7.05.2013

6 Sneaky Ways Surveillance Changes How You Think

The following article is presented in full for a point of reference, but is not meant as an alternative to the original source. Please visit the original source through the hyperlinked article title just below.

6 Insidious Ways Surveillance Changes the Way We Think and Act

Like it or not, we’re being transformed as citizens, neighbors and human beings.

When I moved to a Czech village in 1994 to teach English, I was fascinated by the cultural difference between Americans like me and my new community. At that time, the oppressive memory of the dreaded Communist secret police, the StB, was still fresh. (Check out a haunting series of street photos snapped by agents in their heyday.) As a brash young ex-pat, born after the era of McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover, I understood little of what it felt like to live under constant surveillance.

The Czechs knew better. Several decades under the watchful eyes of the StB (and before that, the spies of the Habsburg Empire) had molded their attitudes and behavior in ways that were both subtle and profound. They were on their guard with newcomers. When you got to know them, you might sense a tendency toward fatalism about the future. Signature Czech traits included a sophisticated gallows humor and a sharp sense of the absurd, honed by a lifetime of experiencing Kafka-esque political conditions (Kafka himself was a Czech).

Then there was that subversive streak. When you gained their trust, Czechs would often gleefully show you their old smuggled rock-and-roll records or describe a forbidden radio set up in some corner of the house. These proud tales of rebellious triumph over the StB were cast against stories of horror, like a student who told me of the day her daddy disappeared after “talking to the oven” where a radio was hidden. For most Czechs, the salient lesson of the police state was an us-against-them mentality. Only sometimes you didn’t know who “they” were.

1994 was the very beginning of the Information Age, and it has turned out rather differently than many expected. Instead of information made available for us, the key feature seems to be information collected about us. Rather of granting us anonymity and privacy with which to explore a world of facts and data, our own data is relentlessly and continually collected and monitored. The wondrous things that were supposed to make our lives easier—mobile devices, gmail, Skype, GPS, and Facebook—have become tools to track us, for whatever purposes the trackers decide. We have been happily shopping for the bars to our own prisons, one product at at time.

Researchers have long known that there are serious psychological consequences to being surveilled, and you can be sure that it's changing us, both as a society and as individuals. It’s throwing us off balance, heightening some characteristics and inhibiting others, and tailoring our behavior sometimes to show what the watcher wants to see, and other times to actively rebel against a condition that feels intrusive and disempowering.
If you think about it, “ Prism” is the perfect name for a secret program of extensive watching that will shift our perspective and potentially fracture our view of each other and of ourselves as citizens. Public opinion is now sorting itself out, and we don’t yet know how Americans will come to feel about the new revelations of spying on the part of the government, private contractors, and their enablers. But whether we like it or not, surveillance is now a factor in how we think and act. Here are some of the things that can happen when watching becomes the norm, a little map to the surveillance road ahead.

1. Shifting power dynamics: When an NSA agent sorts through our personal data, he makes judgments about us—what category to place us in, how to interpret and predict our behavior. He can manipulate, manage and influence us in ways we don’t even notice. He gains opportunities for discrimination, coercion and selective enforcement of laws. Because the analysis of megadata results in a high number of false positives, he may target us even if our activities are perfectly blameless from his perspective.

As Michel Foucault and other social theorists have realized, the watcher/watched scenario is chiefly about power. It amplifies and exaggerates the sense of power in the person doing the watching, and on the flip side, enhances the sense of powerlessness in the watched. Foucault knew that knowledge is linked to power in insidious ways. Each time the watcher observes, she gains new knowledge about the watched, and correspondingly increases her power. That power is then used to shape reality, and the watcher’s knowledge becomes “truth.” Other perspectives are delegitimized, or worse, criminalized.

2. Criminal activity: Every apologist for the surveillance state will make the claim that spying on citizens protects us from things like terrorism, crime and violence. That may indeed be true. What is also true is that surveillance can be used just as easily to commit a crime as to prevent it. History shows us ample cases of governments, including our own, using surveillance to turn upon their own people in unlawful ways, in some cases launching attacks that are just as devastating as those feared from outsiders.

