Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Executive Orders (Bulk Data From Federal Register)

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Executive Orders

From the webpage:

The President of the United States manages the operations of the Executive branch of Government through Executive orders. After the President signs an Executive order, the White House sends it to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR). The OFR numbers each order consecutively as part of a series, and publishes it in the daily Federal Register shortly after receipt.

Executive orders issued since 1994 are available as a single bulk download and as a bulk download by President, or you can browse by President and year from the list below. More details about our APIs and other developer tools can be found on our developer pages.

Don’t ignore the developer pages.

Whether friend or foe of the current regime in Washington, the FederalRegister.gov API enables access to all the regulatory material published in the Federal Register. Use it.

It should be especially useful in light of Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, which provides in part:


Sec. 2. Regulatory Cap for Fiscal Year 2017. (a) Unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to an executive order is purely coincidental:

Tracking DAPL Enablers – Barclays Bank PLC

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Continuing my list of co-conspirators financing in part the DAPL pipeline project. Number 3: Barclays Bank PLC.

Emily Fuller gives these contacts for Barclays:

Barclays

Chairman John McFarlane
john.mcfarlane@barclays.com
CEO Jes Staley

Corporate Office:
Barclays Bank PLC
1 Churchill Place
London E14 5HP, United Kingdom
44-20-7116-1000

U.S. Office:
Barclays
745 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
212-526-7000

Press Office:
212-526-7000
CorporateCommunicationsAmericas@barclays.com

Starting with Bloomberg’s Company Overview of Barclays Bank PLC, I think we can generate a few more contact points:

Mr. James E. Staley, Chief Executive Officer, Director, Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Plc and Director of Barclays Plc

Mr. Tushar Morzaria, Group Finance Director and Executive Director

Mr. Jonathan Moulds, Group Chief Operating Officer

Ms. Maria D. C. D. N. C. Ramos C.A.I.B, B.Com (Hons), M.Sc., Chief Executive of Barclays Africa

Mr. Ashok V. Vaswani, Chief Executive Officer of Personal and Corporate Banking

I don’t have enough time left today to extract the people and photos from the Our People section of the Barclays site.

I will fix that tomorrow and that will bump the Barclays list into the dozens.

Just an observation for now, but this is the third entity financing Energy Transfer Equity that has no mention of it on its website.

Is it the case that Energy Transfer Equity is too small to register on their corporate dashboards?

If that is the case, then pestering banks directly maybe fun but pestering their customers, who are even more unaware of their banks commercial lending activities, maybe more effective.

Thoughts?

Defeating New York Surveillance (with knitting)

Monday, January 30th, 2017

In Proposal to Reduce Privacy in New York City I pointed out pending plans to add surveillance cameras at seven tunnels and bridges in and out of the city.

I was describing the need to defeat the cameras for personal identity and my wife, a librarian and knitter, said what I was looking for a balaclava. She also said knitting sites, such as Ravelry are full of patterns, etc.

Imagine the chagrin of surveillance camera operators when they encounter:

balaclava-reg-460

Just add sun glasses and you’re set! Total identity concealment!

Don’t get too creative, as a balaclava like this one:

balaclava3-460

is distinctive enough to be recognized a second time and/or found in your apartment or car.

Lastly, there are some people who don’t “get” the idea of a balaclava being for concealment, such as Andrew Salomone, who has preserved his identity with:

balaclava-id-460

Andrew does beautiful work but I’m not inviting him to any op-sec meetings. 😉

Support your local librarians and/or knitters!

Geometry of Redistricting: Summer School (Apply Febuary 15 – March 31, 2017)

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Geometry of Redistricting: Summer School

From the webpage:

A 5-day summer school will be offered at Tufts University from August 7-11, 2017, with the principal purpose of training mathematicians to be expert witnesses for court cases on redistricting and gerrymandering.

Topics covered in the summer school will include:

  • the legal history of the Voting Rights Act and its subsequent renewals, extensions, and clarifications;
  • an explanation of “traditional districting principles,” especially compactness;
  • a course in metric geometry and mathematical ideas for perimeter-free compactness;
  • basic rudiments of GIS and the technical side of how shapefiles work;
  • training on being an expert witness;
  • ideas for incorporating voting and civil rights into mathematics teaching.

Some of the sessions in the summer school will be open to the public, and others will be limited to official participants. Partial funding for participants’ expenses will be available. The summer school is aimed at, but not limited to, people with doctoral training in mathematics. Preference will be given to those who can stay for the full week.

An application form will be posted on this website, and applications will be accepted from February 15 – March 31. Please contact gerrymandr@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list.

If you don’t have doctoral training in mathematics, consider the resources at: Gerrymandering and the shape of fairness, which self-describes as:

This site is devoted to the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group run by Moon Duchin on understanding apportionment, districting, and gerrymandering as problems at the intersection of law, civil rights, and mathematics (particularly metric geometry).

Do you need a reminder the mid-term congressional elections in 2018 aren’t far away?

Enjoy!

Tracking DAPL Enablers – Bank of America Rogues Gallery

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Continuing my list of co-conspirators financing in part the DAPL pipeline project. Number 2: Bank of America.

I was inspired to find more contacts by Emily Fuller’s How to Contact the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, which listed for Bank of America:

Bank of America

President, CEO, and Chairman Brian Moynihan

brian.t.moynihan@bankofamerica.com

Executive Relations, Office of the CEO:
Matthew Task
813-805-4873

Corporate Office:
100 N Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28255

(emphasis in original)

Bank of American maintains a rogues gallery of people to contact about its business and lending practices. Complete with photos should you happen to recognize one of them while shopping or in a crosswalk.

From Governance:

Biography Photo Brian Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America Corporation
Biography Photo Jack O. Bovender, Jr., Lead Independent Director, Bank of America Corporation; Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, HCA, Inc.
Biography Photo Sharon L. Allen Former Chairman, Deloitte LLP
Biography Photo Susan S. Bies Former Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Biography Photo Frank P. Bramble, Sr. Former Executive Officer, MBNA Corporation
Biography Photo Pierre J. P. de Weck Former Chairman and Global Head of Private Wealth Management, Deutsche Bank AG
Biography Photo Arnold W. Donald President and Chief Executive Officer, Carnival Corporation & plc
Biography Photo Linda P. Hudson Chairman and CEO, The Cardea Group, and former President and CEO, BAE Systems Inc.
Biography Photo Monica C. Lozano Former Chairman, US Hispanic Media Inc.
Biography Photo Thomas J. May Chairman, Eversource Energy
Biography Photo Lionel L. Nowell, III Former Senior Vice President and Treasurer of PepsiCo, Inc.
Biography Photo Michael D. White Former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of DIRECTV
Biography Photo Thomas D. Woods Former Vice Chairman and SEVP, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Biography Photo R. David Yost Former Chief Executive Officer, AmerisourceBergen Corporation

In addition, the governance page notes:

Persons seeking to communicate with the Board of Directors, any director, non-management members of the Board as a group or any committee of the Board should send a letter to the Corporate Secretary at Bank of America Corporation, 214 N. Tryon St., NC1-027-20-05, Charlotte, NC 28255. The letter should indicate to whom the communication is intended. The Corporate Secretary or the secretary of the designated committee may sort or summarize the communications as appropriate. Communications that are commercial solicitations, customer complaints, incoherent or obscene will not be communicated to the Board or any director or committee of the Board.

