Saturday, December 3, 2016

“Fake News” Has Been a Problem for Thousands of Years … Here’s How It’s Been Stopped

ORIGINAL LINK

Throughout history, government officials have tried to stop "fake news" through various means before it was published.

The crime of the peddlers of fake news: failing to acknowledge that those in power were perfect saints.

Socrates

For example, Socrates was killed in 399 BC for spreading "fake news".

His crime: “Failing to acknowledge the gods that the [mainstream media of the day] acknowledges”.

Tyndale

William Tyndale was killed in 1536 for spreading "fake news".

His crime:  Translating the Bible into English so that everyone could read it for themselves, and no longer had to rely on the clergy to tell them what it said.

Galileo

In 1616 and 1633, Galileo was tried for spreading "fake news".

His crime: spreading fake news that the Earth rotates around the Sun.

Heretics

Scores of people have been killed over the centuries for spreading "fake news".

Their crime: Saying anything that the church authorities of the day disliked.

Benjamin Franklin

In 1773, Ben Franklin was fired as colonial Postmaster General for spreading "fake news".

His crime: informing the American Colonists about what the British were really doing.

Strongmen

Strongmen of all stripes have cracked down on "fake news".

The fake news pushers' crime:  criticizing the dictator or his policies.

Book Burnings

In 1933, the Nazis carried out numerous book burnings of "fake news". The targeted authors included Einstein, Freud, Kafka, Hellen Keller, Jack London, Thomas Mann, Proust, Upton Sinclair and H.G. Wells.

The authors' crime:  their books “acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home and the driving forces of our people...”

There have been many other book burnings of "fake news" throughout history.

Mussolini

Mussolini had around 2,000 purveyors of "fake news" killed.

Their crime: opposing Mussolini.

Stalin and the Soviet Union

Stalin handled the peddlers of "fake news" by murdering them or throwing them into insane asylums.

Their crime:  criticizing the Soviet government or Communism.

Other Communist Regimes

China's Mao and other Communist leaders killed many "fake news" spreaders.

Their crime: failing to sing the Great Leaders' praises.

CIA

In 1972, CIA director Richard Helms said anyone spreading "fake news" would be labeled as "terrorists".

Their crime:  expressing a dissenting opinion.

Conclusion

See how easy it is?

If only U.S. Supreme Court justices stopped being such sissies.

</sarc>



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Identity politics vs. populist economics? It’s a false choice – liberals need to look in the mirror

ORIGINAL LINK

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Barack Obama

(Credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Andrew Harnik/Reuters/Scott Audette)

For many Democrats, the fact that the Obama years have ended with one of the biggest party implosions in American history — and not the implosion of the Republican Party, as most had anticipated — remains a difficult reality to accept. Thanks to the Democratic Party’s historic collapse, Republicans will soon have complete control of all levels of government in the United States: All three branches of federal government, a large majority of state legislatures and an even larger majority of state governorships.

Facing this bleak reality, one would expect Democrats to quickly take a step back for some reflection, if only to figure out how to start winning elections again. As the country braces for a Trump presidency, it is absolutely critical that Democrats accurately assess what happened last month and learn the right lessons.

Unfortunately, many Democratic partisans have taken another approach; one that is all too familiar. As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported last week:

Democrats have spent the last 10 days flailing around blaming everyone except for themselves, constructing a carousel of villains and scapegoats — from Julian AssangeVladimir PutinJames Comeythe electoral college“fake news,” and Facebook, to Susan SarandonJill SteinmillennialsBernie SandersClinton-critical journalists, and, most of all, insubordinate voters themselves — to blame them for failing to fulfill the responsibility that the Democratic Party, and it alone, bears: to elect Democratic candidates.

There is plenty of blame to go around, of course, and some of the scapegoats that Greenwald lists probably did have some impact, albeit minimal, on electing Trump. But when one looks at this year’s election objectively — not just at the Democratic Party’s failure to stop Trump, but at its failure to retake the Senate or make any gains at the state and local levels (Republicans now control 33 governorships and 32 state legislatures) — one has to be delusional not to recognize that the party itself is primarily responsible for this implosion.

Donald Trump — whom the majority of Americans view unfavorably and consider unqualified to be president — was a gift to the Democrats, and his nomination should have led to an easy electoral triumph. Instead, they nominated one of the most flawed candidates in history, and ran as an establishment party during a time when most Americans were practically begging for anti-establishment politics. As Trump’s loathsome chief strategist Steve Bannon recently put it: “Hillary Clinton was the perfect foil for Trump’s message. From her e-mail server, to her lavishly paid speeches to Wall Street bankers, to her FBI problems, she represented everything that middle-class Americans had had enough of.”

Trump’s victory was all the more depressing for progressives who had warned about the risk of nominating an establishment candidate with almost endless political baggage (in a season of angry populist politics, no less). During the Democratic primaries, these criticisms were either dismissed by establishment Democrats or critics were bitterly attacked for pointing them out. Recall back in February, for example, when Hillary Clinton implied that her progressive opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, was sexist for claiming that she represented the establishment: “Sen. Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.”

Though Clinton did not explicitly call Sanders sexist, her campaign was eager to paint the senator and his supporters as misogynists who opposed Clinton solely because she was a woman. The “Bernie Bro” narrative — which portrayed Sanders supporters as a bunch of white sexist frat-boy types, harassing women and people of color online — was propagated by the Clinton campaign and sympathetic journalists. It was also discredited time and again, particularly by the fact that the Sanders-Clinton split was more of a generational divide than anything else — as evinced by Sanders’ 37-point advantage among millennial women (ages 18 to 29) across 27 states and his popularity among younger black and Hispanic voters.

