Monthly Archives: May 2014

Egyptians Disinterested In Mock Elections: Boredom @ Validating Dictators

Summary:

– Government is trying to legitimize election by turning up more voters in spite of the fact that after routine undermining of the legal rights of the opposition and persecution of them has turned away all interest in an election.

(The opposition appears to be doing the only thing that they can: resisting the whole of the mock process in hopes to remind the world that this is all an illegitimate plight.)

– Some Mosques were even playing announcements that if you love God, go vote for Sisi. Apparently Allah in this one prefers to validate military dictatorships over pious clerical organizations.

– Elections are extended another day, and a holiday is declared in hopes of getting up the vote numbers.

– In the first election where the Muslim Brotherhood won the voter turnout was incredibly high. People are realizing that this is all a sham… And, as it says, ‘the youth are losing faith in the system.’

It turns out that those who were skeptical of the Arab Spring were essentially right as nothing has really come for the positive in either Libya or Egypt. It appears that, more or less, the remnants of that movement have been lost and if there is to be a hope of a great reform in the future it will have to be found in another revolution years later.

And this time much more directly against the military who is in direct collusion with the new Egyptian government.

… Honestly, the best thing that could happen to Egypt now would be to drop the facade of democracy and just turn into an Arab Nationalist Fascist sate… But, hey, they are not going to do something for the national interest but rather Sisi is going to be a confused dictator of middling intellect more interested in getting pat on the head by the Europeans & Americans with one of those illegitimate “legit” governments that was elected.

Fun times.

US Charges 5 in Chinese Army w/ Hacking: Can We Charge 5 in NSA w/ Hacking?

There seems to now be surfacing a precedent where we can charge foreign nationals who are actively doing service to their country’s government with hacking for tapping into the sensitive data of corporations:

The Justice Department indicted five Chinese military officers, alleging they hacked U.S. companies’ computers to steal trade secrets, a major escalation in the fight between the two superpowers over economic espionage.

The indictment, unsealed Monday, marks the first time the U.S. government has publicly accused employees of a foreign power with cybercrimes against American firms. It also marks the most extensive formal allegations by the government of the kind of hacking that American corporations have long complained about, but until now have rarely acknowledged.

Among those named as victims in the document are brand names from America’s industrial heartland, including U.S. Steel Corp., Westinghouse Electric Co. and Alcoa Inc.

U.S. officials said other cases relating to China are being prepared. In addition, alleged hackers in Russia are likely to be charged soon, according to people familiar with the government’s investigations. U.S. agencies have also been investigating incidents with possible ties to Iran and Syria, these people say.

It is unlikely the suspects will ever be brought to trial in the U.S., since there is no extradition treaty with China. Yet in publicly naming the five, and providing details in a 48-page indictment, the Obama administration is ratcheting up the political and diplomatic costs to China and others if they use computers to steal secrets or attack U.S. interests.

Wall Street Journal

The only question I have… Can we charge the NSA or other US Gov’t agencies with, similarly, violating the property of American parties?

The definite plus side is that, since we are Americans, we can actually bring them to justice as we have jurisdiction over these agents who operate within America! 

The difference, of course, is that the most powerful office in America protects some Americans from hacking into the accounts and sensitive information, but it doesn’t prevent others. A significant barrier to justice…

But I thought only corrupt countries had ways of skirting their own laws for the powerful and elite to fulfill their will?

… Only corrupt countries.

Anti-Russian Policy Compromises US Space Program

The Obama administration has dropped the ball on effectively containing Russian foreign policy successes — whether Syria or the Ukraine, the Russians have been able to get everything they want and then some.

Recently we put some really cute sanctions on the Russians — incredibly weak and ineffective ones that cannot disrupt the Russians in any real sense but are meant to look like they are doing something. Sec. of State John Kerry refers to this as a scalpel rather than a hammer, as if to lend credence to his impotent policies.

But the Russians, of course, are not going to stand by and watch:

Here is an informative video on the issue:

And here is a more detailed article specifically concerning rockets:

PARIS, WASHINGTON – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said May 13 that Moscow would halt the sale of RD-180 and NK-33 rocket engines to the U.S. for the purpose of launching military satellites.

The RD-180 is used to power the first stage of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, while a modified version of the NK-33 – the Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-26 – provides core propulsion on the first stage of the Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares launch vehicle.

“We will assume that, without guarantees that our engines are used only for launching non-military spacecraft, we won’t be able to deliver them to the U.S.,” Rogozin told reporters during a news conference.

ULA, which says it has more than two year’s worth of RD-180 engines in its U.S. inventory, is “not aware of any restrictions,” according to a company statement. “If recent news reports are accurate, it affirms that [Space Exploration Technology’s] SpaceX’s irresponsible actions have created unnecessary distractions, threatened U.S. military satellite operations, and undermined our future relationship with the International Space Station.” The company is referencing a protest in Federal Claims Court filed April 28 by SpaceX claiming that the Air Force’s five-year, sole-source deal with ULA unfairly cut the company, and its new Falcon 9 v1.1 launcher, out of the competition. The filing prompted a temporary injunction in payments for RD-180 work and thrust the issue into the public debate amid mounting tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Aviation Week

The whole venture has been a great disaster in the end for Americans who will now have to find other means to send satellites into space if they are truly determined to continue squaring off with the Russians.

This, of course, comes with the fact that our economy isn’t what it used to be and our entire military sector is merely a series of vast dependencies on military contractors who are fleecing the tax payers. Of course, we will get off the ground again — and spend ten times as much as necessary towards Northrop-Grumman or some other contracting agency that makes far too much money.

This whole Ukraine debacle has only shown the inability of the European & American dove administrations from doing anything effective at all.

It is hard to watch these people work. They are nothing more than overly idealistic imbeciles who really look like they are having their first go at foreign policy — and for all intents & purposes, that is fairly true. 🙂

Conversations With the 16th Century, Part I: Intro, Religion & Politics

This is for a series on my visits with my 16th century ancestor; this part will focus on Religion & Politics as topics; I plan that the next iterations will include Francois Beroalde de Verville on Science, Psychology, Korea and other topics. This will hopefully be a long going exercise. cThis is meant to be something anyone can do — I really invite people to have fun with things like this, and to use it as a tool to re-interpret their own lives.

The voice I take with F. B. d Verville is sometimes very reactionary and perhaps overly positive towards religion; however, it is joyously impious towards the modern Republic and even challenges the Sacred Cow of 9/11 (something I personally do not do), so it can be rough around the edges but this is also what, I think, makes the FBdV character fun. Enjoy.

<Start>

The 16th century French renaissance novelist, poet & intellectual François Béroalde de Verville recently visited. To be honest, I am not sure that I am actually a direct descendant of him, and he, himself, wasn’t even sure either. But he merely shook his head left to right and said in an incredibly thick accent, “That is not the point here… Clearly, you bear the name ‘Verville,’ and whether there is such a direct bloodline is irrelevant. You are from the House Verville, yes?”