Bank of America Executive:

From executive biographies:

Dean Athanasia Dean Athanasia, President of Preferred and Small Business Banking and Co-head of Consumer Banking, Bank of America
Cathy Bessant Catherine P. Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Bank of America
Sheri Bronstein Sheri B. Bronstein, Global Human Resources Executive, Bank of America
Paul Donofrio Paul Donofrio, Chief Financial Officer, Bank of America
Anne Finucane Anne M. Finucane, Vice Chairman, Bank of America
Geoffrey Greener Geoffrey S. Greener, Chief Risk Officer, Bank of America
Christine Katziff Christine P. Katziff, Corporate General Auditor, Bank of America
Terry Laughlin Terry Laughlin, Vice Chairman and Head of Global Wealth and Investment Management, Bank of America
David Leitch David G. Leitch, Global General Counsel, Bank of America
Gary Lynch Gary G. Lynch, Vice Chairman, Bank of America
Tom Montag Thomas K. Montag, Chief Operating Officer, Bank of America
Thong Nguyen Thong M. Nguyen, President of Retail Banking and Co-head of Consumer Banking, Bank of America
Andrea Smith Andrea B. Smith, Chief Administrative Officer, Bank of America
Bruce Thompson Bruce R. Thompson, Vice Chairman, Bank of America

Searching the Bank of America website, I could find no mention of DAPL or Energy Transfer Equity, etc.

I have a dawning suspicion that the information wasn’t being hidden but that such crimes are so commonplace as to be unremarkable in the Bank of American worldview. More on that in a separate post.

Tracking DAPL Enablers – ABN Amro Capital USA LLC.

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

The Energy Trasfer Equity SEC 8-K filing lists the following co-conspirators who are financing, in part, the DAPL pipeline project:

  • ABN Amro Capital USA LLC.
  • Bank of America, N.A.
  • Barclays Bank PLC
  • The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.
  • BNP Paribas
  • Citibank, N.A.
  • Compass Bank
  • Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank
  • Credit Suisse AG, Cayman Islands Branch
  • Deutsche Bank AG New York Branch
  • DNB Bank ASA, Grand Cayman Branch
  • Goldman Sachs Bank USA
  • HSBC Bank USA, National Association
  • ING Capital LLC
  • Intesa Sanpaolo S.P.A., New York Branch
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
  • Mizuho Bank, Ltd.
  • Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc.
  • Natixis, New York Branch
  • PNC Bank, National Association
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
  • SunTrust Bank
  • UBS AG, Stamford Branch
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

How to Contact the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline by Emily Fuller provides valuable contact information but much more can be had.

Starting from the top with ABN Amro Capital USA LLC., Bloomberg says (as of 28 January 2017):

ABN Amro Capital USA LLC offers commercial banking services. The company was incorporated in 2009 and is based in New York, New York. ABN Amro Capital USA LLC operates as a subsidiary of ABN AMRO Group N.V.

100 Park Avenue
Floor 17
New York, NY 10017
United States

Founded in 2009

Phone: 212-649-5100
Fax: 917-284-6697

Key Executives For ABN Amro Capital USA LLC

ABN Amro Capital USA LLC does not have any Key Executives recorded.

Turning to ABN AMRO Group N.V., Bloomberg reports in part:

ABN AMRO Group N.V.

January 28, 2017 1:42 PM ETBanks
Company Overview of ABN AMRO Group N.V.
Snapshot

Company Overview

ABN AMRO Group N.V. provides banking products and services for retail, private, and corporate banking customers in the Netherlands and internationally. […] ABN AMRO Group N.V. was incorporated in 2009 and is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Gustav Mahlerlaan 10
Amsterdam, 1082 PP
Netherlands

Founded in 2009
21,809 Employees

Phone: 31 09 000 024
www.abnamro.com

People:

Key Executives For ABN AMRO Group N.V.

Mr. Kees C. van Dijkhuizen
Chairman of the Managing Board and Chief Executive Officer
(…)

Mr. Johan van Hall
Vice Chairman of the Managing Board and Chief Operating Officer
(…)

Mr. Wietze Reehoorn
Chief Risk Officer and Member of the Managing Board
(…)

Ms. Caroline E. Princen
Executive Officer
(…)

Mr. Chris F. H. H. Vogelzang
Member of the Managing Board
(…)

In addition to the identity of the chief officers of this miscreant, we now know of some 21,089 (as of 2015) employees who may be more environmentally conscious than their masters. Enabling poisoning of water along a 1,172-mile-long pipeline is no small thing.

The ABN AMRO Annual Report 2015 lists the managing board as:

  • Gerrit Zalm (chair)
  • Johan van Hall (vice-chair)
  • Kees van Dijkhuizen
  • Caroline Princen
  • Wietze Reehoorn
  • Chris Vogelzang
  • Joop Wijn

(at page 119)

Member of the supervisory board as:

  • Rik van Slingelandt (chair)
  • Hans de Haan
  • Bert Meerstadt
  • Annemieke Roobeek
  • Rik van Slingelandt
  • Steven ten Have
  • Olga Zoutendijk

(at page 281)

A presentation from May of 2016 reports the election of the following to the supervisory board:

A.C. Dorland

Ms F.J. Leeflang

J.S.T. Tiemstra

A presentation from August of 2016 reports Olga Zoutendijk is Chairman of the Supervisory Board and the appointment of: Mr. Jurgen Stegmann to the supervisory board.

The present composition of either board isn’t entirely clear from records on the company website but current member or no, the individuals listed no doubt have useful information/insight to share about the company.

For general contact purposes, the company website offers:

If you have questions about ABN AMRO Group’s financials, business activities, capital, funding, credit ratings or related issues, please contact our Investor Relations team.

E-mail investorrelations@nl.abnamro.com

Phone: +31 20 628 22 82

Dies Donker

Head of Investor Relations

+31 (0)20 383 05 17

Ruud Jaegers

Deputy Head of Investor Relations

+31 (0)20 383 58 36

Niels Farragher

Investor Relations

+31 (0)20 343 49 82

Anton Groenevelt

Investor Relations

+31 (0)20 628 25 86

Annedien Heilbron

Investor Relations

+31 (0)20 383 72 44

Jan-Willem Stokhuyzen

Investor Relations Analyst

+31 (0)20 343 94 88

Geeta Ramkhelawan

Secretary

+31 (0)20 383 32 35

Suggestions improving upon this starting point:

First, the company website claims a presence in Asia, Australia, Europe, North American and South American so you should have little difficulty finding one or more of those 21,089 employees (as of 2015) who can impact ABN Amro’s participation in this environmental outrage.

