TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Law. Show all posts

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Genocide in a Jar: Playing God with the Coronavirus


Image Source: Kickstarter.

A Freudian Slip

After a harrowing week of reports about an emerging pandemic, culminating with the WHO declaring a global public health emergency, it is time to be honest. The Chinese government-supported news outlet, CGTN, reported on 28 January 2020 that an Australian lab became the "first lab outside China to create - to recreate - the virus."

That statement could be read different ways. One way of reading it is that the news anchor is referring to Chinese researchers creating the virus ahead of the Australians and the Chinese were copying its appearance in the wild. Another way of reading it is that the virus was synthesized in China in the first place.

Pandemics, Evolution, and Playing God

Spanish Flu: a warning from history (30 November 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

It used to be that pandemics were about natural evolution, of humans and other species. We see this in history. The bubonic plague, smallpox, the 1918 flu epidemic were evolutionary disease events. They arose from natural conditions and the afflicted masses perceived the scourge in terms of divine, not political, will.

In today's secular age, politics replaces God, and science has been bent to serve the aims of politics. Pandemics can be less about nature, science and medicine - and more about politics. What you see in the current media struggle to control the coronavirus narrative is a debate on whether or not this epidemic is actually a political event and whose politics will be served by it.

In this sense, it is wrong to assume that anti-scientific sentiment hails solely from ignorant, God-fearing quarters. The criticism of science bent to serve political agendas is less a criticism of scientific ideas and methods than it is an attack on certain political agendas.

For example, anti-vaxxers are portrayed in the mainstream as anti-rationalist morons and religious lunatics. A deeper probe into the anti-vax sub-culture reveals people who may accept the basic medical concept of vaccination, or who at least understand it, but who remain suspicious of the political or ideological aims of vaccinators.

Scoff if you will, but these paranoids do live in a post-Holocaust world and they seem to have understood that point better than most. They know that a genocidal political culture can potentially arise in any state. No matter how uninformed they otherwise are, they are not wrong. When they lean toward personal fascism, these types may deny the history of the Holocaust. However, as I have explained in another post, it is on the ironic basis of the Holocaust and subsequent modern genocides that even neo-Nazi Holocaust-deniers know that a state can turn on its citizens and engineer a genocide.

When we discuss these inflammatory questions, the true debate gets lost behind the immediate outrage, the issue of the day. The true debate now is whether the nation state can and should evolve into a global state and to what degree, and whether either of these geopolitical entities - national or global - is ever mobilized to be systematically harmful toward its citizens. Behind this concern, we know that a core ideology drives every state architecture, and that set of goals may differ from the state's overt civic values and politics. Again, in a post-Holocaust environment, it is fair to ask if a state entity, no matter what virtues it claims to uphold, is actually driven by a malevolent core ideology.

Beyond these worries are the roles played by science and technology. These latter fields make certain actions available to state and political agents, where before those options did not exist.

The Georgia Guidestones express a real agenda of mass depopluation, supported by the guidestones' makers, who are unknown. Image Source: pinterest.

Discussion about the coronavirus is entering a difficult phase because it reflects all these issues: national jurisdictions and international communities; core Realpolitik ideologies versus overtly expressed political ideals; science and technology pressed into the service of a core Realpolitik ideology as well as overt politics.

The atmosphere of debate on these issues must not be one simply of top-down narrative authority by mainstream officials, experts and journalists. In the Information Age, they cannot simply insist they are right because they are authoritative. They have to prove that they are telling the truth.

At the heart of the matter is the question of whether this virus arose naturally or whether it is a weaponized, synthesized Frankenvirus, as reported by the Washington Times on 26 January 2020. If it is the latter, then how it was approved and released must be revealed. People everywhere would be absolutely right to demand immediate investigation of the current international and national political orders which permitted such an outcome: no one, anywhere, should be able to develop a 'genocide in a jar.'

If that possibility exists in this case, it is up to the media to thoroughly investigate every possible bit of evidence in that regard. If the bioweapons story is not true, then it has to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not true. It should not be simply, sloppily and reflexively denied by the MSM, 'because we said so' in order to maintain social order.

