Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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.

Defeating “Fake News” Without Mark Zuckerberg

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Despite a lack of proof that “fake news” is a problem, Mark Zuckerberg and others, have taken up the banner of public censors on behalf of us all. Whether any of us are interested in their assistance or not.

In countering calls for and toleration of censorship, you may find it helpful to point out that “fake news” isn’t new.

There are any number of spot instances of fake news. Michael J. Socolow reports in: Reporting and punditry that escaped infamy:


As the day wore on, real reporting receded, giving way to more speculation. Right-wing commentator Fulton Lewis Jr. told an audience five hours after the attack that he shared the doubts of many American authorities that the Japanese were truly responsible. He “reported” that US military officials weren’t convinced Japanese pilots had the skills to carry out such an impressive raid. The War Department, he said, is “concerned to find out who the pilots of these planes are—whether they are Japanese pilots. There is some doubt as to that, some skepticism whether they may be pilots of some other nationality, perhaps Germans, perhaps Italians,” he explained. The rumor that Germans bombed Pearl Harbor lingered on the airwaves, with NBC reporting, on December 8, that eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Nazi swastikas painted on some of the bombers.

You may object that it was much confusion, the pundits weren’t trying to deceive, any number of other excuses. And you can repeat those for other individual instances of “fake news.” They simply don’t compare to the flood of intentionally “fake” publications available today.

I disagree but point taken. Let’s look back to an event that, like the internet, enabled a comparative flood of information to be available to readers, the invention of the printing press.

Elizabeth Eisenstein in The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe characterizes the output of the first fifty years of printing presses saying:

…it seems necessary to qualify the assertion that the first half-century of printing gave “a great impetus to wide dissemination of accurate knowledge of the sources of Western thought, both classical and Christian.” The duplication of the hermetic writings, the sibylline prophecies, the hieroglyphics of “Horapollo” and many other seemingly authoritative, actually fraudulent esoteric writings worked in the opposite direction, spreading inaccurate knowledge even while paving the way for purification of Christian sources later on.
…(emphasis added) (page 48)

I take Eisenstein to mean that knowingly fraudulent materials were being published, which seems to be the essence of the charge against the authors of “fake news” today.

As far as the quantity of the printing press equivalent to “fake news,” she remarks:


Compared to the large output of unscholarly venacular materials, the number of trilingual dictionaries and Greek or even Latin editions seems so small that one wonders whether the term “wide dissemination” ought to be applied to the latter case at all.
… (page 48)

To be fair, “unscholarly venacular materials” includes both intended to be accurate as well as “fake” texts.

The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe is the abridged version of Eisentein’s The printing press as an agent of change : communications and cultural transformations in early modern Europe, which has the footnotes and references to enable more precision on early production figures.

Suffice it to say, however, that no 15th equivalent to Mark Zuckerberg arrived upon the scene to save everyone from “…actually fraudulent esoteric writings … spreading inaccurate knowledge….

The world didn’t need Mark Zuckerberg’s censoring equivalent in the 15th century and it doesn’t need him now.

Data Science, Protests and the Washington Metro – Feasibility

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Steven Nelson writes of plans to block DC traffic:


Protest plans often are overambitious and it’s unclear if there will be enough bodies or sacrificial vehicles to block roadways, or people willing to risk arrest by doing so, though Carrefour says the group has coordinated housing for a large number of out-of-town visitors and believes preliminary signs point to massive turnout.
….(Anti-Trump Activists Plan Road-Blocking ‘Clusterf–k’ for Inauguration)

Looking at a map of the ninety-one (91) Metro rail stations, you may feel discouragement at Steven’s question of “enough bodies or sacrificial vehicles to block roadways….”

www-wmata-com-rail-stations-460

(Screenshot of map from https://www.wmata.com/schedules/maps/, Rail maps selected, 30 December 2016.)

Steve’s question and data science

Steven’s question is a good one and it’s one data science and public data can address.