The kind of self-serving identity politics that we saw from the Clinton camp during the Democratic primaries leads into what has been the most contentious debate among Democrats and progressives since the election: Whether the party has become too preoccupied with the politics of identity and political correctness, while straying too far from a class-based politics that addresses the structural inequities of capitalism. Not surprisingly, the debate has been full of deliberate misinterpretations.

Consider how various news outlets reported on comments made by Sanders on his book tour last week while discussing diversity in political leadership. “We need diversity, that goes without saying,” noted Sanders, who was responding to a question from a woman asking for tips on how to become the second Latina senator, after this year’s election of Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada. “But it is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ That’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industries.”

From this comment, the New York Times reported that Sanders had said “Democrats need to focus more on economic struggles and less on the grievances of minorities and women,” while the popular liberal website Talking Points Memo posted the misleading headline: “Sanders Urges Supporters: Ditch Identity Politics And Embrace The Working Class.” These reports are both founded on a false dichotomy pitting economic justice and civil rights against each other. This was also illustrated by a tweet from the Times shortly after the election:

The Democrats' dilemma: appeal to the working-class white vote, or increase the number of minority and young voters? https://t.co/lJ8RvLYRQX

— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) November 17, 2016

It is extremely troubling that appealing to young people, people of color, women and working-class whites is perceived as an either/or question, or that “economic struggles” and the “grievances of minorities and women” are seen as mutually exclusive. In reality, economic struggles and civil rights are deeply interconnected. Women and people of color, for example, are much more likely to suffer disproportionately from poverty and economic inequality, while young voters who care deeply about social issues are currently facing crushing student loan debt, a subpar job market and low social mobility.

This illustrates the real problem with modern liberalism. Not that it is too preoccupied with promoting diversity or ending all forms of discrimination — there is really no disagreement on the left that these are vitally important goals — but that these efforts and achievements are often used to mask or divert attention from the deeper structural problems of our economic and political systems.

The fact that Goldman Sachs has been a leader in promoting diversity and inclusivity in its workforce, for example, should not comfort anyone when the same firm committed massive fraud leading up to the financial crisis and is still led by the same CEO, who recently entered the billionaire’s club. When Hillary Clinton gave her notorious $225,000 speeches for Goldman Sachs, it is reported that she lavished praise on the firm’s diversity and the prominent roles played by women in its internal hierarchy. She did not, however, talk about Goldman’s role in exacerbating the financial crisis or the way the firm committed massive securities fraud and reaped billions of dollars in profit, let alone the fact that none of the firm’s top executives faced any criminal prosecution for their misdeeds.

This is the liberalism that failed to stop Trump. This is the liberalism that self-servingly exploited identity politics to protect an establishment candidate whose severe flaws were evident long before the 2016 campaign began. This is the liberalism that must be overcome, and the sooner the better.



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Friday, December 2, 2016

UK Members of Parliament exempt themselves from spying law

ORIGINAL LINK

British politicians exempt themselves from warrantless spying under the Snoopers Charter



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Bill Targeting “Russian Propaganda” Passes in House

ORIGINAL LINK

H.R.6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, passed in the House of Representatives on November 30. The legislation deals with a number of intelligence related issues, including Russian propaganda, or what the government calls propaganda. Section 501 calls for the government to counter “measures by Russia to exert covert influence… carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”



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The Orwellian War Against Skepticism

ORIGINAL LINK

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Under the cover of battling “fake news,” the mainstream U.S. news media and officialdom are taking aim at journalistic skepticism when it is directed at the pronouncements of the U.S. government and its allies. One might have hoped that the alarm about “fake news” would remind major U.S. news outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, about the value of journalistic skepticism. However, instead, it seems to have done the opposite.



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Yahoo's Advice To Trump: Educate Children In Media Literacy To Combat Fake News

ORIGINAL LINK

Submitted by Joseph Jankowski via PlanetFreeWeill.com,

Writing for Yahoo News, National Political Columnist Matt Bai provides a suggestion to combat the so-called “fake news” epidemic that has become a major talking point of the mainstream media since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election. According to Bai, we should be “teaching our kids how to consume” information in an age where the internet has provided a press to anyone with a computer and a router.

Within his article, titled “The real problem behind fake news“, Bai calls fake news a “searing hot topic these days” and mentions the infamous WaPo article which cites a shadowy, anonymous organization known as PropOrNot (Propaganda or Not) that smears many legitimate conservative and libertarian news sources like Zero Hedge, Infowars, Breitbart, World Net Daily and The Ron Paul Institute as Russian propaganda.

That WaPo article highlighted what was the second blacklist of websites to make its rounds in the mainstream press last month. The first list was put together by a nobody liberal professor from Merrimack College (let me tell you how worthy of circulation that is).

Bai writes:

The emergence of “fake news” is a searing hot topic these days, as you’ve probably heard — a new, truth-free media to go with our new, truth-free politics. The Washington Post reports that a lot of these phony stories, some of which probably influenced the election in at least a tangential way, originate with Russian “bots” programmed to confuse American readers. (Payback, I guess, for all those years when Voice of America did the same thing.)

 

Under enormous pressure, Facebook and Google have now promised to do a better job of curating the content that populates their sites. Which is all very comforting, if you really want software engineers assuming the role of civic arbiter that has traditionally fallen to journalists. I don’t.

 

And the problem with cracking down on social media sites is that it’s a little like the war on drugs. You can try to stamp out the supply of garbage news, but the Web is a vast place, and as long as someone can make money off misinformation, it will always find a crack through which to seep.

Aside from citing the WaPo hit piece on basically all effective news outlets outside the MSM realm, Bai is being reasonable. Most will agree, it is better not to have Facebook and Google taking on the role of civic arbiter and information gatekeeper. And the promoting of a crackdown on social media could lead to the very slippery slope of censorship.

