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Useful Idiots? New Yorker Magazine Fails Litmus Test for Media Impartiality on Syrian War

Useful Idiots? New Yorker Magazine Fails Litmus Test for Media Impartiality on Syrian War

Useful Idiots? New Yorker Magazine Fails Litmus Test for Media Impartiality on Syrian War

When America’s top thinking man’s journal fails to consider at least one possible alternative as to who may have been responsible for the latest alleged chemical attack in Syria, aside from the ‘Assad regime,’ then we may conclude that the entire mainstream media complex is receiving its marching orders from above.

In an April 14 article in the erstwhile prestigious New Yorker magazine (“Russia’s ‘Madman’ Routine in Syria May Have Averted Direct Confrontation with the U.S., For Now”), author Joshua Yaffa singlehandedly proves there is absolutely no straying from the government-approved narrative that Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of carrying out an alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7. He also manages to pull Russia into the elaborate conspiracy theory, which is now accepted as bona-fide truth in the Western world.

“Moscow welcomes Assad’s defeat of the rebels, and has little concern for how he achieves it, but the use of chemical weapons is an embarrassment and source of unwelcome consequences for the Kremlin,” Yaffa writes with breathtaking arrogance, refusing to entertain the much more likely scenario that the rebel terrorists were responsible for the purported attack. “One unresolved question is whether Russia … got assurances from Syria that it would refrain from using chemical weapons in the future.”

For any person with even a limited amount of critical thinking skills, this cannot be considered objective and impartial journalism in any sense of the word. Yet it is a prime example of what Western readers are being force-fed on a daily basis: Assad is guilty of carrying out a chemical attack on innocent civilians, nothing else to look at here, please move along [Thus far, there has been one notable exception to this rule, which has not been picked up by the US media, and never will be.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Wikipedia Lies

How Wikipedia Lies

Did you know that Vice President Dick Cheney admitted that on 11 September 2001 he, as President George W. Bush’s brief stand-in during the 9/11 attacks that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, issued an order (and it was carried out) to shoot down United Airlines Flight 93 while it was in the air near Pittsburgh? If what he said at the time was true, then the standard ‘historical’ account of the plane’s having been brought down as a result of action by the passengers, would be concocted, not history at all.

Here is the video-clip of V.P. Cheney on 9/11, making this claim and explaining why he gave that order:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vV3fjfeb9Q&list=PLOg2tzhKRd4j-yNHID9_Ru3MWe-VwwCxl&index=4

The Wikipedia article on Flight 93 provides the standard account, and fails even so much as just to mention the Vice President’a assertion and explanation that he provided on national TV at the time of the 9/11 events.

So: I edited the Wikipedia article by adding a sentence at the end of its opening paragraph, and by following that sentence with a brief second paragraph, and here is that entire two-sentence addition:

Vice President Dick Cheney alleged that he gave the order to shoot down Flight 93, and explained why when asked about it by Chris Wallace of Fox News as shown in this film-clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vV3fjfeb9Q&list=PLOg2tzhKRd4j-yNHID9_Ru3MWe-VwwCxl&index=4

Consequently, the account given below of what brought the plane down — an account inconsistent with what Cheney said — could be entirely false.

On the web browser that I was using, the addition showed as having been successfully made in the Wikipedia article. However, to be sure, I opened the URL in a different browser, and this time my addition was absent. I then went back to the “Edit” page” and this time to the “View history” page, and clicked there on “(talk)” and found this message, which I saw virtually immediately after I had thought that I had inserted the new information:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Paradise in LA LA Land

More is revealed with each passing day.  You can count on it.  But what exactly the ‘more is of’ requires careful discrimination.  Is the ‘more’ merely more noise?  Or is it something of actual substance?  Today we endeavor to pass judgment, on your behalf.

Normally, judgment would be passed on a Thursday, but we are making an exception. [PT]

For example, here in the land of fruits and nuts, things are whacky, things are zany. Last month, State Senator, Dick Pan, introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1424, which would require California based websites to utilize fact checkers to verify news stories prior to publishing them.

Who exactly these fact checkers would be – the moral servants that would save the world from the ills of fake news – was conveniently missing from the bill. Ironically, the control freaks in California state government can’t control themselves; they want to muck around with people’s lives unconditionally.

Nonetheless, screwball proposals like this out of Sacramento fall into the mere noise category – for now.  We estimate it will take another Presidential election cycle, or two, before such nonsense is taken seriously by the majority of state lawmakers.

At the local level, there are more demanding problems that require more demanding solutions.  Here in Los Angeles County, according to something called the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there is now a homeless population of precisely 57,794.  For perspective, Chavez Ravine (i.e., the Dodger Stadium), has a capacity of 56,000.