For a feel of the larger problem of blockading all 91 Metro Rail stations, download and view/print this color map of Metro stations from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

For every station where you don’t see:

metro-parking-460

you will need to move protesters to those locations. As you already know, moving protesters in a coordinated way is a logistical and resource intensive task.

Just so you know, there are forty-three (43) stations with no parking lots.

Data insight: If you look at the Metro Rail map: color map of Metro stations, you will notice that all the stations with parking are located at the outer stations of the Metro.

That’s no accident. The Metro Rail system is designed to move people into and out of the city, which of necessity means, if you block access to the stations with parking lots, you have substantially impeded access into the city.

Armed with that insight, the total of Metro Rail stations to be blocked drops to thirty-eight (38). Not a great number but less than half of the starting 91.

Blocking 38 Metro Rail Stations Still Sounds Like A Lot

You’re right.

Blocking all 38 Metro Rail stations with parking lots is a protest organizer’s pipe dream.

It’s in keeping with seeing themselves as proclaiming “Peace! Land! Bread!” to huddled masses.

Data science and public data won’t help block all 38 stations but it can help with strategic selection of stations based on your resources.

Earlier this year, Dan Malouff posted: All 91 Metro stations, ranked by ridership.

If you put that data into a spreadsheet, eliminate the 43 stations with no parking lots, you can then sort the parking lot stations by their daily ridership.

Moreover, you can keep a running total of the riders in order to calculate the percentage of Metro Rail riders blocked (assuming 100% blockage) as you progress down the list of stations.

The total daily ridership for those stations is 183,535.

You can review my numbers and calculations with a copy of Metro-Rail-Ridership-Station-Percentage.xls

Strategic Choice of Metro Rail Stations

Consider this excerpt from the spreadsheet:

Station Avg. # Count % of Total.
Silver Spring 12269 12269 6.68%
Shady Grove 11732 24001 13.08%
Vienna 10005 34006 18.53%
Fort Totten 7543 41549 22.64%
Wiehle 7306 48855 26.62%
New Carrollton 7209 56064 30.55%
Huntington 7002 63066 34.36%
Franconia-Springfield 6821 69887 38.08%
Anacostia 6799 76686 41.78%
Glenmont 5881 82567 44.99%
Greenbelt 5738 88305 48.11%
Rhode Island Avenue 5727 94032 51.23%
Branch Avenue 5449 99481 54.20%
Takoma 5329 104810 57.11%
Grosvenor 5206 110016 59.94%

The average ridership as reported by Dan Malouff in All 91 Metro stations, ranked by ridership comes to: 652,183. Of course, that includes people who rode from one station to transfer to another one. (I’m investigating ways/data to separate those out.)

As you can see, blocking only the first four stations Silver Spring, Shady Grove, Vienna and Fort Totten, is almost 23% of the traffic from stations with parking lots. It’s not quite 10% of the total ridership on a day but certainly noticeable.

The other important point to notice is that with public data and data science, the problem has been reduced from 91 potential stations to 4.

A reduction of more than an order of magnitude.

Not a bad payoff for using public data and data science.


That’s all I have for you now, but I can promise that deeper analysis of metro DC public data sets reveals event locations that impact both the “beltway” as well as Metro Rail lines.

More on that and maps for the top five (5) locations, a little over 25% of the stations with parking traffic, next week!

If you can’t make it to #DisruptJ20 protests, want to protest early or want to support research on data science and protests, consider a donation.

Disclaimer: I am exploring the potential of data science for planning protests. What you choose to do or not to do and when, is entirely up to you.

Flashing/Mooning Data Collection Worksheet Instructions

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

President-elect Trump’s inauguration will be like no other. To assist with collecting data on flashing/mooning of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017, I created:

Trump Inauguration 2017: Flashing/Mooning Worksheet Instructions

It captures:

  1. Location
  2. Time Period
  3. Flash/Moon Count
  4. Gender (M/F) Count (if known)

I’ve tried to keep it simple because at most locations, it will be hard to open your eyes not see flashing/mooning.

