Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Hard To Tell The Difference Between Russian Propaganda And Rupert Murdoch's

Some interesting points on the use, and effectiveness, of propaganda by Russia in recent years in the below story.

Nothing altogether new in the style and substance, these techniques have been around for a century, utilising different media forms to reach and influence as wide a population as possible, but it was downright jarring to realize how many of these techniques are in use on a daily basis now by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, and much of his tabloid media:
Nietzsche said it first: “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Like so much electronic chaff dropped out of the back of a Tupolev bomber to confuse an incoming missile, the idea that there are multiple interpretations of the truth has become the founding philosophy of state disinformation in Putin’s Russia, designed to confuse those who would seek out the truth with multiple expressions of distracting PR chaff. The tactic is to create as many competing narratives as possible. And, amid all the resultant hermeneutic chaos, to quietly slip away undetected.
It is a tactic straight out of Mr Putin’s KGB playbook from the 1970s. Generate a plurality of narratives, so the truth can be obscured. In such circumstances, the very idea that there is such a thing as “the truth” can itself be called into question. “There is no objectivity – only approximations of the truth by as many different voices as possible” is how Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of state-backed Russia Today, puts it. This is weaponised relativism.
...all news is comment, all truth little more than opinion. There is the BBC view. The Fox News view. The Russia Today view. All are expressions of special interests, not so much attempts at the truth as individual perspectives and localised narratives.
 
...any and every perspective can be legitimised as a matter of individual opinion. On the basis of this lazy philosophy, the idea that one view is right and another wrong can be made to sound like some unwarranted imposition of authority. You can already hear the objection to the assertion of truth: “Who is to say who is right?”

...relativism leads inevitably into nihilism. “What is truth?” said Pontius Pilate, trying to befuddle the issues of innocence and guilt with high-sounding Putin-like misdirection. No news organisation should be sympathetic to this strategy. For while comment is free, the facts are sacred.

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No Longer A Conspiracy Theory: The CIA Had A Nazi Army

 The CIA Had An Army Of Spies And Intelligence Workers Who Were Former Nazis

 

 This was a popular conspiracy theory back in the 1970s and 1980s, dismissed as crazy talk, of course.

But the truth of the CIA's Nazi Army is even more staggering than the "crazy" conspiracy theories.

When the two stories excerpted below were published in the New York Times and Washington Post last year, there was no media freakout, no front page headlines, no lead news stories on the evening news. The revelations weren't even mentioned on the evening news.

In fact the revelations of the CIA's employment of an army of Nazis, for decades, was barely mentioned at all by most of the mainstream media, there certainly weren't any major follow-up stories.

The way these confirmations of some of the 20th century's most bizarre conspiracy theories passed into fact with barely any comment at all seems, well, conspiratorial.

Maybe the CIA's Nazi Army was another one of those things that high profile journalists and editors across the West knew about all along, in order not to accidentally mention it.

The revelations, regardless, are stunning.

The New York Times:
In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show.
At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich.

The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.”

And in 1994, a lawyer with the C.I.A. pressured prosecutors to drop an investigation into an ex-spy outside Boston implicated in the Nazis’ massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, according to a government official.

Evidence of the government’s links to Nazi spies began emerging publicly in the 1970s. But thousands of records from declassified files, Freedom of Information Act requests and other sources, together with interviews with scores of current and former government officials, show that the government’s recruitment of Nazis ran far deeper than previously known and that officials sought to conceal those ties for at least a half-century after the war.

In 1980, F.B.I. officials refused to tell even the Justice Department’s own Nazi hunters what they knew about 16 suspected Nazis living in the United States.

The bureau balked at a request from prosecutors for internal records on the Nazi suspects, memos show, because the 16 men had all worked as F.B.I. informants, providing leads on Communist “sympathizers.” Five of the men were still active informants.

Refusing to turn over the records, a bureau official in a memo stressed the need for “protecting the confidentiality of such sources of information to the fullest possible extent.”

Some spies for the United States had worked at the highest levels for the Nazis.
One SS officer, Otto von Bolschwing, was a mentor and top aide to Adolf Eichmann, architect of the “Final Solution,” and wrote policy papers on how to terrorize Jews.

Yet after the war, the C.I.A. not only hired him as a spy in Europe, but relocated him and his family to New York City in 1954, records show. The move was seen as a “a reward for his loyal postwar service and in view of the innocuousness of his [Nazi] party activities,” the agency wrote.

In all, the American military, the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and other agencies used at least 1,000 ex-Nazis and collaborators as spies and informants after the war, according to Richard Breitman, a Holocaust scholar at American University who was on a government-appointed team that declassified war-crime records.

The full tally of Nazis-turned-spies is probably much higher, said Norman Goda, a University of Florida historian on the declassification team, but many records remain classified even today, making a complete count impossible.

“U.S. agencies directly or indirectly hired numerous ex-Nazi police officials and East European collaborators who were manifestly guilty of war crimes,” he said. “Information was readily available that these were compromised men.”
The wide use of Nazi spies grew out of a Cold War mentality shared by two titans of intelligence in the 1950s: Mr. Hoover, the longtime F.B.I. director, and Mr. Dulles, the C.I.A. director.

Mr. Dulles believed “moderate” Nazis might “be useful” to America, records show. Mr. Hoover, for his part, personally approved some ex-Nazis as informants and dismissed accusations of their wartime atrocities as Soviet propaganda.

In 1968, Mr. Hoover authorized the F.B.I. to wiretap a left-wing journalist who wrote critical stories about Nazis in America, internal records show. Mr. Hoover declared the journalist, Charles Allen, a potential threat to national security.

