July 27, 2012

Techniques for Covert Manipulation on the Internet

Per Wikipedia,

COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal,[2] projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

* * * * *
The FBI engaged in political repression almost from the time of the agency's inception in 1908, and antecedents to COINTELPRO operated during the FDR and Truman administrations. Centralized operations under COINTELPRO officially began in 1956 with a program designed to "increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections" inside the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA). However, the program was soon enlarged to include disruption of . . . the entire New Left social/political movement, which included antiwar, community, and religious groups (1968). . . . Official congressional committees and several court cases[14] have concluded that COINTELPRO operations . . . exceeded statutory limits on FBI activity and violated constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and association.[2]

Since the conclusion of centralized COINTELPRO operations in 1971, . . . allegations of improper political repression continue.[15][16]
It's widely believed that COINTELPRO-type activity continues to take place on the internet (as well as elsewhere), and one helpful soul has posted a gentleperson's guide such techniques, here. (Of course, such techniques could be in use by groups not employed by governments, too.) I believe I've personally observed such techniques being used, e.g., on DemocraticUnderground.com, and I think the more of us who are aware of them, the better. Here's an excerpt:
COINTELPRO Techniques for dilution, misdirection and control of a internet forum.

There are several techniques for the control and manipulation of a internet forum no matter what, or who is on it. We will go over each technique and demonstrate that only a minimal number of operatives can be used to eventually and effectively gain a control of a 'uncontrolled forum.'

Technique #1 - 'FORUM SLIDING'
If a very sensitive posting of a critical nature has been posted on a forum - it can be quickly removed from public view by 'forum sliding.' In this technique a number of unrelated posts are quietly prepositioned on the forum and allowed to 'age.' Each of these misdirectional forum postings can then be called upon at will to trigger a 'forum slide.' The second requirement is that several fake accounts exist, which can be called upon, to ensure that this technique is not exposed to the public. To trigger a 'forum slide' and 'flush' the critical post out of public view it is simply a matter of logging into each account both real and fake and then 'replying' to prepositined postings with a simple 1 or 2 line comment. This brings the unrelated postings to the top of the forum list, and the critical posting 'slides' down the front page, and quickly out of public view. Although it is difficult or impossible to censor the posting it is now lost in a sea of unrelated and unuseful postings. By this means it becomes effective to keep the readers of the forum reading unrelated and non-issue items.

A second highly effective technique (which you can see in operation all the time at www.abovetopsecret.com) is 'consensus cracking.' To develop a consensus crack, the following technique is used. Under the guise of a fake account a posting is made which looks legitimate and is towards the truth is made - but the critical point is that it has a VERY WEAK PREMISE without substantive proof to back the posting. Once this is done then under alternative fake accounts a very strong position in your favour is slowly introduced over the life of the posting. It is IMPERATIVE that both sides are initially presented, so the uninformed reader cannot determine which side is the truth. As postings and replies are made the stronger 'evidence' or disinformation in your favour is slowly 'seeded in.' Thus the uninformed reader will most like develop the same position as you, and if their position is against you their opposition to your posting will be most likely dropped. However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then 'abort' the consensus cracking by initiating a 'forum slide.'

Technique #3 - 'TOPIC DILUTION'
Topic dilution is not only effective in forum sliding it is also very useful in keeping the forum readers on unrelated and non-productive issues. This is a critical and useful technique to cause a 'RESOURCE BURN.' By implementing continual and non-related postings that distract and disrupt (trolling ) the forum readers they are more effectively stopped from anything of any real productivity. If the intensity of gradual dilution is intense enough, the readers will effectively stop researching and simply slip into a 'gossip mode.' In this state they can be more easily misdirected away from facts towards uninformed conjecture and opinion. The less informed they are the more effective and easy it becomes to control the entire group in the direction that you would desire the group to go in. It must be stressed that a proper assessment of the psychological capabilities and levels of education is first determined of the group to determine at what level to 'drive in the wedge.' By being too far off topic too quickly it may trigger censorship by a forum moderator.

Much more at the link; please read and share.

July 23, 2012

Choi Xoo-Ang

Click on the image for a larger version; more at redefine.

July 22, 2012

The Palestinian Situation

I've been hearing of conflicts between Israel and its neighbors my whole life, but the news media never explained enough for it to make sense, and I'm afraid I never took the time to fully inform myself.

I was of course horrified by the Holocaust; the images from the death camps were burned into my brain at an early age, and they and the history that goes with them should never be forgotten. And I read Exodus, which portrayed the founding of the modern Israel in thrilling terms; and I could certainly understand why Jewish people would feel the need for their own state, where they could never again be a persecuted minority.