Second, I have kept copies of the various corporate documents should the links to resumes fall prey to link rot or other mishaps. Those may be useful in identifying specific individuals.

Third, this surface examination of ABN Amro and those of the other listed enablers to follow, are a prelude to exploring the recursive question: Who owns the enablers?

Contacting Bank Owners – Funding DAPL

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Yesterday I posted a useful list of banks funding DAPL, Contacting the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, created by Emily Fuller.

Emily points out some banks are dodging public comment on their investments.

Banks are toadies for their owners and if you can persuade their owners, the banks will dance another tune.

Discovering the owners of banks, human owners, isn’t a straight forward task.

Tables adapted from MorningStar provide a starting place, show the ownership of Wells Fargo (#1 on Emily’s list) by institutions and funds, as:

Institutions

Name Shares Held % Total
Shares Held
Berkshire Hathaway Inc 479,704,270 9.55
Vanguard Group Inc 293,529,151 5.84
BlackRock Fund Advisors 159,579,472 3.18
State Street Corp 144,304,075 2.87
Fidelity Management and Research Company 114,390,616 2.28
Wellington Management Company LLP 105,287,458 2.10
Columbia Insurance Company 74,533,819 1.46
Capital World Investors 87,714,669 1.75
J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc 71,187,640 1.42
National Fire & Marine Insurance Co 55,776,330 1.10
Dodge & Cox 67,255,750 1.34
Northern Trust Investments N A 60,080,126 1.20
State Street Global Advisors (Aus) Ltd 50,252,360 1.00
State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins Co 55,039,014 1.10
MFS Investment Management KK 49,919,843 0.99
Geode Capital Management, LLC 39,689,832 0.79
Government Pension Fund of Norway – Global 38,048,678 0.72
Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss LLC 37,011,768 0.74
T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. 31,739,499 0.63
TIAA-CREF Investment Management LLC 27,710,384 0.55

Funds

Name Shares Held % Total
Shares Held
Vanguard Total Stock Mkt Idx 95,774,705 1.91
Vanguard 500 Index Inv 66,073,771 1.32
SPDR® S&P 500 ETF 50,880,290 1.01
Vanguard Institutional Index I 49,389,580 0.98
Fidelity® Contrafund® 48,971,538 0.98
Dodge & Cox Stock 43,253,341 0.86
Financial Select Sector SPDR® ETF 34,990,492 0.69
Vanguard Wellington™ Inv 34,242,007 0.68
VA CollegeAmerica WA Mutual 529B 26,217,100 0.52
MFS Value A 25,832,081 0.51
Fidelity Spartan® 500 Index Inv 25,067,450 0.50
VA CollegeAmerica Amercn Bal 529E 23,103,000 0.46
VA CollegeAmerica Inc Fund of Amer 529E 21,980,915 0.44
Vanguard Value Index Inv 21,264,834 0.42
Franklin Income A 20,000,000 0.40
CREF Stock R1 20,598,209 0.41
Vanguard Windsor™ II Inv 20,343,696 0.40
iShares Russell 1000 Value 14,316,510 0.28
Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF 13,351,361 0.27
Parnassus Core Equity Investor 13,218,831 0.26

If these ownership tables look like, appear to be, the sort of relationship information that can be captured by a graph, topic map, etc., you are right in one!

Moreover, the ownership information of other funding banks, such as SunTrust Banks Inc., shows a number of institutions and funds in common.

Meaning that if we pierce the corporate veil and get the names of people, as officers, board of directors, shareholders, etc. those will be valid for one or more of the other funding banks for DAPL as well.

A graph of human owners for a bank, will intersect and overlay other ownership graphs for other banks, enabling activists to focus on persuading the most influential human owners.

Discussion of identifiers for the owners you see listed in this post coming tomorrow!

PS: Consider this a continuation of: Refining The Dakota Access Pipeline Target List. I got distracted by a number of things. Sorry!

Contacting the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline [Leaking Anyone?]

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

How to Contact the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline by Emily Fuller.

A great article on contacting the banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, last updated November 30, 2016, which has this note:

The following bank information has been updated periodically, most recently Nov. 30, 2016. Some banks have disconnected phones and disabled email addresses since the start of the campaign. Contact us with adjustments.
(emphasis in original)

Isn’t that interesting? Banks apparently don’t appreciate public input into their decision making processes.

Management and shareholder lists are naturals for leaking from those 17 banks.

Yes?

Where would you advertise to alert potential leakers such lists are of interest?

Trump Inauguration Police Tactics/Blockades – 10:30 AM EST

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Unicorn Riot is live streaming protests, including checkpoint blockades, from Washington, D.C.

An interesting variation on the police formation I detailed in Defeating Police Formations – Parallel Distributed Protesting, the police are breaching the blockade single file to create a path for people who want to attend the inauguration.

An odd reverse of the “surge and arrest” tactic to “surge and enable passage.”

The inauguration is still two hours out.

Join Unicorn Riot, Democracy Now! or one of the other live streams covering protests.

Personally I have no interest in the “official” ceremonies and will be skipping those.

PS: A tweet as of 35 minutes ago reports (unconfirmed) that 6 of 12 inauguration entrances have been completely shut down and traffic at others slowed to a “trickle.”

Permitted Trump Protesters Will Be Ignored

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

I wish my headline was some of the “fake news” Democrats complain about but Alexandra Rosemann proves the truth of that headline in:

Ignoring anti-Trumpers: Why we can expect media blackout of protests against Trump’s inauguration.

Not ignored by just anybody, ignored by the media.

On Jan. 20 — 16 years ago — thousands of protesters lined the inauguration parade route of the incoming Republican president. “Not my president,” they chanted. But despite the enormity of the rally, it was largely ignored. Instead, pundits marveled over how George W. Bush “filled out the suit” and confirmed authority.

“The inauguration of George W. Bush was certainly a spectacle on Inauguration Day,” marvels Robin Andersen, the director of Peace and Justice studies at Fordham University, in the 2001 short documentary “Not My President: Voices From the Counter Coup.”

It’s nearly impossible not to anticipate the eerie parallels between George W. Bush’s inauguration and that of Donald Trump.

“Forty percent of the public still believed that Bush had not been legitimately elected, yet there’s almost no discussion of these electoral problems or the constitutional crisis,” Andersen explains in the film. “Instead, Bush undergoes a kind of transformation where he fills out the suit and becomes a leader. Forgotten are any of the questions about his ability, his experience or his mangling of the English language. His transformation is almost magical,” she adds.

Andersen estimated the inauguration protests, which occurred throughout the country, garnered approximately 10 minutes of total coverage on all the major networks.

“When we did see images of protesters, there was no explanation as to why. We were asked to be passive spectators in this ritual of legitimation when the real democratic issues that should have been being discussed were ignored,” Andersen says in the film, reflecting on the “real democracy” in the streets of Washington, D.C.

Your choice. Ten minutes of coverage out of over 24 hours of permitted protesting, or the media covering a 24 hour blockade of the DC Beltway.

fox5dc-map-460

Which one do you think draws more attention to your issues?

