Umayyad mosque photographed on 12 March 2009 and 17 December 2016. Image Source: The Atlantic.
The Guardian has today published photographs showing Aleppo, Syria as it appeared before the civil war started on 15 March 2011 and how it appears now. Photo credits: The Guardian/ Omar Sanadiki / Khalil Ashawi / Reuters.
The old city photographed on 13 December 2016.
Blame over Syria's devastation intensifies after the murder of the Russian ambassador, Andrey Karlov, on 19 December 2016 at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey. You can see the terrible, raw video, here. The Double-007-type assassin, Mevlut Mert Altıntas, was Aleppo's self-styled avenger. The Telegraph asserted the assassin was an élite policeman who had guarded President Erdoğan. Kremlin-sourced online rumour mongers believe the killer was an anti-Russian NATO agent. Raw Story:
Several western MSM sources are accusing Syria, Russia and Iran of war crimes for bombarding civilians during a truce to evacuate the formerly-rebel-held city. You can see details at Human Rights Watch, here. Washington Times:"The footage also shows the assassin saying a religious verse in Arabic: a pledge for jihad for Muhammed moments after the attack. He also said in Turkish: 'Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria. Until our towns are safe, you will not taste safety. Only death will take me away from here. Everyone who played a role in this cruelty will pay.'"
"Iran’s brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force has played an extensive role in the rape of Aleppo, building a network of bases around the Syrian city and directing militiamen from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan to do the killing, an Iranian opposition group says in a new intelligence report.
'The fact is that Aleppo has been occupied by the IRGC and its mercenaries,' says the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, or MEK, the largest opposition group to the Islamic mullahs who rule Iran. 'Mass executions, preventing the transfer of the civilians, including women and children, [and] attacking the civilians has all been done by the forces of the mullahs' regime.'"
Smoke and mirrors: it is difficult to determine the nature of American and Russian involvement in Syria and the way ISIS was sponsored to destroy Assad's government. It is clear that ISIS got out of control.
As I said a few weeks ago, the great photojournalism of 2016 is continuing to resemble stills from a scary, not-entirely-realistic movie. pic.twitter.com/BCMFZJcmKh— Kurt Andersen (@KBAndersen) December 20, 2016
In November and December 2016, reports based on WikiLeaks' leaked e-mails shed light on the Syrian crisis. One leaked e-mail seemed to show that the Clinton Foundation and ISIS were both funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Later leaks supposedly confirmed that Clinton and the CIA helped create ISIS with Saudi and Qatari money to destroy the Assad government in Syria.
On 4 November 2016, The Independent reproduced this e-mail exchange between Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, dated 17 August 2014.
A closer reading reveals a more complicated mess, in which the Americans were trying to encourage Saudi sponsorship of radical Sunni jihadists to bring down Assad in Syria, without American military boots on the ground. At the same time, Clinton was trying to contain the Saudis and ISIS. The Daily Caller summarizes Clinton's strategy, which was intended, ironically, to make the Americans less hawkish:
"Clinton sent the email on August 17, 2014 to Podesta. It was an eight-point plan to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Clinton’s email said that the United States should support Kurdish forces on the ground with U.S. military advisers and avoid the use of a conventional ground operation.
'While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,' Clinton wrote.
The former secretary of state added: 'This effort will be enhanced by the stepped up commitment in the [Kurdish Regional Government]. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious U.S. pressure.'"
RT interview, short, 4 November 2016. Video Source: RT via Youtube.
RT full interview, released 5 November 2016, just prior to the American election. Julian Assange talks to John Pilger. Video Source: RT via Youtube.
The leaks that incriminated Clinton were supported by the Russian-government mouthpiece, Russia Today, in an interview with Julian Assange (above). In that interview, Assange emphasized the significance of particular e-mails about ISIS.
The only problem is that conspiracy theorists who closely watch WikiLeaks believe the interview was faked and Julian Assange may or may not be captured and/or dead and/or in the hands of the CIA since 16 October 2016. WikiLeaks' supporters think that the CIA had taken over WikiLeaks by November 2016. Hackers and online sleuths are not convinced that subsequent video or audio interviews with Assange were real. You can see their reasoning here and here, and in the video immediately below.
One Youtuber dismissed this RT debunking video: "It is just Adobe Premiere's 'morph cut' feature, which has been done here ... not so seamlessly." Video Source: Youtube. Hat tip: Reddit.