“Well, yes, of course… I mean, my father is, and so is his father, and I imagine it continues back,” I replied.

“Then isn’t that all that matters?” He explained to me that bloodlines are a tricky thing and that he doesn’t even really know much about his family, truly, but a name was just enough. He then looked around my modest apartment and admitted immediately that he didn’t know what many of the things are; he was amazed at the material development we have, and said that he already was aware of some basics of it, and could predict such development as inevitable from the advances in Natural Philosophies (or ‘Science’) , but he still remarked that he would imagine I must be a very rich & privileged man.

“What makes you say that?”

“You carry with you several books! You must own, what? Nearly two hundred books, just in one room? You have shelves full of them! I do not recognize some of the things here, obviously, as I do not leave the French renaissance very often, but I would imagine that books are still quite a luxury. Not to mention, you are presumably capable of reading these… Certainly you hold some sort of position here?”

“Well, I hope to one day become something of a scholar but I have no real special position at all. I just go to University and tutor English on the side… In fact, well over half of the people will go to University even if they do not necessarily finish, and nearly all people are able to read and can own books like this…”

“And so you live in some kind of paradise! You are telling me, all the people can read…? I mean, even the women here, can read? The farmer’s wife, she can read books? I know that the Priests teach even peasants to write their names and to be able to read some things, and it is common for young boys & girls that show particular promise to become Monks, Nuns or Priests and thereby leaders of their community, but the idea of the farmer’s wife reading a book… How far we’ve come!”

“Of course… And now only a relatively small percentage of Europeans or North Americans are even farmers…”

I had to explain to him at length the idea of North America as a completely settled location, from coast to coast; he wasn’t incredibly surprised that this happened but was particularly fixated on the idea of near universal literacy and the shift away from the agrarian community. He was incredibly excited about the United States, Canada & the whole of South America being Republics like Rome, and he nearly hit the ceiling when I told him that not only is France now a Republic but that the Royal family’s bloodline is basically irrelevant.

“This is a strange question but… Is it OK if I were to tell you that I reject the many teachings of the Catholic Church, and that I am a Huguenot?”

I told him it was OK and he nearly wept tears of joy after explaining that at the age of 17 his family had to flea to Geneva for their persecution of heresy and eventually he had to abjure his Calvinism and secretly practice it or live a life of exile with no opportunities. The idea of free practice of religion struck him as utterly revolutionary. He became very upset with the idea, though, of free religion to the extent that people openly questioned not just Catholicism but the very concept of religion. This led to a lengthy discussion where at the end of it he essentially revealed that he was comfortable with the idea of a Republic, and he was comfortable with the idea of living even with non-Christian peoples provided they didn’t have the right to enslave him and sell him to a Turkish man to be used as a sex toy which seemed like all too great a concern to him, but he found open atheism to be vaguely disturbing.

“Why is that? You never met an atheist?”

“Oh no, not exactly that. There were plenty of people around who would privately confess the idea that they doubted there was any God at all, but we all tacitly understood that openly opposing Christianity or saying this is somehow bad is blasphemy.”

“But what, exactly then, is blasphemy?”

He went on to explain that the concept of blasphemy is not unlike the concept of treason. What I got from it is that, basically, there are two authorities: God & King. And even if you do not believe that there is a God at all, that does not change the fact that one of the authorities in your community is the Church. Likewise, even if you do not regard the King as the rightful ruler of the Land or have major problems with all of his policies and think he is foolish, he is still your King. Plenty of people think that there might be no God, and plenty of people think that the King isn’t the best potential ruler, but as a matter of obligation and loyalty one cannot commit blasphemy or treason. It is simply an open act of total rebellion.  And naturally, the King will protect the Church to some level because they have a mutual relationship; these laws of Blasphemy & Treason naturally extend one another.

Of course, there are overzealous clergy & tyrannical Kings from time to time, Francois noted, but this just comes with any government.

“And you cannot really criticize the Church so much… I mean, of course, we Calvinists did so, but we did so only from a theological background. Anyone who understands the mechanics of society can appreciate that, without the Church, everything would be a backwoods dung heap. I have heard it said that maybe there isn’t any God, and that nature is just merely a naturally self-continuing event, but the idea of advocating such a view in the face of the Church who taught me how to read, who civilized the barbarous peoples of Europe after the fall of Rome, and who gave basic right to live, right to rest; and women! Jesus, the women now are married only to one man ,and no longer can they be forced into positins where while they have a husband they can legally be ravished by their Master as well? ”

“Can you credit all of that to the Church, really?”

“More or less. Perhaps there is some natural tendency for things to get better over time, but you must remember – – we do have the corrupt Bishop, we do have the bad clergy, and I even protested that with my family and risked my life… But at the end of the day, more clergy took vows of poverty & chastity and worked for the common good.

“Even if there was no God, and you really believe that so strong, why would you advocate a useless idea? It disrespects a great civilizing force & authority, and the people who provide all our well being. Sure, I think there are issues with the Church being immune to criticism but it is not like they are any worst than the King! Tell the King you don’t believe in his right to rule and see where that gets you — no place better.

“Even in rebellion to the Church, we understood that there must always be maintained some Second Authority in addition to the Government. You know, Rome’s Religion & Government were a singular, united authority. Religion is always an authority — either it is incorporated into the State, or it is a Stand Alone authority, often cooperative with the State.”

“We don’t view the Church as being one of the Authorities in the community so much anymore…”

“OK, well, then who is doing the charity work? Who is the person that takes care of the orphans? Who gives healing and bread to paupers? Who teaches the peasant children to read and do simple maths, who teaches them morals?”

“The Government.”

“The Republic? Oh, that is nonsensical… Government exists to rule the people and maintain law and order. If the government were to be any bigger, wouldn’t it be so difficult?”

“In all honesty, the education system is pretty good, and in much of Europe they successfully operate health care.” Francois looked a little intrigued by that and thought silently on it for a period.

“Perhaps the health care thing is good if the Church truly doesn’t provide as much, I guess. But as for education, isn’t this a total conflict of interest — you have the Government teaching the Children, and then the children grow up to vote for the government! How do you rectify that? Don’t the children just grow up to vote for whatever the King, err, Consul wants?

“What if the Consuls give education to the people to convince them that they are Good, and that in the future, they should only vote for men with their moral perspective and credential. Couldn’t they create some monopoly and just manipulate the people? I really think that if the Republic controlled the education, they would find a way to manipulate people to sustain themselves and we might end up with the Plutocracy or Oligarchy… You know, Plato wrote about this issue of democratic societies always devolving…”

Naturally, this was an extremely lengthy discussion. I explained the modern situation to him and he felt dissatisfied… When I explained about campaign donations, and I talked about the nature of various 20th and 21st century Presidents and the leadership of the state, he laughed aloud…

“Oh, OK, so you aren’t really a Republic…”
“You don’t think so?”