You’ve seen photo-flashes are almost stroboscopic? That’s close the anticipated rate of flashing/mooning at the Trump inauguration.

The Trump inauguration may turn into an informal competition between rival blocks of flashing/mooning.

Without flashing/mooning data, how can Bob Costas do color commentary at the 2021 inauguration?

Let’s help Bob out and collect that flashing/mooning data in 2017!

Thanks! Please circulate the worksheet and references to this post.

Blockading Washington – #DisruptJ20 – Unusual Tactic – Nudity

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Among the more unusual reports of blockading traffic is this report from Tampa, Florida.

Surveillance shows naked man’s rampage on Dale Mabry.

A total of ten police cars responded and traffic was interrupted.

The current prediction for Washington, D.C. on 20 January 2017 is:

Low: 14 to 24F

High: 34 to 44F

If you use nudity to disrupt traffic, have a warm coat nearby.

Tweet a pic with an estimate of how many cars you stopped. 😉

@patrickDurusau

If traffic jamming with nudity isn’t your thing, more serious suggestions to follow using data science to enable effective protesting.

AnonUK Radio

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

AnonUK Radio

From the webpage:

Welcome to AnonUK Radio. Social media and citizen journalism is arguably how the majority of people discover their news these days. We hope this site provides all the information you need to keep up with the Radio, current operations both globally and in the UK, get involved with protests both online and offline.

Every day at 21 GMT, 9 PM BST, 4 PM EST.

Enjoy!

A people’s history of the United States [A Working Class Winter Is Coming]

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

A people’s history of the United States by Howard Zinn.

From the webpage:

The full text of Howard Zinn’s superb people’s history of the United States, spanning over 500 years from Columbus’s “discovery” of America in 1492 to the Clinton presidency in 1996.

I think this is the first edition text (1980), which has been updated and can be purchased here.

Be sure to visit/use (either personally or for teaching): Teaching A People’s History:


Its goal is to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula. The empowering potential of studying U.S. history is often lost in a textbook-driven trivial pursuit of names and dates. People’s history materials and pedagogy emphasize the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history. Students learn that history is made not by a few heroic individuals, but instead by people’s choices and actions, thereby also learning that their own choices and actions matter.

Buy the book, share it and the website as widely as possible.

A working class winter is coming.

Russian Comfort Food For Clinton Supporters

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Just in time for Christmas, CrowdStrike published:

Use of Fancy Bear Android Malware in Tracking of Ukranian Field Artillery Units

Anti-Russian Propaganda

The cover art reminds me of the “Better Dead than Red” propaganda from deep inside the Cold War.

crowdstrike-fancy-bear-460

Compare that with an anti-communist poster from 1953:

1953-poster-6241f-460

Anonymous, [ANTI-COMMUNIST POSTER SHOWING RUSSIAN SOLDIER AND JOSEPH STALIN STANDING OVER GRAVES IN FOREGROUND; CANNONS AND PEOPLE MARCHING TO SIBERIA IN BACKGROUND] (1953) courtesy of Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-117876].

Notice any similarities? Sixty-three years separate those two images and yet the person who produced the second one would immediately recognize the first one. And vice versa.

Apparently, July Woodruff, who interviewed Dmitri Alperovitch, co- founder of CrowdStrike, and Thomas Rid, a professor at King’s College London for Security company releases new evidence of Russian role in DNC hack (PBS Fake News Hour), didn’t bother to look at the cover of the report covered by her “interview.”

Not commenting on Judy’s age but noting the resemblance to 1950’s and 1960’s anti-communist propaganda would be obvious to anyone in her graduating class.