A new president will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017, but its your choice whether its him, his wife and a few cronies in attendance or hundreds of thousands.

See protests for more ideas on that possibility.

Empirical Analysis Of Social Media

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument by Gary King, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret E. Roberts. American Political Science Review, 2017. (Supplementary Appendix)

Abstract:

The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim that these so-called “50c party” posts vociferously argue for the government’s side in political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime’s strategic objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime. We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of “common knowledge” and information control in authoritarian regimes.

I differ from the authors on some of their conclusions but this is an excellent example of empirical as opposed to wishful analysis of social media.

Wishful analysis of social media includes the farcical claims that social media is an effective recruitment tool for terrorists. Too often claimed to dignify with a citation but never with empirical evidence, only an author’s repetition of the common “wisdom.”

In contrast, King et al. are careful to say what their analysis does and does not support, finding in a number of cases, the evidence contradicts commonly held thinking about the role of the Chinese government in social media.

One example I found telling was the lack of evidence that anyone is paid for pro-government social media comments.

In the authors’ words:


We also found no evidence that 50c party members were actually paid fifty cents or any other piecemeal amount. Indeed, no evidence exists that the authors of 50c posts are even paid extra for this work. We cannot be sure of current practices in the absence of evidence but, given that they already hold government and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) jobs, we would guess this activity is a requirement of their existing job or at least rewarded in performance reviews.
… (at pages 10-11)

Here I differ from the author’s “guess”

…this activity is a requirement of their existing job or at least rewarded in performance reviews.

Kudos to the authors for labeling this a “guess,” although one expects the mainstream press and members of Congress to take it as written in stone.

However, the authors presume positive posts about the government of China can only result from direct orders or pressure from superiors.

That’s a major weakness in this paper and similar analysis of social media postings.

The simpler explanation of pro-government posts is a poster is reporting the world as they see it. (Think Occam’s Razor.)

As for sharing them with the so-called “propaganda office,” perhaps they are attempting to curry favor. The small number of posters makes it difficult to credit their motives (unknown) and behavior (partially known) as representative for the estimated 2 million posters.

Moreover, out of a population that nears 1.4 billion, the existence of 2 million individuals with a positive view of the government isn’t difficult to credit.

This is an excellent paper that will repay a close reading several times over.

Take it also as a warning about ideologically based assumptions that can mar or even invalidate otherwise excellent empirical work.

PS:

Additional reading:

From the Gary King’s webpage on the article:

This paper follows up on our articles in Science, “Reverse-Engineering Censorship In China: Randomized Experimentation And Participant Observation”, and the American Political Science Review, “How Censorship In China Allows Government Criticism But Silences Collective Expression”.

Do You Have Big Brass Ones*? FOIA The President

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Join our project to FOIA the Trump administration by Michael Morisy.

From the post:

Since June 2015, MuckRock users have been filing FOIA requests regarding a possible Trump presidency. In fact, so far there’s been over 160 public Trump-related requests filed through the site, all of which you can browse here.

We’ve also put together a number of guides and articles on the upcoming administration, ranging from what you can and can’t file regarding Trump to deep dives into what’s already out there:

We’ve launched a new project page for users to showcase their requests, find new documents regarding the Trump administration, or get inspiration for their own requests, and we’ve created a special Slack channel for you to join in and strategize on future requests, or help share big league FOIA stories that shed light on the President Elect’s team.

We’ve had a few users join us there already and they’ve helped file some really fun requests, so we’re excited about what else the transparency community can come up with.

An effort worthy of both your time and support!

One answered, remember that availability isn’t the same thing as meaningful access.

OCR, indexing, entity extraction, in short any skill you have is important in this effort.

* No longer a gender specific reference as you well know.

PS: I’ve signed up and need suggestions on what to ask for? Suggestions?

The CIA’s Secret History Is Now Online [Indexing, Mapping, NLP Anyone?]

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

The CIA’s Secret History Is Now Online by Jason Leopold.

From the post:

Decades ago, the CIA declassified a 26-page secret document cryptically titled “clarifying statement to Fidel Castro concerning assassination.”

It was a step toward greater transparency for one of the most secretive of all federal agencies. But to find out what the document actually said, you had to trek to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and hope that one of only four computers designated by the CIA to access its archives would be available.

But today the CIA posted the Castro record on its website along with more than 12 million pages of the agency’s other declassified documents that have eluded the public, journalists, and historians for nearly two decades. You can view the documents here.

The title of the Castro document, as it turns out, was far more interesting than the contents. It includes a partial transcript of a 1977 transcript between Barbara Walters and Fidel Castro in which she asked the late Cuban dictator whether he had “proof” of the CIA’s last attempt to assassinate him. The transcript was sent to Adm. Stansfield Turner, the CIA director at the time, by a public affairs official at the agency with a note highlighting all references to CIA.

But that’s just one of the millions documents, which date from the 1940s to 1990s, are wide-ranging, covering everything from Nazi war crimes to mind-control experiments to the role the CIA played in overthrowing governments in Chile and Iran. There are also secret documents about a telepathy and precognition program known as Star Gate, files the CIA kept on certain media publications, such as Mother Jones, photographs, more than 100,000 pages of internal intelligence bulletins, policy papers, and memos written by former CIA directors.

Michael Best, @NatSecGeek has pointed out the “CIA de-OCRed at least some of the CREST files before they uploaded them.”

Spy agency class petty. Grant public access but force the restoration of text search.

The restoration of text search work is underway so next steps will be indexing, NLP, mapping, etc.

A great set of documents to get ready for future official and unofficial leaks of CIA documents.

Enjoy!

PS: Curious if any of the search engine vendors will use CREST as demonstration data? Non-trivial size, interesting search issues, etc.

Ask at the next search conference.

Resistance Manual / Indivisible

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Resistance Manual

An essential reference for the volatile politics of the Trump presidency.

Indivisible

Four former congressional staffers banded together to write: “A practical guide to resisting the Trump Agenda.”

Both are shaped by confidence in current political and social mechanisms, to say nothing of a faith in non-violence.

Education is seen as the key to curing bigotry/prejudice and moving towards a more just society.

You will not find links to:

Steal this Book or the Anarchist Cookbook, 2000 edition for example.

There are numerous examples cited as “successful” non-violent protests. The elimination of de jure segregation in the American South. (Resource includes oral histories of the time.)

But, de facto segregation in schools is larger than it was in the 1960’s.

How do you figure that into the “success” of non-violent protests?

Read both Resistance Manual and Indivisible for what may be effective techniques.

But ask yourself, do non-violent protests comfort the victims of violence?

Or just the non-violent protesters?

The Political Librarian (volume 2, issue 2)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The Political Librarian

From the webpage:

The Political Librarian is dedicated to expanding the discussion of, promoting research on, and helping to re-envision locally focused advocacy, policy, and funding issues for libraries.