“Of course not! You live in an Oligarchical society that is run by the merchant class. This really isn’t much better than the Monarchy I lived under — sure, it is more stable to sort of do whatever you want, but that is entirely irrelevant to the government. It is an empty value that instead of increasing benefit to the citizens only makes the elites that rule over you more repugnant and lawless…

“Sure, our monarchy was a troubled situation but there was a certain decorum that everyone from the peasant to the King had to meet. And if anyone violated it too much, the Second Authority, the Church, could come and even make a Noble man or woman humbled. There was something civilized and polite about the whole matter, though it is of course far from the ideal. What you describe… it just sounds like an Oligarchy. I mean, what are these rich Ladies & Gentlemen doing parading their sexuality & children around in the public like something we should all be jealous of? Why do these rich people constantly build monuments to themselves through award ceremonies and Public Announcements of their deeds? And then when it is time for the election, all of these Rich Merchants put on public Moral Dramatics & Theatrics to influence the people, and they promise them these benefits…. Basically, modern day Bread & Circuses?

“What about this strikes you as a Republic, Jacob? I mean, correct me if I am wrong, but this doesn’t really sound like some ideal, democratic community where a highly dignified and obligated government is made up of and upheld by the conscientious & loyal citizens, whose every action is meant to be motivated by Truth, Idealism; Philosophy; Virtue. It sounds like your Republic is just rich people carefully balancing their maximum material gain with promises of bread & circuses.

“You even sound like Carthage — Great Dog of Egypt, you send your military to fight the Mohammedans in Arabia al-Iraq & the Hindu Kush (or, you say, Afghani-Land or some such) , and clearly it seems it was just for that ‘oil’ and money… .

“You can’t be serious that you thought, for a moment, that some Mohammedan Army was going to take over your country? You also can’t be serious that you think the Mohammedans that killed some of your Merchants & Military Officers weren’t just doing that because they were sick of your involvement in their lands..?

“I mean, if you had foreign merchants come to your country, set up an Oligarchy to rule over you, and give those Oligarchs the money through trade, and outright give them weapons and an Army… Wouldn’t you also be angry? Did you really expect that they wouldn’t have rebellions? I hate to be callous, but isn’t 9/11 just a sort of rebellion like this, but with the modern technology?”

“… But I thought we were giving them a democratic society, and the opportunity to become a good Republic…”

“That is your biggest error, Jacob. A Republic can only exist if the Merchants & the Generals do not seize the power. You set up a scenario where the only people that could get into power were the Merchants & the Generals. And then you are so surprised that the Arabs of the Iraq, and the Arabs of the Syria, that they seek refuge in a Tyrant! But that is exctactly what Syracuse did under Agathocles. The common man all rallied around the Tyrant Agathocles so that he could protect them from the Merchants & Nobles…

“Don’t they teach you about Democracy & the Republic at all?… I hate to be comical for a minute, but wouldn’t it really be apt if you called this ‘United States of America’ the ‘United States of Carhago Nova?! Or ‘New Cartagena?!’ Isn’t that a delightful observation comique?”

It was vaguely delightful but I honestly was feeling depressed at this point.

“But do not be sad, Jacob. You have religious freedom, and that is pretty amazing. You have so many books , and that is wonderful. These are all good things. I am just very concerned for you — and I think you illustrated my point about Government in general… The government runs the education system, and they taught you that you live in a Republic when, in reality, as a man who never dreamed he would experience a Republic, even I know this is no Republic.”

The conversation kept going and he continued to ask more and more about our state of political affairs. Francois smiled at me, and spoke: “You all seem concerned with the evils of the Monarchs and of the Church and the potential cruelty of laws about Blasphemy and of Treason, but you just changed around some of the dynamics.

“Now, it is blasphemy to not believe in the State; I can tell by your red face I have committed some great blasphemy by suggesting you are no Republic at all. And I can tell that, while this may not be illegal, it doesn’t have to be. A person can just be ostracized — ostracizing is a more powerful tactic than any! For it suggests that the people are so loyal to this Oligarchy that gives them their bread & circuses that it isn’t even dangerous to criticize the system…

“In some real sense, they have more power over you than our governments & church had over us; we were easily corruptible and measures had to always be taken. But, in your case, I guess we cannot corrupt that which is already corrupt, and the victory of the Oligarchy is a complete & total moral victory over the citizen, to the point where the ‘citizen’ does not even have the power to unite with one another, so distracted they are with bread & circuses, so fractured and self-obsessed, so disrespectful of any amount of authority, just as Plato implied as a criticism of the democratic state

“You know, I thought that the Church played a secondary only moral authority role in your society, and that the Church’s moral authority was outside of the State, but it has become more apparent that you are just as the Romans or Carthaginians in the sense of religion, too.”

“How so, Francois?”
“You have a united Religion & Government as a singular authority.”

“What do you mean?”
“Well, the government tells you exactly what you should believe & have faith in, just like a religion. They give you a certain philosophical & moral line in your education, and they use this to club you over the head. Sure, we had the religion fed to us out of the palm of the hand of the Priests… But I am not sure that this was as bad as what you have. You do not even get the beneficial certainty of a Heaven that the medieval peasant got — rather, you get longwinded indoctrination into loyalty to an Oligarch. So really, is that anymore dubious than us?”

It was here that the conversation rather began to piddle out and Francois yawned and said he would be off to bed. However, he promised to talk a bit more about his observations in the near future. Politics & religion, indeed, did fascinate him in this brave new world, but he was interested to analyze science and other topics before returning to it.

“Of this ‘future Republic’ I have heard enough for now.”

 

(Open to criticisms; keep in mind this is how I imagine a 16th century Huguenot with some education in the classics + other things would perceive the modern world.)

‘The Politics of Denunciation’ : a look into the radical feminist movement

Thomas Paine Cox posted this article somewhere, and thank you very much for it. I find it to be an interesting look into what is all too often an incomprehensible far leftist movement that is so hard for many people who aren’t involved to relate to. Perhaps because of reasons that my good friend Jan has pointed out time & time again: in these organizations the Left is not actually attempting to create real, meaningful change but is more focused on creating an environment where they can compete for the ultimate prize of King of the Politically Correct Social Justice Warriors.

Such a precedent, of course, points out the glaring flaw of many of the revolutionary movements: that they are not even really working towards an end goal but they are merely forming their own community and their perceived networking is nothing more than being active in a social club.

Not to mention all of the below article will illustrate just how foreign & bourgeois they end up becoming to even the people who might normally express interest in membership in a leftist organization working for their betterment:

A year ago, on February 28, 2013, at an event titled “Patriarchy and the Movement,” I watched as a friend of mine attempted to pose several questions based on her experience trying to address domestic violence and other abuse in the context of radical organizing.

“Why have the forms of accountability processes that we’ve seen in radical subcultures so regularly failed?” she asked.  “Is there a tension between supporting a survivor’s healing and holding perpetrators accountable?”  