The Yahoo News journalist goes on to writes:

No, the long-term solution here is about stemming the demand. The answer doesn’t lie in hectoring tech companies into policing content, but rather in teaching our kids how to consume it.

Bai says that “navigating the news media isn’t intuitive anymore” and compares it to flying a plane rather than driving a car.

“A Big Bang at the genesis of the Internet age” has fractured the entire (Media) industry and its audience into a million pieces,” he says.

“The proliferation of social media and the rise of mindless aggregation” is also causing this problem of “fake news” reaching the masses, Bia writes.

My kids will spend months of their young lives studying the Revolution and the Civil War and the advent of mass production, which is fine. In grade school, they spend some part of every year revisiting the social movements of the ’60s, which is noble and important.

 

But what’s called “media literacy” in the education world — the ability to consume torrents of information with some level of competence and sophistication — is still an outlier in social studies curricula, despite having been discussed now for decades. Even when it’s taught, it’s crammed into a high school unit, by which time today’s grade-schoolers will have been surfing YouTube for half their lives.

It seems like a great idea, teach kids how to objectively analyze the media. But, if we are to take the mainstream media’s labeling of “fake news” seriously, we will find ourselves telling our children that only big networks like CNN and MSNBC are trustworthy sources.

The real problem with the entire fake news narrative is that “fake news”, by PropOrNot’s definition, is really not a problem at all.

The mainstream media is telling everyone that since Google’s algorithm made a mistake by linking to a false news report, individuals now must surrender their ability to look at things objectively and only trust the big news networks.

Just look at PropOrNot.com’s blacklist, it is full of alternative news sites that now have large enough audiences to bang heads with the corporate controlled press. And considering that the trust in the mainline news is equal to that of trust in congress, this can only be seen as a way to discredit the grassroots news organizations that are threatening the old media’s reign.

The labeling of fake news should be left up the internet user who might stumble across some wrong information or even some disinformation.

It would be foolish to allow the mainstream press, an unknown organization that hides its identity and a leftist professor that teaches feminist media studies, to provide what is real and what is not.

I would also not be too enthusiastic on the public school system, that runs off federal funding, embracing the rise of alternative voices in media that are usually critical of government (the way it is suppose to be).

Matt Bai ends his piece for Yahoo with a very laughable thought.

Here’s a radical thought: If President Trump is looking for a bold and useful education initiative that might serve the incidental purpose of redeeming what’s left of his soul, media literacy would be a pretty good place to start. Getting behind a nationwide push in K-through-12 classrooms could be an important and unifying priority for the incoming education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

 

Willingly or not, Trump has done more than anyone else to expose the problem. The least he can do is begin to address it.

HA!

You mean the Donald Trump that absolutely ridiculed the mainstream media during a meeting last month over their blatant bias coverage of the election and misrepresentations?

Hate to break it to you Matt, but if Trump were to do that many of the websites on the PropOrNot list cited by WaPo would be presented as “real news” to our children. CNN and ABC would be identified as the establishment government lapdogs that they are.

I hope Trump takes your advice.



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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Protests Slam India's Economy As "The Concept Of Money Dies"

ORIGINAL LINK

Submitted by Jayant Bhandari via Acting-Man.com,

A Market Gripped by Fear

The Indian Prime Minister announced on 8th November 2016 that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes would no longer be legal tender. Linked are Part-I, Part-II and Part-III updates on the rapidly encroaching police state.

The economic and social mess that Modi has created is unprecedented. It will go down in history as an epitome of naivety and arrogance due to Modi’s self-centered desire to increase tax-collection at any cost.

 

shop

Indian jewelry merchant

 

Fear has gripped the bullion market, for one is deemed to be guilty until proven otherwise. People with perfectly legal cash are afraid of cameras recording their purchases and having to pay outrageous bribes. After an adjustment period people will buy more — not less — gold. For now, the gold market has gone mostly underground with the gold price hovering around US$1,700 per ounce. Did Modi want to boost the informal economy?

 

The Cultural and Political Undercurrent

The individual has been reduced to a cog in a big machine that exists in Modi’s imagination. The country is expected to rally behind him, for his glory.  The IMF is going along with Modi, for in their simplistic view, enforcing western-style institutions on India will lead to the replication of western economic development and the rule of law in India.

Not that increasingly totalitarian and centralized governing institutions work even in the West, but in the alien culture— irrational and tribal — of India, they rapidly mutate and become very corrupt. That is, unless such institutions are run by Europeans. But the days when Britain ruled India are over.

In the irrational and extremely tribal society of India, where calculation and planning are much more difficult, institutions must be much more decentralized than in the West if they are to function properly. At the moment Modi is doing the exact opposite: rapidly increasing his centralized control.

Modi and the other fake-elites are not the only people responsible for the mess.  The real poison comes from society itself. India’s salaried middle class has been given western education. But the concept of critical thinking and reasoning never really got any traction in India’s society. The situation has steadily worsened since the British left 69 years ago.

Similar to other Indian institutions, the education system has continued to deteriorate. Members of the middle class, while retaining their superstitions, did learn the superficial mechanics, but devoid of any deeper meaning. In their simplistic, mechanical thinking (for complex thinking never evolves until one has critical thinking), they came to believe that superficially copying western institutions should be the way forward for India.

Moreover, the salaried middle class that supports to Modi, is currently unaffected by the currency ban and hence can claim the moral high ground. It is the hungry, wretched and starving people, the small businesses, the real backbone of the economy, that are worst affected.

Politicians within Modi’s party and in the opposition have struggled to oppose Modi effectively, for they are all corrupt. Given the irrationality of Indian society, people tend to communicate in slogans and sound-bites, not through argumentation.  The slogan they have been given by Modi is: If you oppose demonetization, you are hiding unaccounted for, corrupt money.