We want to bring in a variety of perspectives to the journal and do not limit our contributors to just those working in the field of library and information science. We seek submissions from researchers, practitioners, community members, or others dedicated to furthering the discussion, promoting research, and helping to re-envision tax policy and public policy on the extremely local level.

Grab the entire volume 2, issue 2 (December 2016) for reading while stopped on the DC Beltway, January 20, 2017.

Libraries need your help to survive and prosper during the rapidly approaching winter of ignorance.

Never Allow Your Self-Worth To Depend Upon A Narcissist

Monday, January 16th, 2017

The White House press corps has failed, again, in its relationship with President Trump.

The latest debacle is described in Defiant WH Press Corps “won’t go away” if ejected, says Major Garrett.

From the post:

There have been rumblings about kicking the press out of the White House almost since Donald Trump won the presidency, culminating with a report in Esquire last week that the Trump administration has in fact been giving the idea “serious consideration.”

“If they do so, we’ll still cover him. The White House press corps won’t go away,” CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett told CBSN’s Josh Elliott Monday. “You can shove us a block away, two blocks away, a mile away. We will be on top of this White House — as we’ve been on top of every White House.”

Mr. Trump and several on his communications team have had a stormy relationship with the press, both during his presidential campaign and during his transition.

“I would not be surprised if they moved us out. I really do think there is something about the Trump administration and those closest to him who want the symbolism of driving reporters out of the White House, moving the elites out farther away from this president,” Garrett said.

Does the self-worth of the White House press corps depend upon where they are located by a known narcissist?

If so, they are in for a long four years.

That is doubly true for Trump’s denigration of reporters and others.

A fundamental truth to remember for the next four years:

Trump’s comments about you, favorable or unfavorable, are smelly noise. They will dissipate, unless repeated over and over, as though it matters if a narcissist denies or affirms your existence.

It doesn’t.

Defeating Police Formations – Parallel Distributed Protesting

Monday, January 16th, 2017

If you haven’t read FEMA’s Field Force Operations PER-200, then you are unprepared for #DisruptJ20 or any other serious protest effort.

It’s a real snore in parts, but knowing police tactics will:

  1. Eliminate the element of surprise and fear of the unexpected
  2. Enable planning of protective clothing and other measures
  3. Enable planning of protests to eliminate police advantages
  4. Enable protesters to respond with their own formations

among other things.

On Common Police Formation

While reading Field Force Operations PER-200, I encountered several police formations you are likely to see at #DisruptJ20.

The crossbow arrest formation is found at pages 48-49 and illustrated with:

cross-bow-01-460

cross-bow-02-460

cross-bow-03-460

A number of counter tactics suggest themselves, depending upon your views on non-violence. Passive resistance by anyone who is arrested, thereby consuming more police personnel to secure their arrest. Passively prevented the retreat of the arrest team and its security circle. Breaching the skirmish line on either side of the column, just before the column surges forward, exposing the flank of the column.

Requirements for the crossbow arrest formation

What does the crossbow arrest formation require more than anything else?

You peeked! 😉

Yes, the police formations in Field Force Operations PER-200, including the crossbow arrest formation all require a crowd.

Don’t get me wrong, crowds can be a good thing and sometimes the only solution. Standing Rock is a great example of taking and holding a location against all odds.

But a great tactic for one protest and its goals, may be a poor tactic for another protest, depending upon goals, available tactics, resources, etc.

Consider the planned and permitted protests for #DisruptJ20.

All are subject to the police formation detailed by FEMA and the use of “less lethal” force by police forces.

How can #DisruptJ20 demonstrate the anger of the average citizen and at the same time defeat police formations?

Parallel Distributed Protesting

Instead of massing in a crowd, where police formations and “less lethal” force are options, what if protesters stopped, ran out of gas, had flat tires on the 64-mile DC Beltway.

I mention the length of the Beltway, 64 miles, because it is ten miles longer than marches from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama. You may remember one of those marches, it’s documented at The incident at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

On March 7, 195, Representative John Lewis, Hosea Williams and other protesters marched across the Pettus bridge knowing that brutality and perhaps death awaited them.

Protesters who honor Lewis, Williams and other great civil rights leaders can engage in parallel distributed protesting on January 20, 2017.

Each car slowing, stopping, having a flat tire, is a distributed protest point. With distributed protest points occurring in parallel, the Beltway grinds to a halt. No one enters or leaves Washington, D.C. for a day.

Not the same as the footage from the Pettus Bridge, but shutting down the D.C. Beltway will be a news story for months and years to come.

fox5dc-map-460

Lewis, Williams and others were willing to march into the face violence and evil, are you willing to drive to the D.C. Beltway to stop, run out of gas or have a flat tire in their honor?

PS: Beltway blockaders should always be respectful of police officers. They probably don’t like what is happening any more than you do. Besides, their police cruisers are also blocking traffic so their presence is contributing to the gridlock as well.

Phishing As A Public Service – Leak Access, Not Data

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

The Intercept tweeted today:

intercept-460

Kudos to The Intercept for reaching out to (US) federal employees to encourage safe leaking.

On the other hand, have you thought about the allocation of risks for leaking?

Take Edward Snowden for example. If caught, Snowden is going to jail, NOT Glenn Greenwald or other reporters who used the Snowden leak.

The Intercept has a valid point when it says:


Without leaks, journalists would have never connected the Watergate scandal to President Nixon, or discovered that the Reagan White House illegally sold weapons to Iran. In the past 15 years alone, inside sources played a vital role in uncovering secret prisons, abuses at Abu Ghraib, atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, and mass surveillance by the NSA.

At least historically speaking. Back in the days when hard copy was the norm.

Hard copy isn’t the norm now and leaking guidelines need to catch up to the present day.

Someone could have leaked a portion of the Office of Personnel Management records but in a modern age, digital was far more powerful. (That was a straight hack but it illustrates the difference between sweaty smuggling of hard copy versus giving others the key to a vault.)

If instead of leaking documents/data, imagine following these instructions:

The best option is to use our SecureDrop server, which has the advantage of allowing us to send messages back to you, while allowing you to remain totally anonymous — even to us, if that is what you prefer.

  • Begin by bringing your personal computer to a Wi-Fi network that isn’t associated with you or your employer, like one at a coffee shop. Download the Tor Browser. (Tor allows you to go online while concealing your IP address from the websites you visit.)
  • You can access our SecureDrop server by going to http://y6xjgkgwj47us5ca.onion/ in the Tor Browser. This is a special kind of URL that only works in Tor. Do NOT type this URL into a non-Tor Browser. It won’t work — and it will leave a record.
  • If that is too complicated, or you don’t wish to engage in back-and-forth communication with us, a perfectly good alternative is to simply send mail to P.O. Box 65679, Washington, D.C., 20035, or to The Intercept, 114 Fifth Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, New York, 10011. Drop it in a mailbox (do not send it from home, work or a post office) with no return address.

And you send the following:

  1. Your email address
  2. Screen shots of legitimate emails you get on a regular basis
  3. What passwords are the most important

That’s it.