Evidence or Rather the Lack of Evidence

Leaving aside Judy’s complete failure to notice this is anti-Russian propaganda by its cover, let’s compare the “evidence” Judy discusses with Alperovich:

[Judy Woodruff]

Dmitri Alperovitch, let me start with you. What is this new information?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH, CrowdStrike: Well, this is an interesting case we’ve uncovered actually all the way in Ukraine where Ukraine artillerymen were targeted by the same hackers who were called Fancy Bear, that targeted the DNC, but this time, they were targeting their cell phones to understand their location so that the Russian military and Russian artillery forces can actually target them in the open battle.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this is Russian military intelligence who got hold of information about the weapons, in essence, that the Ukrainian military was using, and was able to change it through malware?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Yes, essentially, one Ukraine officer built this app for his Android phone that he gave out to his fellow officers to control the settings for the artillery pieces that they were using, and the Russians actually hacked that application, put their malware in it and that malware reported back the location of the person using the phone.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And so, what’s the connection between that and what happened to the Democratic National Committee?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Well, the interesting is that it was the same variant of the same malicious code that we have seen at the DNC. This was a phone version. What we saw at the DNC was personal computers, but essentially, it was the same source used by this actor that we call Fancy Bear.

And when you think about, well, who would be interested in targeting Ukraine artillerymen in eastern Ukraine who has interest in hacking the Democratic Party, Russia government comes to find, but specifically, Russian military that would have operational over forces in the Ukraine and would target these artillerymen.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just quickly, in the sense, these are like cyber fingerprints? Is that what we’re talking about?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Essentially the DNA of this malicious code that matches to the DNA that we saw at the DNC.

That may sound compelling, at least until you read the Crowdstrike report. Which unlike Judy/PBS, I include a link for you to review it for yourself: Use of Fancy Bear Android Malware in Tracking of Ukranian Field Artillery Units.

The report consists of a series of un-numbered pages, but in order:

Coverpage: (the anti-Russian artwork)

Key Points: Conclusions without evidence (1 page)

Background: Repetition of conclusions (1 page)

Timelines: No real relationship to the question of malware (2 pages)

Timeline of Events: Start of prose that might contain “evidence” (6 pages)

OK, let’s take:

the Russians actually hacked that application, put their malware in it and that malware reported back the location of the person using the phone.

as an example.

Contrary to his confidence in the interview, page 7 of the report says:


Crowdstrike has discovered indications that as early as 2015 FANCY BEAR likely developed X-Agent applications for the iOS environment, targeting “jailbroken” Apple mobile devices. The use of the X-Agent implant in the original Попр-Д30.apk application appears to be the first observed case of FANCY BEAR malware developed for the Android mobile platform. On 21 December 2014 the malicious variant of the Android application was first observed in limited public distribution on a Russian language, Ukrainian military forum. A late 2014 public release would place the development timeframe for this implant sometime between late-April 2013 and early December 2014.

I’m sorry, but do you see any evidence in “…indications…” and/or “likely developed…?”

It’s a different way of restating what you saw in the Key Points and Background, but otherwise, it’s simply repetition of Crowdstrike’s conclusions.

That’s ok if you already agree with Crowdstrike’s conclusions, I suppose, but it should be deeply unsatisfying for a news reporter.

Judy Woodruff should have said:

Imagined question from Woodruff:

I understand your report says Fancy Bear is connected with this malware but you don’t state any facts on which you base that conclusion. Is there another report our listeners can review for those details?

If you see that question in the transcript ping me. I missed it.

What About Calling the NSA?

If Woodruff had even a passing acquaintance with Clifford Stoll’s Cuckoo’s Egg (tracing a hacker from a Berkeley computer to a home in Germany), she could have asked:

Thirty years ago, Clifford Stoll wrote in the Cuckoo’s Egg about the tracking of a hacker from a computer in Berkeley to his home in Germany. Crowdstrike claims to have caught the hackers “red handed”.

The internet has grown more complicated in thirty years and tracking more difficult. Why didn’t Crowdstrike ask for help from the NSA in tracking those hackers?

I didn’t see that question being asked. Did you?

