Last month, before the document was finalized, we, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Access Now, urged the corporate participants to make a clear commitment to actual best practices, rather than a weak document designed primarily to ensure maximum flexibility in what companies can do with drones. We proposed a set of changes to the document’s language that would have strengthened it enough to allow us to endorse it. Unfortunately, these changes were rejected.

Why won’t Amazon and other industry players in the drone space make a clean commitment to good privacy practices when it comes to drones? To take just one example, I think one thing most Americans would definitely not want to see companies doing with their drones is engaging in persistent and continuous surveillance of people without their consent. Yet this industry-led draft says the best practice is to avoid doing that “in the absence of a compelling need to do otherwise.” A compelling need? What is that? Is Amazon planning to engage in such surveillance with its delivery drones? If not, why wouldn’t it agree to a more straightforward statement? There were a lot of industry players, so I don’t mean to pick on Amazon. Except actually I do, because apparently that company led the meeting negotiations for industry on what turned into the final product.

Perhaps one could dream up scenarios where a company engages in persistent, continuous surveillance of people without their consent, in a way that nobody would find objectionable. I’m not sure what that scenario would look like, but that certainly wouldn’t be a best practice, and the inclusion of such language is far more likely to be abused than to cover such a remote eventuality.

Other areas where we thought the documents language was too weak were around issues such as consent, the collection of data where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the sharing of data with third parties, and data retention. We spell out these and other problems in our letter. As it now stands, the document shows more promise as a corporate consciousness-raising document than an assurance that any complying company isn’t doing anything objectionable.

Any company that is operating drones should certainly comply with the practices laid out in this document. But doing so represents the very bare minimum of what companies should do on privacy, not best practices. The NTIA should reject this document, and discussions in the multi-stakeholder process should continue until adequate privacy protections can be included.

June 15, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment