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  • Brazilian President Snubs Obama: How US Cyber Espionage will Destroy the Internet
    • Ordinarily I would agree, but Brazil is a special case because of recent events. The anger at US intervention in the whole continent is still very strong, but the recent explosion in demonstrations in Brazil has left the government walking a *very* thin line. They *have* to placate the public so the World Cup and Olympics will go ahead and be successful, so they simply can't afford to have another mass movement flare up.

      Last time it was something as trivial as a small bus fare increase that triggered massive unrest. If they don't show they are serious about the NSA issue it could easily flare up again, closer to the big events.

      So, ordinarily you would be right but Brazil is feeling unique pressures from several important directions. It may well be that truly angering the US could end up being the least damaging action they could take.

    • If people actually think this might work, it doesn't bode well. Seriously, if you are using two different computers in two locations, how on earth do you think you can both see the same 'drafts' folder unless all that data is being stored on a centralised server?

      If you understand that, but think that the interception only occurs between 'send' and 'receive', you are still horribly mistaken.

      Simple truth: If some text is sent to your computer, over the internet, then it can be, and most likely *is* captured by the NSA along the way. They have explicitly described how they intercept and store the contents of the 'screen' that Google sends you when you view your inbox and other folders.

      Even if you connect to Google using HTTPS, so the stream is encrypted, it doesn't matter. The NSA has described how it does a 'man in the middle' attack to get the keys necessary to decrypt that data without you or Google knowing.

      It's all *much worse* than you think.

  • How Putin Saved Obama, Congress and the European Union from Further Embarrassing themselves on Syria
    • It's difficult to know what the real story is... but if the US team on Syria had really never even tested the waters to see if this outcome was possible it just goes to show how nothing has really changed.

      The CIA et al have had dozens of incidents over the years where their careful preplanning managed to completely miss an obvious and far less dangerous course of action.

      It's the paranoia that is so common in US diplomatic calculations that leads them to ignore possible solutions - since the Rand corp latched onto Game Theory back in the cold war, they always seems to plan under the assumption that their opponent is always lying.

      So, after the Syrians indicated they would be OK with handing over their CW stocks, the prevailing opinion all over the US cable networks was 'Well he's probably just lying and stalling for time'.

      Once again, if you *start* with that paranoid assumption then you are never going to find the best solution for everyone.

      The *only* thing that could scuttle this plan is if the US powers decide that Assad must be hiding more WMDs somewhere, even if thorough inspections and accounting suggest otherwise. And you can see this idea percolating among the beltway media already.

      They don't seem to realise that once you give in to paranoia, there's no way back. It's the most destructive characteristic possible in any nation.

  • Top Reasons John McCain and Lindsey Graham have no Credibility for Egypt Talks
    • I have to agree with Lrobby99 - this isn't; stop with the lists.

      Perhaps Mr Cole has been told that reformulating any article into a list instantly adds 50% more pageviews. This 'wisdom' has certainly been pushed to every corner of the web.

      But I think it's a mistake for this audience. We want analysis and opinion. Not lists. The type of reader that is attracted to lists isn't interested in genuine insight from an expert.

  • The Business of America is Spying on America (Engelhardt)
    • Why isn't there a hue and cry? One thing I've noticed is that people in general still view governments in the old-fashioned black & white categories.

      So, if you try to argue that the USA has become a totalitarian state, people will find that laughable because it doesn't have the trappings of totalitarianism we have been trained to expect.

      Does America imprison and murder people who publish critical opinions? Does America allow political parties and free elections? Does America force particular lifestyles or religions on everyone?

      Because the answer to these questions is 'no', it is very difficult to convince people that our democracy has actually been stolen. Most people aren't interested in the kind of in-depth discussion it would take to explain why those questions aren't useful anymore.

  • Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Defiant as Government Mulls Dispersing Crowds in Cairo, Giza
    • Given how dependent the Egyptian military is on the US, there is just no way they would refuse a serious order through classified channels to stop the mayhem.

      When Mubarak was falling, everyone familiar with the Egyptian military noted that the Army wouldn't do anything, one way or the other, without Pentagon approval.

      Obama makes lots of public statements. On his record you really have to stop taking them seriously. Watch what he actually *does* instead.