What most in the self-centered salaried middle class forgot to consider is that their paper-shuffling jobs will soon be at enormous risk, as the cascading effect of the harm done to small businesses will eventually destroy their own jobs. Within three weeks, people are getting laid off across the country. The middle class will also suffer from the inevitable increase in crime that the hunger and desperation of poor people is likely to bring about.

 

factory-morbi-ceramic-2

Factories are closing. Millions of the most vulnerable are rapidly losing jobs. Hunger, poverty and famine are on its way. Is this Modi’s version of Mao’s cultural revolution?

 

Indian institutions had to mutate to cater to the underlying culture. Institutions of India as left by the British are now rapidly degrading, with Modi acting as the catalyst. India will become more totalitarian as the last vestiges of democracy and the associated liberties are destroyed.

It is hard to believe that India can continue to exist as a single unit for long. The problem is that nothing in India is structured to allow for a peaceful breakup. Secession is not recognized in the constitution or in the law, ensuring that any breakup will be accompanied by massive violence and pain, perhaps worse than what happened in 1945, when India and Pakistan split up.

 

sikhs

Laid off from jobs, people now visit religious institutions — here a Sikh institution — for free food

Photo via punjab-spectrum.com

 

Money Monopoly

It would have been almost impossible for me to believe that a single person would be able to bring a large, complex, and extremely diverse society like India to a sudden standstill.

One could change the government, change some important laws, or even impose dictatorship, but it is almost impossible to quickly and significantly change the direction of the Titanic.

Despite my pessimism about India, I had not considered that there could have been a single key issue that would fundamentally change society, stall the economy, and throw society into utter confusion, desperation and depression –  but Modi found a way.

Banning 88% of the monetary value of the currency in circulation, which catered to 97% of consumer transactions, meant that the economy went into a traumatic shock, throwing financial commitments and contracts out of gear.  Now a vicious cycle is underway.

Fiat currency is fully under the government’s control. This paper-based currency system is extremely corrupt, as it has no inherent value of its own. All its perceived value is derived from regulatory edicts and citizens have to look to the government for directions. Control over the printing press gives the government autocratic control over inflation, deflation, and credit.

I realize now that monopolistic control over the currency is an even worse problem than I thought. As a result of Modi’s decrees, the concept of money has died for a large section of society.

 

Social Engineering

A simple instruction led to a ban on 88% of the monetary value of the currency. Even if this had been well-planned, the decision was so drastic that it would have required massive and continuous tinkering. It was horribly planned though,  requiring a series of patch-up jobs.

The government has continued to release new instructions on how much banks could convert, to whom and on what basis, what would be taxed, and what would be deemed to be illegal cash. No one really knows what the latest rules are and even the banks are confused. One wonders if Modi himself still knows what he wants.

The government had no way to replace the old banknotes by new ones. Merely printing the notes would have required at least six months. Distributing these to villages, which can be tens of kilometers from the nearest bank, would have taken a lot longer.

In the meantime whatever good money is still available — the 12% of the still-legal tender — is rapidly going out of circulation, disappearing below the mattresses of the relatively rich. ATMs and banks are constantly running out of cash to dispense.

With every passing day, the queues have grown longer and longer. Old people, the disabled and women (unless they were prepared to endure sexual harassment) had no way to convert their currency. They were hoping for the queues to shorten and become more orderly. This is no longer going to happen.

By November 24, the government realized that even this chaotic conversion could not be sustained. It gave notice that the conversion of old banknotes was to be  abruptly discontinued.

With the end of conversion those who have no bank accounts — 50% of the India’s population — are now left in a situation in which their banned currency has indeed become toilet-paper.

In a country in which the vast majority of people survive on a dollar or two or often much less per day, whatever they had has been stolen by the government, taxed away indirectly. Could there be a worse tax than this?

Theoretically, they can still walk into a branch of the Reserve Bank of India, which  only has a handful of branch offices around the country, in order to convert Rs 500 bills. Rs 1,000 bills will no longer be converted at all.

Modi now expects these poor people to travel hundreds of kilometers and spend a fortune to change Rs 2,000 or so ($30) at the most. Apparently, Modi cannot even do primary school math.

Those who think Modi is in favor of the free-market should pay attention to what the concept actually means to him and his followers. To them, the free-market means the ability of the government to confiscate the property of poor people — for example, their land for infrastructure — for the so-called “greater good”, to be handed over to corporations or the State.

 

tickets-quality-available-tourists-perform-pushkar-street_22d91686-b443-11e6-a440-4c379adbb6c0

Tourists trapped in “Incredible India”, left to perform on the streets or beg, for a return ticket to Delhi

Photo via hindustantimes.com

 

This is the irony of India. The communist revolutions of China and Russia were at least partly about getting rid of the entrenched middle class, a.k.a the “bourgeoisie”. The Modi-led revolution in India is about the salaried middle class trying to get rid of poor people — India’s deeply entrenched caste system does not allow for poor people to be seen as human beings.

There will eventually be blowback from the poor people and it will not be pleasant for the members of the salaried middle class. But irrational as they are, they cannot yet foresee what is likely to come next.

The government has also given notice that it will tax all the cash deposited that it thinks is somehow suspicious at a minimum rate of 50% and will require the remaining 50% to be frozen for four years.

Interest rates are now falling, helping out debtors and the well-connected, to the detriment of savers, while destroying the future economy by interfering with the efficient allocation of capital.

 

Demonetization has not Achieved any of the Claimed Benefits

Modi claimed that this demonetization would flush out fake currency bills. Not many have turned up, certainly not in any unusual quantities. Perhaps Pakistan is now vindicated, as it had been accused of printing most of the fakes.

Despite the fact that the new bills have been in circulation for less than three weeks, fakes of the new banknotes have already begun are circuatingto such an extent that many people are refusing to accept the new bills.  The new bills — even when they are not fake — are badly printed with many errors.