This army of indigents, roaming about the LA LA land paradise, has become a significant embarrassment for local leaders.  Haphazard urban campsites litter the bank tops of the colossal, concrete Los Angeles River Channel between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach.  The massive collection of tents and makeshift shelters has become too much to ignore.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nassim Nicholas Taleb Has Never Borrowed a Cent in His Life

Nassim Nicholas Taleb Has Never Borrowed a Cent in His Life

The author of The Black Swan and Skin in the Game on what it’s like to have true financial freedom.

Redux

People ask me my forecast for the economy when they should be asking me what I have in my portfolio. Don’t make pronouncements on what could happen in the future if you’re immune from the consequences. In French, they use the same word for wallet and portfolio.

I have never, ever borrowed a penny. So I have zero credit record. No loans, no mortgage, nothing. Ever. When I had no money, I rented. I have an allergy to borrowing and a scorn for people who are in debt, and I don’t hide it. I follow the Romans’ attitude that debtors are not free people.

I carry euros, dollars, and British pounds. What I do with my money is personal. People who say they give it to charity, that’s a no-no in my book. Nobody should ever talk about a charitable act in public.

I FOLLOW THE ROMANS’ ATTITUDE THAT DEBTORS ARE NOT FREE PEOPLE.

Better to miss a zillion opportunities than blow up once. I learned this at my first job, from the veteran traders at a New York bank that no longer exists. Most people don’t understand how to handle uncertainty. They shy away from small risks, and without realizing it, they embrace the big, big risk. Businessmen who are consistently successful have the exact opposite attitude: Make all the mistakes you want, just make sure you’re going to be there tomorrow.

Don’t invest any energy in bargaining except when the zeros become large. Lose the small games and save your efforts for the big ones.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Character, Not Control, Is the Antidote to Evil

Character, Not Control, Is the Antidote to Evil

Every hero is a potential villain who chose differently.

Humans are dangerous creatures capable of great evil. This inescapable truth bombards us every time we turn on the news. The weight of this knowledge bears down on every human soul, and with every tragedy, we are starkly reminded of it. We cry out for someone to save us from our inherent capacity for evil. Or perhaps we say to ourselves, “I could never do that.”

But you’re wrong, you could do that.

Humans can kill. We can harm, we can steal, we can commit grave atrocities. Why? Because we are free.

Being free means that your choices are your own. There is no government agency capable of monitoring our every action, our every violent thought, our every evil instinct. No government organization can prevent every act of violence because every act of violence is an expression of human power. There is no bureaucracy that is more powerful than the actions of individual humans who are free to choose to be evil.

With every tragedy—every school shooting, every act of terrorism, every high profile murder—we as a species ask why this is happening. How could any human choose to do harm? Yet perhaps the question isn’t why it happened. Perhaps the question is why more of us don’t commit atrocities.

We Cannot Be Good if We Cannot Do Wrong

Psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson says that we can have no insight whatsoever into our capacity for good until we understand our capacity for evil. I think he’s right. Until we acknowledge that humans can be evil, we cannot choose to be good. If we did not possess the ability to do great harm, there would be nothing commendable about not doing so.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How The Guardian Fulfills George Orwell’s Prediction of ‘Newspeak’

How The Guardian Fulfills George Orwell’s Prediction of ‘Newspeak’

How The Guardian Fulfills George Orwell’s Prediction of ‘Newspeak’

On Sunday April 15th, Britain’s Guardian bannered “OPCW inspectors set to investigate site of Douma chemical attack” and pretended that there was no question that a chemical attack in Douma Syria on April 7th had actually occurred, and the article then went further along that same propaganda-line, to accuse Syria’s Government of having perpetrated it. This ‘news’ story opened [and clarificatory comments from me will added in brackets]:

UN chemical weapons investigators were set on Sunday to begin examining the scene of a chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, which had prompted the joint US, French and British strikes against military installations and chemical weapons facilities near the capital, Damascus.

The arrival of the delegation from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) came as the Syrian military announced that it had “purified” [no source provided, but this — from 7 March 2018  is the only source that existed prior to the April 14th missiles-invasion of Syria, and its meaning is very differentthe region of eastern Ghouta, of which Douma is a part, after a two-month campaign that killed nearly 2,000 civilians [no source provided as regards either the number, or that all of them were ‘civilians’ and that none of them were jihadists or “terrorists”], following years of siege.

The propaganda-article continued directly:

“Units of our brave armed forces, and auxiliary and allied forces, completed the purification of eastern Ghouta, including all its towns and villages, of armed terrorist organisations,” the general command statement said.