Tracking internet traffic is beyond the means of Crowdstrike, but several nation states are rumored to be sifting backbone traffic every day.

Factual Confusion and Catastrophe at Crowdsrike

The most appalling part of the Crowdstrike report is its admixture of alleged fact, speculation and wishful thinking.

Consider its assessment of the spread and effectiveness of the alleged malware (without more evidence, I would not even concede that it exists):

  1. CrowdStrike assesses that Попр-Д30.apk was potentially used through 2016 by at least one artillery unit operating in eastern Ukraine. (page 6)

  2. Open-source reporting indicates losses of almost 50% of equipment in the last 2 years of conflict amongst Ukrainian artillery forces and over 80% of D-30 howitzers were lost, far more than any other piece of Ukrainian artillery (page 8)

  3. A malware-infected Попр-Д30.apk application probably could not have provided all the necessary data required to directly facilitate the types of tactical strikes that occurred between July and August 2014. (page 8)

  4. The X-Agent Android variant does not exhibit a destructive function and does not interfere with the function of the original Попр-Д30.apk application. Therefore, CrowdStrike Intelligence has assessed that the likely role of this malware is strategic in nature. (page 9)

  5. Additionally, a study provided by the International Institute of Strategic Studies determined that the weapons platform bearing the highest losses between 2013 and 2016 was the D-30 towed howitzer.11 It is possible that the deployment of this malware infected application may have contributed to the high-loss nature of this platform. (page 9)

Judy Woodruff and her listeners don’t have to be military experts to realize that the claim of “one artillery unit” (#1) is hard to reconcile with the loss of “over 80% of D-30 howitzers” (#2) Nor do the claims of the malware being of “strategic” value, (#3, #4), work well with the “high-loss” described in #5.

The so-called “report” by Crowdstrike is a repetition of conclusions drawn on evidence (alleged to exist), the nature and scope of which is concealed from the reader.

Conclusion

However badly Clinton supporters want to believe in Russian hacking of the DNC, this report offers nothing of the kind. It creates the illusion of evidence that deceives only those already primed to accept its conclusions.

Unless and until Crowdstrike releases real evidence, logs, malware (including prior malware and how it was obtained), etc., this must be filed under “fake news.”

On the Moral Cowardice of Politicians

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Trump posse browbeats Hill Republicans by Rachel Bade.

From the post:


Since the election, numerous congressional Republicans have refused to publicly weigh in on any Trump proposal at odds with Republican orthodoxy, from his border wall to his massive infrastructure package. The most common reason, stated repeatedly but always privately: They’re afraid of being attacked by Breitbart or other big-name Trump supporters.

“Nobody wants to go first,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who received nasty phone calls, letters and tweets after he penned an August op-ed in The New York Times, calling on Trump to release his tax returns. “People are naturally reticent to be the first out of the block for fear of Sean Hannity, for fear of Breitbart, for fear of local folks.”

An editor at Breitbart, formerly run by senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon, said that fear is well-founded.

“If any politician in either party veers from what the voters clearly voted for in a landslide election … we stand at the ready to call them out on it and hold them accountable,” the person said.

I wasn’t aware that members of Congress (US) were elected solely by Sean Hannity, Breitbart, or a very small number of “local folks.”

Re-visit my post on Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.

You too can make your elected representatives/senators afraid, sore afraid.

It takes time, effort and sustained effort, but you can teach them to fear your organization as much as any other.

Don’t bemoan the moral cowardice of your political leadership, capitalize on it to further your demands and agenda.

How to Help Trump

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

How to Help Trump by George Lakoff.

From the post:

Without knowing it, many Democrats, progressives and members of the news media help Donald Trump every day. The way they help him is simple: they spread his message.

Think about it: every time Trump issues a mean tweet or utters a shocking statement, millions of people begin to obsess over his words. Reporters make it the top headline. Cable TV panels talk about it for hours. Horrified Democrats and progressives share the stories online, making sure to repeat the nastiest statements in order to refute them. While this response is understandable, it works in favor of Trump.