 

rs-500-new-note-759

These are not fakes, but defective new banknotes

Photo via indian24news.com

 

The new bills of Rs 2,000, with a face-value twice as large as the largest of the old banknotes, are proving very efficient for giving and taking bribes.

Finally, with a large part of the country’s cash now removed from circulation and having moved into the banking system, the cash reserve ratio has been increased, as excess liquidity in the banking system has flooded into the bond market. This has driven bond yields lower against the RBI’s wishes, which is moreover in danger of running short of collateral for its repo operations.

As a next step, the government will issue “market stabilization bonds” to soak up excess liquidity in the banking system. Thus private capital has been crowded out, moving into the hands of Modi’s government.

 

protests

Protests have started in isolated pockets. I am tempted to side with them, but I am fully aware that any counter-revolution or organized protest virtually always involves a heavy-handed approach. The opposition will be no different from Modi’s brigade, and the next sociopath to come after Modi will probably be even worse than he is.

Photo credit: PTI

 

Protest against demonetization

 

Conclusion, for Those Living in India

Once social engineering of this size has started, people will and should take steps to protect themselves and their families. Decisions should be made today, not tomorrow.

People’s money in banks is frozen and can no longer be used for purposes involving cash. Every indication is that this money will stay frozen, as Modi wants coerce people into invest their money according to his preferences: into low-interest bonds or negative-yielding infrastructure projects.

Any rational person should be to trying to avoid getting stuck in what is a rapidly emerging police state that will control people’s finances and eventually their entire lives.  It will probably be best to take as much investment-related money as one can out of the system, or even better out of India.

A few escape routes still exist for the time being. By law it is still possible to move out US$250,000 per year outside India. This window cannot stay open too long. Until it is shut, one still has the option to move money into foreign currency or investments in more productive instruments outside of India.  One should also be able to store gold with an offshore entity in a country that respects private property.

Many rich Indians already do the above, all legally. They own swaths of properties in HK, Singapore, and Thailand, and increasingly also in Canada and New Jersey (USA). Many directors of Indian public companies are officially resident in Singapore, to avoid becoming a puppet of the extra-ordinarily corrupt and rapacious Indian government, which has been made much worse by Modi.

With India’s institutions now rapidly degrading and the salaried middle class having been zombified, risks are extremely high. Explore your options before the encroaching police state closes the remaining avenues of escape.

Of course, being totally incompetent, India’s government cannot enforce a full-blown police state, but that will not stop massive damage to the economy and what will bring about chronic and frequently acute anxiety among Indians.

India will fundamentally change going forward, in a very negative way. It may eventually disintegrate, a possibility for which one should be prepared.

 

As the month of November 2016 comes to a close, members of the lower classes who must convert their soon-to-be-paid salaries to cash will face even greater desperation.



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Victim of Airport Seizure Gets His $11,000 Back With Interest

ORIGINAL LINK

Charles Clarke, the college student who was robbed of $11,000 in cash by cops at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport two years ago, will get his money back with interest under an agreement he reached with the Justice Department this week. Claiming Clarke's checked suitcase smelled of marijuana, the cops argued that the money in his carry-on bag must have something to do with drugs, which would make it forfeitable under federal law. But Clarke challenged the forfeiture with help from the Institute for Justice, and the government blinked.

Clarke, who admitted smoking pot but insisted he had never sold it, had saved the money over five years from wages, financial aid, and family gifts. He took it with him for safekeeping while visiting relatives in Cincinnati and was stopped on the way back to his home in Florida by an airport detective and a local police officer who had been deputized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Their agencies benefit from federal forfeitures through the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Program.

To take the money, the cops needed only probable cause to believe it was connected to illegal drug activity in some way; they did not even have to specify how. The forfeiture complaint was, as usual in such cases, maddeningly vague, claiming the money "was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for controlled substances, was proceeds traceable to such an exchange, or was intended to be used to facilitate the illegal sale of narcotics." Although the cops found no drugs in Clarke's bags or on his person and did not charge him with a crime, the pot smell and the large amount of cash were enough to make the money disappear.

To keep the money, the government theoretically had to show that it more likely than not came from selling drugs or was intended to buy them. But that burden applied only if Clarke had the means to challenge the forfeiture once the government had taken his savings. Innocent owners often find that standing up for their rights costs more than the value of the property they are trying to get back. Luckily for Clarke, he had the Institute for Justice in his corner.

"Charles is very pleased that he will get his life savings back and that the whole ordeal is now behind him," said I.J. attorney Darpana Sheth. "Civil forfeiture is wrong. It allows law enforcement to seize and keep property without ever charging someone with a crime. Even worse, it encourages law enforcement to seize as much money and property as possible by allowing agencies to keep the proceeds for themselves. The Institute for Justice will continue to lead the fight to abolish civil forfeiture and end this perverse financial incentive."



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Modi's Bank Transaction Tax May Lead To Larger Conflicts

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The current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has a history of racism and can be described as a neo-fascist. A more pleasant label is Hindu nationalist but that essentially means the same. It now turns out that Modis extremism in not confined to the nationalist bend but includes some crazy economic ideas. Modi decided to demonetize the country from one day to another. Every bank note valued at over US$7 was taken out of circulation. The rather crazy idea behind this is to move all monetary transactions to some electronic money systems and to then tax each and every transaction. All other kind of taxes would be abolished.



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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Is What A Professional Disinformation Campaign Looks Like

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Today Wikileaks published in searchable format more than 60 thousand emails from private intelligence firm HBGary. As Wikileaks reported on its website, "the publication today marks the early release of US political prisoner Barrett Brown, who was detained in 2012 and sentenced to 63 months in prison in connection with his journalism on Stratfor and HBGary. Coinciding with Mr Brown's release from prison WikiLeaks is publishing a searchable index of the HBGary emails. WikiLeaks published the Stratfor emails in 2012."