Surveillance also turns citizens into criminals, either by distorting laws to criminalize behavior which was once considered lawful, or in breeding hostility and rebellion on the part of the populace which can lead to crime.

Today’s private contractors also have incentives to use surveillance to commit crimes outside of any political agenda. How about a little insider trading? How about stealing business ideas? How about using collected data to sexually prey upon others? To blackmail for any purpose imaginable? To sell our information to the highest bidder? For every Snowden who balks at the use of data collected for surveillance, you can bet there are two other contractors using it to enrich or empower themselves. Unlike elected officials, there is no way for us to even attempt to make them accountable.


3. Diminished citizenship: In his article, “The Dangers of Surveillance,” Neil M. Richards warns that state scrutiny can chill the exercise of our civil liberties and inhibit us from experimenting with “new, controversial, or deviant ideas.” Intellectual privacy, he argues, is key to a free society. Surveillance protects the status quo and serves as a brake on change.

We’ve begun to see this in the places where we expect intellectual freedom to be most strongly protected. Recently, Harvard University administrators were found to be spying on the email accounts of 16 deans while trying to find the source of a media leak, an action which curtails cherished academic freedom. The U.S. government was outed as spying on journalists at the Associated Press, behavior which dampens reporters’ enthusiasm for investigating the government’s secrets and analyzing its actions.

When intellectual privacy, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are restricted through surveillance, powerful ideas about truth, values, and how we live are increasingly imposed from the top down, rather than generated by citizens from the bottom up. When Big Brother is watching, Big Brother decides what's best for us. Citizens become apathetic, disengaged, and worst of all, feel a loss of dignity in their very status as citizens.

4. Suspicious minds: Surveillance makes everyone seem suspicous. The watched become instilled with an air of criminality, and eventually begin to feel culpable. Psychological researchers have found that surveillance tends to create perceptions and expectations of dishonesty.

The growing mutual distrust between the watcher and wathed leads to hostility and paranoia. One of the key features of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon was the notion that the inmates of an institution based on his design, such as a prison, would never be able to tell whether they were being watched or not, creating a heightened sense of unease. The tradition of secret police operatives and informants blending in with citizens prevents the watched from knowing the identity of the watcher, as does the distance of technology firms and government entities spying through computers and communication devices. All of these can breed an unhealthy social atmosphere as well as an individual sense of discomfort and suspicion. 

5. Divided society: In his book, Brain on Fire, Tim McCormacks discusses the class divisions that tend to rise between the watcher and the watched. Rights, privileges and power become distributed according to who has the most access to observation. The watcher groups categorizes people based on who most arouses suspicion, which may be based on various prejudices or political agendas.
A watcher class may emerge which protects its interests by more watching, and more punishing and control of the watched. It increasingly wields power over technology, financial and legal systems, the political realms, and military capabilities. Those who hold power may become invisible to all but a few insiders, a nightmare scenario Orwell imagined in 1984. (Maybe that’s why sales of Orwell’s book have skyrocketed in the wake of revelations about Prism).

6. Unhappiness: Finallly, though you will not hear many pundits talking about it, surveillance tends to make us unhappy. Bentham's Panopticon was designed to inflict pain on a few (those in prison) for the sake of the happiness of the many in the community. But when everyone is being watched, everyone is experiencing pain, even, perhaps, the watcher. The brilliant  German film " The Lives of Others" depicts the mental anguish of an agent of the East German secret police as he spies on his neighbors.

Some kind os surveillance may make us feel happier, at least initially.  The presence of cameras on the street, for example, may give us a comforting sense of security (even though the cameras may actually be doing nothing to stop crime). But when we discover that we are being watched in ways we never imagined, for purposes we can hardly fathom, our happiness decreases. Bosses reading our email, technology firms tracking our Internet searches, and government agencies monitoring our communications for secret purposes makes us feel anxious and resentful. Systematic surveillance may squelch our creativity as we are managed to become more conformist. We come to distrust each other and our sense of unfairness rises.