At that point she was, quite literally, shouted down. An angry roar came up from the crowd, from both the audience and the panelists.  It quickly became impossible to hear her and, after a few seconds, she simply stopped trying to speak.

The weeks that followed produced an atmosphere of distrust and recrimination unlike anything I had experienced in more than twenty years of radical organizing.  A few people were blamed for specific transgressions.  (My friend was one: she was accused of violating the venue’s “Safer Space” policy, “triggering” audience members, and employing “patriarchal mechanisms” in her statement.)  Others were called out for unspecified abusive or sexist behavior.  And a great many more were alleged to have supported or defended or coddled those guilty of such offenses.

Keep reading for the explanation of this particularly confusing twist in the plot. It is surprising for all of us who do not live in a world where easy & resolute denunciations of people for wanting to have a political discussion come in.

I kind of chuckle reading this and imagine that some of the major conflicts within the Soviet Union or Mao’s China were not unlike this — ideological veterans speaking a language that they can only readily access bantering over a million silly abstractions:

The ensuing controversy destroyed at least one political organization, and an astonishing number of activists––many with more than a decade of experience––talked about quitting politics altogether.  I know people who lost friends and lovers, often not because of anything they had done, but because of how they felt about the situation. Several people––mostly women, interestingly––told me they were afraid to say anything about the controversy, lest they go “off-script” and find themselves denounced as bad feminists.

 

Questioning

 

One might expect that in the midst of conflict questions about how we address abusive behavior and hold each other accountable would seem particularly relevant.  Instead, in a statement released after the event, the unnamed “Patriarchy and the Movement” organizers tried to bar such questions from being raised at all. They wrote:

“We also feel that framing the discourse around survivor’s needs as ‘political disagreements’ or ‘political arguments’ is in of itself sexist––as it pretends that this conversation should be emptied of subjective narrative, or that there is an equal playing ground in the conversation because the conversation itself isn’t about real power, or that this conversation itself isn’t already racialized and gendered. It is also problematic, in that it suggests that there is a neutral or objective rationality in this debate, rather than the possibility that the debate itself and the content of the debate is a socially contingent result of prevailing power dynamics.”

If political framing does all that––assumes objectivity, equality, ahistoriocity, race and gender neutrality, and an absence of power––then it becomes hard to see how political discussion is possible, not only about gender, but at all.  On the other hand, if political discussion relies on those conditions, then not only would it be impossible, it would also be unnecessary.  For it is precisely the disputes over truth, the contested facts of history, identity, inequality, and power that give politics its shape, its content, and its significance.  The second sentence of the above quotation contradicts the first:  the argument runs that this discussion cannot be political, because it is necessarily political.  

           

Their statement continues:

“There are direct consequences to these ‘debates’, and there [are] physical bodies involved. As survivors and feminists, we must become cautious when our bodies[,] our safety, and our well-being, as well as our needs around our bodies, safety, and well beings, become the subject of ‘political debate’. For us, there is more at stake here than just the merits of a ‘debate’. Our bodies, safety, health, personal autonomy, and well-beings are at stake. We do not agree with people having a ‘political argument’ at our expense. The outcome could be life or death for us.”

That is true: There are serious consequences to the debate about accountability.  There are lives, and not merely principles, at stake.  But rather than being a reason not to argue these issues, that is precisely the reason that we must.  

If politics means anything, it means that there are consequences––sometimes, literally, life or death consequences––to the decisions we make.  When it comes to war, climate change, immigration, policing, health care, working conditions––in all of these areas, as with gender, “bodies, safety, health, personal autonomy, and well-beings are at stake.”  That is why politics matters.

Fallacies

While attempting to elevate feminism to a place above politics, the organizers’ statement in fact advances a very specific kind of politics.  Speaking authoritatively but anonymously, the “Patriarchy and the Movement” organizers declare certain questions off-limits, not only (retroactively) for their own event, but seemingly altogether. These questions cannot be asked because, it is assumed, there is only one answer, and the answer is already known. The answer is, in practice, whatever the survivor says that it is.

Under this theory, the survivor, and the survivor alone, has the right to make demands, while the rest of us are duty-bound to enact sanctions without question.  One obvious implication is that all allegations are treated as fact.  And often, specific allegations are not even necessary.  It may be enough to characterize someone’s behavior ––or even his fundamental character––as “sexist,” “misogynist,” “patriarchal,” “silencing,” “triggering,” “unsafe,” or “abusive.”  And on the principle that bad does not allow for better or worse, all of these terms can be used more or less interchangeably.  After all, the point is not really to make an accusation, which could be proved or disproved; the point is to offer a judgment.  Thus it is possible for large groups of people to dislike and even punish some maligned person without even pretending to know what it is, specifically, he is supposed to have done.  He has been “called out” as a perpetrator; nothing else matters.

Under this schema, it is taken for granted that no survivor is ever also an abuser, and no abuser is the survivor of someone else’s violence.  Naturally, no past victimization can justify or excuse present abuse, but the strict dichotomy implied here too neatly defines the past away; by the same reasoning, it also forestalls the potential for future healing or growth.  

What it offers, instead, is a reassuring dualism in which survivors and abusers exist, not only as roles we sometimes fill or positions we sometimes hold, but as particular types of people who are essentially those things, locked forever into one or the other of these categories, and (not incidentally) gendered in a conventional, stereotyped binary.  Each person is assigned a role and, to some degree, reduced to their position in this story.  One is only a perpetrator/abuser; the other is only a victim/survivor.  They are each defined by the suffering they have caused, or the suffering they have endured––but never by both.

A double transformation occurs.  Patriarchy ceases to be a mode of power and system of social stratification and becomes, instead, identified with the behavior of an individual man and is even thought to be personified by him.  At the same time, both perpetrator and survivor are depersonalized, abstracted from the context and the narratives of their lives, and cast instead as symbolic figures in a kind of morality play.  

Our scrutiny shifts, then, from the abuse to the abuser, from the act to the actor. Instead of seeking out ways to heal the harm that has been done, we invest our collective energy in judging the character of the man responsible.  

(The article by Kristian Williams continues at the link below)

Toward Freedom

Williams writes a good criticism of what happens when overzealous people cease to have functioning minds and instead seek to only uphold  static party line that is beyond question.

The party line itself, of course, was created after decades of feminist movements trying to stir themselves to go to greater lengths beyond the sixties feminism. No longer is it about attaining some grounds of equality and being liberated from an antiquated view of women’s role in society that was still very much alive in the sixties, but it has moved on to radicalize and attempt to keep itself relevant in our lives today. In order to this it has to create a narrative where the masculine repression of the feminine is still a relevant theme.