  • 'Every Stroke you Type': Greenwald Reveals Xkeyscore, Vindicating Snowden
    • Previously you would be dismissed as paranoid for asking questions like that. If your CC numbers are stolen, obviously it's a Russian or Chinese gang.

      Well now you don't sound so paranoid.

      Here's the thing: I think it's pretty unlikely that any NSA contractor would actually use the CC numbers themselves for quick financial gain.

      But in the dark net, there are plenty of marketplaces where CC numbers are traded by the thousand. It would not surprise me in the least if some rogue NSA contractor is harvesting CC numbers and selling them in bulk. He would have to be careful to only harvest numbers when the users have accidentally sent them in plain text or something, but even so there would be thousands every day.

      The key thing is that the system they have makes this possible. Whether or not it has happened yet is irrelevant.

  • "Whoever Speaks of 1967 borders speaks of Auschwitz": Israel Cabinet not Serious about talks on a Palestinian State
    • One day I think it's just inevitable that Israel will go all-out and claim everything it wants. The only thing the far-right nuts really want is that tiny bit of land under the Dome of the Rock, and to get that, they are willing to extend Israel's own border brick by bloody brick until the whole country is theirs.

      But can anyone really picture the destruction of the Dome and the new temple it will be replaced with? The Likud obviously can, and they know it's the one place they could never get by negotiation or bribery.

      How will it happen? It won't be peaceful, I'm sure. I wish they would just get it over with one way or the other.

  • On Anniversary of the First Moon Walk, it is the Chinese who Plan another
    • It's a mistake to refer to the technology level of the Chinese programme as a black mark against them, or indicative of the level of tech they are capable of.

      If you were responsible for getting a significant space program off the ground in a country like China, you would soon realise that the entire infrastructure of engineering, innovation, supply-chain integration, training, and so on would need to be built and well-tested before you could even hope to launch a rocket. Obviously they've been doing this for some time now so most of those components are in place.

      Now they want to stretch themselves, and a manned moon landing is such a PR-rich exercise it simply can't be allowed to fail. Anyone that understands the nature of risk management would want every part of the plan based on known and proven tech, and any area that required new tech would be highlighted as inherently riskier.

      The use of 'ancient' Soviet tech is a huge bonus in that context. It's what *I* would do. In the process of getting that ancient rocket to the moon and back, there are still thousands of ways to extend and test their space program as a whole. When they come to launching their own all-new rocket program, they can rely on the tested systems from the Moon mission to reduce risk as much as possible.

      It would be suicidal to try and use a brand-new platform for this manned Moon landing, if there were proven platforms available. The USA had to invent much more of the tech they used for the 1969 landings, but at every stage known tech was used if it was at all possible.

      The Moon landing for the Chinese will be a powerful cultural touchstone for generations to come, and a failure would be an equally grave embarrassment. Using 'ancient' tech is perfectly in keeping with the importance of success.

  • Fourth of July Comes a Day Early to Cairo after Fundamentalist President is Removed (video)
    • Morsi had spent the previous 6 months bulldozing his way through much of the democratic process in Egypt. Had has had endless opportunities to backtrack and accommodate others. Even if he acknowledged a mistake for once, something, any type of compromise...

      It's just hypocrisy to blather about democratic institutions now, after the farcical events of his 'term'.

      I don't like the coup either, to be honest. I would have far preferred that Morsi eventually capitulate on his own.

      Perhaps after three weeks of 24/7 protests, gradual collapse of his own support, and realising eventually that the army is keeping him prisoner... he would resign like Mubarak.

      The army obviously thinks the country doesn't need that three weeks of violence and strife. It certainly shows them in an honorable light.

      But people generally say that the Pentagon calls the shots for Egypt's military, and it's hardly surprising that the US would back a coup against the Muslim Brotherhood.

      Obama can waffle about democratic process in public, but the long-term agenda of the US is what matters behind the scenes. This coup fits in pretty well with US interests, I would think.

  • US bugged EU offices, Collects 1/2 Billion German Internet & Phone Connections Monthly
    • There was a Guardian story over the weekend featuring an ex-intelligence officer of some type.

      His point was that the Europeans expressing surprise about this are being willfully dishonest, as they have all known about it for a very long time. He mentioned various reasons that this is obviously true, and I'm certain he's right.