No source was provided for that, but this sentence is a sly mind-manipulation, because here is what the Syrian Government’s General Command had actually said: “Statement of the Army General Command declaring Eastern Ghouta clear of terrorism” as headlined by the Syrian Government itself.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BBC Reporter Discourages Syria Questions Due To “Information War” With Russia 

BBC Reporter Discourages Syria Questions Due To “Information War” With Russia 

A BBC interview is making the rounds today among opponents of western interventionism in Syria. The subject of the interview, Admiral Alan West, voiced some much needed skepticism about the establishment narrative around the alleged gas attack in Douma. Everybody’s talking about it because West is an empire loyalist that nobody in their right mind would accuse of being an “Assad apologist” or “useful idiot of the Kremlin”, as anyone else who doesn’t swallow the official story hook, line and sinker is uniformly labeled.

West made some sensible comments about the White Helmets and the fact that Jaysh al-Islam had far more incentive to stage such an attack than Assad had to perpetrate it. Even more helpful was his personal account of having been aggressively pressured to make false reports about the success of the British bombing campaign in Bosnia, suggesting that those pressures can lead to bad intelligence and erroneous military responses.

“I just wonder, you know we’ve had some bad experiences on intelligence,” West said. “When I was chief of defense intelligence, I had huge pressure put on me politically to try and say that our bombing campaign in Bosnia was achieving all sorts of things which it wasn’t. I was put under huge pressure, so I know the things that can happen with intelligence.”

So that’s a very significant addition to the dialogue. For me, though, the most interesting comments made in that interview came not from West, but from the BBC reporter who was interviewing him.

In the latter half of the interview, BBC’s Annita McVeigh asked the following questions after West’s comment about Bosnia:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Civil War Is At Home


Francesco Hayez The Death of the Doge Marin Faliero 1867

Dr. D’s swift response to my essay yesterday, Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself. On the mechanisms by which empires fall. They’re always similar and familiar.

Dr. D: Wonderfully said. Since no one will report, here’s what happened to that airstrike. The one where we declare a victory and go home (or try to).

They targeted 10 sites, yet after the Pentagon said it was a perfect mission, they only reported on 4. Who were the other 6?


Duwali airbase – 4 missiles fired, 4 shot down
Dumayr airbase – 12 missiles fired, 12 shot down
Baley airbase – 18 missiles fired, 18 shot down
Shayrat airbase – 12 missiles fired, 12 shot down
Marj Ruhayyil airbase – 18 missiles fired, 18 shot down
Damascus international airport – 4 missiles fired, 4 shot down

Sounds like an amazing ad for Russian military hardware and Russian alliances, and an amazing warning to warhawks in the Pentagon to check themselves.

And hold on: wouldn’t bombing a major chemical weapons manufacturing facility lead to a cloud of nerve and/or other gas killing every civilian within 20 miles? I.e. the entire capital city? Or did they know that there was nothing there already which is why they were confident it could not lead to an incident that would be recorded as the worst chemical attack of all time? You know, chemically attacking 1.7 million Syrians to save 10 Syrians from chemical attacks?

Yet this illegal, reckless, and (intentionally?) futile attack is NOT ENOUGH for CNN, MSNBC and their ilk. Denouncing Trump for bombing Syria, they also denounced him for NOT bombing Syria. Adequately. Or fully mobilizing the entire U.S. military for a ground invasion.

Or whatever, as weasel-faced chicken hawks, they wouldn’t openly say what they wanted, only that Trump openly bombing a nation outside the U.N. without a declaration of war as they themselves demanded, was pointless and weak. Which is why they also wanted it, in side-by-side front page articles? Or like Veruca Salt they want a pony AND an oompa loompa?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

If you can’t see it, it can kill you. Propaganda, for instance.

If you can’t see it, it can kill you. Propaganda, for instance.

If you never took this test before, spend two minutes on it before reading the text below. 
The “selective attention” test you see above was developed in 1999 by Christopher Chablis and Daniel Simons.  It shows how people have difficulties in perceiving the most obvious things when they are focused on something that engages their attention. Often, it has been seen as just a sort of psychological parlor game, but it has a deep significance.
This selective attention phenomenon may well describe the current world’s situation. Our aging leaders seem to be so fixated on their manhood – and unsure about it – that they try to reassure themselves by firing missiles around. And, in doing that, they neglect everything else. But it is not just a question of aging leaders, the whole Western world shows evident signs of senility at the societal level. Most of us in our daily life are fixated on details of no relevance and miss the important issues that threaten our very existence.
So, we are missing the gorilla which is climate change, as well as other gorillas which go under different names: ecosystem collapse, resource depletion, overpopulation, widespread pollution, and more. Some of these gorillas are recognized and described by the scientific community, but the public and the leaders alike fail to hear the advice they receive.
Even more worrisome is the possibility that there exist gorillas which not even scientists can detect. As an example, we are daily being exposed to a cocktail or toxic metals resulting from industrial activity. We know that each single metal, alone, doesn’t (normally) reach concentrations in our bodies so high to be deemed as dangerous. But we don’t really know what happens when people have several low concentration metals inside their body – which is the case for most of us.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Social Media Now Being Used by Police and Intelligence Agencies to Collect Biometrics