Again, there are justifiable reasons for worrying about bioweapons now. In the past, there were examples of diseases being weaponized and used against targeted populations, as with smallpox blankets being given to indigenous peoples in colonial America and Canada.

However, as far as I know, there were no historical examples of bio-engineered diseases. Before certain scientific and technological advances, we could not have made a 'genocide in a jar'. The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention reveals that we now have that capacity and it is not a comforting thought. Pretending that this reality does not exist and that a state or similar powerful entity cannot act along these lines is dishonest and dangerous.

Whether they are right or not, there are good reasons why people believe the Washington Times story that this epidemic is not a natural evolutionary event, but rather that this is a Frankenvirus, which can lie dormant in the body for days, and which seems to combine elements of coronaviruses, SARS and Ebola. And lo and behold, two months ago - as the pro-conspiracy site Zero Hedge found - that was precisely the focus of research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Postdoc job ad (18 November 2019). Image Source: Zero Hedge. Click to enlarge.

Dr. Joseph Farrell, an Oxford-educated conspiracist and author, discusses the above job ad. NEWS AND VIEWS FROM THE NEFARIUM JAN 30 2019 (30 January 2020). Video Source: Youtube.

This public suspicion has not been helped by the MSM suddenly moving in lockstep as of 28 January 2020 to control the narrative merely on the basis of their official media authority. As the MSM outlets work together to discredit the social media rumour that this virus is a bioweapon, they reinforce the public belief that there is a conspiracy afoot.

If we lived in a normal world, the MSM would ask whether bio-espionage and viral labs (especially the 50 odd level 4 labs around the world) are properly regulated and discover whether they are violating the Biological Weapons Convention. They would not quote 'experts' who say that they are confident that the Wuhan lab is following rules, merely because they 'think so.' They would ask why the FBI has arrested and charged a prominent Harvard scientist for lying about kickbacks he received to work and recruit scholars for the Wuhan lab. The same story was reinterpreted elsewhere as: Chinese Biowarfare Agents At Harvard University Caught Smuggling Viruses. You can read the affidavit here.

In a normal world, the MSM would ask why the policies for regulating risky virus experiments, in which scientists tweak viruses to make them more dangerous, were suddenly under review in the United States as of 24 January 2020.

In a normal world, the MSM would investigate the internal policies of big corporations when they hold pandemic gameplays a few months before an actual pandemic breaks out.

If we lived in a normal world, the MSM would not admonishing the justifiably riled public for daring to think for itself when a dangerous epidemic has arisen under sketchy, unclear circumstances. An MSM with backbone and real standards would look again China's competitive scientific community. It is well known that this community has by-passed, bent or broken normal humane research rules in order to gain a global competitive edge for its country.

It is no secret that China has more relaxed rules and the Chinese are engaging in Franken-research. There is an atmosphere that anything can be done with new scientific and technological capabilities. For the morally-challenged scientist with tone-deaf human intuition, working in China is an opportunity to play God.

In 2018, Foreign Policy shrugged its shoulders and stated: "China will always be bad at bioethics." Oh! That's all right then. The NYT confirmed that China is a hotbed of scandalous biomedical experiments. There was the full body transplant, with a head transferred to a new body! There are crazy cloning projects, including cloned primates. Last year, the Chinese created human-monkey hybrids.

In 2018-2019, the whole scientific community criticized China's anti-HIV genetically-altered CRISPR babies, which "seriously violated" regulations. The Chinese government has been fined for unauthorized collection of human DNA.

When four lone bioethics experts appealed to the journal Nature in 2019 to press the Chinese government for more oversight of risky bio-experiments, hundreds of Chinese researchers protested. After this demand for a "reboot" of biomedical regulations, the Chinese government did establish a national medial ethics committee to review "high risk biomedical technologies" in May of 2019. But all indications are that it was business as usual and everyone just pressed ahead. This "rogue science" is not a China-only problem, as western researchers are cross-pollinating with Asian researchers and western scientists are taking advantage of China's lax biomedical regulations and covert funding. This is an established fact, according to stories emerging from Canada and America.