Just to make everything that extra bit worse, German and American computer scientists have invented a nearly impenetrable method of faking video footage of people - most worryingly, famous people. Below, see eerie 2015 and 2016 demonstrations of the technology, Face2Face, which could create the faked footage with Assange. Reddit:
"Researchers from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, and Stanford University have developed a new method for 'real-time facial reenactment.' This means that you can have one person making faces or mouthing words, and those expressions and movements are simultaneously displayed on live video of the face of someone else."
Real-time Expression Transfer for Facial Reenactment (16 September 2015). Video Source: Youtube. The Stanford project page is here.
Caption for the above video: "We present a method for the real-time transfer of facial expressions from an actor in a source video to an actor in a target video, thus enabling the ad-hoc control of the facial expressions of the target actor. The novelty of our approach lies in the transfer and photo-realistic re-rendering of facial deformations and detail into the target video in a way that the newly-synthesized expressions are virtually indistinguishable from a real video. To achieve this, we accurately capture the facial performances of the source and target subjects in real-time using a commodity RGB-D sensor. For each frame, we jointly fit a parametric model for identity, expression, and skin reflectance to the input color and depth data, and also reconstruct the scene lighting. For expression transfer, we compute the difference between the source and target expressions in parameter space, and modify the target parameters to match the source expressions. A major challenge is the convincing re-rendering of the synthesized target face into the corresponding video stream. This requires a careful consideration of the lighting and shading design, which both must correspond to the real-world environment. We demonstrate our method in a live setup, where we modify a video conference feed such that the facial expressions of a different person (e.g., translator) are matched in real-time."
Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment of RGB Videos (CVPR 2016 Oral) (17 March 2016). Video Source: Matthias Niessner via Youtube. The Stanford project page is here.
Caption for the above video: "IMPORTANT NOTE: This demo video is purely research-focused and we would like to clarify the goals and intent of our work. Our aim is to demonstrate the capabilities of modern computer vision and graphics technology, and convey it in an approachable and fun way. We want to emphasize that computer-generated videos have been part in feature-film movies for over 30 years. Virtually every high-end movie production contains a significant percentage of synthetically-generated content (from Lord of the Rings to Benjamin Button). These results are hard to distinguish from reality and it often goes unnoticed that the content is not real. The novelty and contribution of our work is that we can edit pre-recorded videos in real-time on a commodity PC. Please also note that our efforts include the detection of edits in video footage in order to verify a clip’s authenticity. For additional information, we refer to our project website (see above). Hopefully, you enjoyed watching our video, and we hope to provide a positive takeaway :)
Paper Abstract: We present a novel approach for real-time facial reenactment of a monocular target video sequence (e.g., Youtube video). The source sequence is also a monocular video stream, captured live with a commodity webcam. Our goal is to animate the facial expressions of the target video by a source actor and re-render the manipulated output video in a photo-realistic fashion. To this end, we first address the under-constrained problem of facial identity recovery from monocular video by non-rigid model-based bundling. At run time, we track facial expressions of both source and target video using a dense photometric consistency measure. Reenactment is then achieved by fast and efficient deformation transfer between source and target. The mouth interior that best matches the re-targeted expression is retrieved from the target sequence and warped to produce an accurate fit. Finally, we convincingly re-render the synthesized target face on top of the corresponding video stream such that it seamlessly blends with the real-world illumination. We demonstrate our method in a live setup, where Youtube videos are reenacted in real time."
Nothing is real: How German scientists control Putin's face (6 April 2016). Video Source: Youtube.
In this morass of disinformation, Bitcoin's blockchain could provide encrypted hard evidence of whether Assange is or is not alive, and who is telling the truth. In 2014, Assange confirmed (here) that the blockchain could provide an encrypted, date-stamped back-up of anything WikiLeaks published. If WikiLeaks was compromised and its Website altered or deleted, one could find the original leaked files embedded on the blockchain.
Anonymous hackers are currently searching Bitcoin's blockchain for embedded messages and WikiLeaks back-ups. One bit of gossip stated, "we started finding stuff from Wikileaks hidden in the blockchain post Oct 21." However, there are problems appearing on the blockchain as well in the form of empty transactions, after the IRS indicated on 2 December 2016 that it would investigate the blockchain through Coinbase, a major Bitcoin exchange. This has intensified conspiracy theorizing.
Anonymous hackers appear to believe that Assange is dead, WikiLeaks is compromised, and there is an ongoing Internet crackdown, in which algorithms are being changed, the alt-Web is being suppressed, and information is disappearing. Reddit:
"mid dec: someone allegedly speaking on behalf of appelbaum posts links to code he wrote to find and repair keys in memory. new teams are told to use it. obama starts talking about a cyber war with russia.
dec 18: files are found in japan. a meshnet using ps3s is created to spread the files but it does not seem to last too long.
dec 19: d-day. happenings all over the world. most ISPs, torrent communities and major sites go down. wikileaks releases a new insurance file. uk, ec, and us insurance files from before no longer show on wikileaks.org unless you have IPs from specific countries. it is one of the biggest internet outages in history and it is not reported in a single news site that i have been able to find. holding groups go silent. some members are now trying to find their old teams.