Social Media Now Being Used by Police and Intelligence Agencies to Collect Biometrics

Amid the ongoing Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle over their general surveillance and misuse of users’ private data, there is an emerging trend that is infinitely more disturbing.

The first story popped up in the UK yesterday where police admitted to using a photo sent through WhatsApp to cull fingerprints for evidence that successfully led to the conviction of 11 individuals for drug crimes. The story further revealed that this was not just a special-use case; apparently it is a technique that has been developed specifically to use the vast amount of public photos available to extract evidence from images that have been posted or transmitted online.

As reported by Dawn Luger for The Daily Sheeple, this new technique is being rolled out and law enforcement is calling it “groundbreaking,” as it can pull information from even partial photos:

It all started with a drug bust. The bust resulted in the police getting hold of a phone that had a WhatsApp message and image of ecstasy pills in a person’s palm. The message read: “For sale – Skype and Ikea-branded ecstasy pills…are you interested?”

The phone was sent to South Wales Police where the photo showing the middle and bottom portion of a pinky was enhanced.

[…]

“Despite being provided with only a very small section of the fingerprint which was visible in the photograph, the team were able to successfully identify the individual,” said Dave Thomas, forensic operations manager at the Scientific Support Unit.

No specifics were actually given by the police department about this “pioneering fingerprint technique,” but it is quite clear that this is a tool they are ready and willing to use.

Meanwhile, intrusions from Facebook are compounding in the wake of a massive lawsuit sparked by revelations that Facebook appears to be using facial recognition information for much more than just tagging people in your private social circle.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Autonomous Drones Will Soon Decide Who To Kill

The United States Army wants to develop a system that can be quickly integrated and deployed into its weaponized drone fleet to automatically Detect, Recognize, Classify, Identify (DRCI) and target enemy combatants and vehicles using artificial intelligence (AI). This is an impressive leap forward, whereas humans still operate current military drones, this technology could foster a new era of autonomous drones conducting operations in hybrid wars — without human oversight.

The project is called “Automatic Target Recognition of Personnel and Vehicles from an Unmanned Aerial System Using Learning Algorithms,” — a very original name, which the details were recently released on the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)website. In other words, the Department of Defense (DoD) via the Army is requesting private and research institutions that have developed image targeting AI platforms to form partnerships with them for the eventual technology transfer.

Once the technology transfer is complete, these drones will use machine-learning algorithms, such as neural networks blended with artificial intelligence to create the ultimate militarization of AI. Currently, military drones have little onboard intelligence, besides sending a downlink of high definition video to a military analyst who manually decides whom to kill.

Here is the program’s objective:

“Develop a system that can be integrated and deployed in a class 1 or class 2 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to automatically Detect, Recognize, Classify, Identify (DRCI) and target personnel and ground platforms or other targets of interest. The system should implement learning algorithms that provide operational flexibility by allowing the target set and DRCI taxonomy to be quickly adjusted and to operate in different environments.”

A full description of the program:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fake news, algorithmic sentinels, and facts from the future

Fake news, algorithmic sentinels, and facts from the future

The suggestion that social media outlets need to police so-called “fake news” rings true on its face. Who wants to read news coverage known to be false? But what rates as “fake news” will be harder to define than we think.

And, putting algorithms in charge of policing those vast information flows claiming to be news will almost certainly not solve the problem. In a piece reflecting on artificial intelligence (AI) on the 50th anniversary of the release of the film, “2001: A Space Odyssey” writer Michael Benson tells us that “[d]emocracy depends on a shared consensual reality.”

Well, actually everything we do in groups, whether it’s democracy or going to a hockey game, depends on shared consensual reality. And, therein lies the problem. We are now in a fight not over opinions concerning the import of agreed upon facts, but over the consensus itself—whether scientific findings can be trusted, whether corporate-owned media can be believed, whether “objective” reporting is even possible, whether the history we were taught is indeed the “true” history of our country and our world.