In this context, it is not unreasonable to imagine that the embarrassing potential truth of a Chinese bioweapon, a 'genocide in a jar,' has been developed and unleashed. While research is often shared between labs, the burden of proof that there has been no wrongdoing in research at the Wuhan lab, no associated international interests, and no bio-espionage lies with the Chinese government, any involved researchers, and with the WHO and the MSM. The burden of proof does not lie with the beleaguered global public who have to start stockpiling masks, food, water, goggles, and gloves because of this possible outrage.

For the bioweapons theory to be disproven, we would have to have access to WHO, CDC, Chinese, Canadian and American scientific records, along with worldwide intelligence archives, which will not be happening any time soon. Given that problem, the notion that the MSM have the right to simply deny uncomfortable stories and rumours because it is for our own good is as condescending and authoritarian as it is morally questionable in a time of crisis. The public are not the problem here, and they never were. The problem lies with those who see themselves as above and beyond the public, who think they can play God.

資源緊缺,疫情緊急 | 陳秋實大年初六中午焦慮總結報導(“公民記者陳秋實武漢疫區採訪實錄”系列10) [Shortage of resources, emergency outbreak | Summary report of Chen Qiushi ’s anxiety at noon on the sixth day of the new year] (29 January 2020). Video Source: Youtube. The same video with English subtitles is here.

Debated Virus Origins from Bioweapons Lab

Harvard virologist “speculates” Wuhan Virus came from lab #Coronavirus (29 January 2020). Video Source: Youtube.
Censorship

Virus Information and Discussions



Police Barricade Family In Apartment That Visited Wuhan "The sign says something like 'This is a returnee family from Wuhan, not approach!'" (28 January 2020) Video Source: Live Leak.

Extreme Conspiracy Theories and Disinformation

  • Biorxiv: non-peer-reviewed preliminary study, with a tiny infected group of eight people, of which one was an Asian male. Results on this limited paper gave rise to unsupported, completely unproven conspiracy theories that this virus is bio-engineered to attack Asian males and to leave those of European descent unharmed: "we analyzed the ACE2 RNA expression profile in the normal human lungs. The result indicates that the ACE2 virus receptor expression is concentrated in a small population of type II alveolar cells (AT2). Surprisingly, we found that this population of ACE2-expressing AT2 also highly expressed many other genes that positively regulating viral reproduction and transmission. A comparison between eight individual samples demonstrated that the Asian male one has an extremely large number of ACE2-expressing cells in the lung." Ethnic bioweapons are a known potential international issue, but are not discussed in a public square already obsessed with identity politics. The possible existence of ethnic bioweapons confirms a vast gulf between the way the world actually operates and the way we are told (and like to think) it operates.
  • Project Zyphr and US Genocide super-rumours, mainly driven by anti-Zionism
  • Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism feature in unfounded fears that the coronavirus was not only lab-engineered, but somehow released from the Wuhan facility by Israeli agents
  • Supposed CIA whistleblower: "This is not a coronavirus. It is the Nipah virus. Caused by fruit bats. There are cycles of much more virulent strains of the Nipah virus. The WHO (with whom I do research) knew about this in August of 2018. It is zoonotic."

Vaccine Development

Economic Impacts

Prep Links

See all my posts on Epidemics here and here.


Thursday, January 2, 2020

Drones, And Rumours of Drones


Residents concerned as FAA investigates mystery Colorado drones (31 December 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

It's like a scene from a 1970s' Spielberg film: Internet chatter among Youtubers indicates that since the third week of December 2019, fleets of drones have been flying at night in "research grid formation" in the United States, "[o]ut west. Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming." Some of these drones have wingspans of six feet and have hovered for hours over small towns. This has provoked a storm of discussion on the legality of drone invasion of airspace over, and even inside, private homes, about which I previously blogged, here.

