I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, 15 of them with The New York Times. I interviewed numerous individuals deemed by the U.S. government to be terrorists and traveled with armed groups, including units of al-Qaida, labeled as terrorist organizations. When I reported the statements and activities of these individuals and groups, U.S. officialdom often made little distinction between them and me. This was true during the wars in Central America. It was true in the Middle East. And it was true when I covered global terrorism. There was no law at the time that permitted the government, because of my work as a reporter, to order the military to seize and detain me. Now there is. This law, if it is not struck down, will essentially replace our civilian judiciary with a military one. Those targeted under this law will not be warned beforehand that they will be arrested. They will not have a chance to get a lawyer. They will not see the inside of a courtroom. They will simply vanish.
Don’t drink the water, don’t eat the fish, don’t breathe the ash.
Check out the restrictions on residents across the country after chemical and oil spills in their backyards.
(related to my previous post)
Google’s Machine Learning Algorithms Outpacing Engineers’ Ability to Understand How they Work
“Google no longer understands how its “deep learning” decision-making computer systems have made themselves so good at recognizing things in photos.
What stunned [Google Software Engineer] Quoc V. Le is that the software has learned to pick out features in things like paper shredders that people can’t easily spot – you’ve seen one shredder, you’ve seen them all, practically. But not so for Google’s monster.
Many of Quoc’s pals had trouble identifying paper shredders when he showed them pictures of the machines, he said. The computer system has a greater success rate, and he isn’t quite sure how he could write a program to do this.
Google researchers can no longer explain exactly how the system has learned to spot certain objects, because the programming appears to think independently from its creators, and its complex cognitive processes are inscrutable. "
All those gigantic server farms… they’ve accidentally exceeded the critical synapse number, haven’t they.
Life is stirring in the depths…
I keep telling you: sooner or later, Skynet is going to become self-aware…..it may not be August 29, 1997, but at this rate, I won’t be surprised when it comes.
Paging Ray Kurzweil.
History ought to remember Bill Clinton, in part, as a liar. History ought to remember the role Bush-era deception played in Iraq, torture, warrantless spying, and other policies besides. And if journalists belatedly pursue the most prudent course, tomorrow’s historians will remember the moment in 2013 when the media began to rebel against the egregiously misleading statements of the Obama era. Our ability to govern ourselves is undermined when Clapper lies about surveillance, when General Keith Alexander misleads about NSA activities abroad, when Obama misleads in the course of defending his health-care proposal, when Senator Dianne Feinstein suggests absurdly lowball estimates of innocents killed in drone strikes. There are many more examples of objectionable lies, untruths, and propaganda efforts, but aren’t those enough to raise general alarm?
Despite Dianne Feinstein’s supposed “conversion” earlier this week about the NSA being out of control with its spying, and the associated performance of NSA folks claiming that they were screwed, it’s quickly become apparent that this was all pure theater to make people think that real reform might be coming. Feinstein claimed she was shocked about this and called for a full investigation… and yet, just two days later, she held a markup of her planned “reform” bill for the collection of intelligence by the NSA (and held the markup in secret — because nothing says “let’s increase transparency of the NSA” like keeping the debates and votes secret). That bill was moved out of committee today by a vote of 11 to 4, leading Feinstein to release the bill with a bunch of misleading claptrap designed to make people think it’s real reform. It even confused some folks who know this stuff into thinking, after a quick first pass, that it “banned” the bulk data collection.
With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?!
Secrecy is anathema to a democratic republic. If we ever had one, it is long gone. The only real question left is what the unelected fourth branch of government, created inadvertently by Harry Truman, is really up to. It is clearly involved in a great deal of industrial espionage, but how are its discoveries transferred to US corporations? Who do the mostly right wing NSA bureaucrats really report to if not to Obama? And, what are they really doing with our cell phone records, which reveal to whom we speak, how often, and where exactly we are? How are these being data-mined and for what purposes? How much of our society and politics are shaped by selective leaks about individuals gained from this surveillance? Did the 2008 Wall Street Crash occur in part because the Bush administration had removed pro-regulation New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, using information gathered from his bank accounts, cell phone and personal computer? How many Iraq War critics were, like myself, targeted for surveillance? How many seemingly minor scandals that force decision-makers from office are actually a conspiracy of shadowy intelligence operatives? How many of the vocal defenders of the NSA, or of those politicians too timid to demand reform, fear revelation of personal secrets? Do we have a government or a Mafia extortion racket? These questions may seem outlandish, but they are evidence of the corrosive impact of covert government on a Republic? One can never know what politics is legitimate and what is the result of manipulation. NSA denials that they are using this material gathered on US citizens are not very credible given their officials’ repeated lies and also given their hiding of their activities from the President of the United States.
Did the 2008 Wall Street Crash occur in part because the Bush administration had removed pro-regulation New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, using information gathered from his bank accounts, cell phone and personal computer?
The rise of an oligarchic state offers a nation two routes, according to Aristotle. The impoverished masses either revolt to rectify the imbalance of wealth and power or the oligarchs establish a brutal tyranny to keep the masses forcibly enslaved. We have chosen the second of Aristotle’s options. The slow advances we made in the early 20th century through unions, government regulation, the New Deal, the courts, an alternative press and mass movements have been reversed. The oligarchs are turning us—as they did in the 19th century steel and textile factories—into disposable human beings. They are building the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history to keep us submissive.
I have been cursed at a Chinese border. In Dubai, my passport was studied by three veiled women for over an hour and my suitcase completely dismembered. In the Philippines I had to bribe someone in order to get my visa extended for a few days. Borders, they can be tough, especially in countries known for corruption.
But never, ever, will I return to the United States of America.
While I was waiting for the bus to Montreal, I realised they had not asked me why I wanted to go to the US. Exhausting the last few bars on my phone’s battery, I called my friends back in Amsterdam, asking if they could book me an place in Montreal. To punish me for my pride, they booked me a very Christian B&B. That night I slept between piles of bibles while a bleeding Christ watched over me. It was sadism of a type I could appreciate.