The goal of using surveillance to produce a happy and stable state may well beget, perversely, the opposite: a society of edgy, unhappy beings whose sense of themselves is chronically diminished. Not exactly a recipe for Utopia.




Marijuana Retail Rules Released By Washington State Liquor Control Board



7.03.2013

Gang Rape by Ukraine Cops Triggers Riot

As horrible as this story is what really stands out to me is the response. I doubt very much that here in America a case like this would get the attention of the President, or lead to protesters storming a police station. Crimes perpetrated by police against civilians are all too common here in the U.S. and very few people care enough to do anything about it. Fewer still are organized enough to act.



‘I wanted to die’: Police gang rape case ignites Ukraine

Protesters have stormed and burnt a police station in southern Ukraine, outraged that authorities’ did not place a policeman suspected in the brutal gang-rape and beating of a young woman under arrest. Locals say the situation remains extremely tense.

Police responded with tear gas when the angry crowds started smashing windows, broke down doors and set the police station on fire. The short-lived but furious rally took place in the small town of Vradiyevka, about 330 kilometers south of the capital Kiev.

Hundreds participated in the protest, with the leader of the “Common Cause” movement Alexander Danilyuk estimating the number of those that consistently rally in the town’s center at 300-400 people. He says the locals, as well as visitors from across Ukraine, plan to stage another protest on Thursday.

The police station is now being guarded by about a hundred members of the country’s special forces.

The victim behind the spiking tensions, a 29-year-old local woman, said that she was coming home from a nightclub last Wednesday when she was thrown into a car, beaten and raped by two policemen and their driver.

“First they punched me, and then started to hit me with something made of metal, like brass knuckles. It was really painful, but I continued to try to twist out. “Please, stop! For the sake of my 10-year-old son and ill mother!” she said.

“At some point, I felt as though my skull was pierced.”

“There was like a knife in my head,” she told the Ukrainian daily Fakty.

After she was raped and abandoned in a forest, she remembers how she “wanted to die.”

“I couldn’t stand it anymore.”

The woman currently remains hospitalized with serious injuries: her skull is fractured, and there are multiple bruises all over her body.

One of the suspected policemen and the driver were detained straightaway, but the authorities decided not to arrest the second policeman, who proclaimed his innocence and said he was on duty when the attack took place.

Security camera footage reportedly confirmed his alibi, with the video now being checked by investigators.

The victim Irina Krashkova stressed that the officer was lying.

“This is not true. I know 100 percent that he was there. Because he was the first to rape me; he beat me and called me all kinds of names,” she stressed.

However, authorities only detained the second policeman after the protests late on Tuesday, with a court to decide whether he should remain in custody or be released on bail.

The case triggered anger all across Ukraine, with scores slamming government officials for corruption, lawlessness and impunity.

Two senior regional police officials and a prosecutor have been fired because of the incident. The country’s President Viktor Yanukovich ordered an investigation into the events. Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko was summoned before parliament, where he pinned the blame on his subordinates, who reportedly withheld the information that there were policemen involved in the crime.




7.02.2013

Authorities Ignore Threats by Trayvon Supporters, Arrest Other Kids for Nonsense

In one case a white teenager was arrested, jailed for a month, and faced 20 years in prison for posting rap lyrics on Facebook. In another case, a teenager has been sitting in jail since February on charges of making terrorist threats stemming from a comment on a Facebook video game. The comment was admittedly violent sounding but also quite clearly meant as sarcasm. In Pennsylvania, school officials alleged that a five-year old made terror threats when she threatened to shoot classmates with a Hello Kitty bubble gun. In New York, a man's guns were confiscated and his permits revoked after his ten-year old son threatened to shoot classmates with a water pistol. Not a water pistol posing as a real gun mind you, just a water pistol. Authorities in Suffolk county have told the man he can't have his guns back until his son is 18 or moves out of the home.