But from the start, I had trouble understanding why it was fair to force the people already living in those lands to give them up in order to create the new state. If Westerners were so keen to support the project, whey didn't they donate their own lands, instead of taking from others?

The history of this situation is long, with many twists and turns, and I remain embarrassingly ignorant about most of it; but during the last few years, I've come across a couple of items that seemed helpful enough to share.

The first was a video by artist Ursula Biemann, X-Mission (2008) (viewable at the foregoing link), which explores among other things the effects of the division of the Palestinian people among geographically dispersed locations and their partial re-connection via new communications technologies.

The second is the image at left, from Michal Vexler at +972 (click on it for a more legible version), which shows how Palestinians have been divided into five categories of citizenship with different rights and subject to different restrictions.

July 21, 2012

Elites Hiding at Least $20 TRILLION. Seriously.

Per the Guardian,

James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report . . . . He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks.

* * * * *
"The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments," the report says.

The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities is so great that it suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. According to Henry's calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001% of the world's population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies.

"These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people," said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network.
Note, that's 13 to 20 trillion British pounds, which per my computer's converter = more than 20 to 31 trillion US dollars.

P.S.: Based on current US census estimates, that's nearly $64,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US. And that's just the offshored stuff; you also have to add in whatever they haven't managed to hide.

A Few Headlines: Facebook & Other Big Bros., & the Nasher v. Museum Tower

More at the links.

1. What Facebook Knows. "[O]n 219 million randomly chosen occasions, Facebook prevented someone from seeing a link shared by a friend. Hiding links this way created a control group . . . . the company is not above using its platform to tweak users' behavior. . . . By learning more about how small changes on Facebook can alter users' behavior outside the site, the company eventually 'could allow others to make use of Facebook in the same way' says Marlow."

(Rough translation of image at left: "I give the secrets of big companies to you, and I am a terrorist – Assange; I give your secrets to big companies, and I am Man of the Year – Zuckerberg.")

2. Three NSA Whistleblowers Back EFF's Lawsuit Re- Gov't's Massive Spying on US Civilians. "Three . . . former employees of the National Security Agency (NSA) . . . have come forward to . . . confirm that the NSA has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers, such as the 'secret room' at the AT&T facility in San Francisco first disclosed by retired AT&T technician Mark Klein in early 2006." (Link added.)

3. US Nat'l Reconnaissance Office's Castoff 'Scopes Beat NASA's Hubbell. "The U.S. government’s secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes . . . . [d]esigned for surveillance [and] no longer needed for spy missions . . . . These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble . . . . NASA official Michael Moore gave some hint of what a Hubble-class space telescope might do if used for national security: 'With a Hubble here you could see a dime sitting on top of the Washington Monument.'"

4. A Modest Proposal. In case you missed it, Dallas's latest addition to housing for the 1%, Museum Tower, is frying everything within its line of sight on the Nasher Museum premises. "So [writes Christina Rees in Glasstire], one of Dallas’s more admirable enfant terribles, Erik Schuessler . . . came up with an early solution, and so far I haven’t seen one to beat it." (Link added; click on the images for larger versions.)

July 15, 2012

Re- the Stalled Recovery,

From Nation of Change:

While the [National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), an organization that often acts as a front for larger corporate interests] warns that minimum wage increases would create serious cost problems for small businesses, few of their members list "labor costs" as their "most important problem." Instead, what we see from the NFIB survey results is that the percentage of small businesses listing labor costs as their most important problem has hovered consistently between 3% and 5% since the beginning of the recession in December 2007. In the most recent data, the percentage fell to 2%, its lowest level since the start of the recession.

* * * * *
Instead of wages, the NFIB survey results suggest that “poor sales” have been — far and away — the biggest concern of small businesses. At the onset of the recession in December 2007 about 9% of firms said that poor sales were their most serious problem. By 2009 and 2010, the share citing poor sales was as high as 34%. In the most recent data, about 21% of all firms still list poor sales as their biggest challenge. The real problem facing firms is not that their low-wage workers earn too much, it is apparently that their customers earn too little [see chart at right.]
Lots more useful info at DU.

How to Assert Your Rights

Use them or lose them.

(Not to mention the waste of public funds.)

July 14, 2012

Caddy Meditation

Hydrographic image transfer, from Jogging.

July 13, 2012

The LIBOR Scandal Explained

Or, yet another way in which the rich have been looting you – legible version at Dangerous Minds.

From a comment at Naked Capitalism: "Banking is the only . . . sport where the referees don’t enforce the rules and the fans get severely injured when the players cheat."