The receiver constructs a phishing email and sends it to your address.

Like John Podesta and numerous other public figures, you are taken in by this scam.

Evil doers use your present password for access and you have system recorded evidence that you were duped.

How does that allocation of risk look to you, as a potential leaker?

PS: Some, but not all, journalists will be quick to point out what I suggest is, drum roll, illegal. OK, and the question?

Those journalists are being very brave on behalf of leakers, knowing they will never share the fate of a leaker.

I make an exception for all the very brave journalists writing outside of the United States and a few other areas at great personal risk. But then they are unlikely to be concerned with the niceties of the law when dealing with a rogue government.

Update: Apologies but I forgot to include a link to the original post: Attention Federal Employees: If You See Something, Leak Something.

Thoughts on Blockading Metro Rail Stops

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

A recent news report mentioned the potential for blockades of DC Metro Rail stops.

Curbed Washington DC posted a list of those stops, but like many reporters, did not provide links to the stops.

🙁

Here’s their list:

metro-stops-460

Metro Stops with Hyperlinks

Here’s my version, in the same ticket color order:

Presented as the original, the list leaves the impression of more Metro stops than require blockading. Here is “apparent” count of Metro Stops is twelve (12).

Discovering Duplicate Metro Rail Stops

Rearrangement by Metro Rail stops reveals duplicates:

Deduped Metro Stops and Priority Map

If we remove the duplicate stops and sort by stop name, we find only eight (8) Metro Stops for blockading.

  1. Capital South Green Ticket Holders
  2. Eastern Market Green Ticket Holders
  3. Federal Center SW Orange Ticket Holders, Silver Ticket Holders
  4. Gallery Place-Chinatown Blue Ticket Holders, Red Ticket Holders
  5. Judiciary Square Blue Ticket Holders, Red Ticket Holders
  6. L’Enfant Plaza Orange Ticket Holders, Silver Ticket Holders
  7. NoMa-Gallaudet U Yellow Ticket Holders
  8. Union Station Yellow Ticket Holders

All of this is public information and with a little rearrangement, it becomes easier to focus resources on any potential blockading of those stops.

In terms of priorities, Curbed Washington DC posted a map of the gate locations and guest sections for ticket holders. I took a screen-shot of the center portion:

guest-sections-460

If your are interested in activities around the checkpoints, see the larger map.

So You Want To Blockade A Metro Stop

A map of Union Station reminded me that open street blockading isn’t likely to close a Metro Rail stop.

Why? Even with a large number of hardened protesters, the police can approach you from all sides, driving you in particular directions with “less lethal” weapons.

But the architecture of a Metro Rail stop offers an alternative strategy to open air resistance.

Don’t blockade outside a Metro Rail stop, blockade the stop by occupying stairwells, access points, etc.

Anyone opposing the blockade will seek to restore service and so be less likely to use persistent gases or other irritants in closed spaces.

The other advantage of escalators, stairways is that the police can only approach from in front or from behind you. Enabling you to defend the edges of your formation with layers of the most recalcitrant protesters.

I know you intend to peacefully and lawfully assemble only but be aware you may have those in your midst who damage and/or disable turnstiles. Either with some variety of fast acting adhesives or jamming them with thin metallic objects. Although illegal, those acts will also contribute to delaying the restoration of full service.

More thoughts on blockades reduce the number of people reaching Metro Rail stops tomorrow.

PS: It’s unfortunate the Metro doesn’t use tokens anymore. There are some interesting things that can happen with tokens.

Inaugural Ball Cancellation!

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Your antipathy towards upcoming inaugural balls and work on possible blockades is having an impact!

The Arkansas Inaugural Ball has been cancelled do to “low demand.”

The listing of inauguration balls I pointed to yesterday has plenty of other places for blockades and other mischief.

Looking forward to the least attended inauguration in history, longest and largest traffic snarl in history and complete social disasters at the inauguration balls.

Flashing/Mooning For Inauguration Forecast

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

You can find updated weather forecast for January 20, 2017, updated from my speculations in Blockading Washington – #DisruptJ20 – Unusual Tactic – Nudity in Angela Friz’s Here’s the first of what will surely be many inauguration weather forecasts.

Angela isn’t reporting sun-bathing weather but warm enough that a heavy coat over your birthday suit may be sufficient.

Of course, you could always build a fire in a trash barrel, something we are likely to see a lot of during the Trump presidency.

I’m sure other protesters, in the buff or not will appreciate the extra warmth.

Missing The Beltway Blockade? Considering Blockading A Ball?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

For one reason or another, you may not be able to participate in a Beltway Blockade January 20, 2017, see:

Don’t Panic!

You can still enjoy a non-permitted protest and contribute to the least attended inauguration in history!

2017 Presidential Inaugural Balls

The list is short on location information for many of the scheduled balls but the Commander in Chief’s Ball, Presidential Inaugural Ball, Mid-Atlantic Inauguration Ball, Midwest Inaugural Ball, Western Inaugural Ball, and the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, are all being held at the: Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Apologies but I haven’t looked up prior attendance records but just based on known scheduling, disruption in the area of Walter E. Washington Convention Center looks like it will pay the highest returns.

For the balls with location information and/or location information that I can discover, I will post a fuller list with Google Map links tomorrow.

Oh, for inside protesting, here are floor plans of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Those are the official, posted floor plans.

Should that link go dark, let me know. I have a backup copy of them. 😉

Overcoming Congressional Provincialism

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

While doing hard core data collection on members of Congress, I kept encountering:

Regrettably, I am unable to reply to any email from individuals residing outside of my congressional district.

The problem, of course, is that you may have an opinion on national intelligence but your representative, for example, isn’t on the intelligence committee.

What if you could identify and reach across congressional boundaries?

More on that tomorrow, alone with news of the data set that has distracted me for several days!

ANSWER Secures More “Permitted” Protest Space

Monday, January 9th, 2017

inaugurate-banner-460

The ANSWER Coalition has:

…secured another permitted assembly area for an even larger gathering site on the parade route, the Navy Memorial (8th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW).

See: ANSWER Coalition for details and ways to support.

If your not interested in “permitted” protesting, it could be the case that attendees and protesters alike find it difficult if not impossible to attend the inauguration. See protests for an ongoing series of speculations in that direction.

PS: I remember the Constitution reading:

Congress shall make no law … abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble…

NOT:

Congress shall make no law … abridging…the right of the people to be permitted to assemble…

Do you?

> 3000 for 2017? – Defining Blockade Success

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

Trump Inauguration Planners Unveil Tickets, Map says:


About 3,000 people holding purple tickets got stuck on foot in the Interstate 395 tunnel when trying to attend President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, causing many of them to miss the ceremony. The tunnel was later nicknamed the Purple Tunnel of Doom.

Data science projects should define criteria for success, before the project starts.

That helps prevent management from moving the goal posts to claim victory where none exists and protects you from “but it doesn’t ….” when that feature wasn’t included in the criteria for success.