Despite so many cases like this, of authorities going out of their way to arrest and harass citizens over entirely bogus "terror threats" supposedly in the name of a "better safe than sorry" approach to law enforcement, when it comes to actual threats of terror and violence, police fail to act.

Authorities are bracing for riots if Andrew Zimmerman is acquitted in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Despite the fact that Zimmerman is part Latino, has a black grandmother, and has been active in black activism for years, the trial has become a lightning rod for black vs. white racial tensions across the country. But police have failed to take action against hundreds, maybe thousands of black youths across the country who have threatened looting, arson, violence and even murder against whites if Zimmerman is acquitted.

These threats should not be taken as idle threats either. Violence has already been done in the name of Trayvon Martin. You can see examples of that here, here, and here.

Aside from the issues which surround the Zimmerman murder trial itself, we should not be distracted from a larger field of view here. Whether Zimmerman is guilty or innocent, the fact remains that we are seeing another blatant example of police and government hypocrisy. People who are clearly innocent being jailed for terrorist threats, while authorities plainly ignore genuine threats and fail to act against the perpetrators.











Catholic Priest Beheaded In Syria (WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO)

The Vatican has confirmed the death of Father Fran├žois Murad. He was building a monastery in northern Syria when the site came under attack by radical Muslim militants who are opposed to the standing government in Syria. They claim the Catholic priest was an ally of President Assad and his forces. Murad became a Catholic martyr as he was beheaded, along with two other men, to cries of "Allahu Akbar" in a ritual fashion. The victims were unarmed, bound and hooded, but had the hoods removed just before the grisly executions were performed with a kitchen knife. Children were also present in the crowd, watching as the brutal killings took place. 

It should also be noted that the war criminals who committed this atrocity are the same people the United States has recently decided to arm with more powerful weapons, and to directly support militarily. 

((( WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC )))

This video contains extreme violence, gore, and actual human death. Many readers may prefer not to see such disturbing imagery.



THIS VIDEO HAS BEEN REMOVED FOR NON-COMPLIANCE WITH GOOGLE ADSENSE POLICIES.

An original news report of the incident can be found at this mainstream news source:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/01/francois-murad-catholic-priest-beheaded-jihadist-fighters-syria-_n_3527372.html






7.01.2013

Close Ties Between NSA and Conspiracy Forums Shown On Internet Map

Let us first have a look at the tool which reveals this information.

The map of the Internet

Like any other map, The Internet map is a scheme displaying objects’ relative position; but unlike real maps (e.g. the map of the Earth) or virtual maps (e.g. the map of Mordor), the objects shown on it are not aligned on a surface. Mathematically speaking, The Internet map is a bi-dimensional presentation of links between websites on the Internet. Every site is a circle on the map, and its size is determined by website traffic, the larger the amount of traffic, the bigger the circle. Users’ switching between websites forms links, and the stronger the link, the closer the websites tend to arrange themselves to each other.

Read more at their ABOUT page.

Visit their home page at:

http://internet-map.net/

Now, using this tool, I decided to type in the search query www.nsa.gov to see who their closest relations are on the internet. The result is ironic, if not surprising to some of us who have been active on conspiracy forums for years, and those of us who have seen their inner workings. Conspiracies wrapped in conspiracies.




The result shows that two conspiracy forums have extremely close ties to the NSA. One is AboveTopSecret, the other, GodLikeProductions. A Google search on either of these sites will turn up all sorts of dirt which shows that neither are what they appear to be, and this new info seems to support that.

It could be argued that conspiracy websites might tend to have a natural sort of symbiosis with spy agencies, one checking out the other so to speak, but there are two things that should be pointed out here to rule out the idea that this is just a coincidence. First, there are plenty of conspiracy websites and discussion forums out there. None of those show up in close proximity to the NSA. And the same goes the other way. There is more than one spy agency in America, yet only this one appears in close proximity to these two particular conspiracy forums.

If you would like more information about the conspiracy behind conspiracy board, please comment below or email me using the address in the CONTACT key above.





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