When you repeat Trump, you help Trump. You do this by spreading his message wide and far.

I know Lakoff from his Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind.

I haven’t read any of his “political” books but would buy them sight unseen on the strength of Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things.

Lakoff promises a series of posts using effective framing to “…expose and undermine Trump’s propaganda.”

Whether you want to help expose Trump or use framing to promote your own produce or agenda, start following Lakoff today!

EFF then (2008) and now (2016)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

The EFF has published a full page ad in Wired, addressing the tech industry, saying:

Your threat model has just changed.

EFF’s full-page Wired ad: Dear tech, delete your logs before it’s too late.

Rather remarkable change in just eight years.

Although I can’t show you the EFF’s “amusing” video described in Wired as follows:

THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER Foundation is feeling a little jolly these days.

As part of its latest donor campaign, it’s created a brief, albeit humorous animated video espousing why it needs your cash.

Among other things, the video highlights the group’s fight for electronic rights, including its lawsuit challenging President Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.

The lawsuit prompted Congress to immunize telecoms that freely gave your private data to the Bush administration — without warrants. (The EFF is now challenging that immunity legislation, which was supported by President-elect Barack Obama.)

What’s more, the EFF video, released Wednesday, reviews the group’s quest for fair use of copyrighted works, working electronic voting machines, and how it foiled wrongly issued patents.

It’s not on the EFF site, not available from the Wayback Machine, but it sounds very different from the once in a lifetime fund raising opportunity presented by President-elect Trump.

President Obama could have ended all of the surveillance apparatus that was in place when he took office. Dismantled it entirely. So that Trump would be starting over from scratch.

But no, the EFF has spent the last eight years working within the system in firm but polite disagreement.

The result of which is President-elect Trump has at his disposal a surveillance system second to none.

The question isn’t whether we should have more transparency for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court but to strike at its very reason for existence. The charade of international terrorism.

Have you ever heard the EFF argue that toddlers kill more Americans every year than terrorists? Or any of the other statistics that demonstrate the absurdity of US investment in stopping a non-problem?

If you are serious about stopping surveillance then we need to strike at its rationale for existence.

Tolerance of surveillance, the EFF position, is a guarantee that surveillance will continue.

PS: Cory Doctorow attempts to make the case that President-elect Trump will do worse than President Obama. It’s possible but considering what Obama has done, it’s too close to call at this point. (You do realize we already have databases of Muslims, yes? So playing the “Trump says he will build a database of Muslims” card, yes, he said that, is deceptive. It already exists.)

I agree we are in danger from the incoming administration but it’s a factual issue whether it will be any worse than the present one.

The distance between said and actual policy can be quite large. Recalling that Obama promised to close our illegal detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Yet, eight years later a number of them remain there still.

Clinton/Trump Political Maps – Strategy for 2020

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

A pair of maps posted by OnlMaps captures the essence of Clinton’s loss to Trump (no, it didn’t have anything to do with Russian hackers):

clinton-map

trump-map

I did not re-scale these images so either one enlarges to 1200 x 714 (Clinton) 653 (Trump). Very impressive on a large screen.

Democrats should take note:

Despite having hundreds of position papers (yawn), the candidate with “well-reasoned and detailed proposals” lost to the candidate promising voters a pig in a poke, with no real likelihood of delivery of either.

If the choice is between boring voters into apathy and winning the presidency, I don’t find that a hard choice at all.

Do you?

The Biggest Fake News…

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Naval Ravikant tweeted:

The biggest fake news is that the “fake news” debate is about anything other than censorship.

Any story/report/discussion/debate over “fake news,” should start with the observation that regulation, filtering, tagging, etc., of “fake news” is a form of censorship.

Press advocates of regulation, filtering, tagging “fake news” until they admit advocating censorship.

The only acceptable answer to censorship is NO. Well, perhaps Hell NO! but you get the idea.