In efforts to #DisruptJ20 the Trump inauguration, it appears that at least 3K people must be prevented from reaching the inauguration.

For your planning purposes, the 2017 SWEARING IN CEREMONY INFORMATION (FAQ) advises:


What time should I get to the US Capitol for the ceremony?

The gates to the mall will most likely open at 5:00am, and the ticketed areas are usually filled by 8:00am. The ceremony will begin around 11:30am with a musical performance prior to that time.

Blockaders are in for a long night!

The rate of removal of cars that intentionally or unintentionally run out of gas, disabled vehicles (think flat tires), etc., is unknown.

As a guesstimate, I would say gridlock conditions starting around 3 AM and persisting until NOON, EST, would result in an inauguration to which a majority of the ticket holders did not attend.

I wonder if the news channels will focus more on protesters or empty bleachers? Guesses?

Implementing Indivisible – Early Difficulties

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

Indivisible (Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda recommends appearing at every public appearance of your representative.

The same logic to other representatives since their committees votes on issues that impact you.

Question: How do you find all the offices of members of the US House or Senate?

Answer: Not easily.

Take Senator Diane Feinstein for example.

First source

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=F000062 gives:

bioguide-feinstein-460

Second Source

GPO Congressional Directory provides:

gpo-feinstein-460

Third Source

https://www.congress.gov/member/dianne-feinstein/F000062 lists:

members-feinstein-460

Local office information appears at Senator Diane Feinstein, but its listing varies from page to page, making automated extraction an iffy proposition.

Empowering Indivisible

Congress is sorely in need of a topic map for its members, that much is obvious.

What does the lack of an easy way to local office information suggest to you?

Would local office information improve your odds of contacting your own representative and others?

ANSWER Protest Permit – Least Attended Inauguration in History

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Permits secured for Jan. 20 Mass Protest at the Inauguration!

From the post:


The ANSWER Coaltion has a permit for 14th street and Pennsylvania Ave NW and a portion of Freedom Plaza, beginning at 7:00am on Jan. 20 for a protest that will continue throughout the day.

We are also continuing our long legal battle for additional permitted space along Pennsylvania Ave. on Inauguration Day. The National Park Service has stonewalled the issuance of additional permits in an attempt to sanitize the most visible and primary locations along the route from dissent and free speech activity. Additionally, we are continuing to challenge the illegal, unconstitutional system whereby NPS reserves large portions of the route and other parts of D.C. on Inauguration Day, and in the days and weeks prior to and after, on behalf of Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee.

We think it’s critically important for the people to not be intimidated, to not be silent and to use all public spaces to express themselves.

(emphasis in original)

All of that is true, but attending the ANSWER protest means you will be counted as “attending the inauguration.”

What if you took ANSWER’s later advice:

use all public spaces to express themselves.

With tailgate parties on the Beltway (Tailgating @DisruptJ20), and blockades of the same (Low Risk Blockading of the DC Beltway).

Secure President-elect Trump’s place in the history books, with the least attended inauguration in history.

You can be part of that historical event, while sitting on the Beltway out of gas.

Which is it? Do you want to be “in attendance” or “truant” for Trump’s inauguration?

Eight Years of the Republican Weekly Address

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

We looked at eight years of the Republican Weekly Address by Jesse Rifkin.

From the post:

Every week since Ronald Reagan started the tradition in 1982, the president delivers a weekly address. And every week, the opposition party delivers an address as well.

What can the Weekly Republican Addresses during the Obama era reveal about how the GOP has attempted to portray themselves to the American public, by the public policy topics they discussed and the speakers they featured? To find out, GovTrack Insider analyzed all 407 Weekly Republican Addresses for which we could find data during the Obama era, the first such analysis of the weekly addresses as best we can tell. (See the full list of weekly addresses here.)

Sometimes they discuss the same topic as the president’s weekly address — particularly common if a noteworthy event occurs in the news that week — although other times it’s on an unrelated topic of the party’s choosing. It also features a rotating cast of Republicans delivering the speech, most of them congressional, unlike the White House which has almost always featured President Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden occasionally subbing in.

On the issues, we found that Republicans have almost entirely refrained from discussing such inflammatory social issues as abortion, guns, or same-sex marriage in their weekly addresses, despite how animating such issues are to their base. They also were remarkably silent on Donald Trump until the week before the election.

We also find that while Republicans often get slammed on women’s rights and minority issues, Republican congressional women and African Americans are at least proportionally represented in the weekly addresses, compared to their proportions in Congress, if not slightly over-represented — but Hispanics are notably under-represented.

You have seen credible claims of On Predicting Social Unrest Using Social Media by Rostyslav Korolov, et al., and less credible claims from others, CIA claims it can predict some social unrest up to 5 days ahead.

Rumor has it that the CIA has a Word template named, appropriately enough: theRussiansDidIt. I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor.

Taking credible actors at their word, are you aware of any parallel research on weekly addresses by Congress and following congressional action?

A very lite skimming of the literature on predicting Supreme Court decisions comes up with: Competing Approaches to Predicting Supreme Court Decision Making by Andrew D. Martin, Kevin M. Quinn, Theodore W. Ruger, and Pauline T. Kim (2004), Algorithm predicts US Supreme Court decisions 70% of time by David Kravets (2014), Fantasy Scotus (a Supreme Court fantasy league with cash prizes).

Congressional voting has been studied as well, for instance, Predicting Congressional Voting – Social Identification Trumps Party. (Now there’s an unfortunate headline for searchers.)

Congressional votes are important but so is the progress of bills, the order in which issues are addressed, etc., and it the reflection of those less formal aspects in weekly addresses from congress that could be interesting.

The weekly speeches may be as divorced from any shared reality as comments inserted in the Congressional Record. On the other hand, a partially successful model, other than the timing of donations, may be possible.

FEMA – HOW-TO Demonize Your Opponents

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Beryl Lipton writes in FEMA Field Force manual offers protesters insights into the future of crowd control:

Though construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline has halted for now, the lessons for law enforcement and protesters are still percolating. For the former, they’ll likely find themselves one day studying the event as they prepare for future mass gatherings, maybe in a guide just like the one distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to North Dakota law enforcement in September.

… (graphic of DHS omitted)

Obtained by Unicorn Riot via a request to the North Dakota Department of Corrections, an agency with far fewer individuals in its custody than attended the protest at Standing Rock, the manual is a Field Force Operations training program for students, a crash course in eight parts on how to deal with a mixed crowd of lawful and unlawful dissenters.

I extracted the Field Force Operations PER-200 manual, from the zip file posted at MuckRock for your reading/access convenience.

As a government training document, allegedly “our” government, the manual fails in a number of aspects.

Consider its efforts to demonize protesters:


b. Protesters. Not every protester is the same nor should be viewed the same by law enforcement. By better understanding protesters, law enforcement officers can make better choices on how to respond. A small group of unruly protesters can stand out from the peaceful majority—often comprised of others who just want to be there along with innocent bystanders accidentally caught in the melee.