      The real problem is the culture where people think this kind of intra-national espionage is just part and parcel of normal international relations. In fact, while the use of spying goes back thousands of years, there have actually been many notable periods when it wasn't considered acceptable outside of specific war requirements.

      The only time that it becomes acceptable is when a culture has undergone 'ponerization' (look it up, it's worth understanding). This is when we have so many sociopaths in key positions that the pathological outlook is considered 'normal' and even non-sociopaths who grow up in such a culture can't see anything wrong.

      Out culture is definitely compromised in this way. We raise people with the idea that honesty is a virtue, but you can't get anywhere *near* the levers of power without being made to understand that this only applies to the teeming masses. Anyone who is to be considered 'serious' has to agree that dishonesty and suspicion is the ideal way to approach any type of negotiation.

      So there's 'nothing wrong' with a company using every conceivable advantage to win business over it's competitors. If this includes espionage, then they would be negligent not to. This is supposed to stay within the limits of the law, but anyone serious knows that the law is no barrier to competitive advantage. You get away with whatever you can.

      This is a pathological mindset that's infected our culture and is now seen in every aspect of people's lives.

      Teenagers on the school football team are encouraged to push the rules as far as possible. Players are encouraged to use verbal abuse and bullying tactics during play, described by an famous Australian cricket player as 'mental disintegration', a perfectly fine tool to have in your bag of tactics.

      Bear in mind, of course, that all sports teams at all levels bray endlessly about honor and sportsmanship. Children learn very early that this is all hot air - their heroes are caught using drugs in every sport in every country. We pretend this is bad, but any athlete who gets near world-class will be under immense pressure to cheat if they can do so without detection.

      This is a pathological mindset. It's not as simple as blaming capitalism or free-markets or libertarians. The problem is sociopathic people, and they will try to work their way into the most powerful positions under *any* system of government or market theory.

      I think people are sick of this pathological mentality that's taken over our species. This is why 'primitive' peoples like the Native Americans used to think the white man's ideas were so strange - they weren't yet exposed to a sociopathic culture. To a healthy mindset our culture is obviously demented, but to us it has become so much part of the fabric of life that we can't quite imagine any other way.

      Since the Snowden affair started, I've been thinking that a new global movement might be necessary. I was a kid in the 1970s when the anti-nuke movement started getting speed up, and by the mid-80s I was in New Zealand when they declared a nuclear-free zone around the whole country. I seems like nothing now, but at the time this was *very* controversial among the population, and there were intense protests and public battles between left and right.

      When they first suggested a nuke-free zone, the idea was laughable to everyone. It would require us to break our treaties with the US and Australia! We would be thrown out of ANZUS and China or anyone could just walk right in! A tiny little country like NZ can't survive alone!

      These days that all seems hysterically wrong, and the non-nuke policy has been a tourism boon for NZ on the world stage. It hasn't hurt our relationship with the US or anyone else. What's more, it showed that the idea isn't ridiculous and made a nuclear-weapon-free planet seem possible.

      So perhaps now would be a good time to start a 'no-spying' campaign. The establishment would laugh, because it's pathological. But over time momentum could build and it could really take off. Perhaps we could get a small country like NZ to adopt an 'espionage-free zone' for the entire country, and that would raise the awareness of the issue enormously.

      We have to persuade people that life and prosperity *is* possible without a pathological mindset. It won't be easy. Something like an espionage-free zone campaign would start that process.

  • Duelling Demonstrations Divide Egypt over Morsi and Fundamentalism
    • There's definitely a ton of problems with Morsi, and the general result of the revolution so far.

      But I do have sympathy for the argument that the voters have to work within the rules of the democratic process. There's a real danger that another revolution now will just make a third one all the more likely. Stable government will be impossible if revolutions occur before the first term of every government is up.

      However, the danger with leaving Morsi in power is that he will take steps to make himself invincible in the next election. Many people think he is already doing exactly that, and it's difficult to see his actions as pure incompetence, or caused because he's politicaly 'tone deaf'.

      I can only keep my fingers crossed that Morsi isn't the puppet of the Brotherhood that I think he is. It really does look like another revolution will be needed, but I fear it would be many times more violent than the last one.

  • NSA says they can't reveal if they Spied on You because it would 'Help Our Enemies' (Larson)
    • The response seems excessively paranoid and fearful, as if revealing the extent of the data they have about you would actually help any other country.