The Internet 'D-day' is supposedly today, 21 December 2016. Yet it is not clear how real or verifiable that disaster is. The extreme conspiratorial, urgent chatter may well be feeding on itself. This week, several major sites certainly went down for longer-than-usual periods, with Reddit suffering a near-total blackout.checksum hashes and upload proofs for all files. there is a lot of stuff in there that triggers xkeyscore or echelon and is virtually impossible to share or even talk about. three months have been spent trying to teach others how to recreate the steps. there is a noticeable pattern. group finds it, start teaching others how to do it, then everything is deleted and people go silent. then a new group finds the breadcrums and starts over. it's not clear what happened yesterday or what will happen next but there are people from all the world trying to investigate. at this point and there is no part of the internet where it is allowed"
Click to enlarge. At the bottom of this online doomsday urban-mythologizing, there is a ludicrous reference to a video game intro from 2012. Image Source.
The instruction above refers to two contending plans; one by anti-Anonymous actors to silence and control the Internet, one by Anonymous to free it: Arsenal Gear and Fox Alive:
"IF the information has not reached the public once the Internet is restored, FOXALIVE will be released. This is our last measure and we should [do] everything we can to avoid it. Remember, if Arsenal Gear is deployed in the next few days, we lose the Internet forever."It is hard to believe the adolescent Underground is talking about a real suppression of the Internet; the names of operations and counter-operations are taken from video games. Underground board members were skeptical, and they didn't want to click on links and files floating around in relation to these rumours:
- "Alright someone show me some actual proof or fuck off, because this looks like some shit a child would come up with, especially the stupid nicknames."
- "Why won't you deny being the A.I bot?"
- "And so were there about every other manner of doomsday crying. Hows that pizzagate going, anons? Race war any day now, eh? If you want to write some LARP fantasy bullshit, at least put a limit of how many video game references there are. jesus"
- "Has anyone actually opened or attempted to open any of these torrents?"
- "Get a real job, you worthless cunt"
- "there are rumors that it could be stuff on 9/11"
- "last time i went on /g/ out of curiosity everyone was retarded. did it change when i wasnt looking?"
- "documents proving our gov is a spooky evil organization ruining the world. silencing all that try to reveal the truth. Julian is dead/ replaced by cgi avatar"
- "lets say this is true, is trump even going to make it into office?"
- "real wikileaks is kill, assange is likely kill. people now trying to decode the insurance files. people trying to share info quickly find that no where online is safe to discuss this, they lose internet INSTANTLY and any site they post to try and disseminate this info goes down in short order, not even the deep web or dark net is safe, they all get shut down rapidly if they're trying to share this shit. they try encoding discussion and instructions to decode the data through the bitcoin blockchain. that starts getting attacked too. big ass unexplained internet outages everywhere all of a sudden"
- "we are heading toward an electronic currency age do not slide prepare for a currency reset within almost a year, this an experiment in theory to test if this country can do this if it passes it will keep moving and moving india might be a super power if we all use its currency its developing."
Wikileaks is Russian, Anonymous is FBI, Tor is NSA, Bitcoin is Chinese. You know it: trust only esoteric ciphers and transistor rhythms.— Telecomix (@telecomix) October 25, 2016
Finally people are catching on to what happened to the cypherpunk world - it became a deniable battle ground for nation states. https://t.co/x6lSyMjkgF— Vinay Gupta (@leashless) December 22, 2016
The upshot of all this is that there are two competing doomsday myths developing about truth and the Internet. One is Russian-driven and anti-American; the other is American-driven and anti-Russian.
Further discussions and sites are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. One could dismiss this frenetic activity as paranoia. If so, perhaps that is understandable. The story of Aleppo and of Syria's ruination inspire a desperate need to see this human disaster in the light of absolute truth and real history.
Click to enlarge, Endchan discussion (21 December 2016) on blockchain data around Karlov's assassination and Assange's situation, and changes and deletions since mid-October 2016 made to WikiLeaks' files online; these changes purportedly include removal or alteration of leaked e-mails which compromised top Clinton advisor, John Podesta. Image Source: Reddit.
"tl;dr blockchain has backups of all wikileaks files since 2013." Click to enlarge. Image Source: Reddit.