FAA, other agencies investigating mysterious Colorado drone sightings; remote ID rule proposed (31 December 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Generation X Goes Back to the Future 6: I Want to Appropriate You


Transgender 'Woman' Objects to Man who Wants his Age Changed Legally from 69 to 49 (12 November 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

The march to liberate us from biological social markers and replace them with politicized, constantly variable, cultural markers continues. Transgendered people have argued that gender is an oppressive social label even more than it is a biological one; they campaign for freedom from that oppression, turning gender into a malleable, liberated construct. They gain a lot of momentum from this, generating endless rights controversies in increasingly convoluted identity politics.

Dutch Baby Boomer and positivity guru Emile Ratelband wants to make hay while the sun shines. Ratelband, who is 69 years old, has been told by his doctor that he has the body of a 42 year old. Using the legal precedents established in the courts by transgender rights campaigners, Ratelband has argued similarly that age is an oppressive biological and social marker. It's time to decide how old you are by how old you feel, rather than being socially identified by rigid biological markers.

Ratelband legally petitioned to get his age changed to 49 years of age, so that he can get more dates with women on Tinder. The trans proponent in the above interview was appalled. Can't you just fib on Tinder? He/she said. Everyone does.

There is grand irony in the notion that a Boomer wants to join the ranks of Generation X. But Ratelband won't have that honour yet, since the Dutch district court in Arnhem presiding over the case ruled against him on 3 December 2018, and prevented him from legally changing his birth date from 11 March 1949 to 11 March 1969. Ratelband vows to appeal.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Death in Panama


Image Source: The Daily Beast.

There is an Internet sub-genre devoted to investigating what has happened to missing people. One of the most disturbing recent cases of this kind captured the attention of bloggers, Redditors, Youtubers, and forum members.

"Lisanne Froon, aged 22. Picture taken on April 1, [2014] the day of her disappearance. Cellphone data, found in their backpack, revealed that attempts to dial 911 were made some 2 hours after this photo was taken. There was no reception. The last attempt to dial 911 was 10 days after their disappearance." Image Source: imgur.

This was the case of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, two Dutch college graduates, aged 21 and 22. In March 2014, they traveled to Boquete, Panama for six weeks to learn Spanish and do volunteer work with local children. Then they disappeared during a day hike in the forest near the town.

At the time of writing this post, the debate on this case at the German forum, Allmystery, was nearly 600 pages long. One of the related Reddit threads is here. The police investigation focused on the girls' disappearance its effect on the local tourist industry. This post and a subsequent post will ask about the much larger context of this case, including the Panama Papers.

Image Source: Kris Kremers/Facebook/imgur.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Defend the Right to Repair


Image Source: LA Times (Hat tip: The Outer Light).

The tech giants have moved one step closer toward criminalizing anyone who refurbishes or recycles old electronics. The hypocrisy of Silicon Valley companies came into sharp relief as a US federal appeals court in Miami ruled to imprison a tech waste e-cycler on 11 April 2018.



HLN LIVE Recycler Eric Lundgren - Stands Up For Repair and Recycling! (2 May 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New UK Export: Police State Tools


How BAE sold cyber-surveillance tools to Arab states - BBC News (20 June 2017). Video Source: BBC via Youtube.

NSA in a box: on 20 June 2017, BBC reported that a UK firm, BAE systems, exported nation-wide surveillance and decryption tools to Arab states, notably the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Morocco. The BBC reporter found that this exported technology will potentially be used against the UK. Takeaway quote: "You'd be able to intercept any Internet traffic. If you wanted to do a whole country - go ahead!"

Image Source: BAE Systems.

The 52nd International Paris Air Show is on now from 19 to 25 June 2017, with reps talking about everything from commercial jets to quantum entanglement. The aerospace industry increasingly considers military applications in space. Jane's reported that BAE is there, seeking to expand its custom for fighter jets in Belgium and Finland. Despite political tensions between Trump's America and a liberal Europe, on 18 June 2017 Defense News stated that US military industry reps were sanguine: it's "full speed ahead" between Europe and the USA when it comes to aerospace and arms deals. While the event is on, you can watch a livestream from the Paris Air Show here.