      But it makes perfect sense if you figure out who they mean by 'adversaries'. They mean YOU, the average US citizen.

      Once you realise that, the response makes perfect sense.

  • Top Ten Ways US TV News are Screwing us Again on NSA Surveillance Story (Iraq Redux)
    • The issue of private businesses controlling all this data is indeed a serious one.

      We know from the Stratfor and other leaks of email databases, that many of these private contractors offer their services to private corporations all the time. That's their business. Stratfor, for example, offered to organize a smear campaign to frighten Glen Greenwald into silence, back when he was reporting on Wikileaks and that 'Collateral Murder' video.

      Other emails have shown that they promised to use their 'leverage and access' within the FBI to find out about an active investigation for a private client.

      There can be no question that they are happy to use any of the data that they acquire on behalf of the government in the course of offering services to private clients that often include foreign companies, and even the official governments of smaller countries.

      The real problem is that this isn't strange or unusual; this has *always* been the case. The CIA, and the OSS before it, were created explicitly to serve the interests of the US's wealthiest families. The staff that made up these agencies were almost entirely hired out of various big corporations existing internal intelligence agencies. The CIA's plots over the years to overthrow elected goverments in Iran, or Guatamala, or anywhere else, have always been doen to protect the interests of private corporations in those countries. United Fruit was the company whose plantations in Cuba and all across South America were threatened by the populist uprisings, and the CIA's murderous and bloody rampage across that continent was entirely devoted to protecting those commercial assets.

      This is how the US has always worked. We hear from every politician and military or intel officer that these covert ops are always for 'protecting Americas interests' overseas.

      Well, what are 'Americas interests'? They are business interests, and always have been. The entire pentagon, CIA, and NSA apparatus has been used to protect corporate interests before anything else, since at least WW2, and often a lot before that.

      As someone famous once said, the business of America *is* business. It's pretty amazing that 99% of the population don't really understand this.

    • No, I'm not really surprised. I realised what Maddow is a long time ago, and since Olbermann's firing she's done exactly what I expected.

      But, I write posts like the earlier one in the hope that everyone will see what's going on. The partisan hackery really does escape many people, they tune in to their favorite echo-chamber and just take everything said as fact.

      It may give you an opportunity to feel smug by pointing out that 'anybody' should already know this stuff, but that's useless. Keep shouting it from the rooftops until everybody knows and is angry. Change doesn't come from people who keep the truth to themselves.

    • You have no evidence for any of those assertions.

      Either way, we can be quite certain that both Chinese and Russian intelligence services already *have* access to everything Snowden might be carrying. We know that every side of the 'cold war' had agents, double agents, and even triple agents at all sorts of levels in every major government. Every so often a new one gets caught, and everyone is surprised.

      We know for a fact that almost ONE MILLION people in the US have 'top secret' clearance and can access all this stuff. The chances that the other sides haven't yet 'turned' one of these MILLION people is zero.

      Nobody in China or Russia needs to get access to Snowden's files. What's more, I'm sure he has them all encrypted with the very simple standard that the NSA admits it can't crack. That's why they are allowed to store encrypted data forever, so one day they can crack it.

      So on more or less every front, your arguments are either ignorant or ridiculous.

    • Are you talking about the Monday night shows? I didn't watch Hayes, but Maddow was just awful.

      She has become completely supine to the current administration since Olbermann got canned.

      In her segment on Snowden's flight from Hong Kong, she made every effort possible to imply that he really is spying, that he has sold or given loads of secrets to the Chinese or Russians, or that he is not taking any care to prevent the Russians and Chines from *somehow* stealing the documents from him.

      Snowden recently said that he took the job at Booz-Allen specifically to have more access to documents that would prove the many accusations of criminality he is making.

      Maddow took this and quoted it as if that was obvious evidence that his motives were not patriotic. As if only a spy would do something like that.

      This would be bad enough from anyone who sells themselves as a real journalist. But this is a woman who wrote a book last year, 'drift', which argued that the national security and military complex had grown more and more 'unmoored' from it's real purpose since the collapse of the USSR, and was in danger of growing out of control and endangering the country itself.

      The author of that book ought to be jumping on these NSA revelations as evidence of just how right she was.

      But she is treating Snowden as if he is exactly the spy that the government claims he is. Her tone was sarcastic every time she mentioned him.