Something fun to potentially look at further than this that illustrates an interesting divide: I had recently asked a group of Communists how they feel about these sorts of famous identity politics, and the response was emphatically negative towards these groups. Negative, of course, because these do not address the real issues facing a legitimate struggle from a leftist perspective but are, as we just pointed out, clawing at the culture around them in an attempt to stay relevant by radicalizing and shifting their positions…

All of this, of course, while major issues of income inequality and exploitation of workers in third world countries grows more dire. Yet, the view of identity politics is that there are major issues that need to be answered in Portland or Seattle or San Francisco more than they need to be confronted in Nepal, Nigeria or Colombia.Thereby a veritable comedy of radical identity politics organizations that are doing nothing to help any leftist cause.

… I am not even a leftist and I see why people find this annoying…

What the article also importantly points out is how vicious and pointless these identity politics become when they are as tools of political assassination within these minor, blips not-even-on-the-radar groups. It is really nothing less than social groups doing in-fighting. And the irony is that they have suspended all reason and rationality to maintain some preconceived concept of victimhood (because their ideology is chiefly concerned with their own or their target audiences statuses as victims).

The whole thing is always apt to climax into a an orgy of perplexing yelling:

All of this happened because Kristian Williams was speaking and is because, apparently, she supports the idea of questioning the continued practice of rote denunciation and branding, and would actually like to hold some political dialog on a topic.

… What do you even say to people who equate open discussion with violence?

I think these people are perfect illustrations of what happens when ideology is left utterly unchecked and fanaticism is encouraged.

Thoughts On Meaning, Sound, Language (I)

(1) Nothing is (truly) translatable  – Saussure is responsible for this idea and it is far more philosophical than it is even linguistic because it depends greatly on the idea of jus the subtle differences in perceptions that people have of certain things. For instance, the Korean perception of ‘eagle’ is very different from the American one. The word most often used for Eagle in Korean is also used for vulture. “Fly like an eagle!” is of course translatable into Korean but he general feeling of such a sentence would be completely alien.

Animals and other nouns with direct correspondents should be among the easiest things to translate, and for all intents and purposes they are, but the deeper symbolic essence can be easily lost.

There is a Farsi proverb… “The neighbor’s chicken is a duck.” The precisely corresponding proverb in English is “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This is because in the Iranian culture to express that a chicken is particularly large and looking like it would make a ‘great meal’ it is said to be of the quality of a duck, and the whole phenomena of being envious of your negihbor’s belongings goes back to this rather delightful village-style imagery of looking at your neighbor’s chicken as more tasty than your own even though, of course, the neighbor’s chicken really isn’t a duck… Nor is the grass always greener.  

But I think it would be doubtful to say that it totally colors us. Certainly a rural American southerner and an urban Englishman have different inhernt conceptualizations of animals and all manner of other things, and will interpret some aspects of language in different ways. Saussure pointed out the importance of regional differences — none of what I am saying here is new, but it is food for thought…

We can sort of use this perspective to analyze what we are saying a bit deeper in the future and wonder if what we are saying is a truly universal thing, or if we would have to universalize our expressions.

(2) Sound – What jumped out to me immediately about language when I took my first French class in, God, what seems forever ago, was how even the individual collection sounds are inherently different. Of course, this is something that we all understand intuitively when we hear language and something we can probably deduce if we were pressed on the issue, but without ever actually formal (& decent quality) instruction in a foreign language, the distinctions between the sounds are never fully emphasized or made… I feel like I have learned that, of course, the further away a language is from your native tongue the less likely you are to have any chance at all of saying whatever was said properly.

I asked Zeinab, “How many G’s does Farsi have?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, you have Gah… and Ghhhaahhh, and…”

“That one isn’t ‘G.'”

“Then what is it?”

“You just don’t have it in your language.”

Fair enough! The entire conceptualization of this sound as a ‘G’ is unfair because, while we would tend to romanize such a sound with a ‘g’ at the start, it really isn’t a G. That will not stop us anglophones who aren’t Farsi speakers from conceptualizing it as a ‘g’ with an ‘h’ sound in it, but that is and always will be a foreigner’s conceptualization of itIt is Farsi re-interpreted through an Anglophone’s ears…

Now, imagine there is also Farsi re-interpreted by a Turk or a Korean or a Spaniard or a Zulu… Or an Indian. But what kind of Indian? A northern Indian who speaks a regional language somewhat related to Farsi? Or a Tamil who doesn’t at all? The plot is always thickening.

I think it is not too difficult for English speakers to say something back with semi-decent quality from, say, Dutch or Spanish with little to no instruction but the further away we travel the more impossible doing such a task becomes. There are almost imperceptible differences in sound…  Polish has 3 Z sounds; Farsi has a few glottal consonant clusters I can never get my head around; there are several letters that a beginner in studying Korea hears are ‘equivalent to K’ or ‘equivalent to ‘L,’ but thinking about these characters in such a fashion in the end is ultimately counterproductive.

While there are sometimes outright total equivalencies in sound, it seems that especially with consonants and vowel clusters it is just going to be impossible to ever think of something as entirely the same as another.

And do not even get me started on tones. Because I cannot start on tones. I have never really learned a tonal language — I have played with Chinese enough to be vaguely aware of the tonal differences and how they are done, but as far as any practical execution, it’s all Greek to me.

Big idea here: it is inappropriate to conceptualize a foreign language through the filter of our own and expect it to be accurate.  Which leads to…

(3) Buddhist philosophy encourages us to overcome language and to understand that words are entirely fabricated and subject to our own human understanding. Not only are languages behaving so differently when compared to one another… But consider as well that language is such a human construct that the sounds we utter really is hot air when compared to the truth.

It is all a construct more or less…

And the way that we construct and organize it is up to us. On some level, while we speak and live, we shouldn’t necessarily be so attached to our words and conceptualizations as these are all, on some level, mere artifices passed down to us — mere conceptual tools for communication haphazardly created by our ancestors.

(And once upon a time I imagine that the rules for using them, and the regional and even village dialects were incredibly pronounced that on even, say, inter-regional communication would be difficult it is was a complicated topic unless it was merchants or scholars or otherwise well traveled peoples speaking.)

… This was just a very rough collection of three thoughts that occurred to me during the day. Perhaps I will expand on this later or re-visit this at a later date.

I am interested in any thoughts that anyone has to offer on the topic.

British Soldiers Posing W/ Deceased Taliban Probed [Disgusting]

I am offended by the nonchalance of idiots in the face of death. Somewhere along the way these numb skulls lost respect for life and decided that it was somehow an expression of manliness or bravado to pose with the corpse of their dead enemy:

Britain is investigating photographs that appear to show a serviceman in Afghanistan posing beside a dead Taliban fighter, its ministry of defense said Friday.

“Inappropriate actions will not be tolerated in the armed forces; the RAF [Royal Air Force] is treating this incident extremely seriously and has launched a military police investigation,” Agence France-Presse quoted a spokesperson for the defense ministry as saying.

Disgusting.

al-Arabiya

Utterly horrendous.