Le Bourget roundup Day 1 (20 June 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Drone Precedents: Point and Click


The unmanned drone MQ-9 Reaper, made by General Atomics, designed in 2001, first introduced into use by the US Air Force in 2007. This photo is from Afghanistan. Image Source: US Air Force via Defense Update.

This is the third in three posts on discrepancies between declared meaning and hard reality and the problems those gaps cause in emerging Millennial history. Today's post focuses on warfare. The 2014 documentary Drone, directed by Norwegian director Tonje Hessen Schei, summarized the change from a critical perspective. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom reviewed the film in 2015:
"The international community has stressed that drone strikes involve killings without due process that are violating international law and human rights, most importantly the right to life. There have been strong concerns that drone operations do not gather sufficient information to establish legal targets, resulting in indiscriminate killings. The precision of drones, so fondly asserted by their supporters, is a myth.

Someone who knows all about this crude reality is Brandon Bryant, a former US Air Force drone operator diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, who is now speaking out to the world on what he experienced during his time flying drones. In the documentary, he describes the light-hearted, often nonchalant, atmosphere in the control room, half a world away from the people they were targeting, and how he himself grew more and more jaded for each strike."
The documentary (available at time of writing, here) sounds an alarm on drone development; the film regards drones as an international, not purely American, problem; and it criticizes the Republicans and especially the Democrats for their endorsement of the drone programme. The narration opens with an interview with Brandon Bryant, as he reflected on how drone operation dehumanized him:
"I didn't really understand what it meant to kill at first. It was horrible. Sometimes it plays itself over and over again in your head, so much that you, you just imagine who these people were. We sat in a box for nearly twelve hour shifts. I [was] typically on the night shift. It was quieter. All the lights were usually off, except for the light coming from the monitors. It was so weird just being able to watch people's lives. ... I remember watching a wedding. I mean, these were people enjoying themselves. These were people celebrating, like, a wedding. You know? Like - but someone in that wedding was a bad person, and at that moment, they were celebrating. It's just weird, like, I'm watching this person, and this person has no clue. We're the ultimate voyeurs, the ultimate Peeping Toms. No one's going to catch us, and we're getting orders to take these people's lives. It was just - point and click."
Bryant claimed most of his fellow drone pilots did not view their operations that way, and some threatened him when he came forward to criticize drones. At the other end of engagement, civilians sitting under drone attacks regard them as despicable and illegal. Lawyers in Pakistan have taken drone attack cases before their courts as criminal extrajudicial killings. But the paper trail disappears when it reaches the American government's doorstep, due to the confidentiality of unidentified authorities and top secret status of intelligence officers. In 2015, The Guardian called "Obama's drone panopticon" a "secret machine with no accountability." In the old military system, information can pinpoint those who violate military laws and court martial them. In the new military system, information disappears.




The verdict on conventional warfare from 2001 to 2008: Abu Ghraib prison torture in 2003 Image Source: Progressive Charlestown. The Senate committee report on torture was published on 30 December 2014. Image Source: Christian Science Monitor. Wife at the grave of an American soldier. Image Source: The Daily Call. Approximately half of veterans (over 1 million former military personnel) returned home to suffer PTSD, drug problems, convoluted governmental support, unemployment in the Great Recession, and other difficulties. A homeless veteran in Houston, Texas. Image Source: IFTBQP. Wiki: "In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were committing suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes."

Barack Obama's drone programme grew out of a catastrophic evaluation of George W. Bush's conventional wars. The Americans faced huge criticism and problems over their handling of the War in Afghanistan (2001-2014) and the Iraq War (2003-present). Abu Ghraib prison, torture, and Guantanamo Bay became ugly mirrors which the big media held up to show a proud nation its shameful inhumanity. The media and experts challenged the justifications and WMD premises for the war. Bush's conventional war was also astronomically expensive. In 2004, Osama bin Laden stated that one of al-Qaeda's aims was to provoke the USA into military conflict to the point of bankruptcy. He almost succeeded. Critics blamed the 2008 meltdown partly on the cost of war. In 2013, Reuters reported that the Iraq War and its related aftermath could cost USD $6 trillion over the next four decades, including interest.