For those who missed it five years ago, the story behind the leak is fascinating.

The HBGary emails are from four email accounts of key people from HBGary and HBGary Federal. HBGary was founded in 2003 by Greg Hoglund to provide cyber security-related services to corporate clients. A separate entity, HBGary Federal, was managed by Aaron Barr to do similar work for government agencies and so had staff with security clearances and worked with companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton (one of the contractors Edward Snowden worked for).

As was reported several years ago, in February 2011 Aaron Barr stated he had been investigating the internet activist group Anonymous and claimed to have uncovered the real identities of some of what he described as the leaders of the organisation. In retaliation Anonymous penetrated Barr’s organisation and took emails from the accounts of four key people from HBGary and HBGary Federal: Aaron Barr and Greg Hoglund, but also Ted Vera (then Chief Operating Officer at HBGary Federal) and Phil Wallisch, a former Principal Technical Consultant.

These emails and revelations from them started to be published on the internet, predominantly through the work of Barrett Brown and a crowd-sourced investigative journalism project he ran: Project PM. As a result, later that month Barr was forced to step down, HBGary Federal closed and HBGary, Inc. was sold to ManTech International. This would have been little consolation to Mr Brown, who a month later on 6 March 2012 had both his and his mother’s houses raided by the FBI, seeking “Records relating to HBGary, Infragard, Endgame Systems, Anonymous, LulzSec, IRC chats, Twitter, wiki.echelon2.org, and pastebin.com.” Agents seized his laptops.

Barrett Brown’s work through Project PM was one of the first collaborative investigations into the US corporate surveillance industry. Looking into corporate firms that work hand-in-hand with the government to surveil on citizens, Mr Brown was one of the first to shed light on this unaccountable industry.

The HBGary revelations that came out through the work of Barret Brown and others showed that HBGary and related companies were involved in plans to spread disinformation and to attack watchdog organisations, including WikiLeaks and US Chamber Watch. For example, the emails revealed a plan to form a group called Team Themis with a number of companies from the industry to "ruin" WikiLeaks by submitting false documents in the hope they would be published, as well as discrediting WikiLeaks staff and supporters, including journalist Glenn Greenwald. HBGary was also bidding to fulfil a tender from the US Air Force to assist it in manipulating social media to spread propaganda about the Air Force.

As Wikileaks adds, "Barrett Brown was indicted on felony counts due to his journalistic work on the HBGary emails and other related corporations. He has been in prison ever since, often being put into solitary confinement and having his communications restricted. The HBGary emails largely disappeared from the internet. Today the HBGary emails are safe for all to search in honour of Mr Brown’s work and in celebration of his release."

* * *

While many of the leaked emails and their contents have been released previously, in light of the recent witch hunt to brand an entire swath of the media as "fake news", or just as bad "Russian propaganda", it is worth reminding readers of one of the most memorable discoveries to emerge from the hack.

One particular presentation from December 2010, titled "The Wikileaks Threat" outlined a proposal to Bank of America from Palantir and HBGary to sabotage WikiLeaks on multiple fronts, a response plan to what some believed at the time could be a release of highly damaging Bank of America’s internal documents by WikiLeaks. The powerpoint suggested launching cyberattacks on WikiLeaks servers, spreading misinformation about its insecurity, and even pressuring journalists who support the site, specifically focusing on Glenn Greenwald, the man who presented Edward Snowden to the world.

In a nutshell, the 24-slide document (presented in its entirety below), was a thoroughly developed program meant to discredit and destroy Wikileaks, through an extensive disinformation campaign. What is notable are the details that Palantir presented as part of this campaign, which are a generic framework for creating any such campaign. They are laid out on a slide titled "Potential Proactive Tactics" and are as follows:

  • Feed the fuel between the feuding groups.  Disinformation.  Create messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization.  Submit fake documents and then call out the error.
  • Create concern over the security of the infrastructure.  Create exposure stories.  If the process is believed to not be secure they are done.
  • Cyber attacks against the infrastructure to get data on document submitters.  This would kill the project.  Since the servers are now in Sweden and France putting a team together to get access is more straightforward.
  • Media campaign to push the radical and reckless nature of wikileaks activities.  Sustained pressure.  Does nothing for the fanatics, but creates concern and doubt amongst moderates.
  • Search for leaks.  Use social media to profile and identify risky behavior of employees.

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And there you have it: a generic disinformation campaign, in this case one prepared by Palantir and HBGary against Wikileaks, but one that is structurally the same in virtually every other instance. So the next time readers encounter a similar attempt to "destroy" a source of information, look at the slide above and ask if what you are seeing is just a rehash of an old, familiar discrediting campaign.



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How Google Tried To Tip The Scales For Clinton

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Submitted by Giuseppe Macri via InsideSources.com,

The Obama administration’s revolving door with Google has been anything but subtle over the last eight years, and a new report from a government watchdog out this week shows the Silicon Valley giant hoped to extend that relationship to what many expected would be a Hillary Clinton presidency.

According to Campaign for Accountability, a non-profit government watchdog, that door was already growing in scope while Clinton headed the State Department under Obama. At least 57 people shared affiliations with Clinton and Google or related entities at the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and her presidential campaign.

Those include Clinton campaign Chief Technology Officer Stephanie Hannon, Chief Product Officer Osi Imeokparia, Deputy CTO Derek Parham and Director of Digital Advertising Jason Rosenbaum, all of whom hailed from Google before joining the campaign.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet (the redubbed parent company of Google) who developed custom election monitoring software for the 2012 Obama campaign helped Clinton in a similar fashion. Schmidt funded Civis Analytics and The Groundwork, two data analytics and poll tracking firms that worked on her campaign.