War is a dirty affair that involves the taking of life. On some level, this struggle is rightfully glorified because the bravery and courage that it takes to face the threat of death and carry out a difficult task such as this is immense. Perhaps it is in part of recognition of this that we seek to honor and respect our enemies.

But more than even that: there should be a natural sanctity of life that we all recognize and that, no matter what, we never become so callous or stupid as to deny it.

When we trivialize death through this style of photo, when we pose with it as if it is some accomplishment that another person is dead… We are missing the point of war in the first place: it was to defend our ideals and to avoid greater harm upon humanity (hopefully).

Enough preaching.

I am disgusted.

Kidnapped Nigerian Girls, US Senators, Islamists, S. F. & Other Lulz

I saw that headline “Can 20 US women senators help save 276 kidnapped Nigerian girls? (+video)”and I have to chuckle at it. Not from some sexist viewpoint that “women can’t get the job done” or that I am chuckling up my sleeve but the feminist concept behind this push, but because this is exactly the sort of sentiments that comes off as purely trite & meaningless rhetoric masking any true attempts at recovering these girls from the real thugs & terrorists. It is a bunch of wishful thinking some journalist (Howard LaFranchi, in this case) threw together because it came off as some sort of heart warming & hopeful take on the crisis…

And just what if… this makeshift alliance of all women can serve justice in remote parts of the world?! Because no one else is interested in justice being served in Nigeria, right? Because there aren’t on-going efforts in Nigeria. The title almost highlights the idea that LaFranchi & the other liberals are more interested in twisting a story about Nigerian Islamic terrorism into a cathartic feminists moment — important (non-boring) parts bolded:

The demand of all 20 female US senators that the United States press the United Nations to add Nigeria’s Boko Haram to its Al Qaeda sanctions list is unlikely to do anything in the short term for the 276 schoolgirls the terrorist organization is holding captive.

(… True.)

But adding the Islamist militant group to the global terrorism list could be beneficial in the longer fight against Africa’s spreading Islamist extremism, some regional experts say. In recent months, Boko Haram has focused its vicious attacks on educators and students involved in what it considers to be forbidden Western-style education.

The Democratic and Republican senators said in a letter to President Obama Tuesday that placing Boko Haram on the UN’s list of organizations affiliated with Al Qaeda could help dry up the terror group’s international support and sources of income.

“The Senate women stand united in condemning this reprehensible crime and are firm in our resolve that it will not be tolerated,” said Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D) of Maryland and Susan Collins (R) of Maine in a joint letter signed by the other 18 female senators. “We will not stand by and allow the Nigerian people to continue to be terrorized by Boko Haram and will continue to lead the effort to impose tough economic sanctions against this group.”

On Wednesday, Senator Collins called on Mr. Obama to send in a team of Special Forces to rescue the girls, who are reportedly being held at an abandoned military installation in a remote forest and game reserve. Senator Mikulski hedged on that demand, saying it is the responsibility of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to lead rescue efforts. 

Please note that it is rather absurd to believe that the Nigerian government knows precisely where these people are but are refusing to engage — the Nigerian government in 2013 massacred hundreds of people in Baga,  and are so vehement in their opposition to the Islamic group that they decided to assassinate its initial, peaceful leader, Muhammed Yusuf. The assassination of Yusuf in 2009 effectively triggered this whole series of events which led to the radicalization of Boko Haram and thereby has led to the kidnapping of these girls as a terrorist act.

What makes it even more absurd is that they have been offering a $7 million award for information on the location of the rebels (!!!).

Designating Boko Haram internationally as a terrorist organization would shine a spotlight on the spread of Islamist extremism – and Al Qaeda affiliations – deeper into Africa along the seam where the predominately Muslim north meets the south. That might be more important than stanching Boko Haram’s resources, some terrorism analysts say.

The spreading instability has prompted some regional experts to coin the name “Sahelistan” for the band across the middle of Africa encompassing the semiarid Sahel. The worry is that rising extremism and ethnic tensions in places like Mali and Sudan are seeping farther south into countries like Nigeria, with its Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

The Nigerian schoolgirl crisis should prompt greater US attention to the dangers facing Nigeria, a country with about a fifth of Africa’s population, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said in a Fox News opinion piece Wednesday.

“Nigeria’s failure [to halt Boko Haram’s rise] has enormous political implications throughout northern Africa,” said Ambassador Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “If Boko Haram’s reach and strength continue to grow, it is not impossible that Nigeria’s ethnically and religiously diverse population could face massive internal strife, and perhaps even split apart.”

Certainly a fascinating potential that we should try to avoid — but we should not avoid it to the point that a greater injustice would be put upon the Nigerian people. There is this idea in the West that democracy is enough to achieve whatever we want in any country, but this is a lie. Sometimes the people themselves do not want to be united in the least because of fundamental differences between each other.

At some point, you have to let it breath. You have to let the people go their separate ways and pursue their own national / regional interests if they are not being satisfied by the government.

I think that the US (& other powerful governments) refuse to make a recognition of such a policy because, naturally, it could lead to some results that aren’t in their best economic interests.

Greed nearly always prevails over justice.

Boko Haram is finding fertile ground in northern Nigeria not because its ideology is attractive to the area’s Muslims, but because of the high poverty (particularly compared with Nigeria’s south) and lack of economic opportunity and state services, the International Crisis Group notes in a recent report.

Christian Science Monitor

In other words: Because your government sucks and is terrible at providing for the people there is a desire to break away from it. And, especially when you assassinate local political leaders and massacre portions of a village, you will find yourself in a world of crap.

But… Don’t worry: the US Women Senators stand united with the girls and are proposing to engage American Special Forces in a Nigerian civil war! Because that is exactly what we need — to concern ourselves with more foreign conflicts and to begin showing our allegiance to a government doing a poor job of governing a mess of a country.

The US historical track record certainly shows that going into heated situations half-cocked is beneficial for everyone. Especially when there is no clear good guy, am I right?

Boko Haram soldiers — God look at those biceps on that guy in the back? Beast!

If we go back and think about that hilarious title of the video we can all chuckle again.. God knows, the various male Senators of the US were probably all very supportive of the idea of getting everyone to pursue an anti-Boko Haram agenda, but it was specifically chosen that the Ladies have to get together on this one…

… Because girls being kidnapped and all, it… makes sense, right?

We should put forward these sorts of gestures because it makes it so much more meaningful, and later we want to be able to say something like, “It was 20 US women that brought down Boko haram…”

No, it wasn’t the totality of the Nigerian people in opposition to Islamic extremism, nor was it the tireless Nigerian Soldiers or the potential foreign Special Forces that were involved… Nor was it the very human sentiment that the kidnapping and forced marriage of them was very disgusting to the most of the people…

No, let’s frame it like the Women Senators are going to do it. Because that warms my heart right up.

Like a picture of Barbara Boxer & Dianne Feinstein.

Boko Haram watch out…  Unlike the whole of Nigeria, these two are coming for you!