Enter the drone, a comparatively cheap, recessionary weapon. In 2015, The Daily Dot reported that Obama requested roughly USD $561 billion in defense spending for the following year, with a growing portion devoted to drones or drone research, to around USD $5 billion by 2016. This was the projected cost of 'soft defense' with a 'small footprint': "While controversial for a variety of reasons, the drone program was supposed to usher in the era of a slimmer, smarter military for the U.S." Bard College has a Center for the Study of the Drone, which broke down America's annual drone budget for 2016 (here) and 2017 (here). According to one PBS opinion piece, the Democrats paid for the drones by printing money, as part of recessionary quantitative easing.

So, Obama declared: war is peace. Drone technology effectively continued Bush's Middle Eastern military policy in a different style. Single, targeted drone attacks became more widespread, akin to drone bombing. The Intercept dug through leaked classified drone papers, especially those for Operation Haymaker in Afghanistan in 2012-2013, and found large numbers of civilian casualties. For all the earlier concerns in Iraq and Afghanistan, this was a troubling shift in operational perspective. The Democrats' policy obscured reality, and was conceptually, politically and philosophically dislocated from the reality it created. This war continued mostly out of the public eye, behind a façade of peace. The film Drone maintains that the sympathetic Democratic rhetoric of humanitarianism and frugal economy held the moral high ground over the sabre-rattling of hawkish Republicans. However, the Democrats' withdrawal of troops and peaceable rhetoric cynically, strategically - and progressively - continued the war with drone technology and mercenaries, who replaced American soldiers on the ground.


Blackwater gained public attention when four of their mercenaries were ambushed, killed and burned on a bridge in Fallujah, Iraq, on 31 March 2004. It took two military battles for the Americans to take the city. After the victory in December 2004, the Marines signed the bridge with their Latin motto. In the photo above, 3/5 is the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment of the Marines, also known as the Darkhorse. From 2005 to 2011, investigative reports linked birth defects in Fallujah to the US Army's use of white phosphorous. The incident showed how unconventional mercenaries and weapons overlapped with conventional forces and the media. Images Sources: Mount Holyoke University; flickr.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton condemned the Bush State Department's employment of the military contractor Blackwater. But a 2014 HuffPo investigation found that shortly thereafter, Clinton's State Department stepped up hiring of private armies; her office promised Blackwater (now known as Academi) USD $500 million in mercenary contracts. In 2010, Wired reported that Clinton's State Department signed a five-year contract worth over USD $10 billion with a mercenary umbrella group called, 'International Development Solutions,' which included Academi-formerly-known-as-Blackwater. In 2014, there were rumours that Academi and an affiliated, Barbados-based company, Greystone, were active in the Ukraine. Other Blackwater shell companies, like Paravant, have grimly ironic names (a paravent is a portable bedroom privacy screen). According to Wired, here are a few other names Blackwater, its subsidiaries, or related merc companies have taken on to shed baggage:
  • Total Intelligence Solutions
  • Technical Defense Inc.
  • Apex Management Solutions LLC
  • Aviation Worldwide Services LLC
  • Air Quest Inc.
  • Presidential Airways Inc.
  • EP Aviation LLC
  • Backup Training LLC
  • Terrorism Research Center
  • Xe Services LLC
  • Worldwide Protective Services
  • AAR Corp.
The employer-reviews Website, Glassdoor, has employees' reviews of International Development Solutions; one reads: "Great pay. Travel is awesome. [But y]ou're away from home quite often." Darker parts of the story emerged in 2016 about an embryonic private air force (here and here), while ex-Blackwater CEO Erik Prince aided in China's quiet imperial conquest of Africa. One blog devoted to overseas military contractors calls them "the best kept secret of the wars." Contractors and drones allowed war to disappear (largely) from the media; conflict faded into the background behind the term, 'deniability.' Regardless of the winner in the American presidential race, this approach will continue. The current foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump is Joseph Schmitz, a former Blackwater executive.