Clinton and her super PAC Priorities USA spent almost $1.5 million on services from those companies.

“Had she won the election, Clinton would have been significantly indebted to Google and Schmidt, whom she has referred to as her ‘longtime friend,'” the report reads. “For comparison, Schmidt’s future team at Civis Analytics was credited with helping produce his five million vote margin of victory during Obama’s 2012 election, and Schmidt subsequently enjoyed extensive access at the Obama White House.”

Personal emails hacked from campaign manager John Podesta show Schmidt personally met with Podesta and Clinton State Department aide Cheryl Mills in 2014, before the campaign was officially announced, and three months later Groundwork set up shop near Clinton headquarters in New York.

“[H]e’s ready to fund, advise, recruit talent, etc,” Podesta wrote after meeting with Schmidt in Washington, D.C. in 2014. Schmidt would continue to meet consistently with Clinton advisers to advise its voter targeting effort and data management.

“Clearly wants to be head outside advisor,” Podesta added before suggesting a meeting between Schmidt and Clinton campaign strategist Robby Mook.

As with most of the tech industry, Google donated heavily to Clinton over Trump, but Google notably became Clinton’s largest corporate contributor, according to the report, with at least six high-ranking executives and other employees contributing more than $1.3 million to her campaign coffers. The next highest corporate contributor was Microsoft with over $700,000 and Apple, which had its own close relationship with Clinton advisers per more Podesta emails, putting up more than $500,000, according to OpenSecrets.org.

“Had Clinton won the election, Google would have been able to capitalize on a close working relationship stretching back to her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State,” report authors wrote. “State Department officials traveled to Silicon Valley for meetings at Google’s headquarters attended by Schmidt, where they brainstormed how new technologies could be used to address diplomatic, development, and security concerns.”

Those efforts include the former secretary of state’s Internet Freedom agenda announced amid Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East in 2010. Clinton advocated international open internet norms and encouraged the adoption of technologies like encryption and social media to protect privacy and advocate for change in repressed regimes like Egypt and Syria.

The door between the two has spun in both directions since Clinton’s tenure heading the State Department, where at least 19 officials have joined Google in recent years including Jared Cohen, a member of Clinton’s policy planning staff. Cohen and Schmidt built their own “foreign policy think-tank,” later dubbed Jigsaw, “that has carried out a wide range of missions, some in coordination with the State Department.” Cohen himself traveled to areas of conflict while working for Google “raising suspicions that he was acting as an unofficial backchannel for the State Department.”

“Had Clinton won the election, Google would have benefitted in current and new ventures from its extensive ties to her presidential campaign, her foundation, and the Clinton State Department,” the report reads. “Several of those ventures rely on government funding or would be subject to regulatory scrutiny.”

Clinton appointees at the Federal Communications Commission (charged with defending net neutrality and currently weighing rules that would let Google enter the set-top box market), at the Federal Trade Commission (looking at rules for internet of things devices, artificial intelligence and where the company has run into data privacy and anti-trust issues), and at the Department of Transportation (where standards will be set for the company’s self-driving cars), would all have likely benefitted Alphabet’s various business ventures.

“Beyond leaving its mark with Hillary Clinton, Google has proved highly adept during the past eight years at securing favorable decisions from federal agencies like the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” Campaign for Accountability said.

Though Alphabet bet heavily on Clinton, as did most in the valley, the incoming Trump administration is showing early signs the search giant may not be shut out in the cold. The Trump transition team has welcomed some Google allies to advise its efforts.

“Having failed to back the winning presidential candidate,” Campaign for Accountability explains, “Google is now seeking to soften its opposition to Trump. Schmidt congratulated Trump following his win, calling it an ‘amazing story.’ He also praised Trump-backer Peter Thiel, calling himself a fan of the Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur.”



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Turkey Has Declared War On Syria – Does This Mean That World War 3 Is About To Erupt In The Middle East?

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fighter-jet-silhouette-public-domainTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just announced that the only reason Turkish military forces have entered northern Syria is to “end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad”.  By publicly proclaiming that Turkey intends to use military force to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan has essentially declared war on the Syrian government.  Of course this puts a member of NATO in direct military conflict with Russia, since Russia is working very hard to prop up the Assad regime.  If all-out war breaks out between Turkey and Russia, could that be the spark that causes World War 3 to erupt in the Middle East?  And once Turkey and Russia start fighting, would the United States and the rest of NATO be dragged into the conflict?

The big mainstream news networks in the western world are almost completely ignoring what Erdogan said on Tuesday, but without a doubt this is major news.  The following comes from a Turkish news source

The Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Nov. 29.

“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” Erdoğan said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.

Turkish military forces initially invaded northern Syria on August 24th, and at the time we were all told that the purpose of the invasion was to “fight ISIS”, but now Erdogan is telling us something completely different.

Breitbart is one of the few U.S. news outlets that is reporting on this story, and I want you to read the following quotes from Erdogan that come from a Breitbart article that was posted on Tuesday very, very carefully…

“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror,” Erdogan continued, insisting his forces were not in Syria for “any other reason.”

The Daily Sabah notes that Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Syria during two telephone calls last week. Since Russia launched a massive military operation to secure Bashar Assad in power, Putin would presumably have been interested in anything Erdogan had to say about toppling the regime in Damascus, and probably would not have kept quiet about it.

If the Turkish military is only in Syria to end the Assad regime, then presumably they will stay there until the job is done.

And this puts Turkey into a direct military conflict with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah since all three of them are already fighting very hard to help the Assad regime.

Of course there is another reason why Turkey is in northern Syria, and that is to fight the Kurds.  In fact, the Kurds and Turkey are both rushing to capture a little city northeast of Aleppo called al-Bab which is currently controlled by the Islamic State

Their immediate challenge is securing al-Bab, an Islamic State-held city northeast of Aleppo which Kurdish-led fighters are racing to take, and which lies close to the front lines of Assad’s allies.