The NYT now reports, "Congress intensified its focus on the interest-rate rigging scandal on Thursday, as Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, vowed that authorities would forcefully pursue criminal investigations into some of the world's biggest banks" – awesome! Now, who's going to investigate Timmeh?

Another interesting story: per a report at naked capitalism, LIBOR manipulation was commonly recognized in London by 1991 – when Bob Diamond was in charge of interest rate trading at Morgan Stanley London, "which means his claim that he found out about Libor manipulation at Barclays mere weeks before his Treasury Select testimony was bollocks." One commenter makes an excellent point:

I think this may be a more significant data point than it appears at first glance to us jaded cynics. What it says is that not only are our institutions now utterly corrupt, but that they have been getting that way for a long time. This suggests that the problem is not likely to be random, accidental, or personality driven, but rather that it stems from deep structural causes. That is important because it suggests that that is also where the solutions must be found.
FURTHER UPDATE: Salon has a good article explaining how the LIBOR-rigging affected some of us: "Six Ways Big Banks Screwed Grandma – Grandma's finances will almost certainly never recover from the LIBOR scandal that's rocking the world."

Lil Buck & Yo-Yo Ma

(Thanks, Robin!) Some surprisingly similar moves here (click the ad bar along the bottom and it eventually goes away).

e-flux Bidding for .art Domain

Per Art Fag City,

Should e-flux win this Top Level Domain bid, they not only promise a company that will be run under the supervision of a committee of experts comprising . . . art historians, artists and curators, but pledge to return 10% of revenues generated by the service in the form of grants and funding for underfunded art institutions, organizations, and projects.

That’s a big deal. e-flux is asking that we all show our support by leaving a recommendationon ICANN’s site, and I recommend readers do this. . . . Many others seem to think the same . . . .

That’s a good sign, because some of .art applicants make me very nervous. From a list of 10 applicants, Aremi Group S.A., a company located in Luxembourg, has already applied for .ART and DOT ART trademarks within the European Union. They have also set up a website that gives the impression they already manage the domain. .Art Registry, Inc., another contender, is an anonymous company registered in the Cayman Islands. Merchant Law Group LLP is a law firm that says it’s “able to respond to the needs of individuals and large corporations alike by focusing creativity, lateral thinking, and finding solutions.” It’s unclear what their experience in art or managing domains is, beyond having the $185,000 application fee.

As e-flux founder Anton Vidokle explained in a comment,

[W]e are not planning to curate the art domain, should we get to develop it. Not sure why people assume we would do that. What is important is not to sell name space indiscriminately only to maximize profits, and to prevent speculators from registering names that belong to other organizations and individuals. Applications for name spaces will indeed be reviewed, primarily to make sure that only Paddy Johnson will be able to register PaddyJohnson.art or only the Brooklyn Museum can get BrooklynMuseum.art. People who work at e-flux are artists and writers . . . . We are not politicians or businessmen, and do not employ deceptive logic. Its very important that there is some solidarity in the artistic community, and that we trust our fellow practitioners. If we can’t manage that, our community will always be prey to the rich and powerful of this world, who will just continue milking it for money, creativity, gentrification, social prestige or whatever it is they want to get from artists. Lastly, the gold rush is not guaranteed: most domains other than .com have failed to earn much money. However if the art domain becomes popular, this could create a significant source of independent funding for art at a time when such resources are rapidly disappearing world wide. We will do our best to realize this.
(Image adapted from ICANN; click on it for a more legible version.)

July 9, 2012

Helpful Image (Restore Glass-Steagall)

(Click on the image for a more legible version.)

UPDATE: From the MetroWest Daily News, quoting but without linking to The Nation:

Why do the losses of Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase matter? The Federal Reserve allowed investment banks to convert to bank holding companies, now owning commercial banks, which are FDIC insured.

William Greider writes in the Nation magazine, “JPMorgan Chase parks all of its vast derivatives holdings in its commercial bank subsidiary, which means the taxpayer is on the hook for these losses since commercial banks are FDIC insured.” Greider further states, “In the event of a collapse, the banks can use its deposit base to pay off the derivatives, while leaving the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to reimburse depositors if their money runs out. JPMorgan has contracts totaling $72 trillion and 99 percent of them are booked at its FDIC- insured bank.”

Continuing — “We are “insuring” other big boys of banking in the same way. Citigroup has nearly all of its $53 trillion in derivatives in its FDIC-insured bank; Goldman Sachs has $44 trillion parked at and FDIC-backed institution. After Bank of America purchased Merrill Lynch, BoA began transferring the securities firm’s derivatives to the FDIC-insured bank, which now holds $47 trillion in contracts.” And the Ryan Republicans want to invest Social Security with these same bankers?