Even more than before, politicians separated cause from effect and meaning from reality. This policy created two contemporary historical narratives, the politicized metahistory, and the factual course of events. The misleading image of a kinder, gentler government became easier to cultivate, because warfare was conducted through several degrees of separation and obscured political responsibility. Drone argues that Obama disapproved of Guantanamo Bay, so he solved that problem by killing suspects with drones, thereby avoiding the public relations mess of capturing, incarcerating them and facing scrutiny over that process. Critics in Drone maintain that this policy by-passed international and national legal systems (as opposed to violating them, as the Bush administration had). Other critics assert that the same policy encouraged the rise of ISIS. Drones are one of the reasons why ISIS are so keen to provoke the Americans back into boots-on-the ground, hand-to-hand combat in the Middle East. In their eyes, a bloody human clash is the true contest between societies, and remote-piloted drones are the weapons of cowards.

Purported drone killing (12 November 2015) of 'Jihadi John' aka Mohammed Emwazi (born Muhammad Jassim Abdulkarim Olayan al-Dhafiri), a Londoner who beheaded several high-profile western captives for ISIS, including American journalist James Foley on 19 August 2014 (see my post on Foley's beheading here). ISIS confirmed Emwazi's death in January 2016. The gamer who posted this video on 13 November 2015 rejoices in the killing. This is likely the wrong footage, revealing public difficulty in confirming the details of drone warfare. According to the Daily Mail, Emwazi was killed on a street while talking on his cell phone. Video Source: Youtube

The psychological orientation of drone battle is different from conventional warfare. One army sits, thousands of miles away from the arena of action. Their engagement is virtual, disconnected from direct combat, and they target enemies dispersed among a civilian population. The documentary observes that human operators of drones will soon be replaced by computer algorithms, thus making the targeting of undesirable individuals in the world nearly fully automated. Proponents of algorithmic pilots argue that an algorithm is more objective than human drone operators. At present, the human decision to assassinate an individual or group depends on intelligence analysis and a chain of command. The intelligence is gathered through governmental monitoring of private citizens' information, combined with international intelligence tips - including, the film asserts - from the European Union, whose governments have not criticized Obama's policy on drones.

In DroneColonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, remarked that the advent of drones changes the legal connotations of war, and positions the soldier as more murderer than defender of his or her society. Drone operations demand a different kind of recruit, from soldiers who are physically, organizationally and strategically trained for combat, to soldiers who are computer gamers. The US military has developed unmanned airplane computer games to ferret out and attract drone pilot recruits at as early an age as possible. From Wilkerson in Drone:
"It's a very different youth group that we're dealing with, that we're forcing into this environment of killing. And it's a very different form of killing, when you're in Nevada and the people you're killing are ten thousand miles away. We have something in the armed forces that we call the 'warrior ethos.' You destroy that when you go out and kill people and you're totally invulnerable. I think the drone business, the distance imposed, amplifies this a hundredfold. And the distinction between killing for state purposes under just war theory and killing for state purposes with no vulnerability is, I think, the difference between killing in a way that is recognized and legalized, even, and murder. How did we get to the point where we're no longer warriors, we're murderers for the state?"

Friday, June 24, 2016

Time and Politics 20: Brexit


The statue of Winston Churchill at Westminster. Image Sources: The Atlantic and The Telegraph.

Although the blog is on a break, Brexit is a momentous historical event. It made me think of a quotation* from the Younger Pitt: "Depend on it, Mr. Burke ... we shall go on as we are to the Day of Judgement."

Perhaps. Although the UK will not leave the EU for two years, Irish and Scottish support for the European Union may lead to the reunification of Ireland, the separation of Scotland, and the break-up of the United Kingdom. Because the campaign became so dark, ugly and tragic, culminating with MP Jo Cox's murder, I will not comment at length on the arguments for one side or the other. I can see both points of view, because the Brexit debate confirms trends I have observed here while researching posts on the economy and the cultural impact of technological change.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Infosec and the Totalitarian Principle


The Intercept: "New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship" (28 April 2016). Image Source: The Intercept (Hat tip: Edward Snowden).