Which consensus prevails will be crucial to every facet of our society. It is true that consensus views are constantly being challenged by events. To the extent that events can be fit into consensus views, the consensus can survive. In fact, the consensus can be tweaked when necessary. The idea that free trade is always good has been tweaked in the past to admit that it is not good for everyone and that those who lose their jobs need special assistance. The consensus survived and free trade agreements continued to flourish.

Now, the consensus is vanishing. Large parts of society do not believe that the current system serves them well. Wealth is being shifted up the income ladder as middle- and low-income families find their wages stagnant or declining.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Liberty Links 4/14/18 – World War 3

Liberty Links 4/14/18 – World War 3

World War 3
Sharing links unrelated to the reckless, criminal and unconstitutional act launched by Donald Trump and the U.S. government last night feels kinda inappropriate. As such, here are a few short paragraphs on what I think it all means. I’ll have more next week.

I think last night’s historically foolish action by the U.S., UK and France may mark the official start of World War 3. You could argue it began long ago, but there’s always been hope for the trends to reverse. We’ve now likely gone over the brink, and the odds of turning this ship around is so low it doesn’t deserve serious consideration.

Russian leadership are not a bunch of fools, nor will they back down. After last night, they know for certain the U.S. empire is determined to castrate them globally at all costs in order to impede an inevitable emergence of a multi-polar world.

I don’t think Russia or Iran will respond with a shock and awe attack any time soon, nor will this likely spiral out of control in the near-term. It’s more likely we’ll see this all play out over the course of the next 5 years or so.

I also don’t expect this to go nuclear, but I think the chances the U.S. experiences an imperial collapse similar to that of the USSR (or like any historically unmanageable and corrupt empire) has become increasingly likely. My view at this point is the U.S. and its global power position will be so dramatically altered in the years ahead, it’ll be almost unrecognizable by 2025, as a result of both economic decline and major geopolitical mistakes. This will cause the public to justifiably lose faith in all leadership and institutions.

I’ve been increasingly using Twitter to express my thoughts, so you should really check out my timeline there.

Here are a few tweets from the last 24 hours.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Facebook Uses Artificial Intelligence to Predict Your Future Actions For Advertisers, Says Confidential Document

SINCE THE CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA scandal erupted in March, Facebook has been attempting to make a moral stand for your privacy, distancing itself from the unscrupulous practices of the U.K. political consultancy. “Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” wrote Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, just a few weeks before founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hit Capitol Hill to make similar reassurances, telling lawmakers, “Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.” But in reality, a confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that the two companies are far more similar than the social network would like you to believe.

The recent document, described as “confidential,” outlines a new advertising service that expands how the social network sells corporations’ access to its users and their lives: Instead of merely offering advertisers the ability to target people based on demographics and consumer preferences, Facebook instead offers the ability to target them based on how they will behave, what they will buy, and what they will think. These capabilities are the fruits of a self-improving, artificial intelligence-powered prediction engine, first unveiled by Facebook in 2016 and dubbed “FBLearner Flow.”

One slide in the document touts Facebook’s ability to “predict future behavior,” allowing companies to target people on the basis of decisions they haven’t even made yet. This would, potentially, give third parties the opportunity to alter a consumer’s anticipated course. Here, Facebook explains how it can comb through its entire user base of over 2 billion individuals and produce millions of people who are “at risk” of jumping ship from one brand to a competitor.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The NSA Wants a Skeleton Key to Everyone’s Encrypted Data

The NSA Wants a Skeleton Key to Everyone’s Encrypted Data

Encryption can protect personal data from government intrusion, which means the government wants the key to break it.

Like it or not, you are your data. In this day and age, your receipts, social media activity, public records, GPS data, and internet search history are the proof of who you are. And while you may have thought you had secrets, the Federal Government would like the rest of them.

The seemingly innocuous pieces of information we trade away every day create a detailed mosaic of our lives used to target advertising and create personality profiles that are exploited by the FBI, political operatives like Cambridge Analytica, and Russian propagandists.

And those are just the legal shenanigans! Instances of malicious hacking that jeopardize social security numbers and other important data are on the rise as well.

But all hope is not lost! There is but one meaningful defense against such intrusions, one used by whistleblowers, banks, the government (often poorly), and college students: encryption.

Encryption Is Powerful, so Naturally the Government Wants to Control It

Encryption, to oversimplify, is the process of putting your data in a combination locked safe, and it’s becoming more popular. Like all passcodes, these combinations are best stored non-electronically.

Automatically encrypted search engines and internet services simplify the process for users. They protect individuals’ data from hacking, theft, and even the government, but they also retain a repository for all the combinations they use to lock data up.

This is the Trojan horse the NSA means to use to gain access to your private data even when it is encrypted.

But that may soon change.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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