(1) Everyday citizens. Most protests include everyday citizens gathering through their First Amendment right to peaceably make their voices heard (Driscoll, 2003).

(2) Professional protesters. These people train or are trained in protester tactics often by direct action organizations that promote two universal messages: First, intervention demands responsibility. Second, a smaller harm is acceptable if it prevents a greater harm. One interpretation of this second message is that it is acceptable for protesters to break laws they consider less important like vandalism to prevent a greater harm like environmental damage. Some activism organizations may produce booklets that demonstrate use or construction of devices, including the infamous Road Raging – Top Tips for Wrecking Roadbuilding (Road Alert!, 1997).

(3) Anarchists. These people aim to disrupt, often seeking to challenge authority and capitalism at any cost. They are frequently young college students who express themselves through the destruction of property. Anarchists may mix into peaceful protests despite the efforts of the nonviolent protesters to limit destructive activities—leading to fighting sometimes between protesters. One common anarchist technique is the black bloc (violent, destructive activity), demonstrated at the Occupy Seattle protests.
… (at page 106)

If you think that lacks a charitable attitude towards ordinary people out-raged as some government misconduct, consider this listing of the “types” of individual protesters:


(1) Impulsive. These short-tempered people are the kind who are always spoiling for a fight and only need a fancied insult or a slight provocation to excite them to violence or incite others to violence.

(2) Suggestible. People who get into the action early and are easily influenced to follow the lead of the more violent.

(3) Cautious. Individuals who wait for the cloak of anonymity to give them courage by hiding their identity.

(4) Yielders. Those who do not join the action until a large number of participants give the impression of universality. In other words, “Everyone is taking part, so why shouldn’t I?”

(5) Supportive. People who do not actively join the mob but who enjoy the show and even shout encouragement.

(6) Resisters. Persons whose standards of judgment are not swayed by the emotional frenzy of the mob but who maintain level heads. They can disagree with the actions of the majority.

(7) Psychopathic. Individuals with a pathological personality structure are angry at the world and seek to use a riotous situation as a means of getting even with society (FBI, 1967, p. 21).
… (page 108)

How’s that for a rhetorical move?

In three pages the reader is drawn from “everyday citizens” to a range of personality disorders that range up to the “psychopathic.”

Any reader instinctively feels a gathering of protesters is a boiling pot of crazy ready to explode.

A false worldview but one promoted by the FEMA manual.

Imagine you are a local law enforcement officer, with little or no personal experience with civil disobedience, being told by FEMA that protesters are the harbingers of chaos. What’s your reaction going to be?

It’s only one example but Julia Carrie Wong and Sam Levin report in: Standing Rock protesters hold out against extraordinary police violence:


Harkening back to an earlier era, when police in Birmingham, Alabama, attacked African American schoolchildren with dogs and high-pressure water hoses, North Dakota officers trained water cannons on hundreds of Dakota Access pipeline protesters.

On the night of 20 November, though, the temperature was below freezing and the protesters, who call themselves “water protectors”, were camping outdoors for the evening.

Water is just one many “less-than-lethal” munitions that have been trained against the activists.

“They seem to have almost an infinite arsenal of different types of weapons,” said Rachel Lederman, attorney for the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). “I don’t think local law enforcement understands how dangerous they are.”

Police have acknowledged using sponge rounds, bean bag rounds, stinger rounds, teargas grenades, pepper spray, Mace, Tasers and a sound weapon. The explosive teargas grenades in use at Standing Rock have been banned by some US law enforcement agencies because they indiscriminately spray people, Lederman said.

More than two dozen people were hospitalized and 300 injured during the conflict, according to the medic and healer council. One woman’s arm was nearly blown off, according to her father, and the complaint alleges that another woman was shot in the eye, resulting in the detachment of her retina and possible permanent blindness.

Question: Should “everyday citizens” be sprayed with water cannon in sub-zero weather and assaulted with sponge rounds, bean bag rounds, stinger rounds, teargas grenades, pepper spray, Mace, Tasers and a sound weapon?

That’s not a hard question is it?

I suspect every non-psychotic law enforcement officer at Standing Rock would answer no, just like you.

But Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier confirms the FEMA schooled view of law enforcement:


On Thanksgiving, Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier released a statement condemning the actions of “paid agitators and protesters” without offering any evidence that people were being paid to fight the pipeline. The department has not responded to requests to substantiate the claim.

In another statement that week, the sheriff said activists were not engaged in “civil disobedience” but were acting like “evil agitators”. The Mandan, North Dakota, police chief, Jason Ziegler, has asserted that law enforcement agencies “can use whatever force necessary to maintain peace”.

To be fair, numerous law enforcement agencies have declined to subscribe to this FEMA inspired madness, Sheriffs Across US Refusing to Send Police and Equipment to DAPL as Outrage and Costs Grow by Claire Bernish.

At least in this instance. When protests come closer to home is the real test of law enforcement avoiding the FEMA “…evil agitators….” psychosis.

Government training manuals that humanize protesters are less likely to result in protests being used as proving grounds for “less lethal” weapons.

Teaching police officers to see protesters as their kith and kin will make major strides in the humane treatment of protesters.

Police officers may realize they have more in common with protesters than with players far removed from consequences on the streets. (Is that what FEMA is trying to avoid?)

The GRU-Ukraine Artillery Hack That May Never Have Happened

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The GRU-Ukraine Artillery Hack That May Never Have Happened by Jeffrey Carr.

From the post:

Crowdstrike’s latest report regarding Fancy Bear contains its most dramatic and controversial claim to date; that GRU-written mobile malware used by Ukrainian artillery soldiers contributed to massive artillery losses by the Ukrainian military. “It’s pretty high confidence that Fancy Bear had to be in touch with the Russian military,” Dmitri Alperovich told Forbes. “This is exactly what the mission is of the GRU.”

Crowdstrike’s core argument has three premises:

  1. Fancy Bear (APT28) is the exclusive developer and user of X-Agent [1]
  2. Fancy Bear developed an X-Agent Android variant specifically to compromise an Android ballistic computing application called Попр-Д30.apk for the purpose of geolocating Ukrainian D-30 Howitzer artillery sites[2]
  3. The D-30 Howitzers suffered 80% losses since the start of the war.[3]

If all of these premises were true, then Crowdstrike’s prior claim that Fancy Bear must be affiliated with the GRU [4] would be substantially supported by this new finding. Dmitri referred to it in the PBS interview as “DNA evidence”.

In fact, none of those premises are supported by the facts. This article is a summary of the evidence that I’ve gathered during hours of interviews and background research with Ukrainian hackers, soldiers, and an independent analysis of the malware by CrySys Lab. My complete findings will be presented in Washington D.C. next week on January 12th at Suits and Spooks.

Sadly I won’t be in attendance but am looking forward to reports of Carr’s details on the alleged GRU-Ukraine hack.

Not that I am expecting the New York Times to admit the Russian hacking of the 2016 election is a tissue of self-serving lies.

Disappointing but not expected.