      It's just pathetic, but she is obviously willing to be establishment stenographer if the alternative is following Olbermann out the door.

      Maddow is now in the same category as Scarborough, Chuck Todd, David Gregory, and all the other media cretins.


  • Are Chemical Weapons use in Syria really Obama's Red line? (Feaver)
    • From the information I've seen about the current conflict in Syria, a plurality of rebels believe their own plight will only worsen if the US or any international force is brought into the conflict. Evidence from Iraq and Libya would tend to underline that fear.

      If anyone outside the government does decide to carry out their own 'false flag' gas attack to get the US into the war, it is very unlikely to be the real 'rebels' (of which there are already several distinct varieties) and more likely to be some kind of foreign secret-service interference for their own benefit.

      God only knows how anyone is ever supposed to know the truth.

  • Egyptian Protesters Demand Military Step Down in Wake of Blue Bra Beating
    • What kind of a man does that, Joe? Well, the answer is kind of creepy but its this: A man who isn't all that far from you, Joe.

      There is no lack of evidence that very nearly all human beings can 'revert' to a barbarous mentality much quicker than anyone would guess, and with far more brutality than most people think they are capable of.

      The old saying, which says something similar to 'Every so-called civilisation is just 3 missed meals away from total collapse'. i.e. if a government screws up the food supply and a nation has to go three meals in a row without food, the general population will go utterly insane with rage and fear and just about any outcome is possible.

      Second, we know that people behave very differently in large groups than they do alone or in smaller groups. A large group of angry humans is a mighty force for catastrophe every bit the equal of terrible earthquakes or tsunamis.

      And then we have those experiments done in Stanford where they set volunteers up in a prison environment, with some as guards and some as prisoners. The results shocked most people as we found that even nuns are capable of administering lethal electric shocks if there is an authority figure present telling them they must do it. Google 'stanford prison' to read more on that.

      All together, we have to recognise now that it is perfectly possible, given the right circumstances and motivation, for someone like Joe to devolve into a beast capable of physically beating a defenceless woman and much worse. This is what happened at Gitmo, and probably every other military black prison around the world that the US operates, as new recruits were taught to seek out the most efficient ways to humiliate and eventually break a prisoner regardless of the dignity lost in the process.

      You can do this stuff, Joe. Almost all of us can. There is a very small number of humans that fight against this much harder than the rest of us, and sometimes they manage to resist it completely. But these people aren't identifiable, and they aren't the pacifists or other stereotypes.

  • Our News and their News
    • Well, that may be true, if you mean teach by showing them what *not* to do. The US may have had ideal versions of some of the things in your list at some point, but these days they definitely do not.

      Democracy? When you have a 2-party lock on everything, where analysis shows plainly that whoever spends the most money wins, where legislation is designed by the people it should be applied to, and where legislators and lobbyists literally swap places every few years? It's not democracy by any definition I would recognise.

      Free Speech? When protest groups at almost any large event are coralled into 'speech zones' and arrested if they attempt to get closer to the actions? When a popular senator can say in public that people just attending radical speeches should be locked up? When whistleblowers are prosecuted more forcefully than at any other time in US history while the criminals they blow the whistle on walk free? There are too many examples to list, but I assure you the practise of free speech in the USA is dead.

      Human Rights? Now you are joking, surely? The USA imprisons hundreds of people without any proof, without any charges, tortures, maims, and in some cases kills them outright, then invokes states secrets privilege to prevent them ever seeing the inside of a courtroom? When a US president asserts the right to assassinate anyone, even US citizens, far from any war zone and for reasons he doesn't have to disclose to anyone? When every US citizen can be spied on without a warrant for reasons again that need not be disclosed? Human rights are a bad joke in the US.

      Capitalism? The economic, financial, and industrial systems in the USA are as far removed from capitalism as is possible. Failed companies are perpetually bailed out by the taxpayers, honest competition is considered a sin by the wealthy elite families and every CEO learns quickly that it is far more reliable and profitable to cheat, bribe, and lobby your way to market domination instead of actually competing equally with other companies?

      I hope those poor developing countries *do* look to the US and learn about all these important subjects, i.e. how they can be subverted and destroyed when enough money is applied.

      And then they find other countries where these things actually exist, and learn about them there as well.

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