.. For the best background on Boko Haram that I have ever heard, listen to this Podcast presented by the Australia made War Podcast right here. 

Montana Exchange Student Killing Highlights Media Agenda

By now we have all heard of the killing of the German exchange student who was living in Montana. The media would have you believe that there are millions of gun-loving Americans that have to support the unhinged Markus Kaarma (or the theoretical right to ‘stand one’s ground’ or what not) over the German teenager he caught snooping in his garage…

The story is a lot less complicated — but silly MSM tries to spice it up for all of us:

New details in the case of a slain German exchange student suggest that teenage mischief may have played a role in a Montana shooting that has, once again, put US self-defense laws in the international spotlight.

In what’s turned into a peculiar American allegory involving marijuana, enhanced self-defense laws, and suburban crime fears, police say a 29-year-old Forest Service firefighter named Markus Kaarma shot and killed 17-year-old German exchange student Diren Dede on April 27 after the teenager apparently entered Mr. Kaarma’s open garage as part of a “garage-hopping” prank he learned from local Missoula kids, according to what a friend told police.

Kaarma’s live-in girlfriend told neighbors that someone had stolen marijuana from the firefighter’s garage stash on several occasions. Investigators say they removed a glass jar full of pot during the course of their investigation.

The shooting of Diren became an international incident as German diplomatic staff said “what happened [was] completely out of proportion to the probable risk.”

US prosecutors agree, already having charged Kaarma with homicide. An open question is whether a jury will believe police allegations that Kaarma set a trap for Diren by opening the garage door and linking up a baby monitor feed before shooting blindly into the darkened garage after spotting movement.

Kaarma is set to plead not guilty by self defense at an upcoming arraignment. Through his lawyer, he has said he was simply defending his home – including a 10-month-old baby and girlfriend – from a repeat burglar who may have posed an armed threat. His lawyer says the couple had the garage door open not to trap anyone but to air out cigarette smoke.

Christian Science Monitor

What is so funny about this from the start (before we delve into the harder parts of this article) is how the journalist implies that this is just some kind of fun prank kids are doing called ‘garage hopping,’ and then later implies that this is about the theft of marijuana. What makes me chuckle so hard about all of this is that journalists are called out so rarely on this sort of sloppy assessment of situations.

Journalists are the type of people who call an assembled group of rioters a ‘flash mob’ if it suits the purposes of an article, later to clearly note that the crowd was pillaging and looting like a lot of medieval Vikings showing up on Irish shores.

When we boil it down to the details here it is that there was a baby monitor in the garage in order to catch a potential thief. The plan wasn’t to go out and warn the guy with a guy, nor was the plan ever to call the Police after gaining some description and holding him via citizens arrest… The plan was to gun down the thief.

Kaarma insists that the man could have been armed, and that is why he must immediately spray bullets at the person. But any gun owner, any sane person, who understands the intruder isn’t even in the house but snooping around in their garage understands that in bloody Montana this probably doesn’t pose a clear and immediate threat to one’s life.

… Especially considered that you think its teenagers stealing pot from you like they did before.

People need to conceptualize this properly and understand this isn’t a scenario where a man is fending off a legitimate threat in the least. It is one of an overzealous idiot literally waiting for a marijuana thief to come to his garage to blast him.

He should be in jail — he is not a good example of the American gun owners and the American self-defense laws. He is a good example of absolute idiots who give our country a bad name.

But the media has picked this issue to dwell on — they do not pay attention to the Australian killed in Oklahoma by thugs for the contents of his pockets; they do not pay attention to the French street artist murdered in Detroit in a similarly unsolved murder case.

And why not? These are things that would help highlight the dangers for foreigners of living in the United States due to perpetual violent street crime that the government has been incapable (or unwilling) to solve. It shows a greater problem that is not only a threat to foreigners, but a threat to all manner of Americans as well who are victimized by senseless violent crimes for street thugs.

But this does not benefit any major political agenda to highlight whereas this case of the German teenager does. it gives more talking points to the anti-gun crowd that will seek to limit gun ownership as much as possible.

They forget to mention: Markus Kaarma has been arrested and under the relatively lax Montana home invasion laws was deemed to be a responsible party in the shooting of the German teen. Markus Kaarma very well may be going to jail for violating American laws. Yet, already, they are stirring up potential protest against these standing gun laws because it serves a political purpose.

But they do not cast criticism on the continuous violent crime that plagues the US, everywhere from Oklahoma to Los Angeles to Miami to Detroit, because it serves no clear political agenda for anyone but speaks only of a far more deep seated problem in our community.

Shame on the media, really.

Google & Tech Firms: Still Gov’t Cronyism & Profits Before People w/ a Hip Facade

Google has always tried to show itself as being truly a force not for evil; in fact, they recently were involved in the production of a popagandizing film with Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson to show you just how utterly new, unique & community positive they are. We know though that Google has previously changed search results to appease China & even deleted entire user groups to appease the critics of the Indian governmen (source).

But still, guys, come on! Google is the company of the future! And they are different! They are young & hip and building a brighter future, and we sure better listen to their perspective because they are looking out for us — fun parts in bold:

Email exchanges between National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt suggest a far cozier working relationship between some tech firms and the U.S. government than was implied by Silicon Valley brass after last year’s revelations about NSA spying.

Disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s vast capability for spying on Americans’ electronic communications prompted a number of tech executives whose firms cooperated with the government to insist they had done so only when compelled by a court of law.
But Al Jazeera has obtained two sets of email communications dating from a year before Snowden became a household name that suggest not all cooperation was under pressure.
On the morning of June 28, 2012, an email from Alexander invited Schmidt to attend a four-hour-long “classified threat briefing” on Aug. 8 at a “secure facility in proximity to the San Jose, CA airport.”
“The meeting discussion will be topic-specific, and decision-oriented, with a focus on Mobility Threats and Security,” Alexander wrote in the email, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the first of dozens of communications between the NSA chief and Silicon Valley executives that the agency plans to turn over.
Alexander, Schmidt and other industry executives met earlier in the month, according to the email…
“About six months ago, we began focusing on the security of mobility devices,” Alexander wrote. “A group (primarily Google, Apple and Microsoft) recently came to agreement on a set of core security principles. When we reach this point in our projects we schedule a classified briefing for the CEOs of key companies to provide them a brief on the specific threats we believe can be mitigated and to seek their commitment for their organization to move ahead … Google’s participation in refinement, engineering and deployment of the solutions will be essential.”
Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, said she believes information sharing between industry and the government is “absolutely essential” but “at the same time, there is some risk to user privacy and to user security from the way the vulnerability disclosure is done.”
The challenge facing government and industry was to enhance security without compromising privacy, Granick said. The emails between Alexander and Google executives, she said, show “how informal information sharing has been happening within this vacuum where there hasn’t been a known, transparent, concrete, established methodology for getting security information into the right hands.”
The classified briefing cited by Alexander was part of a secretive government initiative known as the Enduring Security Framework (ESF), and his email provides some rare information about what the ESF entails, the identities of some participant tech firms and the threats they discussed.
Alexander explained that the deputy secretaries of the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and “18 US CEOs” launched the ESF in 2009 to “coordinate government/industry actions on important (generally classified) security issues that couldn’t be solved by individual actors alone.”
“For example, over the last 18 months, we (primarily Intel, AMD [Advanced Micro Devices], HP [Hewlett-Packard], Dell and Microsoft on the industry side) completed an effort to secure the BIOS of enterprise platforms to address a threat in that area.”
“BIOS” is an acronym for “basic input/output system,” the system software that initializes the hardware in a personal computer before the operating system starts up. NSA cyberdefense chief Debora Plunkett in December disclosed that the agency had thwarted a “BIOS plot” by a “nation-state,” identified as China, to brick U.S. computers. That plot, she said, could have destroyed the U.S. economy. “60 Minutes,” which broke the story, reported that the NSA worked with unnamed “computer manufacturers” to address the BIOS software vulnerability.
But some cybersecurity experts questioned the scenario outlined by Plunkett.
“There is probably some real event behind this, but it’s hard to tell, because we don’t have any details,” wrote Robert Graham, CEO of the penetration-testing firm Errata Security in Atlanta, on his blog in December. “It”s completely false in the message it is trying to convey. What comes out is gibberish, as any technical person can confirm.”
And by enlisting the NSA to shore up their defenses, those companies may have made themselves more vulnerable to the agency’s efforts to breach them for surveillance purposes.
“I think the public should be concerned about whether the NSA was really making its best efforts, as the emails claim, to help secure enterprise BIOS and mobile devices and not holding the best vulnerabilities close to their chest,” said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s digital civil liberties team.
He doesn’t doubt that the NSA was trying to secure enterprise BIOS, but he suggested that the agency, for its own purposes, was “looking for weaknesses in the exact same products they’re trying to secure.”
The NSA “has no business helping Google secure its facilities from the Chinese and at the same time hacking in through the back doors and tapping the fiber connections between Google base centers,” Cardozo said. “The fact that it’s the same agency doing both of those things is in obvious contradiction and ridiculous.” He recommended dividing offensive and defensive functions between two agencies.
Two weeks after the “60 Minutes” broadcast, the German magazine Der Spiegel, citing documents obtained by Snowden, reported that the NSA inserted back doors into BIOS, doing exactly what Plunkett accused a nation-state of doing during her interview.
Google’s Schmidt was unable to attend to the mobility security meeting in San Jose in August 2012.
“General Keith.. so great to see you.. !” Schmidt wrote. “I’m unlikely to be in California that week so I’m sorry I can’t attend (will be on the east coast). Would love to see you another time. Thank you !” Since the Snowden disclosures, Schmidt has been critical of the NSA and said its surveillance programs may be illegal.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did attend that briefing. Foreign Policy reported a month later that Dempsey and other government officials — no mention of Alexander — were in Silicon Valley “picking the brains of leaders throughout the valley and discussing the need to quickly share information on cyber threats.” Foreign Policy noted that the Silicon Valley executives in attendance belonged to the ESF. The story did not say mobility threats and security was the top agenda item along with a classified threat briefing.
A week after the gathering, Dempsey said during a Pentagon press briefing, “I was in Silicon Valley recently, for about a week, to discuss vulnerabilities and opportunities in cyber with industry leaders … They agreed — we all agreed on the need to share threat information at network speed.”
Google co-founder Sergey Brin attended previous meetings of the ESF group but because of a scheduling conflict, according to Alexander’s email, he also could not attend the Aug. 8 briefing in San Jose, and it’s unknown if someone else from Google was sent.
A few months earlier, Alexander had emailed Brin to thank him for Google’s participation in the ESF.
“I see ESF’s work as critical to the nation’s progress against the threat in cyberspace and really appreciate Vint Cerf [Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist], Eric Grosse [vice president of security engineering] and Adrian Ludwig’s [lead engineer for Android security] contributions to these efforts during the past year,” Alexander wrote in a Jan. 13, 2012, email.
“You recently received an invitation to the ESF Executive Steering Group meeting, which will be held on January 19, 2012. The meeting is an opportunity to recognize our 2012 accomplishments and set direction for the year to come. We will be discussing ESF’s goals and specific targets for 2012. We will also discuss some of the threats we see and what we are doing to mitigate those threats … Your insights, as a key member of the Defense Industrial Base, are valuable to ensure ESF’s efforts have measurable impact.”
A Google representative declined to answer specific questions about Brin’s and Schmidt’s relationship with Alexander or about Google’s work with the government.
“We work really hard to protect our users from cyberattacks, and we always talk to experts — including in the U.S. government — so we stay ahead of the game,” the representative said in a statement to Al Jazeera. “It’s why Sergey attended this NSA conference.”
Brin responded to Alexander the following day even though the head of the NSA didn’t use the appropriate email address when contacting the co-chairman.
“Hi Keith, looking forward to seeing you next week. FYI, my best email address to use is [redacted],” Brin wrote. “The one your email went to — sergey.brin@google.com — I don’t really check.”
Al Jazeera
The fellows who have always presented themselves as the hip, new group of forward looking dudes are right here helping the government spy on you completely.
Of course – we do not know the precise details of these occurrences, though, because neither the US government nor Google are transparent organizations.

We’re Google founders; we are happy go lucky, nice guys. We wear semi-formal, borderline informal (OMG) clothes to official meetings and we are just so easy going… We’re NOT your grandfather’s corporation!

Check out our zany interior; we are really open minded and we aren’t stuffy or formal at all. We are cutting edge and just like, so CREATIVE, so like, people are confused we are a multi-billion dollar corporation and stuff because we really have this super laid-back & progressive environment…

Check it out — you see that guy is like sitting on a BOAT! that’s actually a chair (because we recycle? and stuff?), and, you can WRITE ON THE WALLS, because we combine like… Technology with a Free Spirit. So even in our meetings, we are just so relaxed and let the energy flow and… Like I said, we are TOTALLY not WALL STREET. Aren’t you impressed?

 

Google does everything that it can to portray itself as this ABOVE & BEYOND futuristic legion of free thought & excellence.

At the end of the day, they are spying on you and working closely with the NSA.

At the end of the day, they are more interested in profits to be made in India & China and will support their status quo.

At the end of the day, they aren’t a heroic, bold new face of companies. Unless that is really what you were hoping for: superficial spraypaint on a 1950s guy wearing a suit.

Because that is what the New World Order is: an attempt to look cutting edge and revolutionary, a great facade erected before the altar of Money & Power meant to dazzle the eyes and convince the people that they are actually getting something new.

But none of this is new at all.

It is a repackaging and retooling of old power structures portrayed as a benign force — but this really is Gordon Gecko international capitalism & elitist cronyism. But they changed the interior decorating and told their lies more bold faced — but, thanks for playing.