Turkish-backed forces have made rapid gains since August, but largely through less heavily populated areas. Urban warfare around al-Bab is already taking a heavier toll. Five Turkish soldiers have been killed in the past week alone, three of them in a suspected Syrian government air strike.

“Right now the question is whether Russia will allow Turkey to seize al-Bab,” said the Muntasir Billah Brigade official.

But most people in the western world don’t know that Turkish soldiers are already dying in Syria.

Here in the United States, tens of millions of Americans are hailing a new era of “peace and prosperity” now that Donald Trump has won the election, but the truth is that one false move in Syria could easily raise tensions between the United States and Russia to the highest level that we have seen since the Cuban missile crisis back in the 1960s.

If Erdogan would have just stayed out of Syria we wouldn’t be in such a precarious situation.  Unfortunately, the president of Turkey is a narcissistic lunatic, and he dreams of a day when the old Ottoman Empire will once again be restored.

But his delusions of greatness threaten to make the Middle East even more unstable than it already has been.  In addition to his remarks above, on Tuesday Erdogan also called on all Muslims globally “to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Muslims to defend the Palestinian cause, striking a tough stance on Israel despite improved ties between the two nations.

The president of majority Muslim Turkey said Tuesday that “it is the common duty of all Muslims to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem” and that safeguarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque should not be left to children armed with nothing but stones. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the hilltop compound is sacred to Muslims and Jews.

Most people in the western world pay very little attention to Erdogan, but the truth is that he is a madman that is often referred to as “Turkey’s version of Adolf Hitler”.  He is extremely ambitious, extremely nationalistic, and he is a warmonger.  That is a very dangerous combination, and I believe that it is only a matter of time before he starts a major war in the Middle East.

Somebody needs to get this guy under control, but unfortunately the Obama administration has been very hesitant to confront Erdogan about his outrageous behavior.

When Erdogan openly stated that the Turkish military is in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime on Tuesday, that was like lighting a match in a room that has already been doused with propane.

He needs to immediately retract those comments, because his unique brand of lunacy has now brought us dangerously close to the start of World War 3.



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Martin Armstrong Exposes The Real Fake News: Did The BBC Get Caught Fabricating News To Start A War?

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"The press has been routinely creating fake news reports to start a war," exclaims Armstrong Economics' Martin Armstrong, pointing to a recent report exposing The BBC allegedly faking news over chemical attacks in Syria...

What follows is shocking evidence that crisis actors, green screens, CGI, and paid propagandists are being used to fake worldwide events in order to scare people into giving up liberties and sending us into war. To say this was shocking would be to put it lightly.

 

From video proof showing “dead soldiers” killed by “chemical weapons” walking around after they thought the videos stopped recording, to digitally altering sounds to add in “explosions” that never happened, this segment demonstrates some of the most damming evidence against the media ever shown on television.

 

Armstrong continues... "This is a serious issue for the press is conspiring against the people to create war, sell climate change, and rig elections. This is by no means something new."

They taught me in high school history class about how the press started the Spanish-American War by reporting that the Spanish attacked a US ship, which never happened.

We have fallen into a cycle of yellow journalism that Pulitzer began. Pulitzer created the Spanish-American War by making up shit to sell newspapers. The famous Pulitzer Prize given by Columbia University is named after the father of yellow journalism – go figure! This is why the press and the Republican elite supported Hillary. They need to rig the game.

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The most fascinating aspect of war has been the government’s consistent lies to the American people to move the nation to war with every single event. This has won them the ability to wage every single war up until Obama’s attempt to invade Syria. It did not fly. This was really the beginning of the collapse in public confidence for the peak in government on our 224-Year Cycle of Political Change was 2013 — the second swearing in of Obama.

The sinking of the Lusitania is very disturbing. The U.S. was smuggling arms to Europe on passenger ships, and putting civilian lives in harm’s way for political reasons. The Germans even took an advertisement in the NY newspapers warning civilians DO NOT TRAVEL on the Lusitania. When they sank that ship, the U.S. turned and said how cruel the Germans were to attack a passenger ship.

Then there was the Operation Northwoodwhich was a proposal of the Department of Defense. The Joint Chiefs of Staff would have employed CIA operatives to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians. They would then blame the Cuban government to justify a war against Cuba. The proposals were rejected by the Kennedy administration and have long been part of the reason people support the theory that the CIA is responsible for the killing of Kennedy.

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Obama, who has made a mockery out of the Nobel Peace Prize, attempted the standard lie to invade Syria, but the American people rejected it because they became tired of the lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack even in fake allegations. The failure of Obama to “sell” the Syrian war to the American people noted the shift in confidence from public (trust everything) to private (trust nothing).

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Wherever there is military action involved, there are lies to further another agenda. The benefit of a private wave is that people begin to distrust government. However, when the war cycle turns up it warns of a rise in civil unrest that can go as far as a new age of revolution if government does not stop trying to manipulate the people for nonsense.

Make no mistake, the political manipulations for wars and elections are pervasive. The EU staged a coup in Italy to get rid of Berlusconi because he wanted to take Italy out of the EU. Not only is the press is conspiring with government, of course the bankers are as well. The bankers all said they would leave Scotland if it voted to exit the UK. Republicans were trying to rig the primary to stop Trump. The evidence has poured in how Hillary manipulated the Republican primary to ensure Trump would win because she thought she could beat him and ran a very divisive campaign.

The movie “Wag the Dog” was based on how things really operate. They used the press as a co-conspirator to manipulate the public. This is also why this election has resulted in the collapse in public confidence in the mainstream press. True, the New York Times has admitted they were biased, but they have protected the bankers and reported fake news on Syria.



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