On 26 April 2016, the political commentator Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's main foreign affairs programme, GPS, debated ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden for NYU Wagner's Debates of the Century, on whether the American government should have access to privately-held technology and private data. Debates of the Century:
"Some people believe the recent dispute between the FBI and Apple over a locked iPhone marks the return of what privacy advocates called the 'crypto wars' of the 1990s, when federal authorities tried and failed to mandate government access to most forms of electronic communication. Although the FBI managed to decrypt the iPhone at issue without the company’s help, Apple and others are racing to build devices and messaging services that no one but their owners can unlock. The legal question remains unresolved in Congress, where competing bills have been introduced, and in dozens of cases pending in state and federal courts.

Law enforcement agencies believe their vital mission requires compulsory access, under valid court order, to any device or communications stream. Leading technology companies (backed by some other U.S. government voices) say they cannot meet law enforcement demands without undermining customer security and privacy against hackers and foreign adversaries. Edward Snowden and Fareed Zakaria disagree on which course better serves society at large. Should companies be required to break into their own encrypted products, and should they be allowed to sell encryption that no one can break?" 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Remote Camera Hacks


Image Source: Time to Break.

Digital home invasion. Stick that Post-it over your laptop camera, because here is a real life premise for a found footage film if I ever saw one. In July 2015, a hacker sent a woman in Toronto, Canada photos of her sleeping with her partner, taken through the camera of her boyfriend's computer. Police were unable to protect the couple after the captures were posted on her Facebook account. VICE:
It was the end of a long day, and Chelsea Clark and her boyfriend had settled in for a Netflix marathon on his laptop. "We were for sure watching Adventure Time," says the 27-year-old bartender. "Pretty normal Wednesday night stuff." Yet the couple's rather unremarkable, rather intimate evening soon became anything but.

Logging into Facebook after work the next day, Clark says her blood ran cold. An anonymous account had sent her a series of photos of the couple's evening, seemingly taken from the laptop's camera. "They were so freakishly intimate," she says.

"Realy,cute couple [sic]" was the only message.

Terrified, Clark immediately called the Toronto police. "It felt so invasive, like someone was in my house with me." ...

The images were taken using her boyfriend's PC laptop, a computer Clark says she never uses. "It's just for video games and occasionally we'll use Netflix on it," she explains. From there, the perpetrator managed to make the link to Clark, hacking into her Facebook account and adding himself to her contacts to send the images. "I have my privacy setting set so that no one can message me except friends," she says of her Facebook account. "So when I got an unknown [message] I thought it seemed weird," she says. "I went into history to see when [the user] was added and it was just before the messages were sent."

Cyber security expert Eric Parent says the context suggests the perpetrator knows the couple. "Or we're dealing with someone who took the time to understand the relationship between these two people," says Parent. "And that takes digging, since it's not because I saw you on a webcam that I know who you are."

The (now-deleted) Facebook profile used to send the photos offers little insight into the perpetrator's identity (Mahmoud Abdo seems to be an incredibly common name, and is likely a fake). Alongside profile pictures featuring Heath Ledger as the Joker or strange motivational sayings, the person followed a variety of soccer club pages and belonged to a group called "Spammers and Hackers." The user's location is listed as Cairo, Egypt. ...

Parent warns that hacking a webcam is relatively easy. "If you have access to the physical computer, all you need is some tech knowledge and a USB key and you're done," he says. Remote access, he explains, requires some form of user involvement. "Something has to be clicked, a doc has to be opened," he says. But all in all, it's a relatively simple hack that can be hard to detect. "It's very difficult to protect yourself from this type of attack because the stuff that we do normally, like opening email, is stuff that just happens," says Parent. "The best thing you can do is to have security software, keep everything up to date, and cross your fingers."
Also in July 2015, a Canadian man heard an eerie voice screaming obscenities and shouting "Wake up baby! Wake up baby!" at his infant child. The voice came from the hacked baby monitor in the nursery. In late 2014, several reports noted that a Russian-based Website, Insecam, streamed thousands of hacked security cams and Webcams in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. These articles fine tuned the growing paranoia that nothing on the Internet is private.

Image Source: VICE. See another report on this case, here.