John Fox, the bureau’s chief historian, said: “In hindsight, it is clear that Hoover, and by extension the F.B.I., was shortsighted in dismissing evidence of ties between recent German and East European immigrants and Nazi war crimes. It should be remembered, though, that this was at the peak of Cold War tensions.”

The C.I.A. declined to comment for this article.

The Nazi spies performed a range of tasks for American agencies in the 1950s and 1960s, from the hazardous to the trivial, the documents show.

In Maryland, Army officials trained several Nazi officers in paramilitary warfare for a possible invasion of Russia. In Connecticut, the C.I.A. used an ex-Nazi guard to study Soviet-bloc postage stamps for hidden meanings.

In Virginia, a top adviser to Hitler gave classified briefings on Soviet affairs. And in Germany, SS officers infiltrated Russian-controlled zones, laying surveillance cables and monitoring trains.

Washington Post:
In January 1937, a wiry, multilingual German aristocrat named Otto von Bolschwing sat down to write a report that, he said, would finally address “the Jewish problem.” The 28-year-old Nazi intellectual, an adviser to the architect of the “Final Solution,” had an idea to get rid of every German Jew.
“The Jews in the entire world represent a nation which is not bound by a country or by a people but by money,” remarked von Bolschwing, as told in a declassified CIA paper first reported by the New York Times. “Purge Germany of the Jews … take away the sense of security from the Jews. Even though this is an illegal method, it has had a long-lasting effect. … The Jew has learned a lot through the pogroms of the past centuries and fears nothing as much as a hostile atmosphere which can go spontaneously against him at any time.”
A Nazi operator such as von Bolschwing, who recommended propaganda to inculcate Germans with anti-Semitism, might have wound up before an international tribunal. But instead, von Bolschwing, who was later characterized as “guilty of acts more heinous than anyone else currently under investigation,” got a job with the CIA as a Cold War spy. Then he was awarded American citizenship due to his work’s “caliber,” became vice president of a Sacramento computer company, and died in 1982 at a nearby hospital.
Coming on the heels of recent revelations that dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals pocketed millions of dollars worth of Social Security checks, the story of Otto von Bolschwing is one of many discussed in newly disclosed records. In all, historians told the New York Times, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and Allen Dulles’s CIA hired at least 1,000 Nazis — if not more. Bits of the story have been reported in the past, but the full scope of the operation has now been reported in Times reporter Eric Lichtblau’s new book, “The Nazis Next Door,” released today.

“U.S. agencies directly or indirectly hired numerous ex-Nazi police officials and East European collaborators who were manifestly guilty of war crimes,” University of Florida professor Norman Goda told the newspaper. “Information was readily available that these were compromised men.”

The reports and additional records shed greater light on one of the United States’ murkiest forays into clandestine activity. It involved deal-making and moral absolution in which almost anything — even war crimes — could be ignored to check the rising threat of the Soviet Union. Along with other programs, such as Operation Paperclip, which enlisted the help of Nazi scientists, the use of ex-Nazis as spies illustrates a postwar government’s willingness to neglect the demands of justice to satisfy the needs of security.

The decision came from the top, the BBC reported. Records show Hoover signed off on the use of ex-Nazis and paid little attention to past crimes. One accused war criminal, Aleksandras Lileikis, had an alleged role in the extermination of thousands of Jews but was nonetheless recruited to work as a spy in East Germany and eventually lived in Boston. “All of us were collaborators,” with Nazis, Lileikis once said. “The whole nation, since it was acting according to Nazi laws. … So I made mistakes — mistakes, or let’s say the ‘crimes’ which I am accused of.”

The FBI in 1980 declined to disclose records showing 16 Nazis had worked for the government hunting Communist sympathizers, saying it wanted to protect “the confidentiality of such sources of information to the fullest possible extent.” Then in an additional battle with the New York Times, the Justice Department refused for years to declassify a report that illustrated government agencies’ coziness with von Bolschwing, among others. Only “under the threat of a lawsuit” did it do so.

It’s a period that few seem anxious to relive 

That's quite the understatement to finish

The Age Of Space Lawyers And Stellar Litigation Begins

"orbital jurisdiction, space tourism liability, asteroid mining disputes, spacecraft tort."

No, not science fiction. Reality.

There certainly are less interesting fields of legal work to get involved in than becoming a space lawyer. Yes, you can actually become a space lawyer, or space attorney, now. The field is wide open, and the work is beginning to flow.


From The Wall Street Journal:
....space law is a big deal. A range of commercial space businesses including space hotel startups, satellite providers and companies focused on harvesting resources from asteroids, have matured to the point that they require legal services. Meanwhile, law schools are opening new programs and international symposia are being held. 
...some rather otherworldly legal issues. For example, what happens if one space-mining craft accidentally sends a rock flying into another spacecraft? Who pays for the damage? Or if a company successfully mines an asteroid and brings a precious cargo of platinum back to Earth, does it own the metal?

Space law professors have gone even further in positing legal quandaries.

For instance, if an American astronaut were to be murdered by a British astronaut on the moon, it is generally believed that U.S. courts could handle the case. But if the same astronaut should happen to have his pocket picked by another astronaut, it is unclear whether the victim would have legal recourse. The rationale is that there isn’t any precedent to assert U.S. jurisdiction in a minor crime.
Some new phrases for the legal field: orbital jurisdiction, space tourism liability, asteroid mining disputes, spacecraft tort.

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Yes, Your New TV Is Watching You


 

This man is terrified of his new television. And he has good reason to be:
I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.
It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning:

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

You may not be watching, but the telescreen is listening.
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